Bill Belichick

East Notes: McDaniels, Patriots, Z. Jones

Two of the Giants‘ top choices for their head coaching vacancy, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, are reportedly set to accept jobs elsewhere. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, however, says that Big Blue fans should not count out McDaniels just yet. One team source says the Giants have not been informed that McDaniels is out of the mix, and while it has been reported that McDaniels wants more control over personnel than New York is willing to allow, the team feels it can resolve that issue.

Nonetheless, Vacchiano concedes that Patricia is off the table, and if McDaniels does indeed take the Colts’ job, that leaves the Giants with Pat Shurmur and Steve Wilks as their top remaining targets. But Vacchiano says Shurmur appears to prefer the Cardinals’ gig, and Arizona is apparently prepared to offer it to him. So it appears that things may be coming full circle, with Wilks looking increasingly like New York’s next head coach.

Now let’s take a look at more notes out of the east:

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady will meet this offseason to clear the air and to resolve whatever tensions exist among themselves. While reports of discord within the organization were likely overblown, Rapoport says there is indeed some tension within the triumvirate, and since Belichick and Brady are not going anywhere until they choose to leave, it makes sense that the three men would want to hash out their issues.
  • Bills WR Zay Jones reportedly played his rookie campaign with a torn labrum, and his father, former NFL linebacker Robert Jones, told Robert Quinn of the Bills Wire that his son will have surgery on Tuesday to repair the injury. Zay Jones finished the 2017 season with 27 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • The Dolphins will not retain defensive line coach Terrell Williams, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Williams coached the team’s D-line for the past three seasons, and his unit experienced mixed results in 2017. Jackson adds that former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen has indeed been reassigned to a new role within the organization, as was expected after Miami hired Dowell Loggains as its new OC earlier this month.

Browns Were Willing To Offer Texans’ First-Rounder For Jimmy Garoppolo?

Jimmy Garoppolo‘s been a key figure in NFL news cycles over the past year, and his status in New England may or may not have caused a rift between the franchise’s power structure.

But the 49ers now have him likely set for the franchise tag after surrendering merely a second-round pick. However, the Browns were the team most connected with the promising quarterback this past offseason, and Terry Pluto of cleveland.com reports they were willing to make a better offer to the Patriots for their then-backup.

The then-Sashi Brown-led front office was ready to offer the Patriots the Texans’ 2018 first-round pick (now No. 4 overall) they acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade, per Pluto, who adds the Browns would have been willing to throw in other trade chips if necessary to acquire Garoppolo.

Pluto notes the Browns tried to call the Patriots on Oct. 28 — two days before they shipped Garoppolo to San Francisco — and said more than once, “If you are open to trading him, please call.”

The Browns did not get another chance to make a Garoppolo push, Pluto writes, and this baffled the front office because of the previous deals — for Barkevious Mingo and Jamie Collins — they made with the Pats in 2016.

Seth Wickersham’s ESPN.com piece detailed how Belichick contacted Kyle Shanahan about Garoppolo in late October, making this a two-team negotiation rather than the bidding war the Browns were apparently willing to win since that Texans first-round pick ended up being a top-five choice. (Of course, Houston’s pick didn’t look like it was destined for this lofty of a slot at the trade deadline.) However, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson tweets Belichick — once fired by the Browns, as they were already transitioning to becoming the Ravens, after the 1995 season — was never going to trade Garoppolo to Cleveland.

The Browns checked in on Garoppolo’s availability during the draft, but the Patriots did not bite. Adam Schefter of ESPN indicated the Patriots never considered dealing Garoppolo this offseason. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported Hue Jackson was the driving force behind the Browns’ Garoppolo interest, and that it would have taken “at least” one first-round pick to pry him from the Patriots. Cabot added the Browns’ draft-weekend offer was a second-round pick for Garoppolo, however. John Lynch said the 49ers tried to trade for Garoppolo in the offseason as well but couldn’t agree on terms in this now-complicated saga.

