- Al Holcomb is back in Carolina. The Panthers have hired Holcomb to be their run game coordinator, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Holcomb was linebackers coach under Ron Rivera in Carolina for five years from 2013-17, so this is a homecoming for him. He spent last year as the Browns’ run game coordinator, and found himself in need of a new job after Freddie Kitchens got bounced from Cleveland. He had previously served as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals under Steve Wilks in 2018. He was a grad assistant at Temple back in the day, which could explain his connection to new Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who was previously the head coach at Temple.
- We heard Mike Shula’s interview with the Broncos went well, and now he’s about to be hired. Shula is going to become Denver’s next quarterbacks coach, the team is just working out contract details, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Specifically, Klis writes that offsets with the Giants still need to be worked out. Shula had been the Giants’ offensive coordinator before Pat Shurmur was fired, and there was apparently offset language in his contract. Prior to joining New York, Shula was the Panthers’ OC for five seasons. Shurmur has since been hired as Denver’s offensive play-caller, so obviously there’s a lot of familiarity here.
- Rookie Panthers head coach Matt Rhule continues to fill out his inaugural staff, and he just made a couple of new hires. Rhule is expected to hire Pat Meyer away from the Chargers as his offensive line coach, and Jason Simmons away from the Packers as his defensive backs coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meyer had been Los Angeles’ OL coach and run-game coordinator, while Simmons coached the Packers’ DBs. Rhule’s staff is now almost fully fleshed out.
- Recently notified he was out in Cleveland, James Campen may have an opportunity with Carolina. The Panthers are interested in the former Browns offensive line coach, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Campen was Mike McCarthy‘s offensive line coach from 2007-18 and spent 15 years as a Green Bay assistant prior to his Cleveland move last year. The Browns hired Bill Callahan to replace him on Monday.
The Panthers, for now, seem intent on keeping GM Marty Hurney in his current role. But they’re likely eyeing VP of football ops candidates like Andrew Berry as eventual replacements for him, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes.
Berry, it seems, has been passed over for the Browns’ GM vacancy. But, even if George Paton is the hire in Cleveland, the Panthers will still have to secure the blessing of the Eagles, who have – so far – been unwilling to let him walk for a position that doesn’t include authority over the 53-man roster.
The Panthers announced that they have hired Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator. Snow has spent the last seven years as Rhule’s DC and they’ll continue their partnership in Charlotte.
Snow spent four years as Rhule’s DC at Temple before following him to Baylor, where they’ve spent the last three years together. Rhule, meanwhile, has always made it known that he wanted to put together his own staff at the pro level. Last year, he rejected the Jets’ offer when the club insisted on picking out his assistants for him given his lack of previous NFL experience. He held firm, stayed at Baylor for another year, and wound up with full autonomy (and a deal that could pay up to $70MM) with the Panthers.
Snow comes with some NFL experience, having served as the Lions’ linebackers coach from 2005 to 2008. At the collegiate level, he’s delivered impressive results. In 2019, Baylor ranked 41st in the nation in total defense, and finished second in takeaways (30), third in interceptions (17), eighth in sacks per game (3.31), and fifth in turnover margin (1.08). During Snow’s final year with the Bears, Baylor defensive tackle James Lynch finished fifth in the nation in sacks (13.5) while cornerback Grayland Arnold ranked fifth in interceptions (6).
The Bengals are armed with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, and as it turns out, it was a good year to be the worst team in the league. Cincinnati can select Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the top selection, and the club is not hiding its affinity for the LSU signal-caller.
And the Bengals’ public comments about Burrow are not a ploy to heighten the trade value of the No. 1 pick. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Cincinnati has no intention of trading away the selection, regardless of how tempting an offer might be.
Schefter says there has been mounting speculation that the Panthers, whose QB situation is also uncertain, may be gearing up to trade for the top pick. That speculation has grown since Carolina recently named LSU passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, as its new OC. And the Dolphins, another QB-needy club, have three first-round picks in the 2020 draft, so they have the capital to move up if they want.
But the Bengals are not interested, as they are locked in on Burrow. The Ohio native just completed one of the finest seasons in college football history, leading his Tigers to a national championship while completing 76.3% of his passes for an incredible 60 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
Burrow will not participate in the Senior Bowl, but even if he does not do anything until the draft, his spot as the No. 1 overall pick seems secure.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Earlier this week, linebacker Luke Kuechly surprised many by announcing his retirement. While the 28-year-old may be done playing in the NFL, it sounds like he has an interest in sticking around the league.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo doesn’t think we’ve seen the last of Kuechly, noting that the player could return to the league in a coaching or consulting role (Twitter link). As the reporter notes, the seven-time Pro Bowler was always lauded for being a “coach on the field,” and the veteran was known for his obsession with film. That’d make him a natural fit for any organization.
Of course, Garafolo cautions that teams will give Kuechly some time to figure out the next step of his career, but the reporter also notes that the linebacker could be with an organization in some capacity for the 2020 season. Garafolo specifically mentions the Panthers, the team Kuechly spent his entire eight-year career with, as an organization that’d love to have him in some sort of role.
Meanwhile, Albert Breer of TheMMQB points to Kuechly’s alma matter, Boston College, as a potential fit (Twitter link). Breer say he wouldn’t be surprised if the school tries to add Kuechly to new coach Jeff Hafley’s staff.
One of the best players in the Panthers’ 25-year history, Kuechly has anchored Carolina defenses since being selected in the 2012 first round. He started all 118 games in which he played and led the Panthers to four playoff berths from 2013-17. Kuechly broke up J.J. Watt‘s string of defensive player of the year honors, winning the award in 2013. Two years later, he spearheaded Carolina’s 15-1 season and run to Super Bowl 50.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jaguars interviewed former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo for their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). McAdoo, who did not coach in 2019, is looking to reboot his career after a dismal run in New York.
The Giants fired McAdoo late in the 2017 season, ending a three-plus-year run with the team as offensive coordinator and head coach. The Giants threw him under the bus following the Eli Manning benching debacle and most fans were happy to see him go – the Giants went 13-15 under his watch. Prior to all of that, McAdoo served as the tight ends and quarterbacks coach of the Packers.
The Jaguars have been searching for a new OC ever since firing John DeFilippo, who was one-and-done in Jacksonville. The Panthers are also considering McAdoo for a spot on Matt Rhule‘s maiden staff.
The Jaguars are also slated to speak to former Cowboys OC Scott Linehan this weekend – presumably for the same post. Linehan will also speak with the Panthers and Giants, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen (on Twitter).
Linehan, 56, got the heave-ho from the Cowboys in January of last year. Like McAdoo, he was out of the NFL for the 2019 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Dolphins quality control coach Matt Lombardi will be taking a promotion with the Panthers, reports Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Lombardi was hired last winter and spent one season in the role. We learned earlier this evening that the Panthers had also poached Colts defensive line coach Mike Phair.
- Colts defensive line coach Mike Phair will be joining the Panthers coaching staff, reports Stephen Holder of The Athletic (via Twitter). Holden notes that the move was mostly thanks to defensive coordinator Phil Snow, as the two have a close relationship. Phair has also had NFL coaching stints with the Buccaneers, Bears, and Seahawks.