John Dorsey

Dorsey To Run Browns’ Coaching Search

When the Browns were in the market for a head coach in 2016, ownership enlisted the help of search firm of Korn Ferry, which ultimately led to the hiring of Hue Jackson. This time around, owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam will allow GM John Dorsey to have full authority over the search, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com hears. 

It’s probably the smart move, given Dorsey’s wealth of NFL experience and thick rolodex of contacts within the league. The Haslams will have input in the collaborative process, but Cabot hears that Dorsey will ultimately lead the charge and make the hire.

The Browns’ hierarchy has been jumbled in the past, but this could be a sign that the next head coach will report directly to Dorsey rather than to ownership. No decision has been made on that front just yet, however.

Mired in yet another losing season, the Browns may be a tough sell for this year’s top coaching candidates. However, Dorsey’s reputation and Baker Mayfield‘s potential could put them in the mix for some intriguing names.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bell, Browns, Green, Cook

The Le’Veon Bell saga is coming to a head, as the Steelers running back must sign his franchise tender by November 13 to be eligible to play for any team this season. But as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, the CBA does not dictate that Bell must report by that day, only that he sign the tender. That means that Bell could sign the tender and not report until next Saturday, which would make him eligible to be added to the roster for next Sunday’s game — not that he would be playing in that game regardless — or he could just not sign the tender at all and skip the entire season.

The latter option is not considered likely at this time, but La Canfora says that if Bell does skip the entire 2018 campaign, the Steelers would strongly consider slapping the franchise or transition tag on him next offseason, which would of course set up another drama-filled battle. La Canfora further reports that no rival clubs called Pittsburgh at last week’s trade deadline in an attempt to acquire Bell.

Now for more the league’s North divisions:

  • When the Browns have hired a new head coach in recent seasons, they have used a search firm, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) says he would be surprised if the team, with respected GM John Dorsey now in charge, goes that route when it looks for another HC this offseason. Rapoport’s sources expect Dorsey to conduct the search himself, and they expect that he will do so very “secretly.” Rapoport says one name under consideration would be Josh McDaniels, who is reportedly open to revisiting HC opportunities (should another one come his way), and RapSheet also lists John DeFilippo, Mike McCarthy, and Lincoln Riley as potential targets.
  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is battling a toe injury, per Rapoport (via Twitter), who says that Green either has visited or will visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. There will be more clarity on the injury soon, and Rapoport says surgery remains on the table. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Green is expected to miss time regardless of whether he has surgery.
  • Vikings WR Stefon Diggs will miss today’s game with a rib injury, per Rapoport (video link), though it is uncertain whether Diggs will miss any additional time (given that he expected to play today and was listed as questionable on the final injury report, it seems that he’ll be ready to go after Minnesota’s bye next week. Meanwhile, RB Dalvin Cook is expected to hit the field today, which will mark his first appearance since Week 4. Cook will be on a pitch count and is only expected to see 20 snaps or so, but when the team returns from bye, it could have Cook and Diggs at full strength.
  • The Packers signed punter Drew Kaser yesterday, but the team is not moving on from incumbent J.K. Scott at this time, per ESPN.com. However, it is still an open question as to whether Scott will be punting against the Patriots tonight.
  • We learned earlier today that Ravens HC John Harbaugh is on the hot seat as the team faces a critical divisional matchup against Pittsburgh this afternoon.

Hue Jackson Discusses Firing, Dorsey, Quarterbacks

The Browns unceremoniously fired head coach Hue Jackson earlier this week. Jackson ended his Cleveland tenure with a 3-36-1 record, including a 2-5-1 record this season. As the Browns prepare for their matchup against the Chiefs tomorrow, Jackson will be sitting out an NFL weekend for the first time since 2000 (when he was USC’s offensive coordinator).

Jackson has naturally appeared in a number of interviews over the past week, including a sit-down talk with Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. We’ve compiled some of his notable soundbites below, although the entire interview (in which Jackson also discusses the power struggle over the offense) is worth reading in full:

On if he was surprised by his sudden dismissal:

“I was surprised. I’m not going to say just totally blindsided because there was just so much noise out there about what was going on with our football team that I thought was not true. But anytime there’s all these undercurrents going, there’s something in there. 

“I was surprised when both Jimmy and John walked in my office and let me know that they’d be relieving me as being the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

“That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’ve given it your all, and you’ve worked extremely hard and you do everything you can to try to put the place in the best position to move forward. But again, it’s their decision. I have to respect it and move on.”

