Interviews

NFL Draft Rumors: Jackson, Patriots, Rudolph

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson may have erred by opting to go through the NFL draft process without an agent, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com writes. Jackson will avoid paying a portion of his rookie deal to a representative, but in an effort to save some cash, he could be hurting his draft position, which would negate the savings on the standard 1.5% fee.

Reportedly, Jackson struggled in breaking down X’s and O’s on the white board in meetings with teams and his Wonderlic score was poor. Some say the Wonderlic is meaningless, but some execs still use it as part of their evaluation process and an agent would have had him prepped for the test and other aspects of team interviews. An agent would also help to push the narrative that Jackson should be considered above some of this year’s top quarterbacks, including USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

Ultimately, Jackson’s decision will look like a smart one if he winds up going in the top half of the first round, Corry argues. But, based on what we’ve heard so far, that doesn’t seem likely. It’s notable that the Texans, who are already armed with a star QB in Deshaun Watson and don’t pick until the third round, recently had a private workout with Jackson.

Here’s more NFL draft news:

  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst will visit the Panthers on Friday Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Carolina owns the No. 24 overall pick and they could use that selection to give themselves a potent tight end with receiving ability. Greg Olsen will start for the Panthers this season, but he is 33 and entering a contract year. In the past, Olsen has fought for a revamped deal, so it’s conceivable that he will look to push the market next March. Even if Olsen is retained beyond 2018, the Panthers need to consider the future of the tight end position.
  • The Patriots, who now own two first-round picks, recently had a private workout with Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, Rapoport tweets. Rudolph hasn’t garnered as much attention as this year’s top four QBs, but he is a potential first-rounder. Rapoport hears that he has been extremely busy with meetings and workouts, a possible sign that his stock is climbing.
  • Rudolph will also have a top 30 visit with the Bills this weekend, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The Bills own picks at 12 and 22, so he could be in the mix for one of those spots. Rudolph has also met with or had workouts for the Chargers, Saints, Giants, Steelers, and Bengals.

Panthers Set Up GM Interviews For Next Week

Though interim general manager Marty Hurney is the frontrunner to be named the Panthers new GM, the team has also scheduled interviews with a pair of external candidates for next week, the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person writesMarty Hurney (vertical)

Those two candidates are Texans assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III and Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson. Both Raye and Dawson, as Person notes, satisfies the Rooney Rule that requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate.

Though a time has not been divulged, the Panthers are also expected to sit down with Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden, who formerly served as a scout with Carolina.

Raye, a former player with the Rams, joined the Houston front office after stints with the Colts, as vice president of football operations, and Chargers, as director of player personnel. He has 23 years of experience in the NFL and previously interview for the Texans GM job earlier this month. Dawson joined the Bills in May 2017 following a stint as Cleveland’s national scout. He served as a receiver for six seasons before getting into college and pro scouting.

Hurney, who rejoined the Panthers following the dismissal of Dave Gettleman in the 2017 offseason, will not have a formal interview. His contract runs through June and has been backed by head coach Ron Rivera. In his one season on the job, Hurney dealt top wideout Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, which led to Carolina’s passing improvement down the stretch.

 

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Titans Interview Matt LaFleur

The Titans have announced that they have finished their interview today with Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. The sides had to push back the scheduled meeting a day because of weather-related issues, but LaFleur has now completed his first interview for a head coaching role.

Matt LaFleur (Vertical)

LaFleur is young for a potential head coach at just 38 years old. He also is inexperienced as an offensive coordinator having served just one season under Sean McVay in Los Angeles. In his favor, LaFleur does have a tremendous track record as a quarterbacks coach, most recently helping to guide Matt Ryan through an MVP campaign just a year ago.

The Titans and former head coach Mike Mularkey parted ways because of the team’s wish to get the right guy for Marcus Mariota‘s development moving forward. LaFleur seems to fit the bill with what the front office is looking for.

With that said, Tennessee is still considering candidates of many background, including Mike Vrabel (HOU DC), Steve Wilks (CAR DC) and Frank Reich (Eagles OC). Just Wilks and Vrabel have been interviewed along with LaFleur.

