Lions Rumors

Lions To Prioritize Cornerback Additions

The Lions are expected to address their cornerback position in a significant way this offseason, as Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network writes. GM Brad Holmes has nearly $60MM in cap space to work with — the seventh-highest figure in the league — and while he will have extensions for quarterback Jared Goff and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown as top agenda items this offseason, he should have the wherewithal to add to his CB crop in free agency. It would also not be suprising to see the Lions add a cornerback in the early rounds of the upcoming draft.

At present, the Lions’ only boundary corner who has meaningful starting experience and who is still under contract is Cameron Sutton, who signed a three-year, $33MM deal last March as part of Holmes’ efforts to fortify a defense that finished last in the league in total yardage allowed in 2022 and third-worst in terms of pass yardage. Sutton, however, had an uneven first season in Detroit, allowing a completion rate of 67%, a quarterback rating of 112.3, and generally struggling to cover top wideouts.

Holmes also took a one-year flier on Emmanuel Moseley, but Moseley suffered an ACL tear in October in his first game with the Lions. Ultimately, while Detroit came devastatingly close to a Super Bowl appearance, its success came in spite of its pass defense, which yielded the sixth-most passing yards per game. Indeed, the team relied on Kindle Vildor — who was released from the Eagles’ taxi squad in November — as a starter for the final two games of the regular season and all three playoff contests.

While division rival Jaylon Johnson is the top cornerback eligible for unrestricted free agency, the Bears are likely to put the franchise tag on Johnson to keep him off the market. A tag may also await Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, though if Kansas City allows him to test the FA waters, the Lions would surely be interested. Other notable players who could be available for Holmes include Kendall Fuller, Chidobe Awuzie, Stephon Gilmore — older brother of Steven Gilmore, who signed with the Lions as a UDFA last year and who stuck on the roster throughout the 2023 campaign — and Adoree’ Jackson.

The top cornerback prospects who could pique Holmes’ interest and who may be available when the Lions are on the clock with the No. 30 overall selection include Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr., and Iowa’s Cooper DeJean. Given the current state of Detroit’s depth chart, Holmes may add multiple CBs in the draft while making at least one FA splash at the position.

Jerry Jacobs, who finished the 2023 season on IR, is eligible for restricted free agency. He has started 29 games for the Lions since joining the team as a UDFA in 2021 but looms as a non-tender candidate.

2024 NFL Cap Space, By Team

The NFL provided clarity to its teams on Friday by setting the salary cap ceiling ($255.4MM). Franchise tag figures have been locked in as well, and clubs can now proceed with their offseason planning knowing exactly where they stand with respect to financial flexibility. Courtesy of Over the Cap, here is the current landscape in terms of salary cap space:

  1. Washington Commanders: $79.61MM
  2. Tennessee Titans: $78.66MM
  3. Chicago Bears: $78.34MM
  4. New England Patriots: $77.96MM
  5. Indianapolis Colts: $72.34MM
  6. Houston Texans: $67.58MM
  7. Detroit Lions: $57.61MM
  8. Arizona Cardinals: $51.1MM
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: $50.67MM
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $43.68MM
  11. Los Angles Rams: $43.11MM
  12. Las Vegas Raiders: $42.94MM
  13. Minnesota Vikings: $35.81MM
  14. Carolina Panthers: $34.57MM
  15. Atlanta Falcons: $33MM
  16. New York Giants: $30.8MM
  17. Philadelphia Eagles: $27.35MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $24.68MM
  19. Kansas City Chiefs: $18.19MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $16.63MM
  21. Seattle Seahawks: $12.97MM
  22. New York Jets: $12.76MM
  23. Pittsburgh Steelers: $9MM
  24. Green Bay Packers: $2.3MM
  25. San Francisco 49ers: $5.07MM over the cap
  26. Cleveland Browns: $7.76MM over
  27. Dallas Cowboys: $9.86MM over
  28. Denver Broncos: $16.81MM over
  29. Los Angeles Chargers: $25.61MM over
  30. Miami Dolphins: $27.92MM over
  31. New Orleans Saints: $42.11MM over
  32. Buffalo Bills: $43.82MM over

All teams must be cap compliant by the start of the new league year, but it will of course be more than just those currently over the limit which will make cost-shedding moves in the near future. Cuts, restructures and extensions are available as tools to carve out space in advance of free agency. Several have already taken place around the league.

