Daniel Bullocks

NFC Notes: Vikings, Rhodes, Saints, 49ers

Free agent cornerback K’Waun Williams will take his visit with the Vikings next Tuesday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Williams, 25, had meetings with the Lions and Jets earlier this week, and is expected to convene with the Dolphins and 49ers at some point, as well. After starting 10 total games during his first two years in the NFL, Williams was sidelined for all of 2016 thanks to an ankle injury.

Here’s more from Minnesota and the rest of the NFC:

  • The Vikings have are expected to hire former Purdue and Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell as their new wide receivers coach, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Hazell, who was fired only six games into the Boilermakers’ 2016 campaign, has a career NCAA record of 25-43. Internal offensive assistant Drew Petzing was also thought to be a candidate for the position, but instead it’s Hazell who will replace George Stewart, who left for Los Angeles.
  • While they’ll face decisions on unrestricted free agents Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings are also expected to begin negotiating a contract extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Thanks to his fifth-year option, Rhodes is signed through the 2017 season, during which he’ll earn $8.026MM. A long-term deal could nearly double his salary, as Josh Norman currently leads all cornerbacks with a $15MM annual figure.
  • The Saints are likely to select an offensive tackle early in the draft, perhaps as early as Round 1, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Although Drew Brees‘ blindside is locked down by Terron Armstead, right tackle Zach Strief is now 33 years old and entering the twilight of his career. Strief is due a $1.5MM roster bonus later this spring, and New Orleans is expected to pay that figure if Strief definitely decides to continue his career, per Triplett. As such, the Saints likely won’t target a tackle in the free agent market, and the draft looks like a better avenue to find a new lineman.
  • The 49ers are hiring Daniel Bullocks as their assistant secondary coach, per Marvez (Twitter link). Bullocks worked in the same role for Jacksonville last season, and previously coached in the collegiate ranks.

Jaguars Extend HC Gus Bradley Through 2017

SATURDAY 8:35am: Bradley spoke to the media last night, and the head coach gave his take on the extension.

“Believe me, I appreciate it,” he said (via Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com). “I think it’s awesome. It’s pretty strong.”

Bradley was also thrilled that his entire coaching staff got an extra year, stating that it’s an indication that the master plan is starting to come together.

“This was [Khan and Caldwell] saying, ‘We believe it’s coming together and we believe in this staff,’ ” Bradley said.

FRIDAY, 8:01am: Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley won’t enter the 2016 season as a lame duck. As first reported by Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville has extended Bradley’s contract by a year, locking him up through the 2017 season. The team has confirmed the move in a press release.Gus Bradley

[RELATED: Jaguars promote Todd Wash to defensive coordinator]

“For an organization that we believe is ready to make its move, extending Gus through the 2017 season provides our club with much-needed stability in every respect,” General manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. “It solidifies Gus’ good standing with our current players, provides certainty for free agents who may be considering the Jaguars and helps to deliver the continuity throughout our coaching staff that we think is critical for us to turn the corner.”

Jaguars owner Shad Khan said before the team’s final game of the regular season that Bradley would return for the 2016 season, and NFL clubs typically don’t like having coaches on expiring contracts, so the new deal doesn’t come as a real surprise.

Khan’s statement in December suggested that he expects the team to take a step forward next season, and at the time it sounded as if Bradley would be on the hot seat if the Jags went through another losing season (the team is just 12-36 during his tenure). I don’t expect today’s move changes that — Khan would simply have to eat an extra year of salary now if he decides to make a change next year.

Still, with Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson helping to turn the Jaguars’ offense into a dangerous unit, Dante Fowler set to return in 2016, and the Jags set to add another top-five pick to the mix in the spring, there are signs that the franchise is headed in the right direction. By retaining Bradley and promoting an in-house assistant, Todd Wash, to the open defensive coordinator position – a move the club confirmed today – Khan and the Jaguars are betting on continuity heading into ’16.

In addition to announcing the one-year extension for Bradley, the Jaguars confirmed today that they’ve promoted Mark Ellenz to director of college scouting to replace Kyle O’Brien, who joined the Lions earlier this month, tweets John Oehser of Jaguars.com. O’Halloran adds (via Twitter) that the club also announced Daniel Bullocks is the new assistant defensive backs coach.

Wash will call defensive plays for the Jaguars in 2016, tweets O’Halloran. The Times-Union scribe adds that, like Bradley, the team’s assistant coaches all have contracts that run through 2017 now as well (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.