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Cardinals Complete Second Interviews With Keith Armstrong, Steve Wilks

With the Giants, Colts and Lions all having head coaches likely to accept job offers, the Cardinals continue to talk to different candidates about their vacant head coaching gig. Today, the team has just completed a second interview with Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link) and Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link).

Keith Armstrong (vertical)

Armstrong originally spoke to the team on January 8, but received a second interview request after it was revealed that other potential candidates Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmur would likely accept other jobs after their respective teams are eliminated from the postseason.

The 54-year-old Armstrong has held his special teams post in Atlanta since 2008. The Cardinals have been the only team that has requested to interview him for a head coaching role. On the other hand, Wilks has been spoken to a number of teams about their vacant head coaching gigs, including the Titans, who still have their spot open.

Arizona is still considering multiple coaches, including current defensive coordinator James Bettcher, Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo, Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

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Titans To Interview Rams OC Matt LaFleur

The Titans have another interview lined up for their vacant head coaching gig. The team will speak with current Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, reports Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). The interview is scheduled to take place on Thursday, adds Albert Breer of Sports Illustarted (Twitter link).

Matt LaFleur (Vertical)

We learned earlier today that the Titans would have to start looking for a new head coach after the organization and Mike Mularkey agreed to part ways after the team’s blowout loss to the Patriots this past weekend.

Part of the split reportedly stemmed from Mularkey’s inability to get the most out of third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota. The decision to interview LaFleur certainly is a move to pivoting to a different brand of football moving forward.

The 38-year-old offensive coordinator was worked his way to his current position as a quarterbacks coach with both the Redskins and Falcons. LaFleur worked directly with Matt Ryan during his 2016 MVP campaign. LaFleur than brought much success to a breakout 2017 Rams offense.

While he did not call plays with head coach Sean McVay on the sidelines, LaFleur clearly had a big role in helping second-year quarterback Jared Goff bounce back from a rough rookie season with Jeff Fisher. The Titans might be hoping LaFleur can work some of his magic with Mariota and they’ll get a chance to see the young coach’s plans for him and the franchise face-to-face in short order.

LaFleur is the first offensive coach that the team is scheduled to speak with after news broke that defensive coordinators Steve Wilks and Mike Vrabel would get a chance to interview for the position. Although, there was hope that Josh McDaniels would prefer Tennessee to Indianapolis, even though that doesn’t appear to be the case at the moment.

 

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Giants Interview Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia

Apart from all the Patriots drama unfolding today, both of their coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, have completed their scheduled interviews with the Giants. The team announced that they had interviewed Patricia earlier in the day, but McDaniels had finished his conversation with the team this afternoon, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Palmer adds that the group who interviewed McDaniels consisted of team owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams.

Matt Patricia (vertical)

Patricia and McDaniels are now the second and third head coaching candidates to be interviewed by the organization. Current interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke to the Giants about their head coach vacancy on Wednesday. However, it should be noted that McDaniels is the first offensive head coach that has been interviewed in the team’s search. New York hasn’t flat out mentioned that they rather go in a certain direction, but there has been chatter that they want someone who has experience in the head coach role, which McDaniels certainly has from his time in Denver. Although, Patricia does not have head coaching experience and the team clearly still has interest in him, so that may not ultimately be a deciding factor.

Meanwhile, the Giants are far from done speaking with prospective candidates. They have also requested to interview Jim Schwartz (Eagles DC), Pat Shurmur (Vikings OC), Steve Wilks (Panthers DC) and Eric Studesville (former Broncos assistant HC).

 

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Coaching Notes: Spagnuolo, Bettcher, McDaniels

The coaching carousel is in full swing. Here are six stories regarding coaching staffs across the NFL:

