Jerome Henderson

Extra Points: Young, Falcons, Cowboys

Here’s the latest from around the league as teams continue to prepare their free agency plans and Combine itineraries. We’ll begin with a player who’s interested in another NFL comeback.

  • Vince Young‘s agent Leigh Steinberg hinted Saturday that the quarterback was interested in a return to football, but Young will have to work his way through another league — and another country — before reaching the NFL again. Steinberg announced on Twitter today that he’s begun negotiations with the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Given that Young hasn’t thrown an NFL pass since 2011, he faces a long road back to the league, but the CFL could be the first step in that (admittedly long) journey.
  • The Falcons announced that they’ve hired a swath of new coaches, including Kyle Flood (assistant offensive line), Dave Brock (offensive assistant), Justin Outten (offensive assistant), Charlie Weis Jr. (offensive assistant), and Charlie Jackson (defensive assistant). Flood, a longtime collegiate staffer, was fired as Rutgers’ head coach amid controversy in 2015.
  • Jerome Henderson will return as the Falcons‘ defensive passing game coordinator after missing out on the 49ers’ defensive coordinator position, as Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports (Twitter links) Henderson has re-signed with Atlanta. Henderson, who originally joined the Falcons prior to the 2016 campaign, was in consideration to serve as San Francisco’s co-defensive coordinator with Robert Saleh, but Saleh alone landed the job. (Editor’s note: PFR originally relayed Marvez’s report indicating Henderson had resigned from the Falcons before the scribe’s source realized he had forgotten a hyphen. We have removed the original post in order to eliminate any confusion.)
  • Would the Cowboys taking an offensive lineman with their No. 28 overall pick sound crazy given their line’s status as arguably the NFL’s best? However, right tackle Doug Free is entering a contract year, and Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes the team could consider Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk with its top pick in a developmental scenario. Archer expects Free to return for the 2017 season. If nothing else, cutting Free — and saving $5MM — would create a hole not easily filled in a weaker tackle market. But the 33-year-old blocker might be entering his final season in Dallas. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft (Insider link) has Ramczyk going to the Seahawks at No. 26 and the Cowboys taking Florida cornerback Teez Tabor.
  • The Bears have infiltrated a Las Vegas sports book’s top picks for Tony Romo‘s landing spot. Sportsbook.ag’s R.J. Bell (via the Dallas Morning News) projects the Bears as Romo’s fourth-most likely 2017 employer — behind the Texans, Broncos and Cowboys. Houston’s emerged as the favorite despite the organization’s known stance being to avoid getting involved for Romo. Interestingly, the Chiefs are down at No. 5 after being viewed as a primary destination. ESPN.com also projected a Bears/Romo partnership as being more likely than many believe.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Extra Points: Cruz, Bengals, Eagles

The Giants are releasing wide receiver Victor Cruz, which will save them $7.5MM in 2017. Theoretically, they could attempt to bring back the 30-year-old at a lower cap charge next season, but there’s “no indication” they have any interest in doing that, writes Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com. Cruz spoke in the past tense about his six-year run with the Giants on Monday, saying: “I did some great things there. There are so many experiences, times and moments that I shared in that building with that team in that jersey. Those can’t be replaced or forgotten. I’m happy I have those moments to look back on.”

Cruz will ceremonially retire as a Giant someday and later end up in their Ring of Honor, opines Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. His next step, though, will be to head to the open market, where he could find a fit with the Panthers, suggests Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. There’s already a connection between Carolina and Cruz: Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman was the Giants’ director of pro personnel when Big Blue signed the wideout as an undrafted free agent in 2011.

The Broncos, meanwhile, got virtually no production last season from receivers not named Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders, but they haven’t had any discussions about pursuing Cruz, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

More from around the NFL:

