Chris Grier

Latest On Brian Flores, Dolphins Divorce

It’s been a bit more than 24 hours since Brian Flores was canned in Miami, and we keep learning more about the divorce between the Dolphins and their former head coach. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has a number of nuggets about Flores’ firing. While the whole article is worth reading, we compiled some of the notable notes below.

[RELATED: Dolphins Fire HC Brian Flores]

For starters, Flores wanted full control over the organization, including roster decisions (over general manager Chris Grier). The head coach “wanted more power in everything” and “wanted more people to report to him,” and he wanted this decision-making distinction officially “formalized.” According to Jackson, Flores already had a great deal of control, and there wasn’t a single player on the roster who Flores didn’t sign off on. Still, tension remained between Flores and Grier.

Flores’ power grab went beyond the normal duties of a HC. According to Jackson, Flores requested the firing of the team’s top football media relations person. While he received push back from top executives (including president Tom Garfinkel), the employee was ultimately dismissed. Flores also chewed out an agent who posted a positive offseason update about an injured player.

Further, Flores planned on making more changes to his staff, especially with his offensive coaches. The Dolphins were operating with two offensive coordinators by the time the season came to an end, and Flores was planning on firing at least one of the two.

To top it all off, Flores apparently had issues communicating with some of his players, with some of the younger members of the team claiming that their HC “doesn’t understand dealing with men.” Meanwhile, veterans like Jason McCourty wouldn’t be treated with the “same heavy hand” as his younger teammates. There was also tension with QB Tua Tagovailoa, with the two having a heated exchange during their game against the Titans this season.

Dolphins GM Chris Grier On Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa

The Dolphins didn’t trade for Deshaun Watson, but they still made plenty of waves in the week leading up to the deadline. By all accounts, owner Stephen Ross was eager to bring the embattled Texans quarterback to Miami, but only if certain “contingencies” were met. In short, the Dolphins were only willing to trade for Watson if his legal troubles were put behind him.

Meanwhile, GM Chris Grier was left to field questions about Watson, the future of young signal caller Tua Tagovailoa, and what it all means for the Dolphins going forward. Here’s a look at some of the highlights, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

On the Dolphins’ level of interest in Watson:

“My job as general manager is to investigate every avenue on players that may or may not be available. I don’t think it’s any different from any player on the roster. We’ve done that from Day 1. That’s how every team operates. In terms of what discussions were had and what people asked for…We decided not to make a deal.”

On whether a deal was close:

“You go through these processes and talk through these things and we go forward with the team we have. We never got to a point of where anything would be realistic as far as happening.”

On Tagovailoa’s status moving forward:

“If there is a player considered one of the top players in the NFL, you have to look at it and try to go for it. It has nothing to do with not believing in Tua. We’re very happy with Tua.”

On the potential of renewing talks in the offseason: 

“You get through the season and you keep evaluating the entire roster. Once the offseason comes, we’ll make decisions.”

Dolphins GM On Deshaun Watson Talks

After months of speculation, the Dolphins did not complete a trade for Deshaun Watson before the deadline. Multiple reports suggested that the two sides were closing in on a deal last week, but Miami GM Chris Grier tells a different story. 

[RELATED: Dolphins Back Out Of Watson Talks]

We were doing background work and investigating everything,” Grier said (Twitter link via David Furones of the Miami Herald). “Just because we do that, doesn’t mean we’re going to do a deal.”

The Dolphins ultimately backed out due to concerns over Watson’s ongoing legal situation. Owner Stephen Ross wanted to bring Watson to South Beach, but only if his 20+ suits were settled. With that in mind, one reporter asked Grier if the Dolphins were involved in trying to get Watson’s accusers to sign non-disclosure agreements.

I think any suggestion that this organization would be dealing behind the scenes and trying to influence decisions is absolutely ridiculous and categorically false,” Grier said. “So to say that we would be involved in that is just flat wrong. And it pisses me off, I’m sorry.”

Grier also added that the Dolphins’ interest in Watson is not a reflection on their current quarterback. He says the team still believes in Tua Tagovailoa, though that won’t do much to curb speculation in the spring.

