Bill Polian

NFC East Notes: Giants, Redskins, Jones

Now that the Giants front office and coaching staff is set to go through a number of changes after the firing of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, there’s a ton of speculation of who could be the person put in charge to bring the franchise back to perennial success.

While many people think the hire will come outside the organization, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network thinks interim GM Kevin Abrams should not be overlooked as the Giants begin their search.

Garafolo notes that Abrams is a “cap guy by trade”, but has worked on his scouting ability in recent years and has “attended multiple NFL seminars” to prepare to lead a football operations department. A number of names are likely to be floated for the job given that the team will likely have a high pick and has a track record of winning, but Abrams seems like he might get a realistic shot at turning his interim tag into a full-time position.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Apart from Abrams, Mike Sando of ESPN.com speculated a few candidates from outside the organization who could be contenders for the Giants general manager and head coaching gigs. Sando names front office guys like Nick Caserio from the Patriots, former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and former Colts President Bill Polian. He also highlights many well known up-and-comers such as Eric DeCosta (Ravens), George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf (Packers) and Terry McDonough (Cardinals) among many others. Sando added that former GM’s Scott Pioli (Falcons) and John Dorsey (free agent) could be intriguing hires as well. In terms of potential head coaching candidates, Sando names guys who were on the teams original list back before they hired McAdoo prior the 2016-17 season. This would include current coordinators like Teryl Austin (Lions) and Mike Smith (Buccaneers). An under-the-radar name to watch is Texans defensive coordinator, Mike Vrabel, who is best known for his time leading the Patriots defense to Super Bowl titles.
  • While the Redskins are out of the NFC playoff race after losing to the Cowboys last Thursday, that doesn’t mean that team will start resting their players, states John Keim of ESPN.com. He passes along that Head coach Jay Gruden said that he wouldn’t rest some of their injured starters just because the games don’t have postseason implications for the team. “They’re all trying to get back in the lineup,” Gruden said. “They’re going to play hard because they want to win and want to do well. That’s the reason they’re all here. We try to target guys that love football, are passionate about the game and are going to play hard no matter what. For the most part, we’ve got that here. So whether you are on one year left or five years left, doesn’t really matter.” Starters like left tackle Trent Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and tight end Jordan Reed have all dealt with nagging injuries this season, but it appears that the Redskins won’t just solely be resting key players hoping that could lead to a better draft pick.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones has not played in a game this season as he’s continued to rehab the achilles that he had torn back in March. However, the rookie has yet to participate in practice, reports Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Jones has been eligible to start practicing since the beginning of Week 7, but has just a 21 day time period to be activated to the roster once he does begin to take part in practice. It’s important to note that Berman explains in a follow-up tweet, Jones could just use the last three weeks of the regular season to get extra reps and get a head start on his offseason training. The Eagles currently have corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas patrolling the defensive backfield.

AFC Notes: Colts, Bills, Jets, Jones

While the Colts are set for a front-office transition, they are set to return most of their offensive coaching staff, with one exception. The Bills’ previous wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, will make the move to Indianapolis to work in the same capacity, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Lal coached Buffalo’s wideouts for two seasons. Between 2009-14, he worked with the Raiders’ and Jets’ receiving corps. Lal replaces Lee Hull, whom the team dismissed.

