Brian Pariani

Broncos Notes: Munchak, Paradis, Modkins

Gary Kubiak went from Broncos front office exec to impending Denver OC to Vikings assistant head coach. We heard the Super Bowl-winning head coach wanted to bring back former Broncos assistants Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani to be part of the next Broncos offensive staff, and that led to the breakup between the coach and the team with which he is most associated. But John Elway‘s HC interview with Mike Munchak, while not being enough to deter the GM from offering the position to Vic Fangio, went well enough he wanted the Pittsburgh offensive line coach to come to Denver as an assistant. That was a deal-breaker for Kubiak, who sought Dennison to oversee his offensive line concepts, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos fired Pariani in 2017, and the franchise was not ready to rehire him, Klis adds. Pariani will now coach tight ends in Minnesota. Rich Scangarello is now the Broncos’ OC.

Here is the latest from Denver:

  • On the subject of Scangarello, it looks like the former 49ers quarterbacks coach will be hiring someone to serve in that role in Denver. Previous QBs coach Mike Sullivan, as could be expected following the dismissal of 2017-18 Broncos OC Bill Musgrave, is not expected to be part of the 2019 staff, according to Klis (on Twitter). Sullivan had two NFL tours as an offensive coordinator, with the Buccaneers from 2012-13 and with the Giants from 2016-17.
  • However, the Broncos will retain one of their other offensive assistants. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins will be back, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. The 2016 San Francisco OC who then worked with Fangio in Chicago as the Bears’ 2017 running backs coach, Modkins succeeded longtime Denver RBs coach Eric Studesville and oversaw the stunning development of Phillip Lindsay. He will have a chance to continue working with the Pro Bowl back and third-round pick Royce Freeman in 2019.
  • Perhaps the Broncos’ best center since Tom Nalen, Matt Paradis is not a lock to return to Denver as a free agent. The Broncos would like him to come back, but Klis notes he will test the market. This could be a significant development, as the 29-year-old blocker will probably be the top center available come March. Denver brass and Paradis entered into extension discussions last year, but the sides could not reach an agreement. Paradis’ ironman streak ended in November as well, with a broken fibula ending his season. The Broncos stand to hold $40MM-plus in cap space and have some cap-casualty candidates, but Paradis going to the market may well mean it will cost a team eight figures annually to sign him.

Coaching Rumors: Rizzi, Dennison, Browns

Darren Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins coaching job that is likely to go to Brian Flores, but the special teams coordinator is a coveted commodity around the league. The Packers are set to interview him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Miami wants to retain Rizzi, who has been with the team throughout the 2010s, but has given him permission to seek employment elsewhere. That may soon prompt an extensive interview circuit. Five teams are interested in bringing him aboard, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Vikings look to be one of those. Rizzi, 48, has only coached for one NFL franchise. His pre-Dolphins gigs were college jobs in the northeast, including a one-season stay (2008) as Rhode Island’s head coach.

As week three of many teams’ offseason begins, here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Todd Monken‘s rise to Buccaneers play-caller earned him interest in teams’ OC jobs. He ended up landing with the Browns, but the other recent play-caller on this staff will call Cleveland’s plays next season. Freddie Kitchens will be the game-day director for the Browns’ offense next season, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). This won’t be too new for Monken, who spent the first two seasons as Bucs OC watching Dirk Koetter call plays.
  • The Vikings announced Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks coach) and Brian Pariani (tight ends) are following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, with the latter’s official title being assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Expected to be part of the Gary Kubiak gang getting back together up north, Rick Dennison was not included in this announcement. But Mike Klis of 9News notes the former Broncos and Bills OC is indeed believed to be part of the next Vikings staff (Twitter link). When Kubiak agreed to reprise his longtime role as Broncos OC, he wanted Dennison to oversee the team’s offensive line concepts, per Klis. The Broncos’ pursuit of Mike Munchak overruled this, and Dennison — the Jets’ O-line coach in 2018 — could be set to have a role in aiding the Vikings’ blockers next season.
  • Speaking of Munchak, the Broncos went beyond their usual offensive line coach budget to bring him over from Pittsburgh, Klis notes (on Twitter). Munchak, who has coached for just two franchises (the Oilers/Titans and Steelers), has family in the area.
  • The Steelers promoted Shaun Sarrett to replace Munchak as their O-line coach, the team announced. Sarrett had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. He has been with the Steelers for seven seasons, helping instruct their offensive linemen for most of that time.
  • After the Steelers let running backs coach James Saxon go, he will move to Arizona. The Cardinals are hiring Saxon to coach their running backs, Aditi Kinkabwala of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He will replace Kirby Wilson and attempt to revive Arizona’s No. 32-ranked ground game. Saxon has 19 years’ experience coaching running backs in the NFL — the past five with the Steelers, where he oversaw Le’Veon Bell‘s rise and James Conner and Jaylen Samuels‘ quality replacement efforts — and should help rookie NFL coach Kliff Kingsbury.
  • Kris Kocurek will move from south Florida to the Bay Area, shifting from the Dolphins’ defensive line coach to the same role with the 49ers, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM tweets. Kocurek, 40, was the Lions’ D-line coach for nine seasons prior to moving to Miami.