On if there was any “discord” within the organization/coaching staff:

“I didn’t perceive it (that way). I think you can disagree with people and not have it be discord. Discord to me is a strong word. It means there’s always infighting. That’s a pretty hot word. 

“I know there was disagreements and rightfully so. Who doesn’t disagree? But I think the term internal discord was a little much.”

On his relationship with general manager John Dorsey:

“If there was a guy who could flip a roster and acquire talent at the rate we needed, it was John Dorsey. I also knew that if we didn’t start winning, with John Dorsey on board, that changes were going to have to be made. This is why I chose a veteran OC in Todd Haley. It’s why I chose Greg Williams as well.”

“There is no such thing as a clean start, or total rebuild, or a reset. The faster you move on from people, the longer it could take from the next person to turn it into their vision. I believe the constant changes only compound the difficulties for the next person to have the time and patience to be successful. 

“I strongly believe that I did a lot of work in a short time of laying the foundation for turning the place around. It’s unfortunate that they took the approach they did the first two years because those were two years that I couldn’t get back from a record and value standpoint.

“Had we been doing in year one what I was able to get us to do in year three, there’s no question we would already be a winning football team. You can’t go 1-15 or 0-16 and have people like you unless you come out and explain to everyone that you’re going to lose. And you can’t say that publicly.”

On the Browns’ decision to pass on Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes:

“We passed on three franchise QBs the first two years in Wentz, Watson and Mahomes. We played with a QB room with zero wins in the league. We played with street free agents and practice squad players in WRs. Yet our offense was the same or better than what we were doing this year. There is no way that should happen.

“You can’t pass on quarterbacks. You never pass on a potential franchise quarterback because you don’t know who’s going to be there in the future. I think Baker Mayfield is going to be a sensational player if they surround him with the right people, but they’ve got to give him help and run a scheme suited to his skill set.” 

On what’s next for his career:

“I learned a lot from this experience. But just as important, I never lost what I knew from my previous experiences and successes. So I grew significantly as a coach over the last three years through this process. I went in assuming that it would be a simple transition of just getting to coaching and it being all about playing ball. I learned early on that this wasn’t an accurate assumption.

“When there’s such a deep history of losing, it compounds and impacts everything. So this experience has allow me to grow and be even more prepared for the next experience. 

“I’m the same coach from three years ago. As you’ve seen with other coaches who have went on to have success after their time in Cleveland, I expect nothing less of myself as well. So we’ll see. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Fallout: Jackson, Staff, Mayfield

In firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, the Browns axed the top two voices behind their offense on Monday. This came after reports of friction between the two, accounts that turned out to be very real and ones that could’ve been envisioned for anyone who saw Hard Knocks.

The message today is we’re not going to put up with internal discord,” owner Jimmy Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “… We had some concerns going into the game, obviously (Sunday’s) performance was disappointing. We had several of our key people involved in this conversations last night and this morning and did what we think’s best for the organization.”

Haslam said he met with John Dorsey on Sunday night, and actions came down Monday morning. Although Jackson went 1-31 in his first two seasons with the team, Haslam opted to give him a third year because the aggressive rebuild — put forth by former GM Sashi Brown — put Jackson in a “difficult spot” (Twitter link via Cabot). Gregg Williams was the only person the Browns considered to be the interim HC, Haslam said (per Nate Ulrich of ohio.com, on Twitter).

Some Browns began to question Jackson’s credibility, as a result of the third-year HC following through on his intent to give Haley autonomy to run the offense, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. After running the offense in 2016 and ’17, Jackson wasn’t nearly as involved this season. Jackson, in turn, was frustrated Haley would “do his own thing,” Breer adds. Jackson’s message grew stale as the losses mounted, per Yahoo’s Terez Paylor. This is obviously not uncommon for teams in losing situations, and that descriptor might not be strong enough to describe the state of the Browns under Haslam. The seventh-year owner’s now fired four head coaches, and the Browns have won more than five games just once under his watch.

Baker Mayfield‘s development shifts to front and center, and Breer notes the Jackson firing probably won’t bother the rookie quarterback much. They didn’t exactly see eye to eye, per Breer. Though, the No. 1 overall pick now has to finish a season without a proven offensive voice in the building and will have to learn a new offense in 2019.

Williams is technically still defensive coordinator, in addition to becoming a first-time head coach at age 60. But some around the league believe he will promote his son, Blake Williams, to that post, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Blake Williams has been Cleveland’s linebackers coach for two seasons.

