Dominic Raiola

NFC North Notes: Raiola, Bears, Zimmer

The latest out of the NFC North, where Adam Gase has reunited with John Fox..

  • Longtime Lions center Dominic Raiola confirmed today that the team has told him he won’t be back for the 2015 season. Raiola added that he’s “obviously disappointed” by the news, tweets Tim Twentyman of
  • The Bears announced (on Twitter) that they have reached agreement with Ed Donatell to become their new defensive backs coach. He replaces Jon Hoke, who has been let go. Donatell was released from his Niners contract at the same time as new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and the duo was widely viewed as a package deal.
  • There’s still a possibility that the Bears could have a holdover or two from Marc Trestman‘s old staff, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Not every assistant was released from his contract following the firing of Trestman and others.
  • The Vikings have one hire to make to fill out their coaching staff for the 2015 season, but it appears the rest of the group is intact for the long haul, as Ben Goessling of writes. Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings plan to extend the contracts of most of their assistant coaches through the 2016 season. When asked about his own deal, Zimmer said that it runs beyond the 2016 season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Lions Won’t Re-Sign Dominic Raiola

The Lions have informed longtime center Dominic Raiola that they won’t be bringing him back for the 2015 season, a source tells Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Raiola’s contract with the team is set to expire, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency in March.

Raioala, who turned 36 last month, has been with the Lions since the team drafted him 50th overall in 2001. He became the full-time starter at center in his second year with the club, starting 203 of a possible 208 regular season contests since then. Prior to being suspended and sitting out Detroit’s Week 17 matchup against the Packers this season, Raiola hadn’t missed a game since 2008. As Birkett notes, the veteran lineman indicated at season’s end that he hoped to continue his playing career.

“I’m optimistic,” Raiola said earlier in January. “I think I will be [back], but I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not. I still want to play, I still think I have a lot to offer and a lot to offer this locker room. If I could go one more go around, I’d be honored.”

Of course, Raiola was referring to the idea of returning to the Lions for one more year, so it’s not clear whether or not he’ll want to continue playing for another team. In Detroit, 2014 third-rounder Travis Swanson appears poised to take over at the center position for the coming season.

Minor Moves: Saturday

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves right here, with the most recent transactions added to the top of the list…

Earlier updates:

  • The Jets have placed safety Rontez Miles on the injured reserve, tweets Aaron Wilson. The team will promote wideout Quincy Enunwa to take his place.
  • Connor Shaw will start at quarterback for the Browns this weekend, and the team promoted him to the active roster this morning, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. The team also promoted rookie offensive lineman Jamie Meder. To make room on the roster, the Browns waived linebacker Eric Martin and tight end Ryan Taylor.
  • The Lions have promoted center Darren Keyton to the active roster, reports Tim Twentyman (via Twitter). The lineman will replace Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for this weekend’s game.
  • As expected, the Chargers finally placed punter Mike Scifres on the injured reserve, according to U-T San Diego’s Michael Gehlken (via Twitter). Center Jeff Baca was promoted from the practice squad to take the open roster spot.

NFC Links: Bradford, Crabtree, Foster

A variety of factors will go into the offseason decision-making for the Rams, but with the defense clicking on all cylinders and the team playing themselves out of a high draft pick, the team’s best course of action may be to retain Sam Bradford, writes Joan Niesen of Sports Illustrated.

It would take too much for the Rams to trade for a quarterback or move up in the draft, and hoping for a healthy and consistent season from Bradford could be the best move for them if they hope to compete in the NFC West next season.

Here are some other links from around the NFC:

  • The 49ers will have to make a decision on whether or not to keep Michael Crabtree with the team going forward, and the former first-round pick is excited to reach this offseason, writes Matt Maiocco of“I can’t wait to see what’s next, the next chapter in my career,” said Crabtree. “I’m going to go hard every day. I’m going to go hard every year, try to get better. Try to maximize my talent.”
  • Buccaneers‘ linebacker Mason Foster is also set to hit free agency, but is looking forward to remaining with the team in 2015 and beyond, writes Pat Yasinskas of“I definitely want to stay in Tampa,’’ Foster said. “Both my sons were born in Tampa. I’ve got a lot of ties down here, and I love Tampa. It would be great. It would be amazing to stay here. But football is a business so you know there’s a chance you won’t be here.’’
  • The Lions will be without center Dominic Raiola this weekend against the Packers with the lineman suspended for the game, but the team is confident in backup Travis Swanson, writes Michael Rothstein of Raiola surely would love Swanson to play well as the Lions beat the Packers to win the division, but as an impending free agent, his leverage would be much better were Swanson to struggle to replace him.
  • The Eagles are slated to be selecting around 20th in the 2015 NFL draft, and Jared Sherman of has already taken a look at what players they could consider selecting in his first mock draft. Sherman has the team targeting a cornerback, going with Marcus Peters out of Washington. The way the Eagles have been burned by Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson the past two weeks, it is no surprise Sherman sees corner as the team’s top priority.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Murray, Oakman, Raiola

