Jaguars Rumors

Jags, Trevor Lawrence Begin Extension Talks

Trevor Lawrence‘s ascent encountered some turbulence last season; the Jaguars flopped down the stretch and missed the playoffs. That ending has not changed the organization’s plans with its centerpiece player.

Franchise-caliber quarterbacks often sign extensions before their fourth season. Lawrence is now in that window, becoming extension-eligible in January. Proceeding down that path, GM Trent Baalke confirmed Thursday (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe) the team has begun Lawrence extension talks.

Baalke said earlier this offseason “no doubt” existed the team would extend Lawrence at some point. It may not be a lock that happens this offseason; exercising Lawrence’s fifth-year option will buy the Jags some time. That said, a host of QBs have inked their first extensions before Year 4.

Since Ryan Tannehill‘s Dolphins re-up in 2015, 11 more QBs — Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow — have signed extensions before their fourth seasons. Not having a deal done in this timeframe has been the exception, with the promise of a monster guarantee — rather than playing a fourth year on a rookie salary — factoring in prominently here.

This would be a new chapter for the Jags, who have seen their two other first-round QBs chosen in the slot-system era (Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles) not prove worthy of a big-ticket extension.

Lawrence, 24, is the only member of five-first-rounder 2021 QB contingent who is a lock to be the 2024 starter for the team that drafted him. Trey Lance has been traded, while Zach Wilson has been granted permission to find a trade partner. Justin Fields will probably be on the move soon, and Mac Jones‘ future in New England is murky. That said, Lawrence has not yet distinguished himself as a top-tier passer despite generational prospect status back in ’21.

After a late-season Lawrence surge drove the Jaguars to the 2022 playoffs and a historic wild-card comeback, the Clemson product ranked 17th in QBR last season — a 9-8 Jacksonville showing. Lawrence, whose INT count spiked from eight to 14 from 2022-23, did battle through extensive injury trouble last year. Ankle and knee sprains did not end up sidelining the durable QB last season, but a Week 16 AC joint injury — during a woeful performance in Tampa — shelved him in Week 17. The Titans then upset the Jaguars to end their playoff push in Week 18.

The Dolphins waited a year before talking a Tua Tagovailoa extension; those talks are taking place this offseason. Far more significant injury issues clouded Tagovailoa’s future going into last season, whereas Lawrence has missed just one career game. The former national championship-winning QB did effectively go through a lost rookie season, with the Urban Meyer experiment backfiring spectacularly. That could lead to this Jags regime pressing pause. But with talks already beginning, the prospect of a Lawrence contract topping $50MM per year — a price that obviously will change the Jags’ roster-building blueprint — coming to pass this year is in play.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/28/24

Today’s only minor NFL transaction:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Formerly a basketball player with aspirations of an NBA career, Reyes chose to go the football route through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program coming out of Chile. Having only appeared in a regular season game during his time in Washington, Reyes made an early retirement announcement after just two years with three different teams. Healthy again and with his rights now waived, Reyes is reportedly free to pursue opportunities with any interested teams.

Jags In Talks With Calvin Ridley, Josh Allen

Trent Baalke said in January the Jaguars will have Josh Allen back on their 2024 team, pointing to a franchise tag as a mortal lock. The team is not closing up shop on reaching an extension with its top edge rusher just yet.

Stopping short of confirming the Jags will tag Allen, Baalke said the sides remain in talks. Given Allen’s contract-year surge that ended with a 17.5-sack season — a Jags single-year record — this might be a tricky negotiation that requires more time. The 2019 first-round pick had not previously eclipsed 10.5 sacks in a season. Allen is set to turn 27 in July.

The tag will allow the Jags until July 15 to reach a deal. They have used the tag each year in the 2020s, cuffing Yannick Ngakoue, Cam Robinson and Evan Engram. The team extended Robinson and Engram, after trading Ngakoue.