As far as a possible Jackson/Williams successor, Breer points out Dorsey has “the highest respect” for what Iowa State coach Matt Campbell‘s done. Campbell, 38, is from the Cleveland area (Massillon, Ohio) as well. While Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley may well get a look, since he’d be a natural fit given his mentoring of Mayfield with the Sooners, he doesn’t envision leaving Oklahoma (video link). Gregg Williams will also be a candidate for the full-time job, Haslam said (via Cabot, on Twitter). But such a scenario would be hard to envision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Mayfield, Steelers, Moore

Browns fans enjoyed the chance to see a matchup between the quarterback most assumed they’d select vs. the one they actually did on Thursday, and Baker Mayfield won the first round between he and Sam Darnold. The USC-developed passer loomed as the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall for months, until Mayfield buzz increased during draft week. However, it wasn’t that tough of a decision for John Dorsey, with Terry Pluto of cleveland.com noting the new Browns GM had a “far higher” grade on Mayfield than Darnold. Both Pluto and cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot write that a return to Tyrod Taylor as the starter doesn’t make sense, with Cabot adding the months-long stance to start Taylor over Mayfield was made by both Dorsey and Hue Jackson. After the Browns’ 21-17 win over the Jets, Dorsey, per Cabot, was overheard saying to owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, “I think I picked the right one,” appearing to reference the controversial Mayfield-over-Darnold selection.

Here’s the latest out of the North divisions:

  • Sterling Moore has a workout scheduled with the Bears for next week, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. A former Saints, Cowboys and Buccaneers starter, Moore failed to make the Lions’ 53-man roster out of training camp. The 28-year-old cornerback played six games with the Saints last season, his second stint in New Orleans.
  • The Steelers‘ corner situation will see a boost in a bigger-than-expected spot Monday night. Joe Haden appears set to return for Pittsburgh after missing Week 2, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Haden practiced fully on Saturday. Morgan Burnett, however, doesn’t look likely to suit up Monday. The Steelers listed their recently signed safety as doubtful to face the Buccaneers.
  • Pittsburgh’s reeling on its offensive line. David DeCastro will miss his second straight game because of the fractured right hand he suffered in Week 1. Marcus Gilbert is doubtful for Week 3 because of a hamstring malady. The Steelers declared DeCastro out, and the Associated Press notes B.J. Finney will start in his place. Matt Feiler is in line to start at right tackle for Gilbert, per the AP. The Steelers struggled to produce much on the ground in Week 2 without some key pieces, with James Conner being held to 17 rushing yards after a 135-yard debut in Cleveland. Of course, the Chiefs’ 21-0 start forced the Steelers to pass much more often than they would have otherwise done.
  • The Ravens did not make a move to adjust their cornerback situation on Saturday, meaning they’ll be down to four healthy players at this spot against the Broncos on Sunday. Rookie Anthony Averett will miss Week 3, Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun notes. This may force rookie UDFA Darious Williams into action. Although, Baltimore’s still in relatively good shape despite Averett and Jimmy Smith‘s absences. Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young are available.

AFC Notes: Browns, Dorsey, Bills, Bell, Texans, Henderson

Browns GM John Dorsey never expected to end up in Cleveland. When the longtime NFL executive was fired by the Chiefs last June, Dorsey was “blindsided” by the move according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. After four seasons in Kansas City, Dorsey was forced out in what amounted to a power grab by Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

Dorsey helped turn Kansas City around from a 2-14 team to one with a string of playoff appearances in a row, and even won an Executive of the Year Award with the Chiefs. He’ll now be tasked with turning around the Browns in similar fashion, and walked into a GM’s dream scenario with seemingly endless draft picks and young players to develop. Dorsey’s reign will be closely tied to the development of first overall pick Baker Mayfield. Kay Cabot thinks “Dorsey getting fired by the Chiefs may prove to be the the best thing that ever happened to the Browns”, and while there’s still a lot left to prove, things finally seem to be on the right track in Cleveland.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Speaking of the Browns, when their former first round pick Corey Coleman recently signed with the Patriots, it ended up saving the Bills some money according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Buffalo traded for Coleman earlier this season, absorbing all the guarantees left on his contract, but cut him before the season began. Luckily his contract had offset language in it, and the Bills will recoup $592K this year from his deal with New England.
  • More evidence that Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence could hurt his prospects in 2019, as one NFL executive told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that they see “Bell’s move as disrupting the team-first formula they covet, thus potentially affecting his bottom line” in free agency. Bell is undeniably taking a major gamble, and at this point it seems like he may potentially be seriously harming his open market value.
  • Texans’ offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson‘s season ending injury will cost him financially according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). He was due around $100K in per game active roster bonuses, so the ankle injury will end up costing him about $1.5MM over the course of the season. The players union has reportedly been encouraging agents not to negotiate deals with heavy active roster bonuses, as it essentially punishes players for getting hurt.

