Lions Rumors

Duce Staley Joins Lions

Duce Staley got his wish. The Eagles granted the assistant coach’s request for release, paving the way for him to join the Lions’ staff (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Lions To Add John Dorsey To Front Office]

Staley will now serve as the Lions’ assistant head coach/running backs coach under Dan Campbell. The ex-Eagles running back joined the Birds’ coaching staff all the way back in 2013, but he got frustrated after being passed over twice for the head coaching job. In 2016, the Eagles chose Doug Pederson instead. This year, the Eagles went with Nick Sirianni, who opted against promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, also drew interest from the Bears. Instead, he’ll face Chicago a couple times per year. With ex-RBs Staley and Anthony Lynn (offensive coordinator) in the fold, you can expect the Lions to focus on the run game in 2021. That might be for the best, since the Lions will probably be moving forward without quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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Coaching Notes: Seahawks, Titans, Dolphins

We’ve got another couple of names to pass along for Seattle’s wide-ranging offensive coordinator search. The Seahawks want to interview Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and have already spoken with Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. They’ve been linked to what seems like every offensive coach in the league now, including Adam Gase and other big names. Dorsey was a backup quarterback in the league for a handful of years, and the 39-year-old was the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach from 2013-17.

He joined the Bills last season. Waldron is another young guy who has coached under Rams coach Sean McVay since 2016 since they were both with Washington. He started as McVay’s tight ends coach in Los Angeles before getting promoted to quarterbacks coach and pass-game coordinator. The Seahawks don’t appear to be honing in on anything in particular, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll hire.

Here are more coaching notes from around the league:

  • The Texans are the only team still with a head coach opening, but they aren’t letting one key assistant go out the door yet. They recently blocked offensive coordinator Tim Kelly from interviewing for OC openings with two other teams, and those interested teams were the Titans and Lions, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Since it would be a lateral move and he’s still under contract, Houston can block those requests. As Breer points out, there has been buzz that Deshaun Watson likes Kelly, and the team could be looking to keep him in order to curry favor with their disgruntled starting quarterback. Detroit has since filled their vacancy with former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
  • Speaking of the Titans’ opening, Tennessee will be interviewing Pep Hamilton for the job in the next few days, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Hamilton was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach this past year, and did a great job helping with the development of Justin Herbert, so he’s been drawing a lot of interest for OC jobs. He was talked about as a candidate in Miami, and is one of the finalists in Pittsburgh as well. The Titans of course are looking to replace Arthur Smith, now the head coach in Atlanta. Hamilton coordinated the Colts’ offense from 2013-15, and had a lot of success with Andrew Luck.
  • The Dolphins are still looking for their OC, but they have made a different key hire on offense. The team has parted ways with quarterbacks coach Robby Brown and replaced him with former NFL passer Charlie Frye, they announced in a tweet. It’s the first NFL coaching gig for Frye, who was Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. It’s interesting that they’d hire the QBs coach before the OC. A third-round pick of the Browns back in 2005, Frye also played with the Seahawks and Raiders until 2009.

Lions To Add John Dorsey To Front Office

The Lions have a brand new power structure, having recently hired Brad Holmes as general manager and Dan Campbell as head coach. Now, Detroit is adding a more experienced voice to the mix, with Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reporting that the team is expected to hire John Dorsey as a senior personnel executive (Twitter link). Dorsey, 60, had been working as a consultant for the Eagles.

Dorsey, who drew interest from the Texans for their GM post before Houston elected to hire Nick Caserio, has served as general manager for both the Chiefs and Browns. Neither of those tenures ended on a particularly positive note, but that wasn’t due to Dorsey’s abilities as a talent evaluator. His reputation in that area is sterling, and he is largely responsible for the construction of the current iteration of the Browns — who nearly advanced to the AFC Championship Game this year — and for Kansas City’s starry corps of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.

In addition to his drafting of Mahomes and Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield while serving as a general manager, Dorsey was the Packers’ director of college scouting when Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. And as a young scout in 1994, he recommended that the Packers sign Kurt Warner as a UDFA.