While Allen’s place on the 2024 Jags appears a near-certainty, Calvin Ridley is tied to unique contract conditions that complicate his future in Jacksonville. Already sending a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Falcons, the Jaguars would owe them an additional 2024 third if they were to let Ridley hit the market. If Ridley re-signs once there or departs, Jacksonville owes Atlanta its 2024 third. If the team views the wideout as a true priority and reaches what is technically an extension — a deal before the 2024 league year begins March 13 — the Jags would owe a second-rounder instead of a third.

It would seem the Jags would be better served by waiting out Ridley and protecting their second-rounder, but the team wants to retain the former first-round pick — regardless of how that comes to pass. Baalke and Ridley met one-on-one recently, and the team is set to talk with the veteran pass catcher’s camp at the Combine.

We’re not real concerned with that, whether it’s a second or third round,” Baalke said of the second pick to be conveyed in the Falcons trade. “We’re just going to work with the player and see if we can come to an agreement. Whether that’s before the compensation changes or not, that remains to be seen. We’re more focused on the player.

I had a great talk with Calvin, know exactly where he’s at and and he knows where we’re at.”

Thanks to the end-of-season collapse that left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, their second-round pick checks in 48th. Their third-rounder sits 79th. Barring a Ridley extension before 3pm CT on March 13, that pick will transfer to the Falcons. The Jags have a little more than $24MM in cap space; an Allen tag would account for all of that, as the cap spike moved the linebacker tag to $24MM.

If Ridley were to hit the market, however, the Jags will have likely intense competition. If the Colts follow through with a Michael Pittman Jr. tag, the absences of he and Tee Higgins on the market would boost Ridley’s value.

Do not look for the team to consider Cam Robinson‘s contract as one to move to create space. Baalke expects the team’s 2021 and ’22 franchise tag recipient to be back with the team. The longtime Jags left tackle is due a $16.25MM base salary and is set to carry a $21.19MM cap number. Another extension would reduce that cap charge, though it is unclear if that is the cards just yet for the 2017 second-round pick.

Robinson signed a three-year, $52.75MM extension in April 2022. Although the Dave Caldwell regime drafted Robinson and he was first tagged during Urban Meyer‘s offseason in charge, Baalke was at the helm when the Jags finalized the extension. Pro Football Focus graded Robinson, who missed much of last season due to a PED ban and a subsequent knee injury, 46th overall among tackles.

Jaguars Make Final Changes To 2024 Staff

The Jaguars were one of several teams that were forced to make adjustments to their coaching staff, most notably after parting ways with defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and company. The new staff under Caldwell’s successor, former Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, has been finalized, as have a few updates to the offensive side of the ball, as well.

On defense we were already aware of the hires of defensive backs coach Kris Richard and inside linebackers coach Matt House, as well as the retention of assistant defensive line coach Rory Segrest, outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey, and defensive quality control coach Patrick Reilly. We had originally reported that Cory Robinson would be joining the staff as the team’s cornerbacks coach, but the team’s update tells us that, more specifically, he will be a defensive assistant and cornerbacks coach.

To round out the new defensive staff, the team has hired Jeremy Garrett as their new defensive line coach, Michael Gray as assistant secondary coach and defensive analyst, and Mario Jeberaeel as assistant outside linebackers coach. Garrett replaces Brentson Bucker, who was fired alongside Caldwell. He has NFL experience with the Browns and most recently worked at the collegiate level with Auburn and Liberty. Gray and Jeberaeel both follow Nielsen from Atlanta. Gray joined the Falcons last year as a football analyst, while Jeberaeel came into the title of special projects: defense coach last season.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jacksonville announced the hires of running backs coach Jerry Mack and offensive quality control coach Jamel Mutunga, as well as the promotion of former offensive quality control coach Greg Austin to assistant offensive line coach. Mack replaces Bernie Parmalee, who took the same position with the Panthers after being fired alongside Caldwell. This will be Mack’s first NFL coaching gig after spending 20 years coaching at the collegiate level. Most recently, Mack coached a Volunteers team at Tennessee that finished top-12 in rushing yards per game twice in his three years.

Austin takes the position of Todd Washington, who also was let go with Parmalee and Caldwell. Mutunga takes his spot in quality control after serving as an offensive assistant with the Panthers last year. His first year of experience came in 2022, when he was the inaugural recipient of the Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellowship in Indianapolis.