Robert Kraft denied he gave Belichick a mandate to trade Garoppolo, as was reported by ESPN last week, and said Belichick came to him about the 49ers’ Garoppolo offer in October. The Browns ended up botching a trade for A.J. McCarron, whom Jackson also coveted but possibly as a backup plan after the Garoppolo talks fizzled, and are expected to draft a quarterback with their No. 1 overall pick.

Plenty of stories have emerged about Garoppolo’s availability in what could prove to be one of this decade’s seminal NFL transactions. But the Browns are still in search of a long-elusive franchise quarterback, and reportedly weren’t given the 11th-hour opportunity the 49ers were in the Garoppolo pursuit.

Bill Belichick “Absolutely” Will Stay With Patriots

Bad news for those of you who were hoping that the Patriots dynasty would be coming to an end this year. Bill Belichick told reporters on Monday morning that he “absolutely” plans to continue as the Patriots’ head coach into the 2018 regular season. Bill Belichick (Vertical)

Last week, an explosive piece from ESPN.com detailed a major rift within the Patriots organization. Belichick reportedly was forced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo during the season at the behest of owner Robert Kraft, perhaps with some urging by Tom Brady. Meanwhile, Brady and Belichick were said to be at odds over the constant presence of Brady’s trainer and his meddling with the recovery methods of other players on the roster. The events of the past year have led some within the building to wonder if this is Belichick’s final year on the New England sideline, according to the report.

For now, Belichick is putting such talk to rest. The Patriots begin their bid for yet another championship on Saturday when they take on the Titans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots’ Bill Belichick Makes $10MM+ Year

Jon Gruden‘s ten-year, $100MM contract with the Raiders raised some eyebrows around the NFL, but Chucky may not be the league’s highest-paid coach. Bill Belichick collects $10MM/year from the Patriots, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link via Ryan Hannable of WEEI). That figure may actually be as high as $12.5MM, Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter) hears. Bill Belichick (vertical)

It’s not often that we discuss a coach’s salary on Pro Football Rumors, but Belichick’s pay is worth noting in the wake of Gruden’s mega contract and rumors of discord in New England. Patriots owner Robert Kraft may have to smooth things over between Belichick, Tom Brady, and other key figures within the organization, but the fact that Belichick makes as much or more than Gruden should remove at least one complication. If Gruden was earning more per year than Belichick, then the multiple-time Super Bowl winning coach/GM would have had a strong case for a pay bump.

It had been reported that Belichick was angry with Kraft because he was forced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers during the season. That may not be the case, as Kraft told Peter King of The MMQB that the decision was made by BB himself. Belichick, Kraft, and Brady say that they “stand united” in the face of these “unsubstantiated” theories, but only time will tell whether everyone is on the same page.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Reported Patriots Turmoil

The in-depth ESPN.com report detailing a rift in the Patriots’ power structure has triggered a fallout in New England. The Patriots have already released a statement attributed to Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and Kraft further addressed this situation further on Saturday.

Kraft told SI.com’s Peter King he did not meet with Belichick and call for the coach/GM to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the Pats had held onto despite rampant trade rumors throughout the offseason. The owner said Belichick informed him about the Garoppolo trade.

Until Monday at the trade deadline — I believe that was Oct. 30 [31st] — the last time I talked to Bill about Jimmy’s situation was in a group with Bill, [team president] Jonathan [Kraft], [director of player personnel] Nick Caserio … a small group of us, I think in June. That is the last time I talked to Bill about it,” Kraft told King.

The next time I spoke with Bill about it was the Monday before the trade deadline. He called me on that Monday and said he got a deal with San Francisco, Jimmy for a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer. Turns out they had to cut Hoyer and then we got him. But really, this was basically a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer for Jimmy. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to Jonathan, who was okay with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.'”

Seth Wickersham’s report placed Garoppolo at the center of the dissent, with Belichick being against the trade and Brady not exactly embracing the current 49ers passer as his heir apparent. Kraft said the franchise tag, which Garoppolo is expected to receive as a 49er, would have come into play had the Patriots tried to keep both quarterbacks. Previous reports indicated Belichick “desperately wanted” to keep Garoppolo and that some in New England aren’t on board with the new Garoppolo-less future.

Kraft added he “absolutely” believes Belichick will be back for a 19th season coaching the Patriots in 2018.

