Panthers Rumors

Panthers Have Discussed Extending DT Derrick Brown

Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown took a couple of seasons to find his game in the NFL but showed enough in Year 3 to warrant the pickup of the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. A year later, and a second stellar season under his belt, Brown could be headed towards a new contract extension before he even gets the chance to play on that option.

After selecting Brown seventh overall out of Auburn in 2020, Carolina held high expectations for its new starting defensive tackle. Brown delivered on expectations that he would be disruptive, racking up eight tackles for loss in each of his first two season. He also showed a talented pass rushing ability, tallying five sacks and 21 quarterback hits in those first two years. He came under fire early in his career, though, for his struggles in run defense and tackling.

Brown’s third year in the league saw tremendous improvement. While he still had his struggles tackling, he heavily improved his run defense, helping him go from the 37th-best interior defender in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), to the seventh-best. In 2023, Brown put any questions of his tackling issues to rest. Not only did he lead the league in tackles made by a defensive tackle, but Brown also set the NFL record for total tackles in a single season by an interior defender with an astounding 103.

The man was a singular vacuum in the middle of the Panthers defense, and as a result, once again improved his standing, grading out as the fourth-best interior defender in the NFL this season, per PFF, trailing only Dexter Lawrence, Aaron Donald, and Quinnen Williams, three of the league’s highest-paid defensive tackles. Whenever extension talks occur, Brown and his representation, Drew Rosenhaus, will be sure to point out that all three of the above-mentioned players are making over $20MM per year.

Those extension talks do seem to be close at hand, according to Joe Person of The Athletic, who reports that the Panthers general manager Dan Morgan has been in touch with Rosenhaus. The team exercised the 25-year-old’s fifth-year option, allowing them ample time to work out a potential extension agreement. They even lucked out, as the lack of a Pro Bowl season up to that point only qualified Brown for the third tier of the fifth-year option structure, putting his fifth-year, fully-guaranteed salary at a rather manageable $11.67MM. Brown ended up finally earning that Pro Bowl honor this year.

Unfortunately, his Pro Bowl season came one year late. The Panthers may still pursue an extension, though, attempting to lock down Brown on a long-term, potentially team-friendly deal while avoiding any potential for a holdout. His fifth-year salary is set to be about half of what the annual average value would be on a new deal, but it’s all fully guaranteed and all hitting the salary cap. An extension could help lower that cap hit and potentially reward Brown with more guaranteed money in a different structure.

Carolina has some free agents to deal with this offseason like linebacker Frankie Luvu and star pass rusher Brian Burns, so more pressing matters may be at the top of the docket right now. Still, Brown is turning into one of the league’s best at his position, turning even his early-career weaknesses into strengths as he prepares to enter a contract year. Extending him before that point should be an offseason priority.

Panthers Would Consider Using Franchise Tag On Brian Burns

While the Panthers would prefer to sign Brian Burns to an extension, GM Dan Morgan told reporters that “all options are on the table” when it comes to retaining their star pass rusher, including the franchise tag. With the March 5 franchise tag deadline rapidly approaching, Morgan revealed that he’ll be meeting with Burns’ agent this week regarding a potential extension.

“We’ll have a little more clarity on the situation after that, but we’re working on it,” Morgan said (via Darin Gantt of the team’s website). “I think right now, all options are on the table. You know, what those options are, we’ll find out. I’ll have a little more clarity on that after I meet with the agent.”

The franchise tag for Burns would come in at $24MM for the 2024 campaign. While a hypothetical extension could produce a higher average annual value, the team would have more flexibility to lessen the impending cap hits. Still, the Panthers clearly don’t want Burns to walk away for nothing, and when asked pointedly if the Panthers would consider the franchise tag, the GM didn’t mince words.

“We would definitely use it if we had to use it, and you know, we love Brian,” Morgan continued. “Brian’s a Panther. Somebody that I know and that I’m close to, I played with his brother. So, I definitely love Brian. But all options are on the table for him.”