That sets the stage in Duval for the 2024 season. A few adjustments on offense and a changing of the guard on defense define the early portion of Jacksonville’s offseason. It will be worth watching to see if a new defensive staff can help a young Jaguars squad take the next step in the new league year.

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.

2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

A valuable tool for teams to keep top free agents off the market, the franchise tag has been in existence since 1993. This week brought the opening of the 2024 tag window. Clubs have until 3pm CT on March 5 to apply tags. As the Giants’ situation showed last year, most of the tag-related business comes near the close of this window. Teams will continue to work toward re-signing their respective tag candidates, thus preventing a lofty franchise tender from hitting their cap sheet.

The legal tampering period opens March 11, with the new league year (and official free agency) starting March 13. Once a player is tagged, he has until July 15 to sign an extension with his respective team. Absent an extension agreement by that date, the player must play the 2023 season on the tag (or go the Le’Veon Bell/Dan Williams/Sean Gilbert route, passing on guaranteed money and skipping the season).

High-profile free agents remain weeks away from hitting the market. As PFR’s tag recipients list shows, a handful of players are prevented from taking their services to free agency each year. This year looks to present a few more tag candidates compared to 2023. With a handful of teams determining if they will need to use the tag to prevent a free agency path, here are the players who figure to be tagged or at least generate conversations about being franchised ahead of the March 5 deadline:

Locks

Josh Allen, OLB (Jaguars)
Tag cost: $24MM

GM Trent Baalke did not leave much suspense when he addressed Allen’s future last month. The veteran exec said the 2019 first-round pick will be a Jaguar in 2024, indicating the team would use its franchise tag if necessary. The Jaguars do have Calvin Ridley as a free agent, but the team would owe the Falcons a 2024 second-round pick if it extended the wide receiver’s contract before the start of the league year. The second pick sent to Atlanta will only be a third-rounder if Jacksonville lets Ridley hit free agency. It makes more sense for Jacksonville to circle back to Ridley after allowing him to test the market. An Allen tag effectively ensures that will happen.

Timing his sack breakthrough well, Allen registered a Jags-record 17.5 during his contract year. The five-year Jaguar has combined for 55 QB hits over the past two seasons and ranks top 10 in pressures over the past three. The tag regularly keeps top edge rushers from hitting free agency, and the 26-year-old pass rusher — while obviously wanting to be paid what he’s worth — expressed a desire to stay in Jacksonville long term.

The Jags have regularly unholstered their tag during the 2020s, cuffing Yannick Ngakoue in 2020 and then keeping Cam Robinson off the 2021 and ’22 markets. The team kept Evan Engram out of free agency last year. Robinson signed an extension in 2022, and the Jags re-upped Engram last July. The Ngakoue situation could be notable, as the edge rusher became disgruntled with the Jags and was eventually traded to the Vikings that summer. No signs of that level of trouble are brewing with Allen yet.

Jaylon Johnson, CB (Bears)
Tag cost: $19.8MM

Johnson is likely to become the first franchise-tagged cornerback since the Rams kept Trumaine Johnson off the 2017 market. The Bears are the most recent team to tag a corner, using the transition tag to cuff Kyle Fuller in 2018. They will almost definitely follow suit with Johnson, who has been rumored to be tagged for several weeks. A Ryan Pace-era draftee, Johnson expressed his desire to stay with the Bears ahead of his contract year. With that platform campaign producing some twists and turns, that price has gone up significantly.

After unsuccessful in-season extension talks, the Bears gave Johnson an 11th-hour opportunity to gauge his trade value. The Bears did not alert teams Johnson, 24, was available until the night before the Oct. 31 deadline. Although the Bills and 49ers engaged in talks about a trade, the Bears held out for a first- or second-round pick. Nothing materialized, which will likely come up during the team’s talks with Johnson. The Bears then extended trade pickup Montez Sweat, leaving Johnson in limbo. But the former second-round pick stuck the landing on an impact season. He is firmly in the Bears’ plans, and the team holds more than $66MM in cap space — plenty to squeeze in a tag onto the payroll.