His eye for quarterback talent is especially important this year, as the Lions are preparing to trade Matthew Stafford and may well turn to the draft for his replacement. Plus, Dorsey’s experience should be an asset to Holmes, who is getting his first shot as a GM after working as the Rams’ director of college scouting for the past eight seasons.

Campbell will also have a major role in personnel decisions, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Rather than a traditional HC-GM-owner structure, Holmes, Campbell, and vice president of football operations Mike Disner will report directly to president Rod Wood and owner Sheila Ford Hamp.

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Duce Staley Requests Release From Contract

Longtime Eagles assistant Duce Staley has requested a release from his contract, as John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia was first to report (Twitter link). As Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP writes, it’s unclear if the team will honor the request, but it seems likely that Staley will be permitted to move on.

Staley, a former running back, was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 1997 draft. He spent the first seven seasons of his playing career in Philly, cracking the 1,000-yard barrier three times. He rejoined the club as a coaching intern in 2010 and has served as the running backs coach since 2013. However, it appears as though his career trajectory has hit its peak in Philadelphia.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, has been passed over for promotion multiple times in recent years. He interviewed for the team’s head coaching gig in 2016, a job that ultimately went to Doug Pederson, and he interviewed for the HC post again this year, after Pederson’s dismissal. The Eagles elected to hire Nick Sirianni instead, and it does not appear that Sirianni is interested in promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley was also passed over for the OC post in 2018, when Pederson promoted Mike Groh. Staley was given the additional title of assistant head coach that year, but his frustration is understandable. He obviously believes he will get another job elsewhere, one that comes with an immediate promotion or at least a better opportunity at advancement.

We heard recently that the Bears are interested in adding Staley to their staff, and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Lions have interest as well (Twitter link). He would be a good get for either club, as he has done a terrific job with the Eagles’ RBs and is a popular locker room figure.

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49ers To Consider Matthew Stafford Trade?

The biggest NFL story to hit the wire yesterday was that the the Lions are preparing to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford. Immediately after the news broke, pundits began putting together lists of the most likely suitors for Stafford, and the 49ers are high atop most such lists.

Indeed, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle expects the Niners to inquire about Stafford, and Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area says the team is likely to make a decision quickly about whether to be involved in the bidding (Twitter link). The consensus seems to be that it will take a first-round pick plus additional draft compensation to acquire Stafford, and it’s unclear whether GM John Lynch is willing to part with that type of capital.

Of course, the 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo under contract through the 2022 season, but he has missed 23 games over the last three years, while Stafford has started every game in nine of the past 10 seasons. Plus, head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s offense, replete with play-action passes, bootlegs, and deep shots, would appear to be a perfect fit for the Lions’ franchise icon.

Money would not be an obstacle either. Stafford will count just $20MM against the cap in 2021 — a rather modest sum for a quality signal-caller — while Garoppolo is scheduled to carry a $26.9MM hit. San Francisco would incur a mere $2.8MM in dead money by trading or releasing Garoppolo, so the club would actually improve its cap situation and (probably) its quarterback play by acquiring Stafford.

Garoppolo does have a no-trade clause written into his contract, but as he is unlikely to fetch a significant return in a trade at this point, dealing him wouldn’t be a condition precedent to a Stafford trade. Matt Barrows of The Athletic wonders just how much of an improvement Stafford would be and if that improvement will be enough to warrant the surrender of the 49ers’ No. 12 overall selection, and that’s a decision that Lynch & Co. will need to make in the coming weeks.

As of now, Lynch does not anticipate using his top draft choice on a collegiate passer, as Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. So if the team doesn’t acquire Stafford or some other veteran, it sounds like Garoppolo will be the 49ers’ 2021 starter, as Shanahan suggested last month.

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Lions Preparing To Trade Matthew Stafford

After 12 seasons, the Matthew Stafford era in Detroit is set to come to an end. The veteran quarterback has asked the Lions to trade him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports.

Having recently hired a new GM and new head coach, the Lions have met with Stafford over the past two weeks. In those meetings, the 32-year-old quarterback has requested a fresh start. The Lions are planning to discuss Stafford with teams in the coming weeks, Pelissero adds. The sides are expected to mutually part ways, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This news comes a year after Stafford popped up in trade rumors. But previous GM Bob Quinn squashed those, and Stafford’s wife affirmed their desire to stay in Detroit last year. But the Lions struggled again in 2020 and have hired Dan Campbell as HC and Brad Holmes as GM. They are also on the verge of hiring Anthony Lynn as OC.

Campbell would be Stafford’s fourth full-time head coach, and Holmes the third GM in the quarterback’s tenure. The Lions have made the playoffs just three times in Stafford’s career. Both Campbell and Holmes were clued in on the notion Stafford may want out before they signed on with the Lions this month, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets. Stafford suggested after the season a trade may benefit both he and the Lions, and the team agreed to pursue it this week, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Stafford, Holmes and Campbell confirmed on a call this week a trade will be the goal, though Rogers adds (via Twitter) the Lions will only deal him if they receive a worthwhile offer.

The Lions hold the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft. They picked third last year, following a 2019 season in which Detroit lost every game after Stafford was lost for the season midway through, but selected cornerback Jeff Okudah over Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. This year, it would seem Detroit will be firmly in the market for a first-round QB pick. Though, Trevor Lawrence will be gone by the time Detroit picks. Justin Fields and/or Zach Wilson might be off the board as well.

While Stafford has made just one Pro Bowl in 12 seasons, the former No. 1 overall pick has frequently been placed in difficult situations. The cannon-armed passer has never had a high-end running game and played most of the 2020 season without Kenny Golladay. The Lions now have Golladay and Marvin Jones set for free agency and Stafford on the way out. With Campbell on a six-year contract, a rebuild is here in Detroit.

Stafford was unable to procure the Lions a playoff win, leaving him well behind Hall of Famer Bobby Layne in terms of postseason success, but he owns all the franchise’s passing records. And after an injury-plagued start to his career, Stafford started every game from 2011-18. He returned from the 2019 back injury to start 16 games this season, sporting a 26-10 TD-INT ratio and ranking 15th in QBR. Considering Stafford’s age and talent level, the Lions should be able to obtain a nice trade haul.

Stafford’s 2017 extension runs through the 2022 season. He is due just $9.5MM in 2021 base salary and $12.5MM in 2022. He is also due $10MM roster bonuses in each of the next two years, though in this era, cap numbers of $20MM (2021) and $23MM (’22) are quite manageable for a franchise quarterback. Stafford being due the $10MM bonus on the fifth day of the 2021 league year points to a trade commencing before then.

Teams like the Colts, Patriots, Broncos and Washington are among those who could be considered suitors. Washington just hired Martin Mayhew, who drafted Stafford in 2009, as GM. With Deshaun Watson potentially in the trade mix as well, 2021 is shaping up as a big year for quarterback movement.

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Lions, Anthony Lynn Finalizing OC Deal

The Lions will go with the most experienced coach in their offensive coordinator search pool. They are finalizing a deal with Anthony Lynn, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic tweets.

Lynn spent the past four seasons as the Chargers’ head coach and was the Bills’ OC in 2016. Lynn joined several position coaches in the running for the Detroit job and was linked to the Seattle OC position as well. But his bounce-back opportunity will come in the Motor City.

This will be a reunion between Lynn and new Lions HC Dan Campbell. During Campbell’s playing career, he was with the Cowboys in 2005. Lynn coached Dallas’ running backs that season, during a 14-year run as an NFL running backs coach. This connection helped bring Lynn to Detroit, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com noting (via Twitter) Lynn wanted to work with Campbell and DC Aaron Glenn again. Officially hired as Lions DC Saturday, Glenn was also on the 2005 Cowboys’ roster.

Lynn, 52, beat out Ravens QBs coach James Urban, former Jets OC John Morton, Steelers wideouts coach Ike Hilliard and Bills QBs coach Ken Dorsey for this post. The former Chargers HC brings far more experience than this lot of position coaches and will be in position to call plays again — something he did not do this past season with the Chargers.

While Lynn was not the Bolts’ primary play-caller during his stay as their head coach, each of the team’s four offenses in this time ranked in the top 11 in total yardage. This past season began a promising new chapter for the Chargers, who saw Justin Herbert break out quicker than expected — en route to becoming the Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite — under the tutelage of Lynn and OC Shane Steichen.

The veteran coach will now attempt to lead a Lions offense in transition. Matthew Stafford remains under contract but has been mentioned in trade speculation, with the Lions having hired a new coach and GM this month. The Lions also have starting wideouts Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones set for free agency.

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Lions Interview John Morton For OC Job

Add John Morton to the swiftly expanding list of prospective Lions offensive coordinators. The Lions have interviewed the Raiders assistant for their OC position, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore (on Twitter).

Morton spent the past two seasons with the Raiders, but his most notable NFL gig came with the Jets in 2017. The Jets hired Morton as their offensive coordinator that year but fired him at season’s end. Morton became a divisive figure during his Jets tenure, and Todd Bowles did not keep him around for the 2018 slate. The Jets, who used Josh McCown as their primary quarterback in 2017, ranked 28th in total offense under Morton.

Nevertheless, Morton joins several coaches in the running for the Lions’ OC post. The Lions have interviewed or plan to interview Anthony Lynn, Bills QBs coach Ken Dorsey, Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard and Ravens QBs coach James Urban. Detroit hired former Morton coworker Aaron Glenn as defensive coordinator earlier this week.

While Morton worked with Glenn in New Orleans, his Saints tenure also overlapped with Lions HC Dan Campbell. Both were on the Saints’ 2016 staff, with Morton coaching wide receivers and Campbell overseeing the team’s tight ends that year.

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Anthony Lynn, Ken Dorsey On Lions’ Radar

After hiring Aaron Glenn as defensive coordinator, the Lions are moving fast on their offensive coordinator job. Two more candidates have emerged for Detroit’s play-calling post.

Former Chargers HC Anthony Lynn and current Bills QBs coach Ken Dorsey are on Detroit’s radar for this position, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. New Lions HC Dan Campbell said he has interviewed four OC candidates already, per Birkett (on Twitter). Ravens QBs coach James Urban and Steelers wide receivers instructor Ike Hilliard are in the mix for the gig.

This makes two OC positions to which Lynn has been connected. He has also engaged in discussions with Pete Carroll regarding Seattle’s play-calling role. Lynn, 52, spent the past four seasons as the Chargers’ head coach. The Bolts fired him shortly after the season ended, moving to Brandon Staley.

Lynn took the Chargers to the playoffs in 2018, with a 12-4 record, and oversaw Justin Herbert‘s rapid development this past season. However, Lynn was not the Bolts’ primary play-caller. He spent most of the 2016 season calling plays in Buffalo, after an early-season promotion to offensive coordinator.

A former decorated college quarterback, Dorsey has been an NFL QBs coach since the 2013 season. He is one of many players and staffers to migrate from Charlotte to Buffalo, working as Panthers QBs coach for five seasons before signing on with the Bills to work in that same role in 2019.

The centerpiece of Dorsey’s credentials for a coordinator move will obviously be Josh Allen‘s rise from inaccurate prospect to MVP candidate over the past year. However, Dorsey was also with Carolina during the franchise’s most recent Super Bowl season — when Cam Newton soared to MVP honors in 2015. Dorsey, 39, interviewed for the Bills’ OC position in 2017 but has worked under current Buffalo play-caller Brian Daboll over the past two seasons.

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Lions To Interview Ike Hilliard For OC Role

Veteran NFL wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard will have an opportunity to interview for a coordinator role. The Lions are bringing him in for an OC interview, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer (on Twitter).

Hilliard just wrapped up his first season as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach. This will be the former NFL wideout’s first known interview for a coordinator position. Hilliard, 44, joins Ravens QBs coach James Urban as candidates for Detroit’s OC role.

The former Giants first-round wideout played 12 seasons, from 1997-2008 with the Giants and Buccaneers, and has coached receivers since 2011. His most notable role came as Washington’s wideouts coach from 2014-19. Under Hilliard, the Steelers unearthed yet another receiving prospect in Chase Claypool this season. Terry McLaurin also played under Hilliard as a rookie.

With the Lions hiring Dan Campbell as head coach, their next offensive coordinator will be the team’s play-caller. That obviously raises the stakes for the Lions’ interview process. It can be expected more names will join Urban and Hilliard in the franchise’s search.

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