Ben Steele

Staff Notes: Dennison, Cards, Falcons, Titans

After two players filed grievances against the Jets in recent months, the franchise has an issue with former offensive line coach Rick Dennison. Now on the Vikings’ staff, Dennison spent the 2018 season as the Jets’ O-line coach and run-game coordinator. A dispute about Dennison’s contract has emerged, with the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reporting in an expansive piece the Jets and their former assistant have been at odds for a year about his deal. Dennison wanted to stay on as Jets O-line coach, but then-new Jets HC Adam Gase replaced all of Todd Bowles‘ 2018 offensive staff.

The parties are at odds over a roughly $1MM payment. Previous Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, after informing Dennison he would not be on Gase’s 2019 staff, gave Dennison permission to pursue other jobs. The Jets then signed off on the ex-NFL OC receiving the money but subsequently changed their tune, Mehta adds. Gase told some he discussed with Dennison a move to the scouting staff, but Mehta notes no such discussion occurred. Unless the Jets and Dennison reach a settlement, a hearing at the league office is expected to take place this month.

The Jets saw both Luke Falk and Kelechi Osemele file grievances against the team during in the Gase-Joe Douglas regime’s early months. Add the Dennison matter to this interesting list.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Weeks after Jon Gruden brought in Rod Marinelli to take Brentson Buckner‘s job as defensive line coach, the longtime NFL assistant has another gig. Buckner will return to the Cardinals‘ coaching staff, the team announced. Buckner’s first major NFL coaching role came in Arizona; the former 12-year NFL defensive lineman spent all five years of Bruce Arians‘ run as the Cards’ D-line coach. He’ll reprise that role.
  • The Cardinals are making more staff changes. Former 49ers special teams coordinator Derius Swinton signed on to become the Cards’ assistant ST coach. After spending 2018 on the Lions’ staff, Swinton did not coach this past season. Additionally, Spencer Whipple will rise from the quality control level to assistant wideouts coach.
  • Mike Mularkey‘s retirement left a vacancy on the Falcons‘ staff. They filled it by promoting Ben Steele from offensive assistant to tight ends coach, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Steele spent five seasons with the Buccaneers — the final two as Tampa Bay’s tight ends coach — prior to joining Dan Quinn’s staff last year.
  • Jason Garrett will bring another ex-Cowboys assistant with him to the Giants. Stephen Brown will join Joe Judge‘s staff as an offensive assistant, according to Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). Brown spent the past four seasons in Dallas, primarily working with the team’s running backs. Garrett previously hired ex-Cowboys staffers Marc Colombo as O-line coach and Derek Dooley as a senior offensive assistant.
  • The Titans are promoting multiple assistants. Formerly operating as defensive assistants, Scott Booker and Ryan Crow will respectively rise on Mike Vrabel‘s staff. Booker is the Titans’ new assistant special teams coach, and Crow will now coach Tennessee’s safeties under new secondary coach Anthony Midget.

Staff Notes: Redskins, 49ers, Packers, Jets

The Redskins have hired former Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton as their new defensive backs coach, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Washington is retaining incumbent DC Greg Manusky, but the club has spent the offseason meeting with other defensive minds such as Gregg Williams, Steve Wilks, and Todd Bowles. Horton, unlike those three, doesn’t have prior head coaching experience, but he has been a defensive play-caller for the Cardinals, Titans, and Browns (two stints). Horton, who didn’t coach in the NFL in either of the past two seasons, is replacing Torrian Gray, who was let go earlier this month.

Let’s check in on the latest coaching and front office moves:

  • The 49ers have promoted Martin Mayhew to vice president of of player personnel, tweets Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Mayhew, whose previous title was “senior personnel executive,” will now share the VP role with Adam Peters. After serving as Detroit’s general manager from 2008-15, Mayhew was the Giants’ director of football operations/special projects in 2016 before he joined San Francisco the following year. He interviewed for the Panthers’ GM gig last February, but lost out to interim Marty Hurney.
  • Former Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is a candidate for the same position with the Packers, reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), who adds Quinn has spoken with Green Bay. Quinn was New York’s coordinator from 2007-17 before being let go by Pat Shurmur last offseason. However, Quinn re-joined the Giants staff in September 2018 after new ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey began cancer treatments. The Packers were thought to be a serious contender to hire Dolphins’ special teams coach Darren Rizzi, but that union won’t be happening.
  • Adam Gase is bringing a familiar face to New York, as former Dolphins wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson has taken the same job with the Jets, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Jefferson, 49, started his coaching career in 2006 with the Lions before moving on to Tennessee in 2013 and Miami in 2016. He was reportedly a candidate to become the Packers’ new wide receivers coach, a role which still hasn’t been filled.
  • The Falcons have hired former Buccaneers tight ends coach Ben Steele as an offensive assistant, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Steele had worked under Dirk Koetter — Atlanta’s new offensive coordinator — in Tampa Bay for the past two years.

Coaching Notes: Kafka, Chiefs, Bucs, 49ers

After a bit of a lull, today was a busy day for coaching moves. We first learned that the Falcons would be hiring Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator. Later, it was reported that the Rams were bringing in Matt LaFleur as their new offensive coordinator.

Of course, there were plenty of other coaching moves today, and we’ve compiled all of those below…

  • Former quarterback Mike Kafka has been hired by the Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The 29-year-old spent six years in the NFL after being selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, as he has an obvious connection with current Kansas City (and former Philadelphia) head coach Andy Reid. Kafka spent the 2016 season serving as an offensive graduate assistant with Northwestern, his former college.
  • The Chiefs have also hired Rod Wilson as their new assistant special teams coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter). The former NFL linebacker will be replacing Brock Olivo, who was hired as the Broncos special teams coordinator earlier this offseason. The 2005 seventh-round pick spent six years in the NFL with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Jaguars.
  • The Buccaneers have promoted Ben Steele to tight ends coach, reports ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. The former NFL tight end spent the past three seasons serving as Tampa Bay’s offensive quality control coach. “We’re fortunate that we have a qualified coach like Ben already on our staff and are able to fill this role from within. He earned it through the quality of his work,” said head coach Dirk Koetter (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter). “Ben played the position at the NFL level and has spent a great deal of time with our tight ends on the practice field and in the meeting room. We know he will do an excellent job leading that group going forward.”
  • The 49ers have released their entire strength and conditioning staff, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. This includes director of human performance Mark Uyeyama, strength, conditioning and nutrition assistant Kurt Schmidt, and strength and conditioning assistants Brian Johnson, Taylor Johnson and David Young. We learned last week that Uyeyama would be leaving the organization, and (as Maiocco notes on Twitter) Brian Johnson’s departure was evident after he took a job with Texas A&M. The reporter notes that Taylor Johnson “is still in play” to remain on Shanahan’s new staff.
  • Former NFL defensive end Andre Carter will meet with the Dolphins regarding their assistant defensive line coach vacancy, reports Alex Marvez of The Sporting News. After being selected in the first-round of the 2001 draft, Carter spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers, Redskins, Patriots, and Raiders. Marvez notes that the 37-year-old spent the 2015 season as a student assistant coach at the University of California.