Aubrey Pleasant

Redskins Notes: Cousins, WRs, Baker, Staff

Washington’s seen turnover on its coaching staff and has a potentially contentious negotiation with Kirk Cousins forthcoming. Here’s the latest emerging out of the nation’s capital, courtesy of the Washington Post’s Mike Jones.

  • The Redskins would prefer to keep Cousins on a long-term deal, with Jay Gruden “standing on the table” for the sixth-year quarterback. Jones notes, though, Cousins is “a little salty” and is well aware of the differing opinions on him that exist within the organization. There aren’t any indications the sides could be closer together on terms, and Jones adds a $24MM franchise tag looms as a high likelihood despite more than five months remaining until the extension deadline. A tag for Cousins basically ensures he’s not with the Redskins in 2018, Jones writes. A tag then — at 144 percent of his 2017 salary — would come out to roughly $35MM, and the quarterback in this scenario could see the Redskins as having no faith in him if a second tag is the reality come mid-July.
  • DeSean Jackson is likely to depart as a free agent, with Jones noting the deep threat is too inconsistent for the Redskins brass’ taste. The team has a higher opinion of fellow 30-year-old UFA Pierre Garcon, who has said he wants to stay in Washington. But with other teams seeking receiver help and many performers who could have been on the 2017 market (Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Allen Hurns, etc.) being extended, Garcon is one of the top pass-catchers available. That could complicate his return. The Redskins have not entered into negotiations with Garcon or Jackson, but that’s not necessarily seen as a deviation from the norm nor should it signal that neither wideout will return.
  • Washington hired James Rowe as its new assistant defensive backs coach, per Jones. This comes a day after the Redskins announced the hiring of Torrian Gray as their top secondary boss. Rowe comes straight out of the Division II ranks, having served as Valdosta State’s defensive coordinator in 2016.
  • Prior to moving toward Gray, the Redskins wanted now-Rams assistant Aubrey Pleasant to serve in Gray’s capacity. Money served as an issue that led to an irked Pleasant departing, with the move to Los Angeles coming after the Redskins previously blocked teams from interviewing their coveted assistant. Jones also notes league insiders wonder if Gray will be able to gel with some Redskins veterans who preferred Pleasant and avoid being given the “inflexible” tag previous secondary coach Perry Fewell was upon being fired along with DC Joe Barry.
  • Washington does not view defensive end Chris Baker as a high priority, instead being “lukewarm” on the lineman, Jones writes. He’s expected to want more than the Redskins are willing to pay. A Redskins starter for three seasons, Baker notched 10.5 sacks in 2015-16.

Coaching Notes: Redskins, Rams, Panthers

The Redskins have interviewed Chargers assistant defensive backs coach Chris Harris and longtime NFL coach Tim Lewis for their vacant secondary coach position, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link) reported last month that new Los Angeles head coach Anthony Lynn would retain Harris and several other defensive coaches, but the Chargers may simply be allowing Harris — whom Jones says is considered a “rising star” — to pursue a promotion. Lewis, meanwhile, has experience as a coordinator, and has spent time with the Steelers, Giants, Panthers, Seahawks, Falcons, and, most recently, the 49ers.

Here’s more on the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • Washington had hoped to promote assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant to lead its secondary unit, but after the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal, Pleasant is instead following former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay to Los Angeles, per Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, who reports that Pleasant will join the Rams in an unspecified role. Another ex-Redskins coach, Shane Waldron (who had worked as offensive quality control assistant) will also depart for Los Angeles and become the Rams’ new tight ends coach, tweets Marvez. Finally, the Rams have also agreed to hire ex-UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber for the same position, writes Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com.
  • The Panthers announced they’ve hired former Stanford RBs coach Lance Taylor as their new wide receivers coach. Taylor served as Carolina’s assistant WRs coach in 2014, working under Ricky Proehl, who resigned from the Panthers’ staff last month, and played for Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula at Alabama. The Panthers also announced the hiring of former Rams defensive quality control coach Jeff Imamura as their new assistant defensive backs coach.
  • The Bills announced they’ve hired John Egorugwu (defensive quality control), Marc Lubik (offensive quality control/assistant QB), Matt Smiley (assistant special teams), and Bill Teerlinck (assistant defensive line). Buffalo also confirmed the previously-reported hiring of former East Carolina wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan to the same role.
  • Mark Uyeyama will not return as the 49ers‘ director of human performance, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Uyeyama was instrumental in developing sports sciences that predated the hiring of Chip Kelly, and had worked under the last five San Francisco head coaches.