  • Despite having over $43MM in cap space, the Bengals are unlikely to make any significant splashes in free agency, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Odds are greater that Cincinnati will focus on its own soon-to-be free agents – including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, guard Kevin Zeitler, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and receiver Brandon LaFell – writes Terrell, who notes that the club is also expecting to pick up plenty of help via the draft. On top of the picks the Bengals already have, the league could award them three or four compensatory selections this year as a result of the losses they incurred in free agency last offseason.
  • The Eagles are reportedly open to trading linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and it’s a “safe bet” they’ll move him if they’re able to acquire help at receiver, running back or cornerback in return, relays Tim McManus of ESPN.com.
  • Jabrill Peppers is unlikely to be a first-round pick, Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press opines. Peppers’ versatility is an asset, but he doesn’t clearly fit any one position either. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has called the Michigan star “a polarizing prospect” and a “tweener,” although he still has him going in the first round in his mock draft. Falling out of the first round could be good for Peppers, Monarrez argues, because it would put less pressure on him as he works to figure out his best role in the NFL.
  • Falcons defensive pass game coordinator Jerome Henderson was under consideration to become the 49ers’ defensive coordinator before they tabbed Robert Saleh for the role on Monday. Now that he’s not going to San Francisco, Henderson will stay in the same position in Atlanta, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
  • The Seahawks are parting with assistant linebackers coach Lofa Tatupu, who spent the previous two years on Pete Carroll‘s staff, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Tatupu is better known for his on-field work in Seattle, where he played from 2005-10 and earned three Pro Bowl nods.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

49ers Interviewing Jerome Henderson & Robert Saleh For DC

The 49ers are interviewing Falcons defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson and former Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh for their defensive coordinator vacancy today, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reported earlier this week that Henderson and Saleh were in consideration to serve as co-defensive coordinators in San Francisco.Jerome Henderson

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick Undecided On Opt-Out]

Henderson, 47, was hired by the Falcons last offseason after previously serving as the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach. Working with the rather unique title of defensive passing game coordinator (a role that Raheem Morris held in Atlanta before Henderson’s arrival), Henderson instructed the Falcons’ defensive backs alongside secondary coach Marquand Manuel, who was named as Atlanta’s defensive coordinator — a job to which Henderson was also linked — earlier today.

An extremely popular candidate during the 2016 hiring cycle, Henderson interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy last offseason, met with the Jaguars regarding their defensive coordinator position, and was linked to gigs on the Dolphins’ staff. Ultimately, however, Henderson landed with Atlanta, despite previously vowing he wouldn’t leave Dallas unless he were offered a DC title.

If Henderson is hired, he’ll be the latest coach to follow former Falcons offensive coordinator and new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan across the country to San Francisco. Thus far, Shanahan has lured Bobby Turner (running backs), Mike LaFleur (wide receivers), and Mike McDaniel (run game coordinator) to the Bay Area, and is also expected to name former Atlanta staffer Rich Scangarello as the club’s new quarterbacks coach.

Saleh, meanwhile, may follow former Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley and join the Chargers’ staff, but the role of co-defensive coordinator in San Francisco is presumably more enticing. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports was the first to link Saleh to the 49ers, reporting earlier this week that the 38-year-old was a candidate to work under Shanahan. An NFL coach since 2006, Saleh previously worked for the Titans and Seahawks before joining the Jaguars.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Fire DC Richard Smith

The Falcons have fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bryan Cox, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Smith could eventually be re-assigned within the organization, sources tell Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.Richard Smith (Vertical)

[RELATED: Falcons Hire OC Steve Sarkasian]

Atlanta may look to fill the DC vacancy with an internal hire, per McClure, who identifies secondary coach Marquand Manuel as a “strong” contender for the job. Manuel, 37, doesn’t boast any play-calling experience, but did interview for the Jaguars’ coordinator gig last offseason. Other internal candidates to become the Falcons’ next coordinator could include pass game coordinator Jerome Henderson, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, and receivers coach Raheem Morris, adds McClure. Henderson is on the 49ers’ radar, as well, as new head coach Kyle Shanahan reportedly wants to hire co-defensive coordinators.

Smith, meanwhile, has coached NFL defenses since the late-1980s, and has coordinated units in Miami and Houston in addition to Atlanta. Since joining the Falcons in 2015, Smith never led a defense that finished among the top half of the league in DVOA, with the team’s best finish coming in 2015 (22nd). This past season, Atlanta ranked just 27th in defensive DVOA, although the club improved as the season progressed. As McClure hinted at, Smith may stay with the Falcons, but is currently exploring his options, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Cox is also on the outs after Atlanta’s defensive line ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of sacks, but finished just 24th and 25th in adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards, respectively. Although he deserves credit for helping second-year end Vic Beasley flourish (and lead the NFL with 15.5 sacks), Cox’s unit was subpar overall. Cox, who’s coached in the NFL since 2006 following a long playing a career, is now a coaching free agent.