This comes after a New York Daily News report connected Belichick to the Giants’ vacancy. Belichick began his head coaching career with the 1991 Browns after a successful run as Big Blue’s DC under Bill Parcells. The Daily News’ Gary Myers spoke to a source who said the 66-year-old Belichick “sees an opening to get to the Giants” and added that, should the Patriots indeed separate this power structure, “The Giants are the only place he wants to be.”

The Giants have interviewed both of Belichick’s top lieutenants — Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia — for their HC job thus far.

Brady is under contract for two more seasons, and Belichick is believed to be under contract beyond this campaign, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports. Sources informed Maske a Patriots breakup may not commence “in the immediate future.” Maske also reports Belichick and Kraft met over the summer and resolved to try and sign Garoppolo to an extension. At that point, Maske reports, the coach and owner discussed a contract that would pay him to be Brady’s backup going forward but one that would spike once he became the starter, an element also present in Wickersham’s piece.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, however, reports neither Belichick nor Caserio ultimately proposed an extension to Garoppolo, whom Wickersham reported was offered a deal worth around $18MM AAV with playing-time escalators. The Boston-based reporter adds Brady did not ask Kraft to trade Garoppolo.

As for another Brady/Pats pact, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports the sides have discussed a deal that would take him past 2019 — which would be the all-time great’s age-42 season. These talks, per Howe, began last year and would be aimed at reducing Brady’s $22MM cap hits in 2018 and ’19.

There figures to be more fallout regarding this report, one that comes barely a week before the Patriots begin their 15th playoff run in the Belichick/Brady era.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Report Fallout

A surprising report dropped earlier this morning from Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com detailing the apparent rift between long-time Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and franchise-changing quarterback Tom Brady. Since then, those men along with owner Robert Kraft have released a statement pushing back on the reports that the leader of his football team and legendary signal caller are currently on bad terms.

“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”

It seemed reasonable that the Patriots would come out in some way considering the many shocking revelations that were published about the two key members of the franchise. The Patriots have made it a habit of shifting focus away from distractions and to next week’s opponent. That sentiment will be pushed to the test next weekend even if the three men have provided a statement that the report released today is false.

  • Out of the three key members of the organization, it would seem that Belichick would be the most likely to leave if the feelings reported within the Pats power structure are true, opines Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer outlines that obviously the owner is not going anywhere and with Brady still playing MVP caliber football without a true successor behind him, it would be difficult to see the team moving on from him either. He notes that Belichick is 65 years old and clearly didn’t want to trade Jimmy Garoppolo as he reports that the team flat out told potential bidders the young backup “wasn’t available” when trade talk swirled during last year’s NFL Draft. Breer summarizes that the Patriots latest moves to trade Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett this season don’t jive with Belichick’s thoughtful style in which he builds for now and the future. This could be foreshadowing that should the bombshell report turn out to have a lot of truth to it, then it seems the five-time Super Bowl winning head coach could move on from the team before his quarterback.
  • However, there was no mandate to trade Garoppolo midseason, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of PFT. This news completely contradicts Wickersham’s reporting that Brady “won” in convincing Kraft to trade Garoppolo against the wishes of his head coach. Florio continues that the team instead pushed their backup to take an “under the bridge” type deal that would pay him “very well to be a backup and then starter money”. The reporter also speculates that if a mandate was given, it would have come during this past offseason when teams were offering better picks for Garoppolo.
  • Another factor in this story was the relationship between the Patriots and Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero. According to this morning’s story, many players felt uncomfortable if they rejected to use Brady’s “TB12” training program to use team doctors. This allegedly contributed to the uncomfortable feeling around the locker room. Guerrero has since released a statement in response to the report in which he basically defends his work with the Patriots and Tom Brady over the years. Read the full statement here via Doug Kyed of NESN.com.

Patriots Owner Regrets Garoppolo Trade?