Burns has spent his entire career with the Panthers, earning Pro Bowl nods in both 2021 and 2022. From a counting-stats perspective, his 2023 numbers were down a bit; after averaging more than 10 sacks per season between 2020 and 2022, Burns finished with only eight sacks last year. He still finished the campaign with 16 tackles for loss and 18 QB hits, and Pro Football Focus still graded him as the 37th edge rusher among 112 qualifiers.

Nick Bosa currently paces all edge rushers with a $34MM AAV, and three other pass-rushers are making north of $25MM per season (T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, and Myles Garrett). Burns is younger than those higher-paid counterparts, and while he may not receive the same total money or guarantees, he could push to be among the highest-paid edge rushers in terms of AAV.

We heard recently that the Commanders joined a number of teams in contacting Carolina about Burns’ availability leading up to this year’s trade deadline. While the pass-rusher would surely have a number of suitors in free agency, it sounds like he won’t even make it that far.

Jaguars Make Final Changes To 2024 Staff

The Jaguars were one of several teams that were forced to make adjustments to their coaching staff, most notably after parting ways with defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and company. The new staff under Caldwell’s successor, former Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, has been finalized, as have a few updates to the offensive side of the ball, as well.

On defense we were already aware of the hires of defensive backs coach Kris Richard and inside linebackers coach Matt House, as well as the retention of assistant defensive line coach Rory Segrest, outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey, and defensive quality control coach Patrick Reilly. We had originally reported that Cory Robinson would be joining the staff as the team’s cornerbacks coach, but the team’s update tells us that, more specifically, he will be a defensive assistant and cornerbacks coach.

To round out the new defensive staff, the team has hired Jeremy Garrett as their new defensive line coach, Michael Gray as assistant secondary coach and defensive analyst, and Mario Jeberaeel as assistant outside linebackers coach. Garrett replaces Brentson Bucker, who was fired alongside Caldwell. He has NFL experience with the Browns and most recently worked at the collegiate level with Auburn and Liberty. Gray and Jeberaeel both follow Nielsen from Atlanta. Gray joined the Falcons last year as a football analyst, while Jeberaeel came into the title of special projects: defense coach last season.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jacksonville announced the hires of running backs coach Jerry Mack and offensive quality control coach Jamel Mutunga, as well as the promotion of former offensive quality control coach Greg Austin to assistant offensive line coach. Mack replaces Bernie Parmalee, who took the same position with the Panthers after being fired alongside Caldwell. This will be Mack’s first NFL coaching gig after spending 20 years coaching at the collegiate level. Most recently, Mack coached a Volunteers team at Tennessee that finished top-12 in rushing yards per game twice in his three years.

Austin takes the position of Todd Washington, who also was let go with Parmalee and Caldwell. Mutunga takes his spot in quality control after serving as an offensive assistant with the Panthers last year. His first year of experience came in 2022, when he was the inaugural recipient of the Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellowship in Indianapolis.

That sets the stage in Duval for the 2024 season. A few adjustments on offense and a changing of the guard on defense define the early portion of Jacksonville’s offseason. It will be worth watching to see if a new defensive staff can help a young Jaguars squad take the next step in the new league year.

2024 NFL Cap Space, By Team

The NFL provided clarity to its teams on Friday by setting the salary cap ceiling ($255.4MM). Franchise tag figures have been locked in as well, and clubs can now proceed with their offseason planning knowing exactly where they stand with respect to financial flexibility. Courtesy of Over the Cap, here is the current landscape in terms of salary cap space:

  1. Washington Commanders: $79.61MM
  2. Tennessee Titans: $78.66MM
  3. Chicago Bears: $78.34MM
  4. New England Patriots: $77.96MM
  5. Indianapolis Colts: $72.34MM
  6. Houston Texans: $67.58MM
  7. Detroit Lions: $57.61MM
  8. Arizona Cardinals: $51.1MM
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: $50.67MM
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $43.68MM
  11. Los Angles Rams: $43.11MM
  12. Las Vegas Raiders: $42.94MM
  13. Minnesota Vikings: $35.81MM
  14. Carolina Panthers: $34.57MM
  15. Atlanta Falcons: $33MM
  16. New York Giants: $30.8MM
  17. Philadelphia Eagles: $27.35MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $24.68MM
  19. Kansas City Chiefs: $18.19MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $16.63MM
  21. Seattle Seahawks: $12.97MM
  22. New York Jets: $12.76MM
  23. Pittsburgh Steelers: $9MM
  24. Green Bay Packers: $2.3MM
  25. San Francisco 49ers: $5.07MM over the cap
  26. Cleveland Browns: $7.76MM over
  27. Dallas Cowboys: $9.86MM over
  28. Denver Broncos: $16.81MM over
  29. Los Angeles Chargers: $25.61MM over
  30. Miami Dolphins: $27.92MM over
  31. New Orleans Saints: $42.11MM over
  32. Buffalo Bills: $43.82MM over

