Blake Beddingfield

AFC Notes: Chiefs, Ravens, Fins, Titans

As the Chiefs were preparing to trade up 17 spots in the first round of this year’s draft to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes 10th overall, they reached out to starting signal-caller Alex Smith to make sure he’d be OK with it, general manager John Dorsey told the NFL Network on Monday (via Conor Orr of “You know, Alex is the consummate professional,” said Dorsey. “He’s been through these types of situations before and we made sure we communicated with Alex leading up to the draft that we may make a move like this. And when we were on the clock and traded up with Buffalo, we made sure we again got in contact with Alex and he’s all on board with this.” Even after the addition of Mahomes, Smith knows the Chiefs are “his team,” per Dorsey, who praised the 33-year-old for owning “the fourth-winningest record” among QBs since his KC tenure began in 2013. The Chiefs have indeed posted an excellent regular-season mark (41-20) with Smith at the controls, but they’ve managed only one playoff win in three trips. Now, thanks in no small part to the Chiefs’ investment in Mahomes, Smith appears unlikely to last as their starter for much longer. The 12-year veteran’s contract will expire after the 2018 season.

More from the AFC:

  • The Ravens are the best fit for free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, opines’s Jamison Hensley, who writes that the ex-Patriot’s “bruising” style would be perfect for Baltimore’s offense. Moreover, running back is a need for the Ravens, Hensley points out. With Kenneth Dixon set to miss the opening quarter of the season on account of a suspension and Terrance West having led the team last year with a so-so 774 yards on 193 carries, it’s hard to argue with Hensley. PFR’s Zach Links recently made a case for Baltimore to sign Blount, who set a career high with 1,161 rushing yards and finished with an NFL-best 18 touchdowns on the ground last season.
  • Retired quarterback Peyton Manning had a hand in the Dolphins’ late-winter acquisition of tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post details. Manning played in Indianapolis under now-Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christiansen, who contacted the future Hall of Famer about Thomas when Miami was considering trading for him. Thomas’ best seasons, the 2013 and ’14 campaigns, came in Denver with Manning under center (and now-Dolphins head coach Adam Gase at offensive coordinator). Having tossed 24 touchdown passes to Thomas during that two-year span, Manning offered Christiansen a positive review of the tight end, saying “that (Thomas) figured it out. (Thomas’) figure-it-out factor was high. That’s what you look for. There’s a guy who came in and probably didn’t know a whole bunch about football, or played very little. His experience was very minimal, and then (he) came in and figured it out and then worked.”
  • The Titans are likely to promote Jon Salge to director of college scouting, a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Salge, a college scout who’s in his 11th year with the Titans, would replace the recently fired Blake Beddingfield.

Titans Part Ways With GM Ruston Webster

The Titans will not renew the contract of general manager Ruston Webster, the team announced today in a press release. Tennessee will begin conducting searches for a new GM as well as a head coach, according to the team. Interim head coach Mike Mularkey will be among the candidates considered for the coaching vacancy, and will get an interview as part of the search process.

While Webster is no longer in the mix, and Mularkey’s future with the organization is uncertain, the Titans announced that Steve Underwood will serve as the club’s president and CEO on a permanent basis, with the interim tag removed from his title.

“Today, I am glad to announce that Steve Underwood will be continuing in his role as our president and chief executive officer on a permanent basis,” said Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk in a statement. “I have had ongoing discussions with Steve on this issue for a while, and I feel his leadership is vital in order to move us forward. He has brought much-needed stability to our organization, and I look forward to progress that will be made under his leadership.”

Underwood will be leading the Titans’ dual searches for a GM and a head coach, while vice president of football administration Vin Marino will oversee the team’s football operations until a permanent GM is hired.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links), Titans college director Blake Beddingfield is worth keeping an eye on, since he’s highly regarded within the organization, and took on an increased role when Lake Dawson was let go. Breer adds that Buccaneers executive Jon Robinson, a Tennessee native, may also be a candidate for the Titans’ GM role.

As for Mularkey, multiple reports earlier today hinted that he may receive stronger consideration for the permanent head coaching position than initially expected. However, if the Titans decide to hire a general manager first, particularly one from outside the organization, that new GM may want to bring in his own head coach rather than sticking with Mularkey.