Pro Football Focus’ top-graded corner in 2023, Johnson displayed a new gear that has made him worthy of a tag. Finishing with four interceptions and allowing just a 50.9 passer rating as the closest defender, the Utah alum soared to second-team All-Pro status. The Bears, who last used the tag on Allen Robinson in 2021, made no secret of their interest in retaining Johnson and will have a few more months to negotiate with him as a result of the tag.

Likely tag recipients

Brian Burns, OLB (Panthers)
Projected tag cost: $24MM

The Panthers hiring a new GM and head coach classifies this as just short of a lock, but familiar faces remain. Carolina promoted assistant general manager Dan Morgan to GM and blocked DC Ejiro Evero from departing. Burns has been viewed as a likely tag recipient since last season, after negotiations broke down. The Panthers have not offered a negotiating masterclass here, as Burns has been extension-eligible since the 2022 offseason. Since-fired GM Scott Fitterer had viewed Burns as a re-up candidate for two offseasons, but multiple rounds of trade talks boosted the 2019 first-rounder’s leverage.

In what looks like a mistake, the Panthers passed on a Rams offer that included two first-rounders and a third for Burns at the 2022 trade deadline. Carolina then kept Burns out of 2023 trade talks with Chicago about the No. 1 pick, ultimately sending D.J. Moore to the Windy City for the Bryce Young draft slot. Carolina also kept Burns at the 2023 deadline, as teams looked into the top pass rusher on the NFL’s worst team. Burns also saw his position’s market change via Nick Bosa‘s record-setting extension ($34MM per year). The 49ers’ landmark accord came to pass after Burns had set a $30MM-AAV price point, complicating Morgan’s upcoming assignment.

Burns, 25, has registered at least 7.5 sacks in each of his five seasons. While he has only topped nine in a season once (2022), the two-time Pro Bowler is one of the league’s better edge rushers. Given the Panthers’ history with Burns, it would be borderline shocking to see the team allow the Florida State alum to leave in exchange for merely a third-round compensatory pick.

Burns has said he wants to stay with the Panthers; he is unlikely to have a choice this year. The Panthers last used the tag to keep right tackle Taylor Moton off the market in 2021; the sides agreed to an extension that offseason.

Tee Higgins, WR (Bengals)
Tag cost: $21.82MM

Seeing their hopes of capitalizing on the final year of Higgins’ rookie contract dashed due to Joe Burrow‘s season-ending injury, the Bengals look to be giving strong consideration to keeping the Burrow-Higgins-Ja’Marr Chase trio together for one last ride of sorts. The Bengals hold $59.4MM in cap space — fifth-most currently — and structured Burrow’s extension in a way that makes a Higgins tag palatable. Burrow’s deal does not spike into historic cap territory until 2025.

While a future in which Chase and Higgins are signed long term is more difficult to foresee, the Bengals still carry one of the AFC’s best rosters. It is likely Burrow’s top two weapons remain in the fold for at least one more year. Higgins, 25, did not come close to posting a third straight 1,000-yard season. Burrow’s injury had plenty to do with that, though the former second-round pick started slowly. A Bengals 2023 extension offer underwhelmed Higgins, but the Bengals kept him out of trades. A tag will give Cincinnati the option to rent him for 2024. A tag-and-trade transaction is viewed as unlikely, as the Bengals load up again.

How the organization proceeds beyond 2024 will be a key storyline, but the Bengals — who kept Jessie Bates in similar fashion in 2022 — are positioned well to run back perhaps the NFL’s best receiving tandem. While director of player personnel Duke Tobin stopped short of guaranteeing Higgins will be a Bengal in 2024, signs point to it.

Justin Madubuike, DL (Ravens)
Tag cost: $22.1MM

Seeing their defensive coordinator depart and once again facing questions at outside linebacker, the Ravens have the option of keeping their top 2023 pass rusher off the market. They are probably going to take that route. Madubuike raised his price considerably during an impact contract year, leading the Ravens with 13 sacks. While Mike Macdonald was able to coax surprising seasons from late additions Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, Madubuike drove Baltimore’s defensive engine and will likely be guaranteed a high salary by signing his franchise tender.