All teams must be cap compliant by the start of the new league year, but it will of course be more than just those currently over the limit which will make cost-shedding moves in the near future. Cuts, restructures and extensions are available as tools to carve out space in advance of free agency. Several have already taken place around the league.

That includes the Dolphins’ release of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and the planned cut of Xavien Howard. The latter cannot be designated a post-June 1 release until free agency begins but once it happens, Miami will move much closer to cap compliance. The Saints have moved considerable commitments into the future via restructures (as usual), but more transactions on that front will be required even with the cap seeing an historic single-season jump.

The roughly $30MM spike from 2023 will provide unforeseen spending power for teams already set to lead the pack in cap space while also making the task of those at the bottom of the list easier. Spending more on backloaded contracts this offseason at the expense of future space obviously carries risk, however. Still, the news of a higher-than-expected ceiling will add further intrigue to each team’s financial planning.

With Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson each set to carry record-breaking cap hits for 2024, the Cowboys and Browns will be among the teams most in need of working out a deal to lower those figures. In Dallas’ case in particular, an extension would provide immediate breathing room in addition to clarity on his future beyond the coming season. For Cleveland, Watson’s fully-guaranteed deal has already been restructured once and will need to be again to avoid consecutive years of a $64MM cap charge over its remaining term.

If the Commanders and Patriots add a quarterback with the second and third picks in this year’s draft, each team currently in the top six in space will enjoy the benefits of having a signal-caller on their rookie contracts. That would allow for an aggressive approach to free agency, although the Chiefs’ success after Patrick Mahomes signed (and re-worked) his monster extension has proven it is possible to win Super Bowl titles with a substantial QB investment on the books.

Commanders Pursued Brian Burns In 2023

Picking up draft capital in exchange for young edge rushers became one of the defining aspects of the 2023 Commanders’ season, which skidded off the rails following the trades of Montez Sweat and Chase Young. The team also looks to have been monitoring an edge player on another roster.

Washington joined a number of teams in contacting Carolina regarding Brian Burns‘ availability before the October 31 deadline, The Athletic’s Joseph Person notes (subscription required). The Panthers, as they have done at a few junctures over the past 14 months, squashed trade overtures for Burns.

The Jaguars, Falcons and Ravens inquired about Burns last year, with the Bears and 49ers — the teams that eventually landed the Commanders’ trade chips — also involved in the second deadline pursuit of the Panthers Pro Bowler. This was only the second-most notable deadline Burns pursuit, as the Rams’ two-first-rounder proposal will be difficult to beat. No team approached the Rams’ 2022 Burns offer last year. Though, it is certainly interesting the Commanders checked in.

With Josh Harris believed to be a central part of the course change, the Commanders made the surprising choice to trade both Young and Sweat at last year’s deadline. The new owner emphasized picking up draft assets, doing so before pushing out the team’s fourth-year HC/top decision-maker (Ron Rivera) after the trades helped drive the team to a 4-13 record and the No. 2 overall draft slot. For Washington to also be interested in Burns would seem to run counter to the newly established mission.

Then again, the organization’s Panthers ties could explain this effort. Rivera was in place as Carolina’s HC when Burns went off the 2019 draft board in the first round. Marty Hurney was as well, working in his second stint as Panthers GM when the team chose Burns 16th overall. Hurney worked under Rivera in Washington, serving as the team’s executive VP of player personnel previously. While Harris sacked Rivera, Hurney and former GM Martin Mayhew remain with the organization in different roles.