At last check, the Texans were seeking three first-round picks and and two second-round picks for the embattled quarterback. That asking price could come down after the season if Watson’s off-the-field matters are settled.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

AFC East Notes: Gronkowski, Darnold, Folk, Dolphins

It’s no secret that the Patriots have been searching for a weapon to replace the production they received from now retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown both looked like solutions at various points earlier in the season, but neither remain on New England’s roster. However, it appears the team’s owner Robert Kraft still hopes to get Gronkowski back on the field.

When Gronkowski was cleaning out his locker after announcing his retirement in March, Kraft told him the team would remain hopeful that he would return late in the season for another playoff run, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While it has been known that the organization hoped Gronkowski would change his mind, no one had reported Kraft’s involvement.

Rapoport notes in his story that, according to sources, Gronkowski remains content with his decision, but if he wants to return this season he has to decide soon. The deadline for retired players to return during the season and play is November 30. New England will obviously plan ahead without him, but they surely will be hoping for a change of heart.

Here more from around the AFC East:

  • Kicker Nick Folk has meshed into the Patriots locker room well, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Folk already knew the man he replaced, Stephen Gostkowski, and offensive lineman Joe Thuney and Ted Karras. All four had been enrolled in some of the same classes as they worked toward master’s degrees in past offseasons. Folk was signed after Gostkowski suffered a torn labrum in his left hip. Reiss also notes that Folk suffered the same injury in 2009 and could offer Gostkowski valuable insight during his recovery.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is “taking charge” in the locker room, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. After Darnold’s poor performances against both the Jaguars and Patriots, he has become more assertive in meetings with the coaching staff. Cimini reports that Darnold had previously been very deferential to head coach Adam Gase, but now offers feedback and his own opinion more readily.
  • NFL draft experts and scouts were watching this weeks game between LSU and Alabama closely. The Dolphins sent an especially large contingent, which included two scouts and general manager Chris Grier, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. Miami has long been tied to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa through the #Tank4Tua trend. However, even if Miami does have the top pick in the draft, some experts are beginning to place LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow above Tagovailoa. It appears Miami’s top brass got an up-close look at both players on Saturday.

Latest On Dolphins’ Trades, Strategy

In addition to moving on from numerous veterans this offseason, the Dolphins have now traded two players who were seemingly building blocks in Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. These moves appear to have tripped the NFL’s alarm.

The Tunsil trade involved numerous Texans offers, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting the steps the AFC teams took to finalizing the trade that sent the left tackle to Houston. The Texans’ offers went from Jadeveon Clowney-for-Tunsil, straight up, to Clowney and a first-rounder for Tunsil to first- and second-rounders for Tunsil. The Dolphins managed to drive the price to two first-rounders and a second-round selection and requested tackle Julie’n Davenport in return, Salguero notes.

Upon seeing the Texans’ deal-closing offer on a board in Chris Grier‘s office, Tunsil told the Dolphins GM, “I would trade me for that too,” Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald adds (via Twitter).

In reshuffling their power structure after last season, the Dolphins were not planning to jettison Tunsil, Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonso or T.J. McDonald. (The Dolphins dealt Alonso to the Saints and released McDonald.) Brian Flores‘ coaching staff clashed with Alonso, Salguero adds, and asked him to play multiple roles — including edge defender. The Dolphins demoted the highly paid linebacker before trading him.

Fitzpatrick is a Steeler, being dealt after a trade request. The second-year defensive back was not on board with the versatile role the Dolphins asked him to play, and Salguero adds the team never found a sufficient comfort level that would allow Fitzpatrick to settle in at one spot. Both Grier and owner Stephen Ross attempted to help Fitzpatrick and Miami’s coaching staff find common ground.

Myself, Brian, and Steve (Ross) — we had multiple conversations with him, saying we wanted him here and viewed him as a core piece and wanted him here,” Grier said. “The kid just felt it was time for him to move, and we told him what the value was. We told teams we had multiple offers, and we felt that the Pittsburgh one was the one best for the organization.”

Fitzpatrick’s rookie deal was worth $16.447MM over four years. Similar to the deal in which the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen, the Steelers are only on the hook for Fitzpatrick’s base salaries. Pittsburgh has the 2018 No. 11 overall pick under contract through 2021 for $5.48MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).
The Dolphins now hold three 2020 first-round picks. A building suspicion in NFL circles centers on the prospect this Dolphins rebuild may be a stealth effort for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. But Salguero adds one of Miami’s three 2020 first-rounders will be used to draft a quarterback — regardless of how Rosen performs in what now may be an extended audition. The Cardinals in 2018-19 and Baltimore Colts in 1982-83 were the most recent franchises to draft first-round passers in consecutive years, so as of now it looks like this oft-labeled tanking strategy is built around Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa (should he enter the 2020 draft).