Aside from that switch, the Colts will return OC Rob Chudzinski‘s staff. Former Dolphins HC Joe Philbin will remain in charge of Indianapolis’ offensive line, Quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer will return as well. Although, no such assurances are made to this staff beyond the 2017 season, and per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the assistants are exhibiting a sense of relief at the Senior Bowl that Ryan Grigson‘s firing did not come with a sizable staff shakeup.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • Jim Irsay continues to consult with former Colts GM Bill Polian, per Holder, about the search to replace Grigson. Holder isn’t certain the Hall of Fame executive will sit in on the interviews, but it’s clear he’s functioning as a sounding board for his former boss.
  • When Doug Whaley listed some of the Bills‘ free agents, he categorized three players (Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods and RFA punter Colton Schmidt) as starters before pointing to the other 25 players in that grouping as performers brought in for depth purposes. “The rest of those guys, we brought in for backup depth purposes and they’ve played extremely well, and that’s a compliment to our pro personnel department,” Whaley said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “But we feel we have confidence that we can get a lot of those guys back on extended contracts.” Mike Rodak of ESPN.com points out UFAs like Lorenzo Alexander, right tackle Jordan Mills and Zach Brown enhanced their value this season (Twitter links) and won’t likely be regarded as depth players once they hit free agency. Rodak (via Twitter) also doesn’t see Alexander, used as an outside linebacker in Rex Ryan‘s 3-4 scheme, as a fit in Doug McDermott‘s 4-3.
  • The Jets are almost certainly set for some type of negotiation with Darrelle Revis about reducing his contract, but should he return in 2017, a transition to safety is in play. New Jets secondary coach Dennard Wilson said he “wouldn’t think it would be a problem” for Revis to take up playing on the back line, per Connor Hughes of NJ.com. Wilson demurred when asked whether he wants Revis on the 2017 team. The Jets can save $9MM by cutting Revis before the second day of the new league year but will incur a $6MM dead-money hit — one that would be alleviated, due to offset language, if Revis lands elsewhere.
  • Gang Green has done “extensive homework” on former Texans OC George Godsey, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Rapoport views Godsey, who mutually parted ways with the Texans after the team’s divisional-round loss to the Patriots, as a strong candidate to succeed Chan Gailey.
  • One of the Jets’ considerations with their No. 6 overall pick will be North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes. However, Pauline said upon discussions at the Senior Bowl that labeling the Jets as being infatuated with the early-entry Tar Heels talent may be a bit overblown, noting the Jets are part of a “pack of teams” at the top of the draft considering Trubisky.
  • Adam Jones could face a suspension next season after his profanity-laced tirade against police officers was captured on video. The Bengals cornerback issued an apology statement, via the Associated Press, following the franchise’s apology. Jones will be set for his age-34 season next year, which doubles as the second year of his latest Bengals contract.

Latest On Colts’ Decision-Making Structure

The Colts will conduct an expansive GM search, owner Jim Irsay said Saturday (via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter) and one that will include internal candidate Jimmy Raye III. The team will interview Raye, the Colts’ VP of football operations, for the position, and Raye will serve as interim general manager in the meantime.

Raye and Chuck Pagano will travel to the Senior Bowl to head up the team’s presence there. Pagano will stay on as the Colts’ coach in 2017, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This comes after Irsay fired GM Ryan Grigson, whose hire led to Pagano’s in 2012.

I hope Chuck can be our coach for many years to come. He is our coach,” Irsay said.

Another report surfaced just before Irsay’s press conference noting Peyton Manning has a high-level Colts executive job waiting for him if he wants it, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com writes. However, Irsay said today Manning is not in consideration for the GM job, Scheter tweets. The owner and his previous employee had conversations this offseason, however, and Breer tweets Manning would be considered for a role in the organization, per Irsay.

Regarding the Jon Gruden pursuit, Irsay denied he talked to the current ESPN analyst for the team’s HC position. Instead, the owner said the conversations with Gruden were to get feedback on the team, per Holder (on Twitter). Irsay also said he’s had discussions with former GM Bill Polian but added he will not have a role with the organization, Holder tweets.

Raye interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but was not given finalist consideration. Irsay noted today he has a list of candidates in mind, but the assortment is fluid at this point, Holder tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bill Polian Denies Bears Rumors

Could executive Bill Polian come out of retirement to join the Bears? The Hall of Famer is telling people close to him at ESPN that it’s not in the cards, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Bill Polian (vertical)

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It’s absolutely wrong,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter told WMVP-AM 1000. “He laughed at the idea of it and was trying to figure out the genesis of it because he’s had absolutely no contact with anybody there. There is no job … and he was befuddled how he could be connected to the job.”