It would seem unlikely Harris would have signed off on a blockbuster Burns acquisition, but given the Panthers’ stance on the former Rivera/Hurney investment, it is a moot point anyway. In addition to turning down the aforementioned Rams offer, former Panthers GM Scott Fitterer refused to include Burns in the 2023 trade for the No. 1 overall pick. That led to D.J. Moore being sent to Chicago last March. The Burns trade developments have only emboldened the upper-crust sack artist on the contract front, and another chapter — this time involving new Panthers GM Dan Morgan — looks set to begin soon.

The Panthers remain likely to use their franchise tag on Burns, Person adds. The two-time Pro Bowler sought a $30MM-per-year deal during the 2023 offseason. At the time, that would have established a new position record. T.J. Watt held that distinction for two years, via his $28MM-AAV Steelers re-up, but Nick Bosa topped it on the $34MM-per-year accord the 49ers gave him in September. Burns has not proven to be in the Watt or Bosa class, but the Panthers have armed him with considerable leverage. Bosa’s extension will certainly impact the Panthers’ talks with Burns, which were effectively paused during the latter’s contract year.

Burns, who stands to be Carolina’s first tag recipient since Taylor Moton in 2021, said he wants to stay with the Panthers. But it will clearly be costly for the team to retain him. It will be interesting to see if Fitterer’s successor affects these talks. Though, Morgan was in place as Carolina’s assistant GM from 2021-23. A tag, which will cost approximately $22.7MM, will buy the Panthers more time. They would have until July 15 to extend Burns, though a trade can be worked out beyond that point.

2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

A valuable tool for teams to keep top free agents off the market, the franchise tag has been in existence since 1993. This week brought the opening of the 2024 tag window. Clubs have until 3pm CT on March 5 to apply tags. As the Giants’ situation showed last year, most of the tag-related business comes near the close of this window. Teams will continue to work toward re-signing their respective tag candidates, thus preventing a lofty franchise tender from hitting their cap sheet.

The legal tampering period opens March 11, with the new league year (and official free agency) starting March 13. Once a player is tagged, he has until July 15 to sign an extension with his respective team. Absent an extension agreement by that date, the player must play the 2023 season on the tag (or go the Le’Veon Bell/Dan Williams/Sean Gilbert route, passing on guaranteed money and skipping the season).

High-profile free agents remain weeks away from hitting the market. As PFR’s tag recipients list shows, a handful of players are prevented from taking their services to free agency each year. This year looks to present a few more tag candidates compared to 2023. With a handful of teams determining if they will need to use the tag to prevent a free agency path, here are the players who figure to be tagged or at least generate conversations about being franchised ahead of the March 5 deadline:

Locks

Josh Allen, OLB (Jaguars)
Tag cost: $24MM

GM Trent Baalke did not leave much suspense when he addressed Allen’s future last month. The veteran exec said the 2019 first-round pick will be a Jaguar in 2024, indicating the team would use its franchise tag if necessary. The Jaguars do have Calvin Ridley as a free agent, but the team would owe the Falcons a 2024 second-round pick if it extended the wide receiver’s contract before the start of the league year. The second pick sent to Atlanta will only be a third-rounder if Jacksonville lets Ridley hit free agency. It makes more sense for Jacksonville to circle back to Ridley after allowing him to test the market. An Allen tag effectively ensures that will happen.

Timing his sack breakthrough well, Allen registered a Jags-record 17.5 during his contract year. The five-year Jaguar has combined for 55 QB hits over the past two seasons and ranks top 10 in pressures over the past three. The tag regularly keeps top edge rushers from hitting free agency, and the 26-year-old pass rusher — while obviously wanting to be paid what he’s worth — expressed a desire to stay in Jacksonville long term.

The Jags have regularly unholstered their tag during the 2020s, cuffing Yannick Ngakoue in 2020 and then keeping Cam Robinson off the 2021 and ’22 markets. The team kept Evan Engram out of free agency last year. Robinson signed an extension in 2022, and the Jags re-upped Engram last July. The Ngakoue situation could be notable, as the edge rusher became disgruntled with the Jags and was eventually traded to the Vikings that summer. No signs of that level of trouble are brewing with Allen yet.