The Patriots stunned many this year when they traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick. In a lengthy piece detailing a growing rift within the Patriots organization, ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham writes that owner Robert Kraft forced Bill Belichick to make the deal. However, after watching Garoppolo excel in San Francisco, Kraft has “confessed to people in the building that trading Garoppolo might have been a mistake.” Robert Kraft (vertical)

Previous reports indicated that Kraft may have pressured Belichick to part ways with Tom Brady‘s heir apparent. However, the ESPN story hints at a much bigger problem within the organization. Brady, who turns 41 in August, seemed to be elated in the wake of the Garoppolo trade. Belichick, meanwhile, only requested a second-round pick in exchange for Garoppolo, Wickersham hears. Wickersham also hints that Belichick steered Garoppolo to the 49ers out of respect for Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan.

Before the trade, the Patriots worked hard to keep Garoppolo in the fold. Wickersham hears that the Pats “repeatedly” offered up four-year contract extensions, in the $17MM-$18MM per year range plus increases for if/when he succeeded Brady. Garoppolo’s camp rejected those offers, likely because he preferred the possibility of immediately becoming a starter elsewhere and earning $25MM/year or more on his next contract.

The story, which we recommend reading in full, hints at a potential end to the Patriots structure as we know it. Some within the organization apparently wondered if the Pats’ Week 17 game against the Jets could be Belichick’s last regular season game as the Patriots’ head coach.

Meanwhile, the agent for Brady (and Garoppolo) has moved to cast doubt on the report.

I don’t really know what to say — it’s tough to have a response since it didn’t appear to me to have one on-the-record quote,” Don Yee said in a statement. “All I can suggest is don’t believe everything you read.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: Manning, Beckham, Apple, OL

Dave Gettleman met with media for the first time as Giants GM on Friday, and he addressed the Eli Manning situation. Working under Ernie Accorsi when Manning was selected and staying on through the Giants’ second 21st-century Super Bowl title in 2011, Gettleman looked to show some faith Manning has quality football left. The new GM said he expects Manning to start in 2018.

Eli’s won a lot of games,” Gettleman said, via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. “A great competitor, very intelligent. He and I are gonna talk and if what I saw in Philadelphia was not a mirage — and I don’t believe it is — we’ll keep moving.”

Saddled with one of the league’s worst offensive lines and ground attacks, Manning has not enjoyed a good season. But he threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns against the NFC’s No. 1 seed earlier this month. Manning’s only other 300-plus-yard game this season came against the Eagles as well. Gettleman, however, said the Manning situation wouldn’t affect a possible first-round quarterback pick and added the “as of now” caveat to his Manning-in-2018 remarks, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv.

Here’s the latest out of New York on a busy day for the franchise.

  • John Mara has not wavered on his Odell Beckham Jr. stance. Although the co-owner said he’s unsure when an extension will be discussed for the rehabbing superstar, he remains committed to the wideout long-term. “Let’s face it, players with his ability don’t come along very often. So, yes, I want him to be a part of this team’s future,” Mara said, via Kimberly Jones of NFL.com (on Twitter). Gettleman, however, wasn’t as firm on a Beckham deal. Although, the new GM’s hesitance on an “obviously extremely talented kid” was largely based on a lack of interactions with Beckham, Vacchiano tweets. Beckham’s headed into his fifth-year option season.
  • Giants ownership wanted to wait until after the season when they could talk to other GM candidates, but after meeting with Gettleman, Mara and Co. decided to proceed in order to be ready to conduct a head-coaching search after Week 17’s conclusion, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
  • Eli Apple‘s status with the Giants may be in the murky-at-best category after his disastrous sophomore NFL season. But Mara isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the cornerback yet. “You don’t want to quit on talent,” Mara said, via Jones (on Twitter). “I happen to like him personally. I’m obviously disturbed with what’s happened this year. … I think we have to figure out what’s going on with him. But I’d like for him to be a part of this team’s future.” The Giants suspended Apple for Week 17, and a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson he would soon be done in New York. Apple is under contract through 2019, although this suspension makes that deal less binding.
  • Gettleman wasn’t vague about one area in need of repairs. The new Giants GM said the offensive lined needs to be fixed (Twitter link via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). Big Blue’s boasted one of the NFL’s worst fronts for the past two years, and both Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are in line to be free agents — and two of the best available. Ereck Flowers has not lived up to the billing as a top-10 pick, but his contract is guaranteed through 2018. Last year’s O-line draft class was not viewed as strong; this one has received higher marks early in the pre-draft process.
  • Accorsi could well seek Bill Belichick‘s counsel regarding a potential hire, but Garafolo reports (video link) he’s heard nothing to suggest the Patriots coach is playing a role in the Giants’ HC search thus far. A report earlier today indicated some buzz about Belichick advising Accorsi to get the Giants to hire Eagles DC Jim Schwartz.