In the midst of a 3-10 season, there are big changes coming in Chicago. Whether those changes include a front office shakeup remains to be seen, but if Polian is to be believed, he will not a part of that turnover. Polian, 74, is a longtime friend of the team’s owners, but two of his television colleagues have been told that there have been no conversations between him and the organization regarding a job. Furthermore, the “senior advisory role” that he has been connected to does not currently exist in the organization.

Polian has worked as the general manager of three teams: the Bills, the Panthers, and most recently, the Colts. For now, it sounds like he is content with his second career in broadcasting.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bill Polian Receptive To Front Office Offers

Longtime NFL general manager Bill Polian is open to returning to a front office job, and would “strongly consider” a senior advisory role if offered, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. The Bears, specifically, could be one option for Polian if Chicago decides to rework its decision-making structure.Bill Polian (Vertical)

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The Bears could restructure its front office after the season, per La Canfora, but it’s unclear whether that would mean parting ways with current general manager Ryan Pace. In any event, Polian sounds more open to a “football czar” role in which he could oversee a franchise’s roster machinations and coaching staff from a 30,000-foot view. While the Rams have also been tossed out as a contender for Polian’s services, the veteran executive is said to prefer a Midwestern team.

Polian was thought to be in talks for a advisory role with the Bills prior to the 2015 season, but ultimately decided to remain an ESPN contributor. Polian continued to offer informal advice to Bills owner Terry Pegula in the following months, but indicated that he wasn’t interested in a formal job with Buffalo. “If anybody asks, sure. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to answer and happy to help in any way I can,” Polian said at the time.

Polian, 74, has worked as the general manager of three teams: the Bills, the Panthers, and most recently, the Colts, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 2007. Indianapolis fired him as GM after the 2011 season. A highly-decorated personnel man, Polian is a six-time recipient of the NFL’s Executive of the Year award and a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bill Polian Not Interested In Formal Role With Bills

Former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian is happy to offer suggestions and ideas for how to improve the Bills, as he did last week, but he isn’t interested in any sort of formal role in the team’s front office, he tells John Murphy of BuffaloBills.com.

“Anything I could do to help in any way, I would,” Polian said on Tuesday. “But any kind of a formal role is absolutely precluded. Nor am I seeking that. I’m very happy with what I’m doing at ESPN.”

While there were indications last week that Polian might consider a consulting role with the Bills, he made it clear to Murphy that he’ll only talk to Buffalo or any another NFL team about football matters on an informal basis.

“There was a question later on which related to consulting, and which I misunderstood,” Polian said. “The committee on which I serve, the NFL Personnel Development Committee, has members – Charley Casserly, Ron Wolf, Ernie Accorsi – who frequently serve as consultants to teams when they go through the hiring process. And I made it clear that even though some teams have asked me to do that in the past, I can’t do it because of the terms of my ESPN contract. That prohibits me from doing that.”

Given Polian’s history with the Bills and his relationship with team owner Terry Pegula, rumors and reports have frequently linked the Hall of Fame NFL executive to Buffalo. A year ago, there were indications that the Bills talked to Polian about bringing him aboard either in an advisory role or as a top front office executive, but he ultimately decided to stay at ESPN. While Polian doesn’t plan on officially joining the Bills anytime soon, he still wants to see the franchise succeed.

“If anybody asks, sure. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to answer and happy to help in any way I can. And that includes whatever I could do for the community,” Polian said, referring to his conversations with Pegula. “I’m going to make a speech this spring in the community. Things I can do along those lines, I’m very happy to do. I want the Bills to do well. That’s the overarching message — I want the Bills to do well.”

Bills Rumors: Polian, Taylor, Whaley, Williams

After declining to re-join the Bills’ front office in January, Bill Polian has volunteered his services to the current Bills’ hierarchy as a consultant, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports.

The Bills’ general manager from 1986-1992 and 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, Polian told Carucci he will only provide consulting services for the Bills.

Listen, I owe this franchise virtually everything I have in the National Football League,” Polian said. “A good reason why a yellow jacket’s on my shoulder is because of the Buffalo Bills. The bottom line is, I want this team to succeed.”