Given that Shanahan has left Atlanta, the Falcons will begin the 2017 campaign with new coordinators on each side of the ball. Steve Sarkasian has already been hired to replace Shanahan on offense, but the club also lost a respected offensive mind in quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, who was hired as the Rams’ new OC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Hire Co-Defensive Coordinators?

Soon-to-be 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s staff appears to be taking shape, as Sporting News’ Alex Marvez details (Twitter links here). Among the offensive-minded Shanahan’s most important calls will be deciding who will run the 49ers’ woeful defense, and he’s actually targeting two assistants – Falcons defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson and ex-Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh – to work as co-coordinators in San Francisco.

Kyle Shanahan (vertical)

Saleh’s candidacy is no surprise, as FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Sunday that he could land with the 49ers, but Henderson’s emergence is a new development. Henderson is fresh off his first season in Atlanta – where he worked with Shanahan, of course – and is only a year removed from interviewing for the Browns’ then-vacant head coaching job.

Along with potentially taking Henderson from Atlanta, Shanahan is likely to tab Falcons offensive assistant Mike McDaniel as his wide receivers coach in San Francisco. Falcons offensive assistant Mike LaFleur will also go with Shanahan, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link).

Another NFC South assistant, Buccaneers tight ends coach Jon Embree, is poised to oversee the 49ers’ TEs and serve as an assistant head coach, per Marvez. And a pair of current 49ers assistants, linebackers coach Jason Tarver and defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, are good bets to stay on under Shanahan. Tarver nearly headed elsewhere last month, when he met with the Redskins about becoming their defensive coordinator (a job that ultimately went to onetime 49ers DC Greg Manusky) and discussed a role with the Saints.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Hire Cowboys’ Jerome Henderson

MONDAY, 10:21am: The Falcons have officially announced the hiring of Henderson as their defensive passing game coordinator, and confirmed Morris’ reassignment.

SUNDAY, 3:42pm: The Falcons have hired Cowboys defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson as their defensive passing game coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Raheem Morris, who previously held that title for Atlanta, will become the club’s offensive passing game coordinator and receivers coach, reports Albert Breer of NFL.com (Twitter links).Jerome Henderson

[RELATED: 2016 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker]

Henderson, 46, has been a hot name on the coaching carousel this offseason, having been linked to a number of assistant jobs around the league in addition to interviewing for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy. Henderson also met with the Jaguars regarding their defensive coordinator position, and was linked to gigs on the Dolphins’ staff under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

While Henderson had suggested that he wouldn’t leave Dallas for anything other than a promotion (which could have been taken to mean a coordinator role), the move to defensive passing game coordinator presumably represents a step up. Morris, meanwhile, also has the title of assistant head coach in Atlanta, so the club and head coach Dan Quinn evidently had a bit more leeway to move Morris around on staff without technically demoting him.

But given that Morris has never coached offense in any capacity, moving him to the opposite side of the ball is certainly an odd move. The entirety of Morris’ coaching career — exempting his years as Tampa Bay’s head coach — has been spent on defense, mostly in the secondary. It’s possible that Atlanta wanted to keep him on staff in any role possible, regardless of specifics — the Bengals did something similar in 2012, naming Hue Jackson as an assistant in the secondary despite Jackson having spent his career coaching offense.

[RELATED: Falcons part ways with executive Lionel Vital]

We first heard Friday that Henderson would be interviewing for a position with Atlanta, but the club made it clear in its release that incumbent defensive coordinator Richard Smith would not lose his title. Additionally, Falcons defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel yesterday turned down an opportunity to become the Jaguars’ defensive passing game coordinator, so Henderson couldn’t take on the role of secondary coach in Atlanta, either.

Meanwhile, Cowboys safeties coach Joe Baker is expected to assume Henderson’s responsibilities in Dallas, becoming the full-time secondary coach, per Rapoport (Twitter link).

