David Shaw

Extra Points: Sherman, Bortles, Lincoln Riley, Ravens

It won’t be this year or the next, but at some point before he calls it quits on a likely Hall of Fame career, cornerback Richard Sherman is likely to make the move to safety, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes.

The four-time First Team All-Pro selection is open to it at least, saying:

“It’s definitely something that I’ve looked at,” Sherman said. “And something that I’ve talked with (Charles Woodson) about.”

In the first of a three-year deal with the 49ers, Sherman still rates as an above average cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. Now in his 30s, however, the star defender is already looking to make a similar move that prolonged the careers of Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson and Aeneas Williams. Despite the move, don’t expect him to play into his late 30s.

“I think 35 is probably my cutoff,” Sherman said. “I don’t think I want to play … they’d have a hard time getting me out of bed at 35 to go play. I think I’ve got four or five more (years) in me.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • After his benching, Blake Bortles is unlikely to be back with the Jaguars next season, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. With $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract next season guaranteed, the Jaguars can hope that some team signs him for $6.5MM — unlikely — or package him in a trade with a team that would be considering signing him, a la Brock Osweiler. The Jaguars will still have a cap charge of $10MM, but the team can push $5MM of that into 2020.
  • The Ravens did not activate cornerback Jaylen Hill from the PUP list, officially ending his season. Recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, Hill was unlikely to take the field after recently suffering a setback.
  • With the college game becoming more intertwined with the professional ranks, Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports listed 10 college coaches who could make the jump to the NFL. To no one’s surprise, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley was at the top of the heap thanks to his high-powered offense that produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield, and potentially another in Kyler Murray. Other notable names on the list include Stanford’s David Shaw, former 49ers coach and current Michigan man Jim Harbaugh and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

NFC Notes: Giants, Bradham, Gholston

The Giants coaching questions are now back in full force after the team lost to Washington on Thanksgiving night. There was some reprieve from the consistent rumors after Giants head coach Ben McAdoo beat the Chiefs two weeks ago, but now there is speculation about where the front office may turn if they chose to replace McAdoo at the end of this season.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY speculated a number potential candidates to replace McAdoo if the team were to move on from the second-year head coach. Vacchiano had a number of former head coaches on his list, which included Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith. He also included big college names that seem a little more like long shots in Stanford head coach David Shaw and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Up and coming coordinators Teryl Austin and Frank Reich rounded out his list.

New York is a pretty big draw that could get a few more well known coaches to at least consider the position. Plus, the team will have a top pick, solid defense and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. to build around. More coaching rumors will be popping up as the seasons moves along, but it’s interesting to see what names may be on the radar, even though there’s been no indication that the front office will assuredly to fire McAdoo.

  • The Giants have dealt with a number of injuries this season. The team has likely lost two more players for the season in cornerback Donte Deayon (fractured forearm) and linebacker Curtis Grant (knee), reports Dan Duggan of NJ Advanced Media. New York has placed seven defenders on IR so far this season, so losing two more depth pieces doesn’t bode well for how competitive the Giants can be in the final six weeks of the regular season.
  • The Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now, and are in the process of deciding which of their building blocks to lock up for the long haul. The team already agreed to a contract extension with Timmy Jernigan earlier in the month and now may be turning their attention to linebacker Nigel Bradham, opines Jeff McLane of The Inquirer. A former fourth round pick back in 2012, the 28-year-old leads the team in tackles with 56 and ranks as the 33rd best linebacker in football, according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles have 13 players heading for unrestricted free agency after the season, so they’ll definitely have to make some tough decisions regarding who they want to build around and who they’re willing to let go.
  • The Buccaneers will likely welcome back William Gholston this Sunday after the defensive end missed the team’s previous two games with a neck injury, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. While the absence seems short when compared to some other more serious injuries, Gholston is thankful that the ailment wasn’t more severe. “The neck is a little worrisome, because you have to think about everything else, think about family and all that,” Gholston said. “They definitely took all of the correct steps. … I’m not glad it happened, but I’m glad they took the right steps for me to get back.” Tampa Bay will try to extend their win streak to three games when travel to Atlanta for a Sunday afternoon matchup.