Jaylon Johnson, CB (Bears)
Tag cost: $19.8MM

Johnson is likely to become the first franchise-tagged cornerback since the Rams kept Trumaine Johnson off the 2017 market. The Bears are the most recent team to tag a corner, using the transition tag to cuff Kyle Fuller in 2018. They will almost definitely follow suit with Johnson, who has been rumored to be tagged for several weeks. A Ryan Pace-era draftee, Johnson expressed his desire to stay with the Bears ahead of his contract year. With that platform campaign producing some twists and turns, that price has gone up significantly.

After unsuccessful in-season extension talks, the Bears gave Johnson an 11th-hour opportunity to gauge his trade value. The Bears did not alert teams Johnson, 24, was available until the night before the Oct. 31 deadline. Although the Bills and 49ers engaged in talks about a trade, the Bears held out for a first- or second-round pick. Nothing materialized, which will likely come up during the team’s talks with Johnson. The Bears then extended trade pickup Montez Sweat, leaving Johnson in limbo. But the former second-round pick stuck the landing on an impact season. He is firmly in the Bears’ plans, and the team holds more than $66MM in cap space — plenty to squeeze in a tag onto the payroll.

Pro Football Focus’ top-graded corner in 2023, Johnson displayed a new gear that has made him worthy of a tag. Finishing with four interceptions and allowing just a 50.9 passer rating as the closest defender, the Utah alum soared to second-team All-Pro status. The Bears, who last used the tag on Allen Robinson in 2021, made no secret of their interest in retaining Johnson and will have a few more months to negotiate with him as a result of the tag.

Likely tag recipients

Brian Burns, OLB (Panthers)
Projected tag cost: $24MM

The Panthers hiring a new GM and head coach classifies this as just short of a lock, but familiar faces remain. Carolina promoted assistant general manager Dan Morgan to GM and blocked DC Ejiro Evero from departing. Burns has been viewed as a likely tag recipient since last season, after negotiations broke down. The Panthers have not offered a negotiating masterclass here, as Burns has been extension-eligible since the 2022 offseason. Since-fired GM Scott Fitterer had viewed Burns as a re-up candidate for two offseasons, but multiple rounds of trade talks boosted the 2019 first-rounder’s leverage.

In what looks like a mistake, the Panthers passed on a Rams offer that included two first-rounders and a third for Burns at the 2022 trade deadline. Carolina then kept Burns out of 2023 trade talks with Chicago about the No. 1 pick, ultimately sending D.J. Moore to the Windy City for the Bryce Young draft slot. Carolina also kept Burns at the 2023 deadline, as teams looked into the top pass rusher on the NFL’s worst team. Burns also saw his position’s market change via Nick Bosa‘s record-setting extension ($34MM per year). The 49ers’ landmark accord came to pass after Burns had set a $30MM-AAV price point, complicating Morgan’s upcoming assignment.

Burns, 25, has registered at least 7.5 sacks in each of his five seasons. While he has only topped nine in a season once (2022), the two-time Pro Bowler is one of the league’s better edge rushers. Given the Panthers’ history with Burns, it would be borderline shocking to see the team allow the Florida State alum to leave in exchange for merely a third-round compensatory pick.

Burns has said he wants to stay with the Panthers; he is unlikely to have a choice this year. The Panthers last used the tag to keep right tackle Taylor Moton off the market in 2021; the sides agreed to an extension that offseason.

Tee Higgins, WR (Bengals)
Tag cost: $21.82MM

Seeing their hopes of capitalizing on the final year of Higgins’ rookie contract dashed due to Joe Burrow‘s season-ending injury, the Bengals look to be giving strong consideration to keeping the Burrow-Higgins-Ja’Marr Chase trio together for one last ride of sorts. The Bengals hold $59.4MM in cap space — fifth-most currently — and structured Burrow’s extension in a way that makes a Higgins tag palatable. Burrow’s deal does not spike into historic cap territory until 2025.