Vikings To Hire Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak will not return to an offensive coordinator role in 2019. Instead, he will take a job with the Vikings as an offensive advisor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

He was linked to a Minnesota role earlier Monday, and his son’s new position likely played a key role. Klint Kubiak is expected to become the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach, Schefter reports.

This will be Gary Kubiak’s first time on the sidelines in a non-HC role since he was the 2014 Ravens’ OC. He will undoubtedly help OC Kevin Stefanski, whose first NFL play-calling experience came when he was promoted late this season to his current role.

Stefanski is close with Klint Kubiak, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). They worked together when Klint was part of the Vikings’ staffs in 2013-14 as a quality control coach. Gary Kubiak once wanted to bring Stefanski to Denver, per Schefter (on Twitter), but they will pair up in Minneapolis instead.

This also represents a key turning point on the 2019 coaching carousel. Less than a week ago, Kubiak was expected to return to the Broncos’ coaching staff as their offensive coordinator, teaming with new HC Vic Fangio. But conflicts, centering around personnel, scuttled that move. And it will end up sending Kubiak out of Denver, where he held his “dream job” and became a Super Bowl-winning coach.

Interestingly, the two assistants Kubiak reportedly wanted to bring back to Denver, per 9News’ Mike Klis, will follow him to Minnesota. Former Broncos OC Rick Dennison and ex-Denver tight ends coach Brian Pariani will be part of the Vikings’ staff next season, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM tweets, adding that Kubiak’s title is expected to be something along the lines of “assistant head coach/offense.” With Kubiak influencing staff moves to this degree, it looks like he is going to have a key voice for how the Vikings proceed next season. And the Vikings’ 2019 offensive staff will look a lot like the 2016 Broncos’ did.

These moves may well be based around Kirk Cousins. Mike Shanahan drafted Cousins and championed him as a future starter, though Cousins’ time realizing his former coach’s vision came under Jay Gruden. But Shanahan and Kubiak feature nearly identical offensive systems, making Kubiak-to-Minnesota a natural fit.

At 31, Klint Kubiak is a few months older than Cousins. He worked with quarterbacks in Denver for the past three seasons, the first under his father and most recent two when Gary Kubiak was part of the Broncos’ front office. Dennison served as Kubiak’s Denver OC from 2015-16 but was relieved of that job in Buffalo after the 2017 season. He coached the Jets’ offensive line last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys

While the Eagles might not name an offensive coordinator, they have likely found their next quarterbacks coach. Assistant quarterbacks coach Press Taylor is expected to be promoted to the primary role, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Taylor will replace John DeFilippo, who was hired as the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator over the weekend. The 30-year-old Taylor joined Philadelphia under former head coach Chip Kelly, but was kept on staff when Doug Pederson came aboard in 2016. Next season, he’ll work with a rehabbing Carson Wentz and — if he’s not traded — Super Bowl MVP/backup Nick Foles.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Defensive back Su’a Cravens applied for reinstatement on Monday, and the Redskins are expected to meet with the former second-round pick at the combine, reports John Keim of ESPN.com. Cravens, of course, didn’t play in 2017 after “retiring” — and then reversing his decision — before the season began. One talent evaluator tells Keim Washington could likely recoup a third-round pick by trading Cravens — that is, if the versatile defender didn’t come with any off-field questions. Given his saga over the past six months or so, Cravens would likely garner far less than a Day 2 selection.
  • The Cowboys have yet to fill their vacant tight ends coach position, and the club has interviewed two other coaches about the role, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Longtime collegiate offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (who recently took a job with LSU), and Brian Pariani, who has served as a tight ends coach for multiple NFL teams, are both in consideration for the job, per Archer. Dallas also lost one assistant today, as defensive staffer Turner West left the club to join Austin Peay, tweets Archer.
  • Dane Brugler of the Dallas Morning News identified six prospects the Cowboys may want to look into either trading up or down for in the first round of the draft. Atop the list of players to trade up for was Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, whom Brugler believes would require the Cowboys, who hold the 19th overall pick, to move into the top 12 selections. Brugler also pointed to Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea as trade-up candidates. As for players to trade down for, of note was South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, who Brugler believes the team could groom as a replacement for Jason Witten.
  • The Giants have several ways to open cap space this offseason and SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano goes over players who could end up being salary-cap cuts. Veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($8.5MM cap hit in 2018), Brandon Marshall ($6.1MM cap hit), and Janoris Jenkins ($13MM) were the most notable of the potential cuts. Vacchiano also listed Eli Apple, who the team took in the first round of the 2016 draft, as an option to clear cap space. Apple would have a $4.13MM cap hit next season.

Latest On Broncos Coaching Staff

The Broncos coaching staff looks a whole lot different than it did 48 hours ago. On Wednesday, the organization announced that they had hired former Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as their new head coach. Last night saw two more changes. Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joined the Rams while the Broncos were finalizing a deal with new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Defensive backs coach Joe Woods is considered the favorite to be promoted to the defensive coordinator position, although he still has some competition for the gig. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos will also be interviewing Reggie Herring for the opening. Herring spent the past two seasons as the team’s linebackers coach, and he handled some defensive play-calling duties earlier this season. Herring has also served as the linebackers coach for the Texans, Cowboys, and Bears.