Although the 73-year-old Polian turned down an offer to be the Bills’ football czar, his being inducted into the Hall of Fame in August could help his chances at departing ESPN and reuniting with his former team, Carucci writes.

Here are some more Polian- and Bills-related items on Christmas Eve.

  • Among the stances Polian offered to owner Terry Pegula in recent months was that semi-breakout quarterback Tyrod Taylor is not the team’s long-term answer under center. “You can win with Tyrod if the other pieces are good,” Polian told Carucci. “If there are six or seven Pro Bowlers at other positions, you can win with Tyrod. But he’s not the quarterback of the future. He’s not Jim Kelly, and, although he doesn’t have the same track record, he’s probably comparable to Frank Reich. But he’s not 6-feet-4 like Frank Reich. He’s small and he’s going to get hurt, and he did. Now, you have to find his backup and the quarterback of the future.”
  • Polian also would likely cut EJ Manuel if brought in as a consultant after recommending the sputtering ex-first-rounder’s release to Pegula in a recent phone conversation. Manuel has one year left on his rookie contract and represented a source of friction between current GM Doug Whaley and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Carucci notes. The latter wanted Buffalo to retain Matt Cassel as Taylor’s backup, while Whaley, who played a key role in bringing Manuel to Buffalo at No. 16 overall in 2013, preferred the cheaper Manuel stay. Whaley has one year left on his contract, and per the Buffalo News, hasn’t had extension discussions.
  • Polian referred to the current Bills offensive line as “aging and unathletic,” a take that confused Buffalo News reporter Tyler Dunne, given that only Richie Incognito is over 29 among the current nucleus up front. Dunne also does not like the potential for coordination between Polian, Whaley and Rex Ryan, with Polian being critical of both recently.
  • Mario Williams‘ spree of assessments on the shortcomings of the Bills’ 21st-ranked defense continued, with the veteran insisting the current personnel does not fit Ryan’s scheme, per an Associated Press report. The 30-year-old edge presence also acknowledges his days with the Bills could very well be over soon. “Of course there’ll be changes,” Williams told media. “I mean, that’s obvious. You just wait and see if my number’s called.” Williams’ 2016 cap number of $19.9MM would be by far the most on the Bills.

 

 

La Canfora’s Latest: Dalton, Falcons, Manning

As the second slate of games near halftime, lets’s take a look at the latest from Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com…

  • Andy Dalton‘s recent thumb injury could end up costing the Bengals quarterback millions of dollars in escalators, according to La Canfora. Per clauses in Dalton’s six-year, $96MM extension, he can earn extra cash by playing in 80% of Cincinnati’s snaps during the regular season, while separate escalators are tied to his playing (and winning) in each successive round of the postseason. All told, writes La Canfora, Dalton could add $15MM to his current deal, but those plateaus are obviously at risk now.
  • Falcons ownership is growing frustrated with the club’s lack of success and is considering firing general manager Thomas Dimitroff, writes La Canfora, who adds that Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner and Vikings assistant GM George Paton could each be strong candidates to fill the position (each has a professional history with Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn). It sounds like current AGM Scott Pioli (a Dimitroff friend) could also be on the chopping block.
  • Major changes could also be coming to the Titans staff, and rumors persist that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning could land in Tennessee as something of a football czar, with former NFL exec Bill Polian (who drafted Manning) as team president. In such a scenario, Polian’s son Chris could act as general manager, while Jaguars assistant Doug Marrone or Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase would be candidates to serve as head coach.

Bill Polian To Remain At ESPN

4:53pm: A source tells Florio that the deal between Polian and the Bills broke down primarily because of money — namely, Polian wanting more of it. Florio also speculates that Polian used Buffalo’s interest in him as leverage to garner a better contract with ESPN. Additionally, Polian had wanted Marrone to remain as head coach, so Marrone’s opt-out probably lessened Polian’s interest in the job.

1:29pm: Former NFL executive Bill Polian has informed Bills owner Terry Pegula that he will continue to work as an analyst for ESPN rather than accept a position with Buffalo, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Facebook link via Adam Schefter). Bills ownership never made a formal offer to Polian, who worked with the club from 1984-93, but the two sides did have talks, both about an advisory role and a top front office job, before Polian decided to stick with his broadcasting position.