Perennially interested in hoarding compensatory picks, the Ravens have regularly let breakthrough pass rushers walk in free agency. This dates back to the likes of Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee and subsequently included Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon. The Ravens have only been able to replace Judon with stopgap options — from Clowney to Van Noy to Justin Houston — and again must figure out a solution alongside Odafe Oweh on the edge. Madubuike, 26, proved too good to let walk; the former third-round pick will once again be expected to anchor Baltimore’s pass rush in 2024.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S (Buccaneers)
Tag cost: $17.12MM

We mentioned Winfield as the Bucs’ most likely tag recipient around the midseason point, and signs now point to that reality coming to pass. The Bucs want to re-sign Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. The bounce-back quarterback’s tender price would check in at nearly $36MM, and because Evans was attached to a veteran contract, his tag number would come in well north of Higgins’ — at beyond $28MM. As such, the Bucs cuffing Winfield has always made the most sense, and after the second-generation NFL DB’s dominant contract year, it would be stunning to see the team let him walk.

The Bucs have let their recent top free agents test free agency, only to re-sign Shaquil Barrett (2021), Carlton Davis (2022) and Jamel Dean (2023). Winfield may be on a higher plane, having secured first-team All-Pro acclaim last season. Davis and Dean have never made a Pro Bowl; Winfield’s productive and well-regarded 2023 stands to separate him. Winfield, 25, tallied six sacks and three interceptions while forcing an NFL-leading six fumbles. This included a pivotal strip of DJ Chark in the Bucs’ Week 18 win over the Panthers, which clinched them the NFC South title.

Winfield will undoubtedly be eyeing a top-market safety extension. Derwin James established the current standard, $19MM per year, just before the 2022 season. Last year’s safety market did not feature big-ticket prices, for the most part, but the Falcons made Jessie Bates (four years, $64MM) an exception. If Winfield were to reach free agency, he would be expected to eclipse that.

The Bucs, who have used the tag three times in the 2020s, should not be considered likely to let Winfield follow Davis and Dean’s path by speaking with other teams. Tampa Bay has used the tag three times in the 2020s, cuffing Barrett in 2020 and tagging Chris Godwin twice. The team eventually re-signed both, and while the statuses of Mayfield and Evans (and All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs) create a crowded contract queue, the Bucs will certainly be interested in re-upping Winfield.

On tag radar

Saquon Barkley, RB (Giants)
Tag cost: $12MM

Barkley has said he wants to finish his career with the Giants, and the team will meet with the Pro Bowl running back’s camp at the Combine. But a recent report indicated the team is highly unlikely to tag the six-year veteran a second time. The Giants should not be ruled out from reversing course and keeping Barkley, given his importance to an otherwise low-octane offense, but it appears they are prepared to move on if the talented RB does not accept their extension offer this time around. A host of talented backs await in free agency, though Barkley would likely be the top prize were he to reach the market.

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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

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 2/13/24

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers

Oruwariye spent much of the 2023 season on the Jaguars practice squad, with the defensive back getting into just one game. The former fifth-round pick has more experience than your standard reserve/futures contract, as Oruwariye started 29 games for the Lions between 2020 and 2021. That latter season was one of his strongest, as he finished with 57 tackles, 11 passes defended, and six interceptions.

Latest On Danielle Hunter’s Impending Free Agency

The Vikings have a few pressing needs to focus on before they shift their attention to Danielle Hunter. Unfortunately for the organization, it doesn’t sound like the veteran pass rusher will be easy to retain. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the impending free agent is expected to have “a very strong market” this offseason.

With the Vikings eyeing an uphill battle following Kirk Cousins‘ season-ending injury, there were reports that the team took calls on Hunter leading up to the deadline. The organization rejected those inquiries, but Fowler notes that plenty of teams expressed interest, and those teams will surely be in the hunt again with Hunter hitting free agency.