James Walker of previewed the Dolphins‘ 2015 offensive free agents, a group that includes tight end Charles Clay, guard Daryn Colledge, center Samson Satele, and running backs Knowshon Moreno and Daniel Thomas. It’s an interesting group, Walker writes, because most of these players were contributors or expected contributors until injuries shortened the season. Clay appeared to be in store for a big payday this offseason, but that no longer appears to be the case. More from around the NFL..

  • Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News wonders how DeMarco Murray‘s left hand injury might factor into his contract situation. The Cowboys star running back is set to hit the open market this offseason.
  • Baylor defensive lineman Shawn Oakman is strongly considering entering the 2015 draft, multiple sources tell Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports. Oakman led Baylor with ten sacks and recorded 18.5 tackles for loss in 12 games this season. Oakman might be playing his final game in a Baylor uniform on January 1st against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
  • Lions center Dominic Raiola is not ready for retirement just yet, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The pending free agent says tha the still has more in the tank, even after 14 seasons. A second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2001, Raiola has played the last two seasons on prove-it deals, and the Lions will have to decide whether to bring him back for a 15th year this off-season.
  • A league source told Terry McCormick of that veteran left tackle Michael Roos, who has spent his entire career with the Titans since being drafted in 2005, is open to the possibility of returning to the club and manning the right tackle spot. The 32-year-old saw some time on the right side in his first two seasons.

Draft Notes: Ravens, Giants, Lions, Bengals

The Ravens have committed plenty of time and resources to scouting prospects from smaller schools, writes Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. That extensive research paid off in 2008 when the team selected Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco. Since, the team has picked a number of players from small schools, including four of their ten selections last season.

“I think, in general, scouting has gotten better across the league,” assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Teams are doing better jobs, so we’ve tried to find value by more closely looking at small-school players. Our scouts do a great job of going out there and evaluating those guys.

“We get the chance to see a small-school guy at the Senior Bowl, you get a chance to see him at the Combine to compare against the big-school guys. That’s always a big challenge. The other thing is, ‘How are players going to get better?’ At small schools, sometimes they don’t have the luxury of having a nice weight room, nutritional programs or support staff. We feel like sometimes these guys come into our facility… and get better quickly because they have the advantage of all these new things.”

Among the Ravens’ previous small-school selections are Flacco, Lardarius Webb and Gino Gradkowski.

Now, for some more Draft notes from around the NFL…

  • New Mexico State wide receiver Austin Franklin visited with the Giants, reports Wilson. The wideout had 52 catches for 670 yards last season.
  • Teddy Bridgewater could be a fallback option for the Bengalstweets ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The team is seeking a cornerback and defensive lineman, but could select the Louisville quarterback if they decide he’s the best player on the board.
  • The Lions are looking for a center and Florida State’s Bryan Stork would be a very good option, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Rimington Trophy winner (awarded to the nation’s best center) would compete with veteran Dominic Raiola, who signed a one-year deal to return to Detroit earlier this offseason.

Lions Re-Sign Dominic Raiola

FEBRUARY 14: Raiola’s new contract will pay him a $1.5MM base salary for 2014, along with a $250K signing bonus, reports Birkett (via Twitter).

FEBRUARY 7: The Lions have re-signed center Dominic Raiola to a one-year contract, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). After agreeing to a contract restructure a year ago that reduced his 2013 base salary to the veteran’s minimum, Raiola has received a “nice raise” this time around, according to Birkett.

Raiola, who turned 35 in December, has been a longtime mainstay of the Lions’ offensive line. With the exception of four 2008 contests, Raiola has started every single game in the last 12 seasons for the franchise, and appears poised to do the same in 2014. The Nebraska product indicated last month that he hoped to play a couple more seasons in the NFL, so it’s possible that this new one-year deal won’t be his last contract in the league.

While the specific financial details of the contract aren’t yet known, Raiola’s “nice raise” likely won’t be too drastic, since the Lions are already facing a cap crunch. As Jason Fitzgerald of detailed earlier this week, only three teams currently have less projected 2014 space than the Lions. However, Detroit can create some flexibility via cuts and restructures, and after re-signing Raiola, the team only has three 2013 starters still eligible for free agency, notes Birkett (via Twitter).