NFC Notes: Oher, Peppers, Redskins, Rams

Ron Rivera said earlier this month he expects Michael Oher to be back with the Panthers next season, but the recently re-signed left tackle has not yet been completely cleared from the concussion that sidelined him for most of the 2016 season, Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Oberserver reports. Oher missed 13 games last season and has dealt with concussion trouble for more than four months.

Rivera did not know when Oher suffered the concussion, but Jones reports the setback likely occurred before the Panthers’ Week 3 Vikings tilt — the most recent game in which Oher played. GM Dave Gettleman said recently he had not spoken to Oher in a bit and was going to give him some time. The Panthers’ left tackle signed a three-year extension last summer, but Gettleman said he plans to investigate the position this offseason. Mike Remmers is a free agent as well, and Carolina doesn’t have any much depth here, so an Oher return is crucial. He will turn 31 in May.

Here’s more from the NFC.

  • A Julius Peppers-Panthers reunion makes sense for the 37-year-old North Carolinian as his career winds down, Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer writes. The outside linebacker who played as a 4-3 end in Carolina is a UFA. He spent four seasons with the Bears and three with the Packers, initially going to Chicago after the Panthers offered to make him the league’s highest-paid defender in 2010. The Panthers have ends Mario Addison and Charles Johnson looming as UFAs.
  • The Redskins‘ promotion of Aubrey Pleasant from assistant secondary coach to secondary coach has yet to be completed, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union notes. Washington’s talks with Pleasant are “at a standstill” after the team offered him the position, in a somewhat strange status for a defensive backs job. The Redskins still want to make Pleaseant its DBs boss after firing Perry Fewell. However, the Rams remain interested in Pleasant as well. Los Angeles already hired Samson Brown from the Broncos, but the former assistant secondary coach under Wade Phillips in Denver doesn’t appear to have a definitive role yet.
  • Regarding the top of the Redskins’ defensive hierarchy, one reason Joe Barry may have been ousted was due to some in the organization preferring he operate a more aggressive defense, John Keim of ESPN.com writes. However, a source told Keim he doesn’t consider new Washington DC Greg Manusky to be particularly aggressive. The newly promoted assistant promised to use an attacking style, though. Manusky’s Colts defenses did average more blitzes per season than Barry’s two in Washington did, Keim notes.
  • Should Pleasant join the Rams, he would be working with Don Shula’s grandson. The Rams plan to hire Chris Shula to work on Phillips’ defensive staff in Los Angeles, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets. Chris Shula worked as a Chargers quality control coach the past two seasons. Prior to that, he served as a college defensive assistant. Shula played college football with Sean McVay.

Redskins Promote Greg Manusky To DC

The Redskins will promote outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (via Twitter).

Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Washington fired former DC Joe Barry earlier this month, and the club compiled an extensive list of candidates to replace him, including Gus Bradley, Rob Ryan, and John Pagano (the Redskins were denied permission to interview Romeo Crennel and Paul Guenther). PFR’s coordinator tracker provides the full complement of candidates.

Manusky, though, reportedly had the backing of Redskins players, and his familiarity with the organization may have helped him land the position.

He also brings a great deal of experience to the table, having served as defensive coordinator for three different teams, but that experience is largely a mixed bag. The 50-year-old Manusky got his feet wet as a linebackers coach for the Redskins in 2001, and he worked as the linebackers coach for the Chargers from 2002-06 before being hired as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 2007. The 49ers’ defense proved to be one of the best in the league in 2009, but it took a step back in 2010, and Manusky was allowed to seek another position following the hiring of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Manusky returned to the Chargers as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2011, but he was fired after his unit finished as the league’s 22nd-ranked defense. Manusky was subsequently hired as the Colts’ defensive coordinator in 2012, and he spent four years in that role. The Colts made the playoffs in three of those four seasons, but Manusky’s defense finished in the top-10 in points allowed only once during his tenure. He was fired following the 2015 campaign, and he soon caught on as the Redskins’ outside linebackers coach.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets that 49ers’ linebackers coach Jason Tarver, who was another candidate for the Redskins’ DC opening, could replace Manusky as the team’s OLB coach. Mike Jones of the Washington Post tweets that the team will keep Kirk Olivadotti as its ILB coach and would like to promote Aubrey Pleasant to DBs coach.

As Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets, it is fair to wonder whether the Redskins would have fired Barry at all if they had known they would have ended up with Manusky and his spotty DC resume as his replacement as opposed to their big name targets like Bradley and Wade Phillips.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Redskins, Vikings, Seahawks

The Cowboys defensive line struggled at times this past season, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the team would be searching for some reinforcement this offseason. Executive vice president Stephen Jones essentially confirmed that the team would be pursuing an edge rusher when appearing on Ben and Skin on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan (via DallasNews.com):

“There’s no question. That’s why we always have to continue to be better. We haven’t done a good job of that. We’ve tried in several different ways to make that happen. But as we sit here today, we don’t have that player. We saw glimpses of that with Randy Gregory, but that’s a huge question mark as to when he might be able to come back and be a football player in the NFL. Getting his life off the field in the right order is the most important thing. But in the mean time, there’s no question what our needs are. The focus is gonna be on defense.

“You don’t ever shut your eye to a player who can help improve you on the offensive side of the ball either. We showed that last year when everybody knew how bad we needed defense and we obviously picked Zeke. Had the right rationale for it. I don’t think anything could have gone more according to plan than picking Zeke. I don’t think you ever rule out anything. That’s how you make huge mistakes. But I think it’s obvious to anyone who watches our football team that the defensive side of the football, especially our front seven, is where we need the most improvement.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • The Redskins‘ search for a defensive coordinator will be entering a third week, and one player believes the wait is a positive sign for outside linebackers coach (and candidate) Greg Manusky. ESPN.com’s John Keim writes that the former Colts defensive coordinator has the support of the Redskins players, and he notes that the front office may appreciate the continuity and Manusky’s familiarity with the organization.
  • Keim writes that the Redskins want to hang on to assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, noting that Sean McVay has had interest in bringing his former co-worker to the Rams. Pleasant played a significant role in helping former wideout Quinton Dunbar transition to a defensive back.
  • UCLA has hired Vikings assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley as their new offensive line coach, reports Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (via Twitter). The former NFL lineman had spent the past three seasons in Minnesota, and he previously coached at the University of San Diego and San Jose State.
  • The Seahawks worked out a trio of players yesterday, according to Howard Balzer on Twitter: offensive linemen Pierce Burton and Tayo Fabuluje and defensive end B.J. McBryde. Fabuluje, a former sixth-round pick, played four game for the Bears in 2015. Burton and McBryde have yet to play in an NFL game.

NFC Notes: Wolf, Seahawks, Vikings, Rams

Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf has accepted a new contract in Green Bay and withdrawn from the 49ers’ search for a general manager, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today. He’s the second candidate this week to bow out of San Francisco’s hunt for a GM, joining Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner. One of Wolf’s colleagues in Green Bay, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and Vikings assistant GM George Paton are continuing to vie for the 49er job and will conduct second interviews with the team next week.

More from the NFC:

  • The Seahawks could lose a second-round pick for not disclosing cornerback Richard Sherman‘s knee injury during the season, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN. Seattle is cooperating with the NFL’s investigation, though the team doesn’t believe it deserves major punishment because Sherman didn’t miss any time on account of the ailment. Head coach Pete Carroll, who revealed Monday that Sherman had a “significant” MCL issue, could also face a fine. Last September, the league fined Carroll $200K and heavily punished the Seahawks – they received a $400K fine to go with a loss of a a fifth-round pick and a week of OTAs – after they violated its rules regarding contact practices in the offseason. As a result of this violation, the league could elevate the fifth-rounder to a second, per Mortensen. League policy clearly indicates the Seahawks were in the wrong for not listing Sherman on the injury report.
  • Pending free agent linebacker Chad Greenway is either going to re-sign with the Vikings or retire, the 34-year-old told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “If playing in Minnesota for another year is an option — and pretty much all season, I’ve felt like this is going to be my last year — and now I’m just trying to make sure that decision is the one I want to make,” said Greenway. “I’ve lived every day like I wanted to, like it could be my last game in the NFL, and I enjoyed the season. Now I can take some time and think about it, and we’ll come to a decision real soon.” Greenway is the longest-tenured current Viking, having spent his entire career with the team since it selected him 17th overall in 2006. In 2016 – his 11th year – the remarkably durable Greenway logged his 10th season consisting of 16 appearances, though he recorded career lows in starts (nine) and tackles (41).
  • Redskins assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is likely to join ex-Washington offensive coordinator and now-Rams head coach Sean McVay‘s staff in Los Angeles, tweets Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. However, a deal isn’t done yet, notes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post (Twitter link). The Redskins want to retain Pleasant, who just finished his fourth season with the club.