Browns Rumors: Mayfield, Haley, Ward

While the Baker Mayfield/Browns noise didn’t intensify until draft week, the newly assembled front office viewed the Oklahoma product well independently before arriving in Cleveland. John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and consultant Scot McCloughan all had Mayfield atop the quarterback class, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, with Alonzo Highsmith subsequently joining them. Using the Packers’ grading system the Browns do now, Dorsey, Wolf and McCloughan — who has long praised the 2017 Heisman Trophy recipient — each put Mayfield atop their respective lists prior to coming to Cleveland. While a report emerged earlier this week indicating Sam Darnold may well have been more teams’ top-rated QB in this class, Cabot reports four teams — three AFC squads and one in the NFC — had Mayfield as this class’ No. 1 quarterback. Two other teams, per Cabot, provided strong indications he was their top QB choice.

Here’s the latest from Cleveland, including more about the Browns’ signal-caller situation.

  • While the Browns are certainly higher on Mayfield than they were on DeShone Kizer or Cody Kessler, the memories of neither rookie winning a game are still fresh with Hue Jackson. And he reiterated this weekend he’s not going to deviate from Tyrod Taylor atop the QB depth chart. “I’m not going to back off of this,” Jackson said, via Cabot. “We can keep writing this narrative, Tyrod Taylor’s the starting quarterback of this football team, and that won’t change. … Tyrod has demonstrated every day what it’s like to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. I want some of that to rub off on (Mayfield) so he can see firsthand what it means to play quarterback in the National Football League. Baker doesn’t know.”
  • The Browns had close to the same grade on Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. While this could mean the Browns placed a slightly higher grade on the Penn State-produced running back, Dorsey felt the need at quarterback and the fact he could land a promising running back prospect in the second round (Nick Chubb went to Cleveland at No. 35) tipped the scales for Mayfield. Cleveland was long connected to a quarterback at No. 1, and Barkley was not believed to be a serious consideration.
  • Todd Haley‘s arrival in northeast Ohio will mean full autonomy of the Browns’ offense, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. Both Jackson and Mayfield will spend time this summer learning Haley’s playbook. Jackson will be taking a CEO-style approach this year instead of calling plays, as he has the past two seasons. But it still sounds like some of the third-year HC’s concepts will be included in Haley’s offense.
  • The Browns had Denzel Ward and Bradley Chubb ranked equally on their board, and need won out, Dorsey said during a radio interview on 92.3 The Fan (via Cabot). Ward’s ability to play press coverage well made him DC Gregg Williams‘ preference, too.

Draft Notes: Broncos, Davenport, Giants

If the Broncos do not see the quarterback they prefer still on the board by the time their No. 5 pick rolls around, Albert Breer of SI.com hears the team is a prime candidate to trade down. Breer mentions Quenton Nelson or Denzel Ward as names connected to the Broncos. If Denver were to move down and target one of these players, however, they could be vulnerable to another team selecting either. The Bears, who hold the eighth pick, have met with both of these prospects. Nelson would slide in as the highest-ceiling O-line prospect the Broncos have had in many years, likely being a Day 1 starter at left guard, while Ward would be thrust into the pipeline behind Chris Harris and Bradley Roby. The Broncos signed Tramaine Brock in March, but the cornerback’s deal is only for one year.

Here’s more from Denver and the latest from the draft world:

  • As for the quarterback the Broncos may be eyeing, Mike Klis of 9News writes Case Keenum‘s honeymoon would be short-lived if Baker Mayfield were still on the board at No. 5. The Broncos brass “loved” Mayfield’s playmaking ability before they proceeded to spend extensive time with him in the pre-draft process. With a dinner and official visit set up for Monday and Tuesday of next week, the Broncos will have met with Mayfield four times this offseason — coaching him at the Senior Bowl, conducing a Combine interview and sending representatives to his pro day.
  • While a report earlier this offseason pegged Josh Rosen as the Broncos’ preferred quarterback prospect, Klis writes that if the UCLA talent is still there at No. 5, that may trigger a trade-down sequence. Rosen being viewed as a player who could start early in his rookie year may not line up with the Broncos’ timeline, with the team guaranteeing Keenum $25MM, per Klis.
  • The other team that’s possibly eyeing a quarterback but isn’t certain to select one with its top-five pick, the Giants may have a bit of a divide about which one they prefer. They’ve been connected to Sam Darnold for weeks, and Breer notes Dave Gettleman is indeed high on the 20-year-old USC product. But he adds Giants coaches have expressed support for Josh Allen. While running back might not be the best investment with a No. 2 overall choice, Breer notes the Giants’ coaching staff and front office contingents are sold on Saquon Barkley. The Penn State standout visited the Giants earlier this week.
  • Marcus Davenport worked out for the 49ers recently, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. San Francisco is doing extensive work researching the defensive end prospects in this draft. While Bradley Chubb is not expected to be on the board by the time the 49ers pick at No. 9, they spent multiple days with Arden Key this week. They also worked out Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat, with Barrows writing the 49ers “would love” to add an outside rusher and are examining several prospects closely at this spot.
  • A source close to John Dorsey informed Breer that it is looking like a Darnold-or-Allen debate for the Browns at No. 1. Said source indicated Dorsey is high on Darnold but also is intrigued by Allen’s upside. And he has a history as an exec of taking potential over production.