That includes the Dolphins’ release of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and the planned cut of Xavien Howard. The latter cannot be designated a post-June 1 release until free agency begins but once it happens, Miami will move much closer to cap compliance. The Saints have moved considerable commitments into the future via restructures (as usual), but more transactions on that front will be required even with the cap seeing an historic single-season jump.

The roughly $30MM spike from 2023 will provide unforeseen spending power for teams already set to lead the pack in cap space while also making the task of those at the bottom of the list easier. Spending more on backloaded contracts this offseason at the expense of future space obviously carries risk, however. Still, the news of a higher-than-expected ceiling will add further intrigue to each team’s financial planning.

With Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson each set to carry record-breaking cap hits for 2024, the Cowboys and Browns will be among the teams most in need of working out a deal to lower those figures. In Dallas’ case in particular, an extension would provide immediate breathing room in addition to clarity on his future beyond the coming season. For Cleveland, Watson’s fully-guaranteed deal has already been restructured once and will need to be again to avoid consecutive years of a $64MM cap charge over its remaining term.

If the Commanders and Patriots add a quarterback with the second and third picks in this year’s draft, each team currently in the top six in space will enjoy the benefits of having a signal-caller on their rookie contracts. That would allow for an aggressive approach to free agency, although the Chiefs’ success after Patrick Mahomes signed (and re-worked) his monster extension has proven it is possible to win Super Bowl titles with a substantial QB investment on the books.

Lions To Re-Sign K Michael Badgley

Winning a prolonged practice competition last season, Michael Badgley reclaimed his job after the Lions had previously traded for Riley Patterson. Closing the season as Detroit’s kicker again, Badgley is poised to enter the team’s offseason program in the role.

The Lions are keeping Badgley, according to his agency (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), by agreeing to a one-year deal Thursday. Badgley, 28, kicked in seven games — counting three playoff tilts — for the NFC North champions last season. This continues an on-again, off-again partnership.

Detroit had brought Badgley back on a practice squad agreement last year, continuing a busy run of transactions for the kicker. The Lions had cut Badgley just before training camp, leading him to the Commanders. Badgley did not stick as Washington’s kicker, being released last summer, and spent a few days in Tennessee. But the Lions circled back to their primary 2022 kicker, stashing him on their P-squad in August. That pickup eventually led to Detroit giving him the kicking reins back late in the season.

A kicker chain reaction produced the Badgley-Patterson practice competition. The Broncos released longtime kicker Brandon McManus last year, leading to the Jaguars picking him up. That led them to dangle Patterson in deals. After speaking with the Cowboys, the Jags ultimately dealt Patterson to the Lions. That prompted Detroit to release Badgley, despite having re-signed him in March 2023. Despite Patterson making more than 85% of his kicks during the regular season, the Lions booted him and rolled with Badgley for the stretch run.

Badgley made each of his four regular-season field goal tries last year, missing two extra points. He was 3-for-3 in the playoffs, though the sequences in which Dan Campbell left his kicker on the sideline proved more memorable than those makes. Campbell eschewed two second-half Badgley tries inside of 50 yards to go for fourth-and-shorts; both plays failed in a 34-31 loss to the 49ers.

In 2022, Badgley was 33-for-33 on PATs and 20 of 24 on field goals with the Lions. The team had signed Badgley in October 2022, scooping him up after the Bears cut him. Badgley replaced Dominik Eberle that year. Overall, Badgley has played six NFL seasons. While he enjoyed steady Chargers employment for three years, the past three have brought in-season transactions. Since leaving Los Angeles in 2021, Badgley has kicked for the Colts, Titans, Bears and Lions. He will make an attempt at a more stable 2024.