Rams Focusing On Jon Gruden

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN commentator Jon Gruden has become the “focal point” of the Rams’ head coaching search, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, and the two sides are progressing towards a meeting. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Gruden would “entertain” the idea of taking the reins in Los Angeles.Jon Gruden (Vertical)

[RELATED: Top Rams Head Coaching Candidates]

While Gruden may be open to the Rams’ position, his interest in the franchise wouldn’t stop at coaching — he’d also require full control of personnel, according to Robinson, and won’t even consider a meeting with the club unless he’s granted that power. Los Angeles is open to offering roster management to certain head coaching candidates (Gruden among them), which jibes with recent reports about incumbent general manager Les Snead‘s status. Snead’s fate is seemingly in the balance at the moment, as ownership could be willing to allow a new coach to hire his own executive.

Meanwhile, Gruden would check off several requirements for owner Stan Kroenke, including the fact that the club is searching for an offensive-minded head coach. Second, as Robinson writes, the Rams are intent on selling hundreds of millions in personal seat licences before their new stadium in Inglewood opens, and hiring a coach with the panache of Gruden could help in those business pitches.

For Gruden, the allure of Los Angeles is compounded by the presence of quarterback Jared Goff, whom Gruden has lauded in the past. “He does believe in him – that’s not just for TV,” a source close to Gruden told Robinson. “He thinks [Goff] has the stuff to be a franchise quarterback. I don’t know if Jon would have traded the farm to get him, but he sees him as a guy that was worthy of building a team around him. He sees leadership and star power there.”

If Gruden can’t be had, Stanford head coach David Shaw and Saints head coach Sean Payton could be among the contenders for the Rams’ job, per Robinson. While Payton recently signed an extension that’s set to keep him in New Orleans through 2020, a report yesterday indicated that the organization could be willing to part with him in exchange for draft picks. Meanwhile, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that the Los Angeles job could attract candidates — such as Payton — who are already under contract with other clubs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

10 Coaching Candidates For The Rams

In an iconic scene from season nine of The SimpsonsKrusty the Klown announced his retirement to a scrum of not-so-stunned reporters. Krusty The Clown

But Krusty,” one reporter asks. “Why now? Why not twenty years ago?

It wouldn’t have been out of place for any Rams beat reporter to channel that sentiment and ask a similar question of COO Kevin Demoff when he addressed the media on Monday. Jeff Fisher‘s dismissal was long overdue and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of the coach’s family who disagrees.

For now, the Rams will turn things over to special teams coordinator John Fassel on an interim basis. While this is ostensibly a chance for Fassel to impress team brass and land the head coaching job for 2017, most are expecting the Rams to hire a name brand coach that will energize the fan base and give the team some additional panache in free agency.

With a few weeks to go between now and the official end of the Rams’ season, here are ten names that could be considered for the job:

Jim Harbaugh (vertical)Jim Harbaugh, head coach at the University of Michigan: Some say that living well is the best revenge. Others say that the best revenge against your former employer is setting up shop across the street and destroying them. Santa Clara-to-Los Angeles is a lengthy drive, but you get what we’re getting at.

Harbaugh, in theory, could leave his alma mater and crush the 49ers by joining up with a divisional rival. The Rams have reportedly been loafing in practice and Harbaugh is the kind of throwback disciplinarian that the team badly needs. It’s fair to assume that the Rams will get in contact with Harbaugh, but it will be tough to get him to leave his lucrative job in Ann Arbor.

With National Signing Day around the corner, Harbaugh could publicly remove himself himself from consideration if he is not at all interested in an NFL return. Alternatively, if Harbaugh wants to get sweet revenge against the Niners, Stan Kroenke better have his checkbook ready. Signing Harbaugh could cost upwards of $10MM/year and that’s before factoring in his buyout clause with the Wolverines. If Harbaugh bolts, he’ll owe U-M the prorated portion of his $2MM signing bonus. With two of the seven years served, 5/7ths of that amount comes out to roughly $1.43MM.