Extra Points: 49ers, Pats, Cowboys, Jags

The latest from around the NFL as the countdown to a Super Bowl 50 matchup between the Panthers and Broncos begins:

  • After appearing in and starting in 71 games from 2010-14, 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis decided last June to take a hiatus from football, announcing that he’d “be back in a year or so.” Earlier this month, the 26-year-old added fuel to the fire when he tweeted an intention to return to the 49ers. However, Davis – who’s under 49ers control through 2019 – hasn’t yet set the wheels fully in motion on a comeback. “As of right now, I’ve got no notification from the league to say that he has [filed for reinstatement],” general manager Trent Baalke told 95.7 The Game, per CSNBayArea.com. “But that period is still open.”
  • In other 49ers news, they’ve hired Jeff Hafley to coach their defensive backs, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter). Hafley was in charge of Cleveland’s secondary the past two seasons.
  • The Patriots need to invest significant resources this offseason in the offensive line – whether through free agency, the draft or both – in order to keep Tom Brady playing at a high level, writes Christopher Price of WEEI.com. Given the beating Brady took Sunday in the Pats’ 20-18 AFC championship game loss in Denver, Price’s suggestion comes as no surprise. The Broncos hit Brady 20 times, four of which were sacks, and kept him under extreme duress throughout the game.
  • The Cowboys will need a new defensive backs coach to replace Jerome Henderson, who took a job in Atlanta. A successor to Henderson in Dallas is unlikely to come from within the organization, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer (via Twitter). That runs contrary to Ian Rapoport’s declaration (via Twitter) earlier Sunday that Cowboys safeties coach Jim Baker will take over for Henderson.
  • Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley has promoted three members of his staff, according to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union: Tony Sorrentino has gone from offensive quality control coach to assistant receivers coach; Aaron Whitecotton, who was assistant to the defense, is now the assistant D-line coach; and Mike Rutenberg has shifted from assistant defensive backs coach to defensive assistant.

NFC Notes: Kaepernick, Schraeder, Henderson

Chip Kelly‘s official preference on Colin Kaepernick now that he’s in control of the 49ers hasn’t been established. But rival defensive coordinators are under the impression the former Eagles coach will extend an olive branch to the maligned quarterback once thought set for the trade market, given what the pair could accomplish together, NFL.com’s Albert Breer writes.

Whereas the DCs informed Breer that Sam Bradford did not evoke much fear in Kelly’s attack, the mobile Kaepernick could, considering how Kelly’s offense looked when he was coaching Marcus Mariota or Darron Thomas at Oregon.

I think [Kaepernick] is a good enough passer, but obviously what’ll be a nightmare is his ability to run. That offense is straight ‘Freddy Krueger’ when you have a quarterback that can pull the ball and run at any given time,” one rival coordinator told Breer.

Kelly’s Philadelphia tenure began with Michael Vick at the controls, but Vick at that point did not represent the kind of dual-threat signal-caller Kaepernick has shown himself to be at his best. The former second-round pick’s strong arm will bring something else Bradford didn’t last season, per another rival DC, along with his ability to play a zone-read-style system alongside Carlos Hyde.

Awesome — could be scary. You get the run threat back to keep the ball on zone read,” the coordinator said. “… And Kap can throw it deep. Chip stretched the field with [Nick] Foles vertically, and not as much with Bradford. … And Kap did a good job with simple reads and progressions early in San Francisco. Chip’s intermediate pass game in Philly had those features.

Assuming Kelly wants to see how Kaepernick looks in his offense, the 28-year-old will enter the third year of his contract and cost the 49ers $15.9MM against their 2016 salary cap once he’s on the roster after April 1.

Here are some other items from around the league as 28 teams are in their early offseason phases.

  • With the Cowboys and Jaguars’ coaching staffs set to instruct sides at next weekend’s Senior Bowl, a source told David Moore of the Dallas Morning News secondary coach Jerome Henderson‘s status will be resolved by Monday when the staff leaves for the all-star game. The 46-year-old Henderson interviewed for the Browns’ head-coaching job, the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator role and on Friday spoke with the Falcons regarding an unspecified position with the Atlanta defense. Cowboys officials, however, have expressed desire to retain Henderson, however, according to Moore. His contract expires at the end of the 2016 season. Henderson and the Cowboys have discussed his contract, with the understanding that Henderson will only depart if he can become a coordinator somewhere.
  • Falcons restricted free agent Ryan Schraeder may require more than a second-round tender to keep after a dominant third season, McClure writes. A first-team All-Pro right tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, Schraeder receiving the second-round tender would cost the Falcons $2.47MM but would allow another team to sign him while surrendering only a second-round pick. An ex-UDFA, Schraeder made $585K last season. “Atlanta has given me an opportunity,” Schraeder told McClure. “I felt like I’ve tried to make the most out of it. Whatever happens in the future, happens. But I know deep down inside that I can play in this league. My agent [Joel and Justin Turner], I feel like I have the best agents in the business. They’ll handle a lot of that. And I’ll probably give them some input.” A first-round tender cost a team $3.354MM last year.
  • The Lions fired senior vice president of football operations Cedric Saunders, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Saunders joined the Lions 10 years ago under Matt Millen and began overseeing the Lions’ budget with regards to personnel under Martin Mayhew. He’s one of several executives to be ousted since new GM Bob Quinn‘s arrival.
  • The Giants‘ ideal free agent targets, in the mind of NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan, should be Olivier Vernon, Danny Trevathan and Tashaun Gipson. Big Blue’s defense risks losing its most accomplished players this offseason in Prince Amukamara and Jason Pierre-Paul, although Raanan tabs Amukamara as having a “better than 50% chance” of staying, and hasn’t had much luck fortifying its defense with talent through the draft. Gipson went through a contentious stretch with the Browns last summer as a restricted free agent, and Trevathan faces a long road back to Denver next season due to potential eight-figure AAV players the Broncos have yet to sign in Von Miller and Brock Osweiler.