AFC East Notes: Rosen, Patriots, Darron Lee, Bills

The Dolphins weren’t the only team interested in trading for Josh Rosen, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson writes. Jackson sites an NFL official who was in contact with the Cardinals after the trade was announced, and mention the Patriots as another team that was attempting to acquire the 2018 first-rounder.

Rosen, of course, ended up in Miami, and New England took its own quarterback when it tabbed Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round. In the weeks leading up to the draft, New England was mentioned, along with several other teams, as a potential landing spot for the quarterback.

With other teams being interested, it helps explain why the Dolphins were willing to part with a 2019 second-rounder, and a fifth-round pick in 2020.

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • Teddy Bruschi thinks the Patriots might have been led to draft N’Keal Harry in the first round because of the physical presence Josh Gordon brought to the team last year, ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes. “They get him last year, put a 6-3, 225-pound target out there and see what a great piece it was for them, how great it was for Tom Brady,” Bruschi theorized. “Maybe that changed the perception of what they might need.” Of course, the Patriots haven’t picked a receiver in the first round in the Bill Belichick era, so the theory could be accurate.
  • Sticking in New England, the video that led to the arrest of team owner Robert Kraft will eventually be released to the public, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. The judge ruled the tape can be released in a way that won’t taint the jury pool.
  • The Jets have been shopping linebacker Darron Lee throughout the offseason, and that isn’t expected to stop now that the 2019 draft has concluded, Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt writes. Lee became expendable once the team brought in C.J. Mosley.
  • Also in New York, team general manager Mike Maccagnan has reportedly been on the hot seat. If the team does make a change, one exec to keep an eye on is Joe Douglas with the Eagles, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets. La Canfora mentions the Eagles exec has ties to Jets first-year head coach Adam Gase.
  • The Bills made a splash in the undrafted free agent pool, signing local product Tyree Jackson. Buffalo reportedly couldn’t believe the Buffalo quarterback wasn’t drafted, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes“He was on our draft board to be drafted. I’m surprised. You saw his name still sitting there late in the seventh, and you start going, ‘Man, if this kid doesn’t get drafted, we’re going to have to go after him.’ And we did,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said. Jackson is expected to compete for the team’s backup spot to Josh Allen.
  • The Dolphins already boast 12 picks in the 2020 draft. General manager Chris Grier says that is to be the rule going forward, the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley tweets. Beasley predicts the team is expected to use its cap space next offseason to buy even more draft picks rather than signing top free agents.

 

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Jets

Following the Patriots‘ third Super Bowl title of the decade, they again have their legendary quarterback going into a contract year. Robert Kraft is on board with another Tom Brady extension, but no talks have commenced yet, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Brady has never played into a contract year. While some uncertainty existed around Brady’s place with the Patriots last offseason, Breer adds the key parties are on good terms this year. The 41-year-old quarterback said before Super Bowl LIII he was not going to retire, and an extension would bring down his $27MM cap number. Brady signed team-friendly deals in 2013 and ’16 around the Combine those years.