Extra Points: NFL, NFLPA, Browns, QBs

The NFL has sent out a memo to teams regarding tampering and trades. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com obtained that memo, noting that it specifically relates to “granting players permission to shop themselves to a new team via trade.” Most importantly, the NFL noted that permission must be obtained from the player’s current team before talks with another organization can take place.

“Under no circumstances should a new club rely upon any written or oral representation by a player or his agent that he has received permission to enter into discussions for a trade for contract,” the memo states. “Nor should a new club rely upon a letter from the employer club to the agent or player granting such permission since employer clubs typically reserve the right to withdraw permission at any time, and may have already done so. Permission must be received directly from the employer club.”

As Florio notes, it’s uncertain if this is just a yearly reminder or if it “arises from a specific incident that has occurred in recent weeks.” If that’s the case, Florio expects the respective team to be disciplined.

Here’s the latest from around the league on the eve of the tampering window.

  • The NFL Players Association has announced (via Twitter) that veteran offensive lineman Eric Winston has been re-elected as union president. This will be the 34-year-old’s third two-year term. Florio points out that Winston may not even play next year, but he was eligible to run in 2018 since he played last season. If Winston doesn’t play in 2019, he won’t be eligible to run in 2020. Florio observes that this is an important note, as the current labor deal is likely to expire after 2020. In that case, there may be a new president in place when the next work stoppage arises.
  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked to one league executive who believes the Browns recent moves indicate that general manager John Dorsey is in control of the organization instead of head coach Hue Jackson. “The Browns trading for Tyrod [Taylor] and not signing [A.J.] McCarron tells you who’s running the show,” the executive said (via Twitter).
  • As part of a recent series, former NFL agent (and current CBS Sports writer) Joel Corry analyzed what contracts top free agents should pursue. For quarterbacks, Corry focuses on a five-year, $150MM contract ($100MM guaranteed) for Kirk Cousins, a three-year, $85MM deal ($60MM guaranteed) for Drew Brees, and three-year, $50MM deal ($34MM guaranteed) for McCarron.

Hue Jackson To Coach Browns in 2018

After the Browns fell to the Steelers, 28-24, to become the second 0-16 team in NFL history, team owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), that head coach Hue Jackson will return as head coach in 2018. Hue Jackson (featured)

Haslam also said he doesn’t believe “Jackson hasn’t lost his magic,” and that he is working well with new general manager John Dorsey.

Since taking over at the beginning of the 2016 season, Jackson has managed just a 1-31 record as head coach. Following the loss in the season finale, Jackson told reporters the team wasn’t as far away from competing as many people think they are and that the difference will be the addition of Dorsey. The former Chiefs GM took over after the team parted ways with Sashi Brown earlier in the season.

Shortly after the hiring of Dorsey, questions began to swirl about Jackson’s future in Cleveland, with many thinking the new GM wanted to hire his own coach. Haslam, however, has stated all along he planned to bring back Jackson, and Dorsey later dispelled the rumors. There were even rumors of the Browns trading Jackson to the Bengals, the team in which he served as offensive coordinator before moving to Cleveland.

Jackson has stood firm in his commitment to Cleveland. He was reportedly not interested in the Bengals job after Marvin Lewis announced he was leaving. He told reporters on Sunday, “I don’t think anyone else could’ve done this job for the past two years.” He also added, “We’re going to get this organization to winning as soon as possible.”

With the loss on Sunday, the Browns will hold the No. 1 pick, which they will presumably use to take one of UCLA’s Josh Rosen or USC’s Sam Darnold, should they declare for the draft. Thanks to a draft-day deal in 2016, the team will also holds Houston’s first-round selection, the No. 4 overall pick. Also loaded with tons of caps space, the Browns are set up to make strides in Jackson’s third season.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.