While a future in which Chase and Higgins are signed long term is more difficult to foresee, the Bengals still carry one of the AFC’s best rosters. It is likely Burrow’s top two weapons remain in the fold for at least one more year. Higgins, 25, did not come close to posting a third straight 1,000-yard season. Burrow’s injury had plenty to do with that, though the former second-round pick started slowly. A Bengals 2023 extension offer underwhelmed Higgins, but the Bengals kept him out of trades. A tag will give Cincinnati the option to rent him for 2024. A tag-and-trade transaction is viewed as unlikely, as the Bengals load up again.

How the organization proceeds beyond 2024 will be a key storyline, but the Bengals — who kept Jessie Bates in similar fashion in 2022 — are positioned well to run back perhaps the NFL’s best receiving tandem. While director of player personnel Duke Tobin stopped short of guaranteeing Higgins will be a Bengal in 2024, signs point to it.

Justin Madubuike, DL (Ravens)
Tag cost: $22.1MM

Seeing their defensive coordinator depart and once again facing questions at outside linebacker, the Ravens have the option of keeping their top 2023 pass rusher off the market. They are probably going to take that route. Madubuike raised his price considerably during an impact contract year, leading the Ravens with 13 sacks. While Mike Macdonald was able to coax surprising seasons from late additions Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, Madubuike drove Baltimore’s defensive engine and will likely be guaranteed a high salary by signing his franchise tender.

Perennially interested in hoarding compensatory picks, the Ravens have regularly let breakthrough pass rushers walk in free agency. This dates back to the likes of Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee and subsequently included Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon. The Ravens have only been able to replace Judon with stopgap options — from Clowney to Van Noy to Justin Houston — and again must figure out a solution alongside Odafe Oweh on the edge. Madubuike, 26, proved too good to let walk; the former third-round pick will once again be expected to anchor Baltimore’s pass rush in 2024.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S (Buccaneers)
Tag cost: $17.12MM

We mentioned Winfield as the Bucs’ most likely tag recipient around the midseason point, and signs now point to that reality coming to pass. The Bucs want to re-sign Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. The bounce-back quarterback’s tender price would check in at nearly $36MM, and because Evans was attached to a veteran contract, his tag number would come in well north of Higgins’ — at beyond $28MM. As such, the Bucs cuffing Winfield has always made the most sense, and after the second-generation NFL DB’s dominant contract year, it would be stunning to see the team let him walk.

The Bucs have let their recent top free agents test free agency, only to re-sign Shaquil Barrett (2021), Carlton Davis (2022) and Jamel Dean (2023). Winfield may be on a higher plane, having secured first-team All-Pro acclaim last season. Davis and Dean have never made a Pro Bowl; Winfield’s productive and well-regarded 2023 stands to separate him. Winfield, 25, tallied six sacks and three interceptions while forcing an NFL-leading six fumbles. This included a pivotal strip of DJ Chark in the Bucs’ Week 18 win over the Panthers, which clinched them the NFC South title.

Winfield will undoubtedly be eyeing a top-market safety extension. Derwin James established the current standard, $19MM per year, just before the 2022 season. Last year’s safety market did not feature big-ticket prices, for the most part, but the Falcons made Jessie Bates (four years, $64MM) an exception. If Winfield were to reach free agency, he would be expected to eclipse that.

The Bucs, who have used the tag three times in the 2020s, should not be considered likely to let Winfield follow Davis and Dean’s path by speaking with other teams. Tampa Bay has used the tag three times in the 2020s, cuffing Barrett in 2020 and tagging Chris Godwin twice. The team eventually re-signed both, and while the statuses of Mayfield and Evans (and All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs) create a crowded contract queue, the Bucs will certainly be interested in re-upping Winfield.

On tag radar

Saquon Barkley, RB (Giants)
Tag cost: $12MM

Barkley has said he wants to finish his career with the Giants, and the team will meet with the Pro Bowl running back’s camp at the Combine. But a recent report indicated the team is highly unlikely to tag the six-year veteran a second time. The Giants should not be ruled out from reversing course and keeping Barkley, given his importance to an otherwise low-octane offense, but it appears they are prepared to move on if the talented RB does not accept their extension offer this time around. A host of talented backs await in free agency, though Barkley would likely be the top prize were he to reach the market.