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Breer On Allen, Westbrook, Raiders

Earlier today, we highlighted two noteworthy items from Albert Breer’s latest column. Breer hears that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin could garner NFL offensive coordinator consideration this offseason. Also, an NFLPA source tells Breer that the Raiders may have to add salary this year in order to hit the CBA’s mandated minimum spend.

On top of that, Breer has even more news. Here are the highlights:

  • Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is undersized at 6’3″ and 294 pounds, but scouts feel that he is talented enough to make it work at the next level. “He’s a really good football player,” said an AFC college scouting director. “He isn’t a big hulking guy—average height, average weight, not long enough to play end. But he maxes out everything he has. Tough, great hands, instinctive, a really good athlete, motor, balance, bend, everything. The only thing he lacks is size. He will run good (at the combine), but he won’t light it up. But his motor, leverage, hand use, he can rush the passer, he’s stout vs. the run. He’s just a good all-around player. I can’t say he’ll be a dominant force in the NFL, but he’s just the type of guy you win with. A first-rounder all the way.” That evaluator went on to opine that Allen is a better athlete than 2016 Alabama products A’Shawn Robinson (Lions) and Jarran Reed (Seahawks). That’s high praise, considering both players have already become contributors for their respective teams.
  • Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook is another breakout player with size concerns. Still, his draft stock is looking good. “The rise that he’s made, it’s unbelievable,” one area scout assigned to OU said. “Last year was his first at a big-time program and he was inconsistent—drops, it didn’t seem like he was aware on the field, he looked unnatural. He’s a totally different player now, and he’s talented to begin with. They’ve done a great job coaching him. He’s pretty good in all areas now—hands, he’s more confident, he’s catching the ball better, and there’s a little something about him. He could go really high.” That doesn’t mean every scout is sold on him. Breer writes that “some evaluators look at him as a poor man’s DeSean Jackson.” But, like DJax, Westbrook can line up on the inside or the outside and can also be a factor in the return game.
  • Only 12 of the 117 head coaches hired by NFL teams since 2000 came directly from the college ranks, but it’s possible that trend could change. Putting aside obvious names like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher, and Jim Harbaugh, Breer ran down five names who have arguably helped their teams overachieve: Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, new Texas hire Tom Herman (formerly of Houston, a smaller program), Washington’s Chris Petersen, and Stanford’s David Shaw. In the case of the Chicago-based Fitzgerald, the “perception” is that he would be enticed by the Bears job, Breer writes.
  • For all the talk of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Breer expects the league to keep close tabs on Oakland’s proposal. That’s because the league wants to maintain a foothold in the North Bay area. Now that the 49ers have moved to Santa Clara, the league is hopeful that the Raiders could expand their fan base with the Bay’s affluent residents. It also helps that Oakland is easier to get to than Santa Clara. Recently, there has been word that the NFL would actually prefer to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

Coach Rumors: Coughlin, Shula, Shaw, McCoy

The Giants have yet to announce a decision one way or the other on head coach Tom Coughlin, but it sounds like we’ll find out shortly whether the club will be in the market for a new coach. According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Coughlin is scheduled to meet with Giants ownership at 1:00 pm eastern time, and it appears a decision has been made.

As we wait to find out Coughlin’s fate, let’s check in on a few other coaching-related notes and rumors….

  • Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula figures to draw interest from teams searching for a head coach, but he doesn’t plan to interview while Carolina remains alive in the postseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Since the Panthers aren’t scheduled to play until the divisional round, that would mean any potential suitors for Shula would have to wait until at least January 17th, and possibly later, to interview him, which could reduce interest.
  • Rapoport also provides an update on David Shaw, tweeting that the Stanford coach plans to remain in his current role, despite the possibility of garnering interest from the 49ers and/or Colts.
  • Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is scheduled to address the media later today, and as Ben Higgins of 10News in San Diego tweets, that looks like a positive sign for McCoy, since teams don’t typically schedule presser for coaches that are being fired.
  • The Browns‘ unusual approach to their coaching and GM searches could complicate the process for the team, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Since executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown will have final say on the 53-man roster, rival teams will have the option of blocking their own executives from interviewing for Cleveland’s GM job. The Browns also plan to hire a head coach before landing a GM, so while it may be appealing for a head coaching candidate to have the opportunity to bring in his own personnel guy, that guy would have to be unemployed, or employed by a team willing to let him go.
  • Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is among the candidates the Eagles are expected to consider for their head coaching job, per Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.

East Notes: Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell, whose short stint is almost sure to end Sunday, spoke about his tenure to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.

On what he’ll do differently if given another opportunity in the future, Campbell said, “I would do a better job of holding everyone more accountable, from staff to players.”

Going forward, Campbell believes the Dolphins need more leadership from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“Certainly, those are two guys that you’d love to see grow more into that area, and it would help,” he stated.

Campbell also used the word “frustration” to describe the Dolphins’ 5-10 season (and 4-7 mark under his reign). He’ll try to go out with a win Sunday as the Dolphins host AFC East rival New England.

More on the Dolphins and three NFC East teams:
  • With the Giants’ Tom Coughlin era seemingly on the verge of ending, the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano wrote Friday that the team should pursue the Saints’ Sean Payton and Alabama’s Nick Saban as possible successors. In addition to Payton and Saban, Vacchiano listed more potential candidates Saturday. Featured prominently: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, current Giants O-coordinator Ben McAdoo – though Vacchiano argues that he’d be tough to sell to their fan base – as well as college head coaches Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and David Shaw (Stanford). There’s also Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a pair of Carolina assistants in OC Mike Shula and D-coordinator Sean McDermott, two more O-coordinators (Pittsburgh’s Todd Haley and Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson), and Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone. Haley, Jackson and Marrone were all mixed bags in their prior head coaching stops, while Spagnuolo and McDaniels flamed out in epic fashion in St. Louis and Denver, respectively.
  • The Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon, who leads the team in sacks (seven), could be playing his last game with the team Sunday, ESPN’s James Walker writes. Vernon, 25, stands to cash in as a pending free agent. Thus, he might not fit within the Dolphins’ budget. Vernon does want to stay in Miami, though. “I’d like to be here,” Vernon told Walker. “But at the end of the day, business is business. So if this is my last game and I enter free agency, then I’m going to see how that goes.”
  • As we learned Saturday afternoon, the Eagles interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for their vacant head coaching job. Whether they’re truly serious about him remains to be seen, but the interview means they’ve already fulfilled the Rooney Rule because Staley is a minority candidate. That means they could hire Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, whom they’re interested in, as early as Monday. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that won’t happen. Gase will bide his time and explore all options, per Florio.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will lose out on $2MM extra if he doesn’t play Sunday against Washington, Brandon George of SportsDay writes. Lee, whose status is up in the air because of a hamstring injury, has incentives in his contract that will kick his 2015-16 salary from $3MM to $5MM if he plays 80 percent of snaps on the season. He’s currently at 82.1.

Mike Smith To Be Fired After 2014 Season

Falcons owner Arthur Blank is prepared to fire head coach Mike Smith after this season, writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Blank has reportedly confided his plans to “multiple parties,” and only an unforeseen playoff run will change his mind.

The Falcons have benefited from playing in a historically-weak NFC South in 2014, as they are still in the hunt for a playoff berth despite their 5-9 record. However, even if they were to win the division, such a performance would not be enough for Blank, who believes major changes are necessary after watching his club underachieve for two consecutive years following its NFC Championship Game appearance in 2012.

Smith came to the Falcons in 2008 along with quarterback Matt Ryan, who was the No. 3 overall pick in that year’s draft. Atlanta compiled an 11-5 record in 2008 en route to a surprise playoff appearance and Smith earned AP Coach of the Year and NFL Coach of the Year honors that season. The Smith-Ryan marriage remained a largely successful one after 2008, though the team has managed just one playoff win in four trips to the postseason.

But the Falcons have gone just 9-21 since the start of the 2013 campaign, and though the blame for that performance should fall primarily upon a roster that has stagnated, the fact remains that Smith has failed to get the most out of his club for two consecutive seasons, a club that appeared to have legitimate championship aspirations in each of those years.

As for the man who has been tasked with building the roster, GM Thomas Dimitroff, Blank has indicated that he expects Dimitroff to return, though that could change during the process of finding a new head coach. La Canfora writes that the team is doing its “due diligence” on such head coaching candidates as Adam Gase, Josh McDaniels, and current Stanford coach David Shaw.

Extra Points: Griffin, Glennon, DEA

Robert Griffin III has struggled since returning from injury this season, and Washington’s head coach Jay Gruden has the power to bench the former first-round pick, writes Conor Orr of NFL.com. In the past, Griffin had been protected by ownership, but patience could be running thin within the organization.

Here are some other notes from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of quarterbacks getting benched, Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times argues that the Buccaneers need to return Josh McCown to the sidelines. McCown is not playing well, and although Mike Glennon has failed to perform well either, the young quarterback at least deserves a chance to prove himself as the team’s starter.
  • The DEA has continued its investigation of NFL medical staffs this week, focusing on the alleged mishandling of prescription drugs, writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Although the investigation is ongoing, there will likely not be any more post-game searches.
  • San Antonio is a long shot to obtain the Raiders from Oakland, but they will still attempt to lure an NFL franchise to their city, writes Tom Orsborn of ExpressNews.com.“I’ve seen stranger things happen when parties stay in the game. If staying in the game is a low-cost option, I wouldn’t walk away if I were San Antonio,” said Marc Ganis, a league consultant and president of SportsCorp. “Now, that doesn’t mean I’d pour lots of resources into it, or raise people’s hopes dramatically. But I certainly wouldn’t walk away, because you never know what happens in these things. These things can turn in odd ways.”
  • We have looked at top head coaching candidates a number of times so far this season, and will do so again as Adam Caplan of ESPN compiles a comprehensive list of assistant coaches who will be sought after for interviews this offseason (subscription required). At the top of his list are Patriots‘ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seahawks‘ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Cardinals‘ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Caplan also highlights Baylor’s Art Briles, Stanford’s David Shaw, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn as college coaches who could make the jump to the NFL.

Poll: Best Head Coaching Candidates

Colts‘ offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and Browns‘ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have accomplished plenty on their offenses this season, with each team currently leading its current division through nine games. Those performances could lead to big paydays as head coaches next season.

They are not the only coordinators being rumored for head coaching jobs. Giants‘ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has been talked about as a possible successor for Tom Coughlin. Broncos‘ offensive coordinator Adam Gase could follow the path of his predecessor, Mike McCoy, who jumped from a record-setting Peyton Manning-led offense to the top job for the Chargers.

The defending champion Seahawks have taken a step back from last season, but the market may not have cooled on both of their coordinators. Both offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have both been talked about as head coaching candidates, with particular interest coming from the Jets if general manager John Idzik is retained in New York and head coach Rex Ryan is fired.

Todd Bowles has helped put together a great defense in Arizona, as the Cardinals have gone 8-1 despite injuries on the defense. Lions‘ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin could be in a similar position, as his team is currently leading it’s division based on the strength of the defense.

Add to the mix the possibility of Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher returning to the sidelines, or even the possibility of a college coach like David Shaw of Stanford jumping to the NFL, and teams will have a number of options should they decide to pursue a new coach in 2015. That list does not include the head coaches that will lose their jobs at the end of the season, a number of them will hit the open market with impressive records of success. That list could include Ryan, Mike Smith, and Jim Harbaugh, among others.