Jim Schwartz On Giants’ HC Radar?

Having moved rather quickly to replace Jerry Reese with former Reese lieutenant Dave Gettleman, the Giants now are focused on filling their HC vacancy.

Ernie Accorsi will not “officially” be part of this search for their next head coach, John Mara said (via James Kratch of NJ.com, on Twitter). Accorsi won’t sit in on interviews, but the ex-Big Blue GM will be a resource in the process, per Mara. The Gettleman hire occurring — after myriad reports of the former Panthers GM being the favorite — leads some around the league to believe they have a coaching candidate ready to pair with Gettleman, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears.

Florio writes Eagles DC Jim Schwartz is the name that’s been most connected with this vacancy and floated an interesting reason for this buzz. Accorsi is believed to lean heavily on Bill Belichick‘s advice and Florio’s heard the Patriots HC has suggested Accorsi recommend Schwartz’s hire to Gettleman.

This would make for an interesting route, and Florio adds some in the league regard this recommendation as a way for Belichick to keep Josh McDaniels in the fold for another season. However, McDaniels has been connected to an HC avenues alongside New England VP of player personnel Nick Caserio as GM. A previous GM candidate, Caserio looks to be out of the picture for the Giants after Gettleman’s hire.

Mara said he would prefer an experienced head coach to take over, per Kratch (Twitter link). This would match up with Schwartz, who has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator and served as the Lions’ HC for five years. Schwartz has also had supporters within the Giants organization for years, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes, adding some sources believe Gettleman is high on the HC candidate as well.

Steve Spagnuolo will interview, but Mara is unsure OC Mike Sullivan will. Mara opened Gettleman’s presser today by saying he sought an exec with GM experience, so it would stand to reason the traditional organization wants a more seasoned HC. Mara’s Ben McAdoo hire — after only two years of coordinator experience — did not work out, so he’s planning to take a different route this time.

The Giants could interview Schwartz next week since the Eagles have booked a bye. The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi tweets the Giants wanted their GM search to conclude before the season ended in order to be ready to “act quickly” on a coaching search by the time interviews could be scheduled.

There’s certainly some unique reasoning associated with it, but Schwartz — who runs a 4-3 defense like the Giants do and has long been regarded as an upper-echelon DC — looks to be firmly on New York’s radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Garoppolo, Belichick, Williams

Three executives tell Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report that they believe several teams will be making blockbuster offers for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Ultimately, they think that will result in an offer the Pats cannot refuse.

Freeman also hears from Patriots sources that Bill Belichick likely plans to stay on as coach for at least five more years. Those same sources believe that Belichick wants to continue coaching after Brady retires to show that he can win without the best quarterback of all time.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Arrelious Benn‘s new contract with the Jaguars is a two-year, $1.765MM deal that contains $100K guaranteed, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Although he didn’t contribute much to the Jacksonville offense (just five receptions for 116 yards), Benn was a regular on special teams duty, as he saw action on 63% of the Jaguars’ ST plays.
  • Cornerback K’Waun Williams‘ grievance against the Browns will be heard on May 16, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Williams, who played for Cleveland from 2014-15, contends the Browns waived him while he was still dealing with an injured ankle. As such, Williams is seeking the entirety of his 2016 base salary ($600K), plus the cost of his surgery.
  • Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara has fired VaynerSports and hired Damarius Bilbo of Revolution Sports Group as his new representation , according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). Kamara, a committee back with the Volunteers, managed less than 1,300 yards rushing during two years in Tennessee, but also averaged more than six yards per carry during that time. Largely viewed as a Day 2 prospect, recent buzz has indicated Kamara could sneak into Round 1.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.