Reports yesterday indicated that Buffalo had hired Polian to serve as its team president, but Polian refuted those claims. Per Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, Polian was inclined to take the Bills position before speaking with ex-Buffalo coach Doug Marrone, who condemned the organization (Twitter links). As the two have a long relationship, Polian acted on Marrone’s advice, and declined Pegula’s offer.

Polian, 72, has worked as the general manager of three teams: the Bills, the Panthers, and most recently, the Colts, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 2007. Indianapolis fired him as GM after the 2011 season. According to Mortensen, Polian has received interest from other clubs, as well, but ultimately decided to stay with ESPN rather than return to a personnel role. A highly-decorated GM, Polian is a six-time recipient of the NFL’s Executive of the Year award.

Though current Bills general manager Doug Whaley is expected to keep his job, reports that Buffalo wanted to bring in Polian to lead its front office isn’t good news for Whaley, who had a hand in drafting E.J. Manuel and had already traded the Bills’ 2015 first-round-pick. Additionally, Buffalo CEO Russ Brandon is reportedly drawing interest from Oakland, which is interested in hiring Brandon as its team president, meaning that the organization’s entire structure could be in flux. Graham had reported that Brandon was likely to remain with the Bills, but as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out (via Twitter), it’s now clear that Buffalo was negotiating with Polian without Brandon’s knowledge or consent, which could indicate his role in the club’s hierarchy has been reduced.

Polian’s decision could also affect the Bills’ head coaching search — Polian was reportedly high on Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich, and was thought to be interested in bringing in the play-caller as Buffalo’s head coach. Reich will interview with the club next week, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s still among the favorites for the job without Polian in the front office.

Bills Interested In Frank Reich

With Doug Marrone no longer employed as the Bills‘ head coach, the team will have to look elsewhere to replace the man who brought Buffalo its second winning season in the past 15 years.

Although news of Marrone’s departure only became public last night, the fallout has been quick, and the Bills may already have a frontrunner to replace him as head coach in Buffalo. The team will have a strong interest in Chargers‘ offensive coordinator Frank Reich, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Reich, who was the team’s backup quarterback behind Jim Kelly for the great Bills teams of the late 80s and early 90s, famously leading the team to a comeback victory over the Oilers after trailing 35-3 in the second half.

The team is also considering defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and could be interested in former Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher, but Vic Carrucci of The Buffalo News writes that Reich immediately became the team’s top target.

Reich would be the favorite for Bill Polian, who is expected to take over as the team’s head of football operations within the next month.

In anticipation of the hire, Mathew Fairburn of Syracuse.com put together a list of five things to know about the connection between Reich and the Bills. He obviously has a long history with the franchise, but Fairburn also points out that when Polian took over the expansion Carolina Panthers, he brought Reich in to be the team’s first quarterback.

Fairburn also writes that Reich worked under successful head coaches Tony Dungy, Ken Whisenhunt, and most recently Mike McCoy.

Bills’ Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Reed believes Reich would be a great hire in Buffalo, writes Dan Hanzus of NFL.com.

I think he would make — definitely would make a great head coach anywhere,” said Reed. “He’s definitely a viable candidate. I think he would do a great job. Not only would he bring a lot of credibility, but Bills fans would probably — the roof would probably come off if he came in there and became the head coach. I’m definitely a proponent of him being the head coach there, if that’s the way and that’s what goes down.”

Reich is coming off his first year as an offensive coordinator and play caller in San Diego, and while Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco understands the interest, he is not looking forward to losing Reich, reports Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego.

“I think Frank, in his first year, did a very good job,” Telesco said. “He’s smart. He’s detailed. He’s prepared for this for a long time. He’s a great teacher, a great communicator, and he can really handle a room as far as handling the offense. He did an excellent job, and I’m not surprised that some teams would have interest in him. But selfishly, I hope he stays here.”

While Telesco may hope to retain Reich, his history in Buffalo and the opportunity to become a head coach for the first time may be difficult to pass up.