Don Gregory

Extra Points: Packers, UDFAs, Panthers, T.O.

After having been fired as the Browns head coach back in 2016, Mike Pettine is back in the NFL as the Packers defensive coordinator. While the 51-year-old acknowledged that he’ll appreciate the brief break prior to training camp, he also admitted that he’ll soon be itching to return to the field.

“That will last about a week, and then I’ll start thinking about football,” Pettine told Jason Wilde of SouthernMinn.com. “I have my own list of things to do, but I’ll be smart with it. I’ll do a little bit at a time. But it’s hard to completely detach from it. [But] that’s what’s great about that time — you can get around friends and families and take you away from it. But it’s always there, and by 10-12 days into July, I’ll be ready to start camp.”

Pettine’s defenses have generally been productive, as the coach has had previous success with the Ravens, Jets, and Bills. The Packers are hoping he can turn around a defense that finished 26th in points allowed last season.

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

  • NFL.com’s Gil Brandt observes (on Twitter) that there were 32 undrafted rookies to make bonuses of $15K or more. The top earners were Eagles running back Josh Adams, Giants cornerback Grant Haley, and Raiders kicker Eddy Pineiro, with the trio each making $25K. Generally, it’s assumed that the highest-paid undrafted free agents have the best shot of making the regular season roster.
  • The Panthers will not renew the contract of senior executive scout Don Gregory, reports Joe Person (via Twitter). Gregory had previously served as the organization’s college scouting director for more than a decade, but he served in more of a consulting role between Marty Hurney‘s two stints with the team.
  • Terrell Owens, who is set to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, believes he can still play football. Well, the 44-year-old could have his chance…in the Canadian Football League. David William Naylor of TSN tweets that the Edmonton Eskimos have added the receiver to their negotiation list. Teams are allowed to claim exclusive rights on players by placing them on the list, but players can easily be removed at anytime. It’s unlikely that Owens will stay on the list for very long, as the wideout hasn’t played professionally since 2012 (and he hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2010).
  • Speaking of the CFL, former NFL Ricky Stanzi has been released by the Calgary Stampeders (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). The 30-year-old had a standout performance during the 2017 Spring League, and he ended up earning a contract with the Canadian team. The 2011 fifth-round pick had stints with the Chiefs, Jaguars, Texans, Giants, and Lions during his NFL career, although he never managed to take the field for a regular season game.

Potential Candidates For Panthers GM Job

To the surprise of many, the Panthers are in search of a new general manager. It’s too early to know who will be in the mix for the job, but speculation is already rampant among those in the know. Here are the early potential candidates for Carolina:

  • Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner spent eight years in Carolina as a scout and could be among those considered, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. Kirchner interviewed for the Colts and 49ers GM positions earlier this offseason before they went to Chris Ballard and John Lynch, respectively.
  • Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Panthers director of player personnel Don Gregory are two names to watch, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Cowden was among those to interview for the Chiefs vacancy this summer and spent 16 years working for the Panthers before joining Tennessee.
  • The Panthers’ highest ranking personnel executive left in the building Mark Koncz, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. He was promoted to personnel director in May from pro director.
  • It’s “just a hunch,” but Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter) wouldn’t be surprised if former Chiefs GM John Dorsey ultimately becomes the Panthers’ next GM.
  • The Panthers likely going to go with an interim GM rather than rush to a decision one month before the season starts, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets. With that in mind, former GM Marty Hurney makes some sense. Hurney, who was relieved of his post as GM during the 2012 season, currently works for ESPN Radio in Charlotte. Under his watch, the Panthers drafted some of the team’s biggest stars, including Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis.