Coach Updates: Henderson, Falcons, Browns

Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson is interviewing for a position on the Falcons‘ coaching staff, but not for the defensive coordinator job — Richard Smith is staying in that role, Atlanta confirmed today (via Twitter).

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who first reported that Henderson was interviewing for the DC role in Atlanta, tweets that his Cowboys contacts believed that was the case. Henderson has suggested he wouldn’t leave Dallas for a job that wasn’t a promotion, so there’s some confusion about what exactly his role with the Falcons would be.

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, the Falcons may view Henderson as a potential defensive pass-game coordinator, a position currently held by Raheem Morris. Morris also has an assistant head coach title, which could give Atlanta the flexibility to bring Henderson aboard and move Morris to another role without technically demoting him.

As we wait to see whether Henderson decides to leave Dallas for the Falcons, here are some other coaching updates from around the NFL:

  • Former Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn, who recently interviewed with the Titans, is being hired by the Browns as their defensive line coach, reports Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Marvez passes along another Browns-related coaching update, tweeting that the Packers have hired tight ends coach Brian Angelichio away from Cleveland for the same position on Green Bay’s staff.
  • The Giants are expected to hire Packers assistant offensive line coach Mike Solari as their new offensive line coach, a source tells Newsday’s Tom Rock. We learned on Thursday that Solari was a “strong candidate” to join Ben McAdoo‘s staff.
  • The 49ers are looking at Titans offensive line coach Bob Bostad for the same job in San Francisco, tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. As we heard on Wednesday, the Niners are also considering Pat Flaherty for that position.
  • The Saints have hired former Giants defensive backs coach and Rams defensive coordinator Peter Guinta as a senior defensive assistant, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Guinta has been out of the NFL since being let go by the Giants last January.

Coaching Notes: Bills, Browns, Titans, Cowboys

Kathryn Smith made history earlier this week, being named the Bills quality control-special teams coach. Today, she released a statement regarding the new gig (via Buffalo Bills PR on Twitter):

“I would like to thank Rex Ryan, Kim and Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Bills franchise for this opportunity.

“I am excited to continue to work with out special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, special teams assistant Eric Smith and our entire coaching staff and players as we prepare for the 2016 NFL season.

“The amount of attention generated from this announcement in the past 24 hours has been extraordinary, however, my focus remains on my job responsibilities and helping the team win.

“I would like to thank my family and friends for all their support. It’s a tremendous honor to become the first full-time female assistant coach in the National Football League and I appreciate Rex Ryan giving me this opportunity based on the merit of my work and commitment to this organization.”

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

  • Rob Ryan turned down “coordinating jobs” to join his brother, Rex, and the Bills, tweets Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.
  • The Browns have hired former Titans defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi for the same coaching position, reports Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (via Twitter). Cioffi was on the Browns coaching staff in 2013.
  • There are some differing reports regarding the future of Titans assistant defensive line coach Nick Eason. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (via Twitter) that Eason will join the Browns in an unspecified role. However, Marvez tweets that Eason will instead by promoted by the Titans and become their defensive-line coach.
  • ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure hears that Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson may be joining the Falcons coaching staff (Twitter link). Henderson will reportedly be in Atlanta tomorrow for an interview. McClure notes that while Atlanta’s current defensive backs coach, Marquand Manuel, interviewed to be the Jaguars defensive coordinator, it would appear he’s staying put.