Lions Add Jim O’Neil To Staff; John Fox No Longer With Team

The Lions are making some changes on their defensive staff. One of the moves will be bringing former defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil back to the NFL.

Out of the league since the 2020 season, O’Neil will return as a Detroit defensive assistant. The 45-year-old staffer spent two seasons as Northwestern’s DC, but was last in the pros as the Raiders’ DBs coach under Jon Gruden.

O’Neil is best remembered in the NFL for rising to the coordinator level with the Browns and 49ers during the 2010s. The former Rex Ryan Jets assistant climbed to the DC tier at 36, working under Mike Pettine. His second crack at running a defense ended quickly, after the 2016 49ers went 2-14 and bailed on a Chip Kelly experiment. Northwestern fired O’Neil after the 2022 season, a 1-11 campaign for the Wildcats. Lions DC Aaron Glenn worked under O’Neil in Cleveland, opening a door to a rebound opportunity.

Additionally, the team appears to be moving on from John Fox. The three-time NFL HC is no longer with the NFC North champions, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Fox was only with the Lions for one season, being hired as a senior defensive consultant last year. It appears O’Neil will be moving into that type of role. Fox, 69, had worked on the Colts’ staff in 2022, returning to the league after a five-year hiatus.

The team has also let senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler‘s contract expire, Birkett adds. A former 49ers offensive coordinator, Hostler has been in the NFL since 2000. After three years on Ron Rivera‘s Washington staff, the 57-year-old assistant moved to Detroit. Former Lions cornerback Dre’ Bly also appears to be out of the picture, per the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers. The Lions hired Bly, who had not previously coached in the NFL, as cornerbacks coach last year.

Seeing DBs coach Brian Duker leave for a Dolphins job, the Lions have a new voice overseeing their secondary. Ex-Steelers mainstay Deshea Townsend was hired after his Jaguars ouster last month. The Lions confirmed Wednesday that Townsend is their DBs coach.

Lions, Jonah Jackson Not Close On Deal?

Among a handful of young guards close to free agency, Jonah Jackson may need to collect his money elsewhere. As the Lions have some big payments to make, the four-year guard starter was not close to an extension when the sides previously talked.

The Lions discussed an extension with Jackson last year, though no report of substantial negotiations surfaced. Indeed, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes Jackson and the Lions were not believed to be close on terms when they talked in 2023.

[RELATED: Jared Goff Extension Expected In 2024]

Detroit does not have an obvious replacement for Jackson on its roster, but the team also has Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow tied to veteran contracts up front. Penei Sewell is also extension-eligible now; the All-Pro right tackle will be linked to a potential position-record accord either this year or next. The Lions will have Sewell under contract through 2025, once they pick up his fifth-year option. That will table matters with the former No. 6 overall pick, but the Jackson situation is on the front burner.

A starter in all 59 games he has played with the Lions, Jackson previously expressed interest in a long-term Detroit stay. The former third-round pick was part of one of the NFL’s best O-lines, helping enable Jared Goff‘s resurgence and successful seasons from RBs David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jamaal Williams over the past two years. Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson 34th among guards last season, but he checked in inside the top 30 in 2021 and ’22.

Jackson, 27, is part of an interesting guard class. Not much movement has taken place with the 2020 draftees-turned-starters, who are close to testing the market. Jackson joins Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis, Michael Onwenu, Jon Runyan Jr. and Ezra Cleveland as young guard starters seeking their first paydays. Teams in need at guard will also have older performers Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow, the latter rebounding when back with the Lions, available. Kevin Zeitler will also be available ahead of his age-34 season.

In addition to a future Sewell payment, the Lions have Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown residing as 2024 priorities. Both offensive pillars are going into contract years. Jackson should not be ruled out from staying, but it is certainly possible the gap between what the Lions have offered — if indeed an offer has been extended — and what will be available on the open market will lead the four-year starter out of Michigan.

