Eric Stokes

Staff Notes: Newsome, Panthers, Lions

Despite ceding his post as Ravens GM to longtime lieutenant Eric DeCosta, Ozzie Newsome remains a central presence in Baltimore’s front office. He played a key role in the Ravens adding Earl Thomas, despite not having an official title. He does now. Amid a staff shakeup, the Ravens revealed (via Newsome will serve as their executive vice president. The Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl-winning executive will continue to advise DeCosta. This should help a Ravens team in a bit of a transition, considering Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco and C.J. Mosley are no longer with the franchise. Newsome, 63, sticking around will provide vital continuity.

Here is the latest on some front office situations around the league, staying first with more from the Ravens’ new-look staff:

  • The Ravens will now have co-directors of player personnel, moving former college scouting director Joe Horwitz and previous senior personnel assistant George Kokinis into the position. The Ravens brought in Kokinis in 2010, following a short stay as the Browns’ general manager. The Ravens promoted Mark Azevedo from his northeast area scout post to player personnel coordinator and made Chad Alexander their assistant director of pro and college personnel. Vincent Newsome will move from director of pro personnel into a senior player personnel executive position, and Nick Matteo will now oversee the Ravens’ salary cap. Matteo spent 10 years as an NFL management council exec.
  • While their staff changes were not as sweeping as the Ravens’, the Panthers have some key figures in new positions. A 22nd-year Panthers exec, Jeff Morrow will take over as Carolina’s player personnel director after heading the franchise’s college scouting department. Fourth-year Panthers staffer Eric Stokes will move into Morrow’s former role. Former Panthers wide receiver Mark Carrier, a ninth-year member of the team’s front office, will become executive director of the Panthers’ football staff.
  • Lastly, the Lions reshuffled a few roles. Dave Sears will rise from Detroit’s assistant director of college scouting to leading that department. Rob Lohman will make the same move on the pro side. Both Sears and Lohman have been with the Lions for 13 years.

Extra Points: Las Vegas Raiders, Short, Bills

Are owners getting more comfortable with the idea of the Las Vegas Raiders? One anonymous owner thinks that Mark Davis & Co. have a chance of getting NFL approval for the move. Las Vegas (vertical)

I think it would be a tough sell, but I don’t think it’s impossible,” the unnamed owner told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “If they put such a good deal in front of the Raiders, it has a chance of getting support. I would prefer not to have the Raiders there. I would prefer they stay where they are. Oakland is a great market, but if there is no opportunity to put a stadium there, it would be hard to blame them for moving. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it if it’s the best alternative. If it’s between Las Vegas and being stuck in an awful stadium, there is nowhere else to go.”

The owner added that it would be “a concern to have exposure to” gambling, however, and that aspect of it would have to be discussed until every owner was “comfortable with it.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Former agent Joel Corry spoke with USA Today about his expectations for a potential contract extension between the Panthers and defensive tackle Kawann Short. Corry feels that Short will seek a minimum of $15MM per year and $50MM overall in guarantees. He also expressed confidence that Short’s agent, Joel Segal, will aim high after negotiating Justin Houston‘s substantial deal with the Chiefs. An average salary of $15MM would place Short as the fourth highest defensive tackle in the league, behind Gerald McCoy, Marcell Dareus, and Ndamukong Suh. A $50MM guarantee would also place him at No. 4 at his position. Short, 27, enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, recording 11 sacks to go along with 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries.
  • Bills GM Doug Whaley thinks so highly of his draft class that he anticipates there will be three rookies in the team’s starting lineup to start the season. “At least three,” Whaley told NFL Network when asked how many of his rookies will be on the field in Week 1. “[First-round defensive end] Shaq Lawson is going to walk in off the bus starting. [Second-round linebacker] Reggie Ragland, and then [third-round defensive tackle] Adolphus Washington — all three of those guys will start right off the bus. And we’re excited for some guys from the fourth through sixth rounds that will contribute for us.”
  • Eric Stokes is in the mix for a high-level scouting position with the Panthers, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets. Carolina is looking to fill positions following the departure of Ryan Cowden. Stokes previously served as the Dolphins’ assistant GM and also had stints with the Bucs and Seahawks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Notes: Front Office, Vernon, Wake

The Dolphins and assistant general manager Eric Stokes have mutually decided to part ways, the club announced today. Stoke, whose scouting career dates back to 2000, came to Miami from Tampa Bay, joining Dennis Hickey in making the leap from the Buccaneers to the Dolphins in 2014. Hickey, of course, was let go by Miami last month, and the team in turn promoted Chris Grier to take over as general manager.

Here’s more from South Beach:

  • The team also announced that it has hired former Wisconsin secondary coach Daronte Jones as its new assistant defensive backs coach. Prior to his coaching experience in Madison, Jones spent time with Hawaii, UCLA, and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He’ll be part of a revamped Miami coaching staff that includes new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and defensive backs coach (and former interim DC) Lou Anarumo.
  • The Dolphins have yet to enter into “serious negotiations” with pending free agent defensive end Olivier Vernon, according to James Walker of Set to reach the open market next month, the 25-year-old Vernon would surely garner plenty of interest from suitors around the league if he doesn’t reach a deal with Miami. A report last month indicated that Vernon was the club’s No. 1 priority among internal free agents.
  • Miami is unlikely to be able to retain Vernon without first restructuring the contract of fellow defensive end Cameron Wake, but the team has not approached Wake about reworking his deal, per Walker. Wake, 34, is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and is due to count $9.8MM against the Dolphins’ cap, but the club could save $8.4MM by releasing him.
  • Given that former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase is head coach in Miami, it’s fair to wonder if running back Matt Forte — who was informed he won’t be re-signed in Chicago — might be a fit with the Dolphins. It’s an idea we explored today on the Pro Football Rumors Instagram account.

NFC South Rumors: Graham, White, Bucs

Free agency, which opened more than two months ago, feels well behind us now, but technically one of the top free agents of the offseason remains available. Jimmy Graham was franchised by the Saints, meaning he can’t freely sign with another club, but he can still sign an offer sheet if there’s a team out there willing to give up two first-round picks to land him. And according to Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report, that’s not a total pipe dream — Freeman hears from multiple sources that there are still some teams “strongly considering” extending an offer sheet to Graham.

I’d be surprised if another team ended up make a serious play for the Saints tight end, who would require a sizable chunk of cap space in addition to his suitor being willing to give up two first-rounders. But with a hearing looming next month to determine whether Graham will be considered a tight end or a wide receiver, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on. Here’s more from around the NFC South:

  •’s Vaughn McClure explores the possibility of an extension for Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who is entering the final year of his contract. McClure likens White’s contract situation to that of Reggie Wayne, who signed a three-year extension in 2012 at age 33 — White turns 33 this fall.
  • Patriots director of college scouting Jon Robinson is leaving New England to reunite with Buccaneers GM Jason Licht in Tampa Bay, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston (Twitter links). According to’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link), Robinson will assume the role of director of player personnel in Tampa. Meanwhile, Bucs director of college scouting Eric Stokes will be moving on to Miami to act as an assistant to Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, tweets Reiss.
  • A bill addressing professional athletes’ injury benefits, which is working its way through the Louisiana Legislature could adversely affect the Saints‘ recruitment of free agents, according to former NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, via Emily Lane of the Times-Picayune. Lane’s piece has plenty of details on the bill, which would limit compensation benefits for NFL players if they’re injured during training camp rather than during the regular season. The Players Association also published an article on its website stating its opposition to the bill.