Ben McDaniels

Coaching Notes: Falcons, McDaniels, Titans

The Falcons were set to add Darrell Bevell and Ken Dorsey to their quarterbacks coach interview list, but they might not have gotten around to it by the time they arrived at their decision. Greg Knapp will replace Bush Hamdan as Atlanta’s QBs coach, Alex Marvez of Sporting News reports. The 54-year-old Knapp did not coach in the NFL last season and spent the previous four years coaching the Broncos’ quarterbacks.

Knapp will return to Atlanta in a different capacity; he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2004-06. Running the most successful of the Michael Vick offenses, Knapp also was OC with the 49ers, Raiders (two stints) and Seahawks. The one-season stay in Seattle (2009) overlapped with Dan Quinn, who was the Seahawks’ defensive line coach from 2009-10. Knapp’s Broncos work may look a bit better now considering how far their quarterback play fell this season, and the Falcons are hoping he can help return Matt Ryan to top-tier status after a down year.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • Mike Vrabel‘s Titans deal is a five-year agreement, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This is a noticeably bigger commitment to a first-time HC than the franchise made to Mike Mularkey, who was then set for his third go-round as a head coach. Mularkey received a three-year commitment in 2016.
  • Josh McDaniels was only seriously interested in the Colts and Giants‘ jobs, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes, adding that the Titans could have had a shot at the Patriots’ OC had they fired Mularkey late in what was an inconsistent regular season. McDaniels and Jon Robinson worked together in New England.
  • Volin adds McDaniels is not scared off by Andrew Luck‘s recent health history despite the Colts having redshirted their cornerstone performer this season. Luck still doesn’t have a firm timetable to return, but McDaniels signing on points to confidence he will be back come 2018.
  • Matt Patricia is not certain to hire a defensive coordinator with the Lions, Volin notes. Patricia will run the Lions’ defense regardless. This was the job he was connected to throughout the offseason, and despite reports emerging the Giants had him among their finalists, Volin notes that wasn’t the case. McDaniels and Pat Shurmur are believed to be the only HC candidates the Giants were considering, per Volin.
  • Paul Guenther‘s deal as Raiders DC is a four-year pact, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. The Bengals made a “lucrative” offer to try to keep Guenther in his previous position after his contract expired, but after 15 seasons in Cincinnati, the veteran assistant wanted to work with Jon Gruden. Guenther said the Raiders will be running “80 to 90 percent” of what the Vikings run under Mike Zimmer, so the Raiders will have a firmer commitment to the 4-3 than in years past.
  • Josh McDaniels may well look to bring his younger brother with him to Indianapolis, Volin writes. The 37-year-old Ben McDaniels worked as a Bears offensive assistant for the past two seasons. He also served in that role for the 2009 Broncos before Josh McDaniels promoted him to quarterbacks coach in 2010, so it appears likely the brothers will reunite with the Colts soon.
  • The Titans will lose wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson to the college ranks. Jackson served as Tennessee’s wideouts coach for just one season, and he’ll take over the same job at Baylor, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com reports. The former NFL wideout was a college receivers coach from 2008-16.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Bears, Guion

The Lions and Bears each formally announced additions to their coaching staff today, with Detroit naming a new quarterbacks coach and Chicago confirming a new wide receivers coach.

As previously reported, the Lions’ new QBs coach is Brian Callahan, who spent the last six seasons with the Broncos, and has previously worked with Detroit offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. In 2015, Callahan was an offensive assistant in Denver, playing a part in coaching the club’s QBs.

As for the Bears, their new wide receivers coach is Curtis Johnson, who had been Tulane’s head coach for the past four seasons after serving as the WRs coach for the Saints from 2006 to 2011. Joining Johnson in Chicago is Ben McDaniels, whose hiring was also reported last Friday. Josh McDaniels‘ brother officially joins the Bears as an offensive assistant.

Here’s more from around the NFC North:

  • According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), Letroy Guion‘s new contract with the Packers features a modest $500K signing bonus. Silverstein adds that the deal includes “$1.5MM more later,” though it’s not clear if that refers to a signing bonus or his 2016 salary. Friday reports indicated the three-year pact is worth a total of $11.25MM.
  • Having locked up two key defensive players – Mike Daniels and Guion – who would have been eligible for free agency this winter, the Packers‘ next priority may be a special-teamer, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who examines kicker Mason Crosby‘s impending free agency.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com explores the possibility of cornerback Tracy Porter re-signing with the Bears for the 2016 season after a strong 2015 campaign.

Extra Points: Forte, Raji, Cowboys, Bears, Bucs

Soon-to-be ex-Bears running back Matt Forte will be “lucky” to get more than $4MM annually on his next contract, sources tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Forte, 30, was informed earlier today that he won’t be re-signed by Chicago, so he’ll be looking for a new club when free agency begins month.

That new club could be in New York, writes Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, as either the Jets or Giants could show interest in Forte. The Jets have far less cap space (as Seth Walder of the New York Daily News noted earlier today), but more of a need at running back, as Chris Ivory is expected to move on. The Giants, meanwhile, possess a great deal of cap room, but aren’t as good a fit for Forte.

Let’s take a look at more from around the league:

  • Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji called the new three-year deal signed by teammate Letroy Guion “well-deserved,” but admitted he’s not sure if – or how – it affects his potential future with the team, writes Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com. Green Bay has not yet initiated contract talks for Raji, the free-agent-to-be tells Wood.
  • The Cowboys‘ extensive search for Jerome Henderson‘s replacement continues, as Alex Marvez of FOX Sports tweets that Dallas interviewed Buccaneers cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd for the team’s defensive backs coach position. Byrd joins Mike Gillhamer, Steve Brown, Joe Baker, Tim Lewis, and Mike Nolan as candidates who have spoken to the Cowboys about the secondary coach job.
  • Former Rutgers offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels is headed back to the NFL, as he’ll join the Bears‘ offensive staff, per Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated (no word on McDaniels’ official title). McDaniels, the brother of Patriots play-caller Josh McDaniels, had previously worked with both the Buccaneers and the Broncos.
  • The Buccaneers seem intent on bringing in competition for kicker Connor Barth, as Tampa worked out Josh Scobee, Nate Freese, Mike Meyer, and Cameron Starke today, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Barth converted 23-of-28 field goal attempts in 2015, with two of those misses coming from beyond 50 yards.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.