Lions To Release S Tracy Walker

C.J. Gardner-Johnson‘s injury led Tracy Walker back into the Lions’ starting lineup, but the veteran did not hold down the job. Detroit will now move on from Walker’s second contract.

Walker re-signed with the Lions on a three-year, $25MM deal in 2022, but an injury hampered him on that deal. The Lions are cutting bait Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Walker had bid farewell to Detroit on social media recently, and the 29-year-old defender will look for a new team soon.

An Achilles tear sustained in September 2022 altered Walker’s run in Detroit. The former third-round pick had started 37 games with the Lions before that injury. Although he returned to action as the Lions dealt with multiple injuries in their secondary last season, DC Aaron Glenn did not keep the Louisiana alum in his starting secondary. That makes this release unsurprising, as the Lions have some big payments to make in the near future.

Walker started 15 games in 2021, commanding a nice contract in free agency. The Lions reinvested despite Walker being a Bob Quinn-era draftee. The Brad Holmes regime showed faith in the young defender, but the Achilles injury occurring three games into that deal’s life prompted the team to make other plans. Gardner-Johnson signed a one-year, $6.5MM pact in 2023.

Walker did return in time for Week 1 and suited up for every Lions regular-season game, but he lost his job midway through. Pro Football Focus graded Walker outside the top 60 among safeties this season, and Glenn benched him in early December. Returning to a starting role following Gardner-Johnson’s Week 2 pectoral tear, Walker started six games and logged at least 69% of Detroit’s defensive snaps in four more. Over the Lions’ final five regular-season games, however, Walker played all of four defensive snaps. He did not suit up in the playoffs.

The Lions overhauled their secondary in 2023, adding Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and Brian Branch to the equation. Branch became Detroit’s slot cornerback, while CJGJ stuck at safety. Gardner-Johnson and Kerby Joseph served as Detroit’s Week 1 safeties, and after giving Walker another shot, Glenn used Ifeatu Melifonwu alongside Joseph down the stretch. One season remains on the 2021 third-round pick’s rookie deal. Playing out a one-year deal marred by injury, Gardner-Johnson is due to be a free agent again next month.

If the Lions do not designate Walker as a post-June 1 cut, they will be charged with $7.3MM in dead money. The team used a void year to spread out Walker’s cap hit; that helped balloon the dead cap here. Detroit will pick up $5.5MM in cap savings by making this move, assuming a June 1 distinction is not part of the equation.

NFC Coaching Notes: Eagles, Clay, Pettine, Vikings, Panthers, Giants, Lions, Rams

The Eagleschanges at offensive and defensive coordinator show how quickly job security can evaporate in the NFL, and Nick Sirianni‘s seat has heated up as a result. But the Eagles are not changing out all their coordinators. They will extend special teams boss Michael Clay, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This marks the second straight year in which the Eagles have extended Clay, who is going into his fourth season as their ST coordinator. Just 32, Clay has been a special teams coach in the NFL since 2015, serving as the 49ers’ assistant ST coach for five years. Clay debuted with the Eagles, however, joining Chip Kelly‘s staff in 2014. The Eagles vaulted from 31st to 10th on Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings in 2023.