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RB Mike Davis Retires

Mike Davis enjoyed an eight-year stint in the NFL, but the veteran running back will not make another run at finding an opportunity ahead of the 2024 season. Davis announced on Monday that he has retired.

The news comes on Davis’ 31st birthday, and it confirms he will hang up his cleats after a full season out of the league. His most recent game action came with the Ravens, who signed him in May 2022. Baltimore moved on in December of that year, and no teams provided an opportunity during the 2023 campaign.

Davis entered the league in 2015 with the 49ers, though he only spent two years with the team. Another two-year run ensued during his tenure in Seattle. It was with the Seahawks in 2018 that Davis first received over 100 carries and put up notable production (514 yards, four touchdowns). Those totals did not prevent the former fourth-rounder from bouncing around the league, however; Davis went on to play for the Bears, Panthers, Falcons and Ravens over the course of his career.

The 2020 season was comfortably the most productive of Davis’ career. He topped 1,000 scrimmage yards and scored eight total touchdowns, helping maintain his free agent value. The end of his two-year, $6MM Panthers contract lined up an intra-divisional move to Atlanta on a $5.5MM pact of the same length. A stint as the Falcons’ lead back did not produce the desired results, though, and Davis was let go after only one season.

The South Carolina alum played a total of 87 NFL games, as well as a single postseason appearance with Seattle. In all, Davis totaled roughly $13.3MM in career earnings. His attention will now turn to his post-playing days, but he used his retirement announcement to reflect positively on his career.

“As I turn 31 today, I sit back and look on my NFL career and how thankful I am to be a part of a brotherhood,” Davis said on social media“This game has allowed me to make a lot of friends and memories. I’m grateful for every organization in [the] NFL.”

NFC Coaching Notes: Eagles, Clay, Pettine, Vikings, Panthers, Giants, Lions, Rams

The Eagleschanges at offensive and defensive coordinator show how quickly job security can evaporate in the NFL, and Nick Sirianni‘s seat has heated up as a result. But the Eagles are not changing out all their coordinators. They will extend special teams boss Michael Clay, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This marks the second straight year in which the Eagles have extended Clay, who is going into his fourth season as their ST coordinator. Just 32, Clay has been a special teams coach in the NFL since 2015, serving as the 49ers’ assistant ST coach for five years. Clay debuted with the Eagles, however, joining Chip Kelly‘s staff in 2014. The Eagles vaulted from 31st to 10th on Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings in 2023.

Philly is adding former Titans inside linebackers coach Bobby King to their staff, ESPN.com’s Tim McManus tweets. While Brian Callahan kept a handful of Mike Vrabel assistants, he did not retain King. Under King’s guidance last season, Titans free agency pickup Azeez Al-Shaair tallied 163 tackles — the most by anyone during the franchise’s 25-season Titans period.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Fired as the Jaguars’ defensive pass-game coordinator last month, Deshea Townsend has another gig lined up. The Lions are hiring the former NFL cornerback in the same capacity, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Townsend, who won two Super Bowls during his 12-year Steelers run as a player, has been in coaching since his 2011 retirement. Prior to his two-year Jacksonville stay, Townsend coached DBs with the Bears, Giants and Titans and Cardinals. The Lions recently lost DBs coach Brian Duker to the Dolphins.
  • After working as a Vikings senior defensive assistant over the past two years, Mike Pettine will have a more defined role this year in Minnesota. The Vikings announced the veteran DC and ex-Browns HC will be their outside linebackers coach in 2024. Still carrying an assistant HC title, Pettine worked with the Vikes’ OLBs under Brian Flores last season. This will be the 57-year-old coach’s 22nd season in the NFL.
  • The Vikings also hired Marcus Dixon to be their defensive line coach. Brought over from the Broncos, Dixon was a Nathaniel Hackett hire in Denver. Ejiro Evero took Dixon with him from the Rams in 2022; he served as the Broncos’ D-line coach for two years. The Broncos are losing their only two pre-Sean Payton defensive assistants this offseason, seeing DBs coach Christian Parker rejoin Vic Fangio in Philadelphia. Evero tried to take both Parker and Dixon with him to the Panthers last year, per 9News’ Mike Klis, but the Broncos blocked the effort and kept them around to work under Vance Joseph.
  • The Giants are doling out some new titles. QBs coach Shea Tierney and DBs coach Jerome Henderson will respectively serve as the team’s offensive and defensive pass-game coordinators. Henderson has been with the Giants since 2020, while Tierney came over from the Bills with Brian Daboll. The Giants also moved former safety Mike Adams from assistant secondary coach to assistant DBs coach.
  • Additionally, Big Blue hired Charlie Bullen to replace Drew Wilkins as outside linebackers coach. Daboll fired Wilkins, a longtime Don Martindale right-hand man, and that choice keyed an explosive conclusion to the Daboll-Martindale relationship. Wilkins is now with the Patriots. Bullen spent last season as Illinois’ OLBs coach; he spent the previous four years coaching linebackers with the Cardinals. The veteran assistant previously worked with Dolphins LBs under Joe Philbin and Adam Gase.
  • The Rams recently interviewed former Packers pass-game coordinator Greg Williams for their inside linebackers coach gig, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. This is not the ex-St. Louis Rams DC better known for Bountygate; the two-G Greg Williams spent time with the Broncos and Cardinals prior to spending last season in Green Bay.