Extra Points: Pats, Packers, Vikes, Panthers

NFL owners passed a resolution today that will no longer allow clubs to block prospective general manager candidates from interviewing elsewhere simply because the new role doesn’t come with final 53-man roster authority, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Earlier today, the league’s owners also voted to eliminate the 75-man roster cutdown and allow teams to bring two players — instead of only one — off the injured reserve list during the season. One rule change that wasn’t voted on: granting clubs a roster exemption for players who’ve suffered a concussion, per Ben Volin of Boston Globe (Twitter link), who adds that proposal could be reintroduced next year.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Packers are working out former Texas Southern wide receiver Derrick Griffin today, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26. Griffin was a two-sport athlete during his collegiate days, but was dismissed from the football team and left the basketball in order to prepare for the NFL draft, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this year. Griffin, who stands 6’6″, 240 pounds, auditioned for the Texans during their local prospect day and also landed a tryout at the Vikings’ rookie minicamp. Green Bay drafted two wideouts — Purdue’s DeAngelo Yancey and LSU’s Malachi Dupre — and also added two undrafted pass-catchers.
  • Offensive lineman David Andrews‘ three-year, $9MM extension with the Patriots contains $2.1MM ($700K annually) in playing time incentives) that can bring the maximum value of the deal to $11.1MM, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap. The pact also contains a $1.6MM signing bonus — the only fully guaranteed portion of the contract — plus per-game roster bonuses of $300K in 2017 and $400K in 2018-2020. Andrews’ extension places him within the top half of the league’s highest-paid centers.
  • The NFLPA is advising members of the Vikings‘ rookie class to not sign their contract until certain procedural language is cleared up, reports Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While Minnesota maintains that it’s offering standard rookie deals with no changes from years prior, the players’ union is concerned with language dealing with offsets and anti-tampering. None of the 11-member Vikings class is under contract, but they’re each participating in offseason activities after signing protective waivers.
  • Now that former assistant general manager Brandon Beane has taken the reins in Buffalo, the Panthers have restructured their scouting staff, as the club announced Monday. Mark Koncz is Carolina’s new director player personnel, Jeff Morrow is the new director of college scouting, and Matt Allen has been named the team’s new director of pro personnel. Meanwhile, Don Gregory, who was reportedly on the Bills’ general manager candidate list, is now a senior executive scout who will work in both the pro and college arenas.

Latest On Bills’ General Manager Search

Panthers executive Brandon Beane‘s interview for the Bills’ general manager position will take place on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twittter link).Bills Helmet (Featured)

Beane is one of two known candidates for the Buffalo vacancy, as the club also has plans to meet with Texans director of player personnel Brian Gaine on Thursday. Meanwhile, while the Bills haven’t formally requested a meeting with Panthers director of player personnel Don Gregory, he is “on [Buffalo’s] list,” tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, who adds the Bills could look to interview Gregory in the near future.

Running back LeSean McCoy has his own preferred candidate for the GM position, as he took to Twitter on Wednesday to advocate for Chiefs co-director of player personnel Brett Veach for the Bills position. Veach worked for the Eagles when McCoy was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft, and was in fact pushing for McCoy to be Philadelphia’selection, tweets former NFL scout Dan Hatman. Needless to say, McCoy has no say in the Buffalo search process, and Veach hasn’t been contacted as of yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Floyd, Jets, Bills

Now that the Patriots have acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Saints, fellow pass-catcher Michael Floyd may not be on New England’s radar, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Heading into the offseason, the Patriots reportedly expressed interest in re-signing Floyd, and Floyd himself indicated he’d like to return to the team. But given that he’s pleaded guilty to DUI, Floyd can’t leave the state of Arizona until this summer. By that point, the Patriots (and other clubs) will likely have moved on.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Although he didn’t see the field during his rookie campaign, Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg is expected to get a chance to play in 2017, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. New York’s front office may not view Hackenberg as anything more than long-term backup even after selecting him the second round of last year’s draft, but given that Gang Green doesn’t figure to compete next season, the club might do well to see what it has in Hackenberg. Newly-signed veteran Josh McCown has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, so Hackenberg (and/or fellow quarterback Bryce Petty) may be forced into duty.
  • Even if Doug Whaley is forced out as the Bills‘ general manager, Panthers director of player personnel Don Gregory is not expected to be a candidate for the position in Buffalo, Vic Carrucci of the Buffalo News tweets. Last week, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tossed out Gregory’s name in relation to a possible Bills vacancy, but the CBS scribe was likely speculating rather than reporting. On paper, Gregory could make sense for the Buffalo position given his ties to Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator from 2011-16.
  • Under the terms of his new two-year contract, Patriots fullback James Develin can earn $100K for playing 20% of New England’s offensive snaps, and another $100K for playing in 30% of the club’s snaps, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Develin played in 31.3% of New England’s offensive snaps in 2016.