As we wrap our head around all of these coaching moves, let’s take a look at some additional changes in Denver…

  • While McCoy seems to be in the driver’s seat for the offensive coordinator gig, Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that the organization still plans on interviewing Bill Musgrave today. The long-time coach spent the past two seasons as the Raiders offensive coordinator.
  • The Broncos have parted ways with tight ends coach Brian Pariani, according to Troy Renck of ABC Denver7 (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports that offensive line coach Clancy Barone also won’t be back. Finally, Klis reports (via Twitter) that Joseph notified special teams assistant Tony Coaxum and offensive line assistant Jim Cregg that they also wouldn’t be retained for next season.
  • Joseph acknowledged that Phillips is “one of [his] football dads,” but he also admitted that Woods was “ready to be a coordinator,” as ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold passes along (via Twitter). Wolfe tweets that the Broncos loved Phillips, but the organization saw higher potential in Woods.
  • Jason La Canfora tweets that general manager John Elway was in favor of changes to the Broncos coaching staff even if former head coach Gary Kubiak stuck around. Klis adds (via Twitter) that Joseph wanted “sweeping changes” when it came to his new staff.

Broncos Hire Rick Dennison As OC

Having been officially announced as the Broncos’ new head coach earlier today, Gary Kubiak has already begun to put together his staff, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Two league sources tell Klis that the Broncos have hired Rick Dennison as their offensive coordinator and Brian Pariani as their tight ends coach.

Though there was some speculation that either Dennison or Pariani would remain in Baltimore, perhaps as candidates for the Ravens’ newly-opened offensive coordinator position, it comes as no surprise that both coaches are following Kubiak to Denver. Both men also worked with Kubiak in Houston before joining him in Baltimore this past season.

As Klis writes, the 56-year-old Dennison is “well-schooled in the zone-blocking, play-action offensive system” that Kubiak prefers to use. With the Broncos, the former Ravens quarterbacks coach will either work with Peyton Manning or Manning’s replacement – possibly Brock Osweiler – if the future Hall-of-Famer decides to call it a career.

With Dennison heading to Denver, the Broncos and Ravens could end up essentially swapping offensive coaches, as former Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase is viewed as a top candidate for Baltimore’s OC job. We heard earlier today that Gase figures to land in either Baltimore or Jacksonville.

Broncos Hire Gary Kubiak As Head Coach

MONDAY, 9:53am: The Broncos have officially announced that they have agreed to terms with Kubiak, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Kubiak will become the 15th head coach in team history.

SUNDAY, 8:17pm: The Broncos have seemingly concluded their head coaching search, as they are currently in the process of negotiating a four-year contract with Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to coach the team, reports Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

Kubiak is expected to be introduced as early as Tuesday, according to Klis. He is likely to bring Ravens quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison along with him to serve as his offensive coordinator, reports Albert Breer of NFL.com (via Twitter). Kubiak could also bring tight ends coach Brian Pariani, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).

Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com doesn’t believe that it is a lock for either Dennison or Pariani to head to Denver, and writes that either one could be a candidate to take over as the Ravens offensive coordinator (via Twitter). Former Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase could also be an option in Baltimore, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Breer also notes that Kubiak figures to target Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph (via Twitter).

Before the Broncos job opened up, Kubiak announced that he was not interested in pursuing head coaching opportunities, electing instead to remain with the Ravens as the offensive coordinator. However, things changed when the Broncos and John Fox parted ways, prompting Kubiak to change his mind and make himself available to interview in Denver.

Kubiak has a long history with the Broncos, playing for the team for nine seasons as a backup to Hall of Fame quarterback and current general manager of the Broncos John Elway, and losing three Super Bowls as a player. He returned to Denver as a quarterbacks coach for the 49ers, where he won his first Super Bowl as a coach. Kubiak later became the offensive coordinator for the Broncos under head coach Mike Shanahan, coaching Elway to two Super Bowl victories.

As Kubiak became a clear frontrunner for the job, it was reported that he would accept the position should the Broncos offer it to him.

The Ravens have now lost their offensive coordinator in Kubiak, who lead the team to a record-setting year for the franchise. The team will now look to hire its fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons, writes Zrebiec (via Twitter).

This also further complicates the issue of whether or not Peyton Manning will return to the Broncos in 2015. Kubiak is a widely regarded offensive mind, and three years ago when Manning was a free agent he was reportedly interested in teaming up with Kubiak and signing with the Texans. The rumor is that Kubiak did not pursue the idea of signing Manning, instead preferring to continue working with Matt Schaub, writes Pro Football Talk (via Twitter).

Kubiak’s attitude towards coaching Manning would likely had to have changed if the team plans on bringing Manning back. Otherwise, Kubiak will be starting from scratch at the quarterback position, possibly with former second-round pick Brock Osweiler.