  • The Giants have interviewed their interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo for the full-time job, the team announced today. Spagnuolo is considered a longshot to land the position given that new general manager Dave Gettlemen would probably like to bring in his own guy. But, the former Rams head coach still had his shot to impress the Giants executives today. New York has six more candidates they’re planning on interviewing in the days to come. Check out who by using our 2018 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.
  • The Cardinals also used most of the day to interview an internal head coach candidate, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Bettcher had the first chance to make his case as the team has another seven coaches they would like to talk to about their vacant head coach position.
  • The Colts will speak with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels tonight about their head coach vacancy, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). McDaniels is getting head coaching interest from many different teams because of his offensive knowledge. Indianapolis could be looking for a more offensive-minded coach to pair with quarterback Andrew Luck. Although they have requested interviews with coaches on both sides of the ball, including: Matt Nagy (Chiefs), Kris Richard (Seahawks), Mike Vrabel (Texans) and Steve Wilks (Panthers).
  • La Canfora does also note that the bad weather in the Boston area could affect potential interviews regarding McDaniels and fellow Patriots coach Matt Patricia. The team has to be back home to prepare for their divisional round opponent, which could push back a few potential interviews for both New England coordinators.
  • The Packers have a offensive coordinator vacancy after reassigning Edgar Bennett to another position earlier today. Three names who the team could show interest in to replace Bennett are former Green Bay coaches Ben McAdoo and Joe Philbin, along with current offensive line coach James Campen, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Broncos have hired Sean Kugler to be the team’s offensive line coach for 2018, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). While Kugler is a new face to the coaching staff, the team did decide to keep both of their coordinators and fire three other coaches on Monday.

Coaching Rumors: Bengals, Cowboys, Colts

A roundup of the latest coaching news and rumors from around the NFL:

Bears Seek To Interview McDaniels, Shurmur

After the firing of head coach John Fox Monday morning, the Bears were expected to look for an offensive-minded coach to take over the role in 2018. Josh McDaniels (vertical)

They began the process Monday night, requesting interviews with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (Twitter link).

McDaniels is the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator who has called the shots for seven top-five scoring offenses during his tenure with the team. He also has head-coaching experience, leading the Broncos for parts of two seasons in 2009-10. McDaniels is already being sought by a bevy of teams and will certainly be a splash for the Bears.

The Bears have plenty of familiarity with Shurmur, who has been with division rival Minnesota for each of the last two seasons. Under the veteran coach’s direction, Minnesota locked up the No. 2 seed in the postseason while fielding a top-10 scoring offense. Even more impressive is that the unit accomplished the feat without its starting quarterback Sam Bradford or rookie sensation running Dalvin Cook, who were both lost early in the season to injuries. Like McDaniels, Shurmur has already garnered interest from a number of teams.

Either coach would certainly benefit rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who general manager Ryan Pace said will have a say in the team’s head-coaching decision. McDaniels has worked with Tom Brady for much of his career and also helped groom Jimmy Garropolo in New England. Shurmur’s offense has also helped veteran signal-caller Case Keenum produce a breakout year in 2017.

Should they decide against an offensive mind, the Bears might look in house at defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Whoever receives the job is likely to sign a four-year deal to match the extension Pace received earlier in the days.

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The Beat: Justin Rogers On The Lions

Now that the offseason is in full swing, we’re chatting with beat writers from around the league to gain insight on each team and how those moves will impact the season ahead.

Recently, we caught up with Justin Rogers of The Detroit News to discuss the Lions. You can follow Justin on Twitter @Justin_Rogers and check out his stories here.

Zach Links: The Lions have not selected a linebacker in the first round of the draft since Ernie Sims in 2006. After disappointing production from the LB group last year, will Detroit snap that streak and take one in the first round? If not, how do you see them potentially addressing the issue in free agency?

Justin Rogers: There are too many factors in play to speculate exactly who the Lions will draft at No. 21, but it would be foolish to suggest "<stronglinebacker isn’t in play. The team wants to believe DeAndre Levy will return to form, but they can no longer bank on his durability or performance and must plan accordingly. In the middle, Tahir Whitehead racked up big tackle numbers, but struggled in coverage and didn’t make many impact plays. The team is also developing an intriguing young talent in Antwione Williams on the strong side, and bringing back free agent Josh Bynes would be smart. Still, a talent injection is needed.

In the early rounds, the athletic Haason Reddick, and playmakers Zach Cunningham and Jarrad Davis would all be fits, depending how the board shakes out in front of the Lions.

Zach Links: The Lions could also use some help on the defensive line. Recently, you ran down some of this year’s available options in free agency and you mentioned Nick Fairley‘s name. Do you think the Lions would be open to a reunion after his strong 2016?
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