With the quarterback market finally making big strides over the past year and change, Brady’s demands could justifiably increase. Brady’s historic contributions to the franchise notwithstanding, Bill Belichick may not be wild about a possible $30MM-AAV contract for Brady that runs into future Hall of Famer’s mid-40s, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran offered during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). Of course, with the Patriots an annual title contender and no heir apparent in place, it would seem unthinkable a Brady pact does not get done this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Although Ryan Tannehill is not expected to return to the Dolphins, GM Chris Grier said no decision has been made on that front. The Dolphins are expected to trade or release Tannehill, and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson tweets a photo of the seven-year Dolphin quarterback has been removed from their press room. Grier wants input from Brian Flores and his new staff on the 30-year-old quarterback, but the Dolphins are expected to move on from their six-season starter. With an eye on the 2020 quarterback class, they are not believed to be targeting a high-priced free agent to replace Tannehill, either.
  • Armed with nearly $100MM in cap space and a GM potentially on the hot seat, the Jets make sense as Le’Veon Bell‘s buyer. While one report indicated New York won’t use a bank-breaking approach to land the All-Pro running back, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes the Jets are still zeroed in on Bell. The soon-to-be 27-year-old back is still believed to prefer the Colts, per Vacchiano, but Indianapolis may not view him in the same light.
  • Some turmoil has already hit Gregg Williams‘ new team. Mike Maccagnan and Adam Gase initially did not view Blake Williams as a hiring priority for the Jets’ defensive staff, and this irked Blake’s father, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. Gregg Williams was frustrated with Maccagnan and Gase, but the new Gang Green DC won out, with Blake Williams signed on as linebackers coach. Blake upset some Rams staffers during his time as St. Louis assistant, before being fired after the 2013 season, Cimini notes, adding the young coach has developed somewhat of a polarizing reputation.
  • The Jets may have an issue trading Leonard Williams, with a $14.2MM salary due, but Vacchiano points out the general consensus around the NFL is the 2015 top-10 pick has been misused in New York. With the Jets moving to a 4-3 look under Gregg Williams, Leonard Williams is not a lock to be back. Of course, Gregg Williams may view the former 3-4 defensive end as a weapon in his scheme. The Jets are light on surefire front-seven talent, so their new DC might want some capable veterans to stay.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Flores, Grier, Ross, WR’s, Josh Gordon

While Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has played a large role in hiring Miami’s coaches in the past, that wasn’t the case this time around. Ross identified and hired Adam Gase on his own, but had nothing to do with bringing in new coach-in-waiting Brian Flores, sources told Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Instead, it was new GM Chris Grier who is solely responsible for hiring Flores, Salguero writes.

Salguero writes that Grier and Flores are longtime friends, and that now ex-Dolphins coaches told him it was “no secret within the organization that Grier was focused on Flores as the favorite to be Miami’s new coach even before interviews began.” Flores, the current Patriots’ defensive play-caller, and Grier both started as scouts in their respective organizations and Salguero writes that their paths crossed frequently, sparking a friendship. Miami is reportedly all-in on tanking in the 2019 season, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Flores fares.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • While the contract Odell Beckham Jr. signed this offseason “became the new financial benchmark for wide receivers”, it “didn’t dramatically reset the market as some, including myself, anticipated”, opines former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry. In his piece, which is worth a read, Corry breaks down this offseason’s wide receiver market, and he thinks 2019 will be the year the market is truly reset. Corry writes that Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Amari Cooper will likely all land new deals this offseason.
  • Speaking of wide receivers, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about Josh Gordon during his annual Super Bowl press conference. Goodell said ““right now the focus is what can we do to help Josh (Gordon) to get to that place (where he can play football)”, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Goodell’s comments suggest that Gordon, who stepped away from the Patriots earlier this season, could eventually play in the league again even though Goodell slapped him with an indefinite ban. It won’t come easily, but it appears Gordon’s NFL career isn’t dead yet, just on life support.
  • In case you missed it, Goodell also had updates on two more embattled players, Kareem Hunt and Reuben Foster.

Dolphins Promote Chris Grier, Demote Mike Tannenbaum

Firing Adam Gase wasn’t the only major change the Dolphins made today. The team also announced they were promoting Chris Grier to oversee football operations while demoting Mike Tannebaum from that post, per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN (Twitter link).

Grier had been the GM but didn’t have decision making power and reported to Tannebaum, but those roles will now be reversed. Gase had contractual control over the 53-man roster during his tenure, but the new coach will have far less power. Whoever the new coach is will report to Grier and not to owner Stephen Ross like Gase did, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

While the Dolphins building was filled with internal drama and infighting, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets that Grier was the “one who remained above the fray, and could work with anyone”, which in part led to his promotion. Grier came up as a scout in the Patriots’ organization before he was hired by the Dolphins in 2000. He was promoted to the role of director of college scouting in 2007, and then to general manager in 2016.

It was reported last week that Tannebaum was on the way out, so his demotion isn’t a surprise. He’ll remain with the team for now in a lesser role, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he exited soon. With the team set to move on from Ryan Tannehill, Grier will have his hands full with finding a new head coach as well as a new franchise quarterback. It looks like a full-blown rebuild is in store for Miami.