Fowler throws out a handful of potential suitors. The Bears could look to pair a veteran opposite Montez Sweat, and the Jaguars could also be in the market (although they first have to figure out Josh Allen‘s future with the organization).

The Vikings will also make a push to keep their star defensive lineman. However, ESPN’s Dan Graziano notes that a new Hunter deal isn’t atop the front office’s list of priorities. Rather, the organization is naturally navigating Cousins’ impending free agency and their questionable future at the quarterback position. The organization can obviously juggle multiple negotiations at once, but the team would probably like some clarity on their QB salaries before committing big money elsewhere.

Hunter maxed out his incentive package this season, collecting an extra $3MM by reaching the 14-sack plateau. These bonuses were part of a recent restructure that saw the 29-year-old earn $17MM in guaranteed money this past season. More notably, that restructuring also prevents the Vikings from slapping Hunter with the franchise tag, meaning the nine-year veteran will be free to test the market.

The Vikings will also have to weight Hunter’s next contract with his impending dead cap charge. If Hunter ends up leaving Minnesota, the Vikings will be left with a $14.9MM dead-money charge. That isn’t a drop in the pan, and the Vikings front office may decide they’re willing to commit the extra money instead of being left with a hole on their depth chart and on their cap sheet.

The former third-round pick had one of the strongest seasons of his career in 2023. He finished this past season with a career-high 16.5 sacks and a league-leading 23 tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus graded Hunter 28th among 112 qualifying edge defenders, including a top-20 pass-rush grade.

Updated 2024 NFL Draft Order

With Super Bowl LVIII in the books, the 2023 campaign has come to a close. Teams outside Kansas City and San Francisco had already turned their attention to the offseason well before Sunday’s game, of course.

Regular season standings determine the order for the top 18 picks, so they have been known since the conclusion of Week 18. For the second straight year, the Bears face the question of dealing away the top selection and starting over at quarterback or re-committing to Justin Fields. Expectations still point toward Caleb Williams heading to Chicago, although the Bears will not move the No. 1 pick at a discounted price.

With the Commanders also in position to add a signal-caller second overall, the Patriots and Cardinals will be worth watching closely. New England will be in the market for a QB, but it may not come via the team’s top selection. Arizona’s position could also be a trade-up target for teams seeking a quarterback addition. This year’s class is expected to be dominated by blue-chip prospects under center, as well as at wide receiver and offensive tackle.

The final 14 spots in the draft order are filled by postseason results. The Chiefs find themselves in familiar territory picking at or near the end of the first-round order for the fourth time in the past five years following another Super Bowl appearance. The team has a mixed track record with its selections in that regard, but another impact rookie would of course help its bid to sustain its impressive run.

While a number of selections will no doubt be swapped between now and draft day, here is the full 2024 first-round order:

  1. Chicago Bears (via Panthers)
  2. Washington Commanders: 4-13
  3. New England Patriots: 4-13
  4. Arizona Cardinals: 4-13
  5. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-12
  6. New York Giants: 6-11
  7. Tennessee Titans: 6-11
  8. Atlanta Falcons: 7-10
  9. Chicago Bears: 7-10
  10. New York Jets: 7-10
  11. Minnesota Vikings: 7-10
  12. Denver Broncos: 8-9
  13. Las Vegas Raiders: 8-9
  14. New Orleans Saints: 9-8
  15. Indianapolis Colts: 9-8
  16. Seattle Seahawks: 9-8
  17. Jacksonville Jaguars: 9-8
  18. Cincinnati Bengals: 9-8
  19. Los Angeles Rams: 10-7
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-7
  21. Miami Dolphins: 11-6
  22. Philadelphia Eagles: 11-6
  23. Houston Texans (via Browns)
  24. Dallas Cowboys: 12-5
  25. Green Bay Packers: 9-8
  26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-8
  27. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans)
  28. Buffalo Bills: 11-6
  29. Detroit Lions: 12-5
  30. Baltimore Ravens: 13-4
  31. San Francisco 49ers: 12-5
  32. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-6