Philly is adding former Titans inside linebackers coach Bobby King to their staff, ESPN.com’s Tim McManus tweets. While Brian Callahan kept a handful of Mike Vrabel assistants, he did not retain King. Under King’s guidance last season, Titans free agency pickup Azeez Al-Shaair tallied 163 tackles — the most by anyone during the franchise’s 25-season Titans period.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Fired as the Jaguars’ defensive pass-game coordinator last month, Deshea Townsend has another gig lined up. The Lions are hiring the former NFL cornerback in the same capacity, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Townsend, who won two Super Bowls during his 12-year Steelers run as a player, has been in coaching since his 2011 retirement. Prior to his two-year Jacksonville stay, Townsend coached DBs with the Bears, Giants and Titans and Cardinals. The Lions recently lost DBs coach Brian Duker to the Dolphins.
  • After working as a Vikings senior defensive assistant over the past two years, Mike Pettine will have a more defined role this year in Minnesota. The Vikings announced the veteran DC and ex-Browns HC will be their outside linebackers coach in 2024. Still carrying an assistant HC title, Pettine worked with the Vikes’ OLBs under Brian Flores last season. This will be the 57-year-old coach’s 22nd season in the NFL.
  • The Vikings also hired Marcus Dixon to be their defensive line coach. Brought over from the Broncos, Dixon was a Nathaniel Hackett hire in Denver. Ejiro Evero took Dixon with him from the Rams in 2022; he served as the Broncos’ D-line coach for two years. The Broncos are losing their only two pre-Sean Payton defensive assistants this offseason, seeing DBs coach Christian Parker rejoin Vic Fangio in Philadelphia. Evero tried to take both Parker and Dixon with him to the Panthers last year, per 9News’ Mike Klis, but the Broncos blocked the effort and kept them around to work under Vance Joseph.
  • The Giants are doling out some new titles. QBs coach Shea Tierney and DBs coach Jerome Henderson will respectively serve as the team’s offensive and defensive pass-game coordinators. Henderson has been with the Giants since 2020, while Tierney came over from the Bills with Brian Daboll. The Giants also moved former safety Mike Adams from assistant secondary coach to assistant DBs coach.
  • Additionally, Big Blue hired Charlie Bullen to replace Drew Wilkins as outside linebackers coach. Daboll fired Wilkins, a longtime Don Martindale right-hand man, and that choice keyed an explosive conclusion to the Daboll-Martindale relationship. Wilkins is now with the Patriots. Bullen spent last season as Illinois’ OLBs coach; he spent the previous four years coaching linebackers with the Cardinals. The veteran assistant previously worked with Dolphins LBs under Joe Philbin and Adam Gase.
  • The Rams recently interviewed former Packers pass-game coordinator Greg Williams for their inside linebackers coach gig, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. This is not the ex-St. Louis Rams DC better known for Bountygate; the two-G Greg Williams spent time with the Broncos and Cardinals prior to spending last season in Green Bay.

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator

Eagles Sign OLB Julian Okwara To Futures Deal

FEBRUARY 15: Okwara will earn up to $2.68MM on his one-year Eagles pact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes. While Philadelphia has a number of key decisions to make amongst the edge group in the near future, Okwara can be expected to remain with the team through at least training camp and the preseason.

FEBRUARY 14: The Eagles have made a depth addition to their edge rush group. The team announced on Wednesday that Julian Okwara has been signed to a reserve/futures contract.

Okwara had previously spent his four-year career with the Lions, starting a total of four games across the past three seasons. His time in Detroit allowed him to pair with his brother Romeo Okwara, but he saw a limited role in 2023. Julian was waived last month to make room for James Houston‘s IR activation. He found himself on Detroit’s practice squad when the team’s postseason run came to an end, but he did not receive a futures deal.

As a result, Okwara was free to sign with any team, and he has joined the Eagles. Philadelphia’s edge rush situation is in a state of flux at the moment, in large part due to team’s decision to allow Haason Reddick to seek out a trade. The two-time Pro Bowler has made it clear he wants to extend his through-2024 Eagles contract, but it will be interesting to see if team and player can reach an agreement on that front.

Defensive end Brandon Graham, meanwhile, is set to reach free agency. The franchise’s games played leader – and a member of Philadelphia’s ‘Core Four’ – intends to play at least one more season. While he would likely only sign a deal with the Eagles if one can be worked out this spring, the team currently faces a number of question marks along the edge. Okwara will aim to carve out a depth role amongst the likes of Josh Sweat and 2023 first-rounder Nolan Smith.