Panthers Hire Nate Carroll, Pat McPherson, Daren Bates

Nate Carroll and Pat McPherson enjoyed rare stability as assistant coaches, remaining with the same team for 14 years. The Seahawks kicking Pete Carroll to an unspecified advisory role changed both staffers’ paths, but each will have another chance with one of the longtime HC’s former staffers.

Dave Canales will reunite with both McPherson and Nate Carroll. The Panthers hired McPherson as their tight ends coach, while Nate Carroll is coming aboard as Carolina’s pass-game coordinator. Nate is Pete’s son; this will be the younger Carroll’s first coaching gig outside of Seattle. While Pete Carroll’s background is on the defensive side, his son has come up through the offensive ranks.

Canales and Nate Carroll worked together for 12 years. That is quite the extended stretch for assistants, given the turnover the NFL’s coaching carousel brings. Pete Carroll’s longevity allowed for that, and his son will benefit and become a key part of the Panthers’ second go-round developing Bryce Young.

Nate, 36, moved up the ladder in Seattle, shifting from an offensive assistant to working as assistant wide receivers coach under Canales, who served as the Seahawks’ wideouts coach from 2010-17. Nate Carroll slid to a senior offensive assistant post over the past two seasons but will have a chance at his most significant role to date in Charlotte. The Panthers are still pot-committed with Young, and their complex developmental effort — which featured the blending of Frank Reich and then-OC Thomas Brown‘s concepts, with QBs coach Josh McCown a key voice — sputtering in 2023.

Whereas Nate Carroll bounced around on his father’s staff, Pete kept McPherson in one job throughout his Seattle stay. McPherson, 54, coached the Hawks’ tight ends from 2010-23. This represents remarkable consistency in the modern NFL. McPherson, though, does have a pre-Carroll past. He coached the Broncos’ quarterbacks from 2003-06, with that span covering Jake Plummer‘s four-year Denver career. Mike Shanahan shifted McPherson to tight ends in 2007, setting him up for a long run in Seattle coaching the likes of Jimmy Graham, Will Dissly and Noah Fant.

The Panthers are also hiring former linebacker Daren Bates as their assistant special teams coach and adding Keli’i Kekuewa as their assistant O-line coach. Bates operated as a backup for the Rams, Raiders, Titans and Falcons from 2013-21, focusing on special teams. He broke into coaching last season with the Seahawks. Continuing the Seattle-to-Charlotte theme, Kekuewa served as the Seahawks’ assistant O-line coach during each of Shane Waldron‘s three seasons as OC. There for two of those seasons, Canales will bring another ex-Seattle staffer with him on a staff that will feature considerable familiarity.

Canales’ staff certainly will not be light on restaurant recommendations for Seattle or Tampa trips. The new Panthers HC already identified a few Buccaneers assistants, including OC Brad Idzik, for his first staff.

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator