Dennis Hickey

Extra Points: Bills, Falcons, Saints, 2018 Draft Class

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Bills general manager Brandon Beane continues to grow his front office. According to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, the team has hired former Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey as their Senior College Scout. Prior to his gig with Miami, Beane spent almost 20 years with the Buccaneers. The Bills also re-hired three former scouts and Curtis Rukavina, the former Director of Player Personnel for the Toronto Argonauts.
  • The 2018 running back class “could be special,” says Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. The writer specifically points to Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, with one executive saying the upcoming junior could be the best running back prospect of the past decade. Miller also points to LSU’s Derrius Guice and Ohio State’s Mike Weber among those who are primed for big 2017 seasons.
  • Saints undrafted rookie Justin Thomas served as the starting quarterback for Georgia Tech throughout his college career, but he’s been forced to make a position change in the NFL. Thomas originally auditioned for the Saints as a defensive back, but the team switched him to wideout at the beginning of the multi-day tryout, and the rookie ultimately earned a spot on the team. Predictably, Thomas would be willing to play any position if it meant he’d stick around for the regular season. “Of course, I would like to play quarterback, but at the same time, I’m a realist,” Thomas told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “I didn’t want to lessen my opportunities, so I was open to anything.”
  • The Falcons let go of defensive line coach Bryan Cox back in February, and the former Pro Bowler believes his firing was attributed to his “incident” during the 2016 Combine when he reportedly shoved a Cardinals scout. “You go from your unit playing really well in the Super Bowl and sacking the quarterback five times and having [nine] quarterback hits . . . and [three] days later you get fired,” Cox told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I wasn’t given an answer to why I was fired. I was left to go back and kind of play stuff over. And the only thing I can come up with is the Combine incident that kind of led to it.”

Extra Points: Cousins, Fitz, Bills, L. Green

Franchise-tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins has spoken highly of Redskins brass lately, but it remains doubtful that the two sides will agree to a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline, writes Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Cousins has little incentive to take Washington’s $20MM-per-year offer, observes Tandler, as he’s set to make a fully guaranteed ~$24MM as the team’s franchise player this season and could earn another $34MM in 2018 in the unlikely event it places the franchise tag on him again. Otherwise, Cousins could be in position next offseason to hit free agency and ink a lucrative contract with either the Redskins or someone else.

More from around the NFL:

  • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s one-year, $3MM deal with the Buccaneers could be worth up to $5MM, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). With Fitzpatrick now off the board, the only remaining free agent QBs who started a game in 2016 are Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Shaun Hill, notes Field Yates of ESPN (on Twitter). In case you missed it, Tampa Bay did not consider signing Kaepernick before it tabbed Fitzpatrick to serve as Jameis Winston‘s backup in 2017.
  • The Bills made a few changes to their scouting staff Friday, most notably hiring former Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey as a senior college scout, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Hickey only lasted as Miami’s GM from 2014-15, but he previously worked in a scouting capacity for several years in Tampa Bay. Along with Hickey, the Bills added scouts Gerald Dixon, Doug Majeski and Brian Fisher, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The team dismissed all three last month, but they’ll return in newly hired GM Brandon Beane‘s front office.
  • Speaking of the Bills, quarterback Tyrod Taylor has gotten off to a nice start in OTAs in new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison‘s system, says James Palmer of NFL Network (video link). Taylor is familiar with both Dennison and the Gary Kubiak-created system the Bills are using, as the passer studied it in Baltimore as Joe Flacco‘s backup from 2011-14 (Dennison was the Ravens’ QBs coach in 2014). Moreover, Kubiak has always regarded Taylor as a good fit for the system, per Palmer. That could bode well for Taylor as he enters a crucial season in Buffalo, which will have the opportunity to easily escape his contract next winter.
  • Although injuries (especially to the head) have beset tight end Ladarius Green in recent years, he’s not planning to retire. After the Steelers released the 26-year-old on Thursday, a player Green spoke with told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that he’s hoping to catch on elsewhere as a free agent (Twitter link). Ankle and head issues limited Green to six games and 18 receptions in 2016, the first season of a four-year, $20MM contract.

Extra Points: Hickey, Jaguars, Winslow, Flacco

Former Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey interviewed to be the Browns Vice President of Player Personnel, reports Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Miami had parted ways with Hickey earlier this month.

Earlier today, we learned Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta were seeking a personnel executive for their front office, although they weren’t going to label the position “general manager.” Hickey would presumably be up for that role, as the 44-year-old has spent more than two decades in NFL front offices.

Cabot tweets that former Eagles Director of Pro Personnel Rick Mueller is also on the Browns’ radar for the same position, and former Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is also reportedly a candidate for the job.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the league…

  • The Jaguars will be promoting Mark Ellenz to their director of college scouting, reports Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union (via Twitter). Ellenz will be replacing Kyle O’Brien, who became the Lions Director of Player Personnel last week.
  • After having caught 469 passes for 5,236 yards and 25 touchdowns, Kellen Winslow II hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2013. However, a recent tweet by the 32-year-old suggests that the tight end is looking to make a comeback. “I’m putting my life’s work into this comeback. #LoveDaGame #NFL,” Winslow tweeted. Furthermore, a representative for the player told TMZ.com that the former first-rounder is attempting a comeback (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is signed through 2018, and his cap number won’t dip below $24MM over the next few seasons. The veteran recognizes how this number could restrict his team’s ability to make moves, and he indicated that he may be willing to rework his contract. “We haven’t talked about it yet,” Flacco said on WBAL (via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun on Twitter). “I know it’s a huge number. I’m open to doing something. I want to be here for a while.”

Latest On Dolphins’ Front Office

Former general manager Dennis Hickey, whom the Dolphins parted with Saturday, had his role diminished in 2015 to that of a scouting director, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com (Twitter link). With Hickey gone, there are sure to be more changes forthcoming to Miami’s front office, Jeff Darlington of NFL.com reports.

Those changes could involve executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte, though she has a fan in owner Stephen Ross. However, her specialties (namely the CBA and salary cap) might soon fall under the purview of executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, who is in position to become the franchise’s football czar. Despite that, Ross won’t let her go easily, Darlington writes.

Regardless of what happens with Aponte, the organization wants its all-time best player, Dan Marino, to take on a larger role. For his part, Marino – currently a special consultant to president and CEO Tom Garfinkel – is reluctant because of the commitment that would come with a higher ranking within the franchise. Nevertheless, the Dolphins do highly value the opinions of both Marino and vice chairman of the board Matt Higgins.

On the subject of the team’s coaching search, Breer tweets that Miami would be willing to let its next coach bring a personnel man with him. That goes hand in hand with Darlington’s notion that Tannenbaum would be open to decreasing some of his own power over the roster if it means hiring the right GM. If the Dolphins stay in house to hire their next GM, it’s likely to be director of college scouting Chris Grier. That would benefit Tannenbaum, who does not diligently scout players. Whether Grier or someone else becomes the GM, the Dolphins are cognizant that they need to put greater emphasis on scouting.

Of course, it remains to be seen whom the Dolphins will choose as their next GM and head coach. Two things are certain: Interim coach Dan Campbell won’t get promoted to the full-time role, per Darlington, and the team will enter its respective searches with Tannenbaum fully in control, tweets Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Dolphins, GM Dennis Hickey Part Ways

SATURDAY, 7:10pm: The Dolphins and Hickey have parted ways, Salguero reports. Grier is likely to take Hickey’s place.

On Hickey’s departure, Tannenbaum said, “I want to thank Dennis for his work over the last two years. We talked about a number of different possibilities, but at the end we reached this agreement. I have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished here and wish Dennis and his family well.”

Hickey also issued a statement, which in part reads: “Over the past week, I have had a number of conversations with the Dolphins organization about my role in the team. Ultimately the Dolphins and I agreed that it would be best if we parted ways. I will always be proud of our accomplishments in Miami including many key additions to the team through the draft and free agency.”

FRIDAY, 2:19pm: After another disappointing season in Miami, the Dolphins are expected to fire general manager Dennis Hickey on Monday, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Another source tells Florio that although discussions are ongoing regarding Hickey’s fate, nothing has yet been finalized. Meanwhile, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that while no decision has been made, it’s unlikely that Hickey will be retained.

Hickey was named the club’s general manager prior to the 2014 season after Miami conducted a lengthy search. The former Buccaneers executive had a largely successful first year with the Dolphins — he hit on draft picks Ja’Wuan James and Jarvis Landry, and made smart free agent decisions, bringing in Branden Albert and re-signing Brent Grimes.

But Hickey has been largely marginalized since his hiring, as he notably was not able to select his own head coach, having been assigned Joe Philbin. Additionally, the Dolphins hired ex-Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum as something of a football operations czar, further lessening Hickey’s impact. Tannenbaum took the lead on the club’s free agency and draft decisions, leaving it unclear as to exactly what Hickey’s role was.

According to Florio, Tannenbaum won’t name himself as Miami’s new GM (whether or not that has any material impact is unclear, given that Tannenbaum already wields total control of football matters). One key name to watch in the upcoming general manager search, a source tells Florio, is Dolphins director of college scouting Chris Grier, who was a candidate for both the Jets and Eagles GM vacancies last offseason.

Meanwhile, in a letter to season ticket holders (and passed along by Salguero), Dolphins owner Stephen Ross expressed his disappointment with the club’s results this season, and pledged that the team has already identified “several promising candidates” in it search for a head coach (a search, it should be noted, that will be lead by Tannenbaum). Interim head coach Dan Campbell will be granted an interview, per the letter, while any mention of Hickey was notably omitted altogether.

AFC Rumors: Dolphins, Browns

The latest on a couple of AFC teams that are on the cusp of major overhauls:

  • Doug Marrone and Jim Schwartz were the head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively, of a 2014 Bills team that finished 9-7. They could reunite soon in the same roles for the AFC East rival Dolphins, multiple sources have told the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero (Twitter link). Marrone, who is currently an assistant in Jacksonville, was the Jets’ offensive line coach in 2002-05. Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was also with the Jets then, as Salguero notes (on Twitter), so Tannenbaum and Marrone are familiar with one another. Further, the Tannenbaum-led Dolphins reached out to Schwartz earlier this season when the team fired defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
  • In other important Dolphins news, they could soon name director of college scouting Chris Grier their next general manager, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. They’ll first have to fire current GM Dennis Hickey, which appears likely. If the Dolphins do ax Hickey, they’ll be able to quickly promote Grier – a minority candidate – instead of having to follow the Rooney Rule process.
  • Significant changes to both the Browns’ front office and coaching staff seem imminent, as the team is expected to fire general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine. As a result, names that will be connected to the club in the coming days include Adam Gase, Tom Cable and the aforementioned Doug Marrone as head coaching candidates and Green Bay executive Eliot Wolf as a GM possibility (via ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi on Twitter). Interestingly, if the Browns hire Gase, their quarterback next season could be Peyton Manning, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Gase and Manning worked closely together in Denver from 2012-14.

East Notes: Eagles, Giants, Patriots, Hickey

The Eagles interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for their head-coaching job, Ed Werder of ESPN.com reports (via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, on Twitter).

The former Eagles running back has been on the Philadelphia staff since 2010, serving as the running backs coach since 2013.

Staley’s coaching experience doesn’t meet the usual criteria for a realistic shot at the job. This pre-offseason summit does, however, allow the Eagles to meet the Rooney Rule requirements put in place for the consideration of minority candidates. Not exactly in the spirit of the rule, as more qualified candidates are certain to follow the 40-year-old Staley in interviewing once the season ends.

Here is some more from the Eastern divisions on the eve of the final regular-season Sunday.

  • Chip Kelly‘s year of full personnel control went awry quickly, and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Zach Berman takes a look at the steps that led to the early divorce. Not paying enough attention to keeping the offensive line fortified after releases of Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans proved to be part of the downfall, Berman writes.
  • The Giants expect Owa Odighizuwa to come off IR-DTR today, per NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). The 23-year-old defensive end’s been out since October with a hamstring malady, playing in just four games as a rookie. When the Giants used their IR-DTR slot on their third-round pick Nov. 5, the playoffs remained in sight. But Sunday was the earliest Odighizuwa could play, and present circumstances mean he’d make a rare return for a meaningless contest.
  • In the likely event Tom Coughlin‘s 12-season Giants tenure concludes after Sunday’s game, Big Blue needs to pursue former OC Sean Payton or Nick Saban, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News writes. The New York reporter notes those two candidates wouldn’t require any on-the-job training, although Saban’s Dolphins stint left much to be desired, and the Giants’ winning pedigree shouldn’t force them to settle for an unseasoned coordinator. Vacchiano also reports the Giants interviewed the 64-year-old Saban for their head-coaching job in 1997 and offered the then-Michigan State head coach the position. Jim Fassel eventually became Big Blue’s coach, and Coughlin took over seven years later. The Giants would have to trade for Payton, who earns $8MM per season and is signed through 2017.
  • Dennis Hickey remains unlikely to be retained as Dolphins GM, Armando Salguero reports (on Twitter). Hickey has not been fired yet and could be reassigned, Salguero notes. Mike Tannenbaum‘s presence stripped power from Hickey, who’s only been on the job two years after being hired to succeed Jeff Ireland in Jan. 2014.
  • Danny Amendola, who has 63 receptions, can earn $225K in incentives with seven catches against the Dolphins, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. The inconsistent Patriots wideout’s made $525K in incentives already this season. Julian Edelman missed out on $500K in incentives by finishing nine catches shy of 70. The bonus only applies to the regular season, meaning the top Pats receiver’s prospective playoff receptions wouldn’t count toward it. Sebastian Vollmer will miss out on a $750K bonus by falling short of the 80% snap threshold this season, and Alan Branch won’t hit the 50% standard to receive a $250K bonus.

 

Sunday Roundup: Matthews, Dimitroff, Brees

As the NFL world continues to reel from the Peyton Manning HGH allegations, let’s take a look at some links from around the league:

  • Although the majority of the fallout from the Al Jazeera documentary has naturally focused on Manning, it should not be forgotten that other star players, like Packers LB Clay Matthews, were also named in the report. Per Mike Garafolo of FOXSports, via colleague Jay Glazer, Matthews has denied even knowing who former Guyer Institute intern Charlie Sly is and has naturally denied receiving any medications from him (Twitter link).
  • No one disputes that there is a talent deficiency on the Falcons roster, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says GM Thomas Dimitroff will not necessarily take the fall for that deficiency. Per Rapoport, owner Arthur Blank will sit down with Dimitroff after the season to hear his GM’s plan for the team moving forward, and Blank will make a decision about Dimitroff’s future then (Twitter links).
  • Speaking of embattled GMs, Kevin Patra of NFL.com (citing Rapoport) says Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey–who was essentially rendered superfluous when the team hired Mike Tannenbaum–will likely be fired at the end of the season.
  • Les Bowen of The Philadelphia Daily News has even more troubling news for Eagles fans, reporting that veteran left tackle Jason Peters took himself, unhurt, out of last night’s loss to Washington because he did not want to risk getting injured for a team that was not going to make the playoffs.
  • Following a report this morning that Drew Brees would need to take a hometown discount to remain with the Saints in 2016, former NFL agent Joel Corry weighs in on the matter in a series of tweets. Corry says that New Orleans will have to make a quick decision on Brees’ future, as $10.85MM of his $19.75MM base salary becomes fully guaranteed on February 10, 2016, the third day of the waiver period. Because there is no offset language in Brees’ deal, if the Saints were to wait until after February 10 to cut him, they would be saddled with nearly $21MM of dead money. As Corry points out, that reality gives Brees a great deal of leverage, which should allow him to “slow play” contract negotiations.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com looks at the dilemma the Panthers will face this offseason when deciding whether to re-sign Josh Norman, put the franchise tag on him, or let him walk in free agency.
  • Citing a league source, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee tweets that the 49ers plan to keep Jarryd Hayne on the team’s active roster through the end of the season, thereby allowing San Francisco to keep Hayne under club control for 2016.

AFC Quotes: Hickey, Chudzinski, Richardson

There were plenty of storylines in the NFL this past week. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill inked an extension with the Dolphins, just another big deal handed out by the franchise. Colts associate head coach Rob Chudzinski started his new job, adapting to the peculiar role. Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson hasn’t shown up to voluntary OTAs, prompting some to question the player’s motives.
We’ve collected some interesting quotes regarding these three stories, which you can find below:
Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey on the team’s longterm planning for this offseason spending spree (appearing on 104.3 The Ticket, via Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald):
“As you put together a strategic plan, even going back to when I first interviewed for the job, you look ahead and you try to be strategic with how you try to allocate your resources. What are next year’s decisions? What are the following year’s decisions? And so we went through that.”
Dennis Hickey on the Ryan Tannehill extension:
“Having stability in the quarterback position. Our philosophy is we want to have sustained success and a quality quarterback and a proven quarterback that you believe in that’s also young and improves every year, and even within the year.
“Compare the first four games [of 2014] to the last 12 games and the growth that we saw in Ryan. Having all the tools and all the things that he brings, he’s definitely someone we believe in and want to commit to.”
Rob Chudzinski on his new role with the franchise (via Steve Andress of Colts.com):
“It’s a little bit different role than I’m used to. I’m usually out front of everything, but again, whatever I can do to help in any way. Support, be a resource for, do work for, whatever it is around the building, I can do. That’s what I want to do to help us win.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, and a lot of different things I do around the building. It’s the type of role that if everybody doesn’t know what you do, then you’re probably doing a good job.”
Sheldon Richardson on his absence from OTAs (via Twitter):
“I have a life outside of football n I chose to enjoy my family a little longer so to u fans that know everything please worry bout yourself.”
“All I’m hearing from ppl is get to OTA’s etc. like I jus wasn’t at practice yesterday putting in wrk tho.”

Extra Points: NFLPA, Mayo, Van Pelt, Raiders

The NFL Players Association has formally filed a grievance against the league challenging the NFL’s new personal conduct policy, which was adopted in December despite the NFLPA’s objections, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The union contends that it didn’t have an opportunity to collectively bargain many key points of the new policy, arguing that the policy violates the CBA and that it was adopted “without the consent, and over the objections, of the NFLPA.”

While we wait to see what comes of the union’s grievance, let’s round up several items from across the NFL….

  • Injured Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo has been prioritizing his rehabilitation after a season-ending knee injury, and fully intends to get back on the field in 2015, but he has also developed an interest in coaching during his time spent on injured reserve, writes Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can,” Mayo said. “If I do choose to go down that road, hopefully I can apply some of these principles that I’ve learned from coach [Bill] Belichick in my coaching career.”
  • While a previous report revealed the Packers turned down the Rams’ request to speak to Alex Van Pelt about their offensive coordinator job, St. Louis wasn’t the only team rebuffed by Green Bay. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Jaguars and Bears were also denied permission to interview Van Pelt.
  • The Raiders have officially confirmed a handful of new additions to Jack Del Rio’s staff, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Todd Downing (QB coach), Marcus Robertson (DB coach), Sal Sunseri (LB coach), and Mike Tice (OL coach).
  • The Jets also announced several new assistants in addition to their new coordinators. According to the team, Mike Caldwell (assistant HC/ILB coach), Mark Collins (OLB coach), Joe Danna (DB/S coach), and Karl Dorrell (WR coach) are among the new arrivals.
  • Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey isn’t phased by the fact that 2015 could be a make-or-break season for him and head coach Joe Philbin, suggesting that he approaches every season as if it’s make-or-break, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
  • The Texans have made some front office changes, promoting Jon Carr to director of college scouting and hiring Matt Jansen to the new position of college scouting coordinator, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links).
  • We learned yesterday that Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett met with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, but Miami is far from the only team to interview Lockett. The wideout, who is generating plenty of buzz in Mobile, tells James Walker of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that he spoke to 28 NFL teams this week.