Okwara posted a career-high five sacks in 2021 while logging a 40% snap share. That pointed to notable potential as a situational edge rusher, but the 26-year-old has totaled only four sacks over the past two seasons. His playing time has dropped considerably in both years, and he made just nine appearances during the 2023 campaign. Over the course of the offseason, Okwara will attempt to land a 53-man roster spot on an Eagles team seeking clarity in the pass-rush department.

Commanders Hire Lions’ Lance Newmark As Assistant GM; Martin Mayhew, Marty Hurney Reassigned

As the Commanders transition to the Adam Peters regime, this new era will involve a longtime Lions executive holding a key position. In place since the 1990s, Lance Newmark will leave the Lions for the Commanders.

The Commanders are hiring Newmark as their assistant GM, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. Newmark finished his Lions tenure as the team’s senior director of player personnel. Newmark’s Lions stay overlapped with Martin Mayhew‘s. With Mayhew sticking around in Washington despite Peters displacing him atop the front office, he will reunite with Newmark.

While Newmark showed a tremendous commitment to Detroit and was onboard for this Brad Holmes-overseen rebuild effort, he had been tied to some GM pursuits in the past. The Lions interviewed him for the job that went to Holmes, and the Jets considered him for their GM post — a race Joe Douglas won — back in 2019. Newmark served as the Lions’ senior player personnel director for two years, being part of the team’s ascent that nearly produced a Super Bowl berth.

It is interesting this will be Newmark’s move up the ladder, considering the time he put in with the Lions. Newmark has come up on the scouting side, working his way up from the area-scouting tier. Newmark held multiple scouting director positions during his run in Detroit, serving as the team’s assistant director of college scouting for seven years.

Arriving in Detroit in 1998, Newmark joined the team under Chuck Schmidt‘s GM tenure — one that covered Barry Sanders‘ career. While Sanders’ arrival predated Newmark’s, the latter was in place when the Lions chose Calvin Johnson. Detroit, of course, missed on other first-round receivers during Matt Millen‘s GM tenure. This helped lead to Mayhew’s turn in charge. The team crafted a turnaround with Johnson and Matthew Stafford leading the way, and the Lions keeping Newmark despite four GM hires (Millen, Mayhew, Bob Quinn, Holmes) illustrated the organization’s respect for the veteran exec.

Given his relationship with Peters, Mayhew sticking around was not too surprising. Though, teams obviously do not make a habit of retaining GMs after hiring a new FO boss. Washington’s GM from 2021-23, Mayhew will now work as an advisor to Peters. The Commanders’ new personnel chief had not worked with Newmark previously, though Mayhew has an extensive past alongside Newmark.

Although Mayhew spent time with Peters in San Francisco, he is mostly known for his Detroit and Washington GM stays. Mayhew did elevate the Lions following the Millen years, as the team booked playoff berths in 2011 and 2014 on his watch. But it is interesting Josh Harris will make two staffers from a Lions organization mostly known for modern-era futility as key lieutenants.

The Lions hired the former NFL cornerback in 2001, and he climbed to the assistant GM role in 2004. Mayhew and Newmark worked together for 15 years in Detroit, making the former’s presence a presumable draw for the entrenched Lions staffer. Peters will have final say on personnel matters, representing a pivot after Washington had Ron Rivera in that role. Newmark and Mayhew figure to be key parts of that process as the team attempts to craft its own rebuild operation.

The Commanders also announced Marty Hurney will remain with the team as an advisor. This certainly represents an interesting path for the team, which has fired Rivera but kept his top two personnel staffers in place.

A two-time Panthers GM, Hurney rejoined Rivera in Washington in 2021. He had served as the team’s executive VP of player personnel under Rivera. Following Rivera’s ouster, Hurney and Mayhew stood in limbo as the organization evaluated their statuses. An NFL staffer since beginning his career under Hall of Famer Bobby Beathard — an ex-Washington Super Bowl-winning GM — with the Chargers in 1990, Hurney served as Panthers GM from 2002-12 and again from 2017-20. Newmark also received his start as a Chargers staffer under Beathard in the ’90s, overlapping with Hurney during that period.