Josh McCown

Texans Release QB Josh McCown

The Texans will move on from Josh McCown as a player, with Field Yates of ESPN.com tweeting the team released the backup quarterback Monday. However, this move appears likely to precede a coaching career.

Despite adding McCown midway through last season, the Texans signed him two a two-year deal. They also took the unusual step in interviewing him for their head coaching job. Even after David Culley‘s hire, McCown loomed on the Texans’ radar for an assistant coaching gig. This transition could occur soon.

Long expected to one day move into coaching, McCown served as a de facto assistant for the Eagles last year. Philadelphia added the then-40-year-old passer to its practice squad but, ahead of the league’s initial COVID-19-altered season, used him in a remote capacity. McCown was living in Texas while on the Eagles’ practice squad. The Texans poached McCown in November.

McCown did not see any action with the Texans last season and has not started a game since doing so in relief of Sam Darnold in three games with the 2018 Jets. But he did play the bulk of the 2019 Eagles’ wild-card loss to the Seahawks, after Carson Wentz‘s early-game injury.

A 2002 draftee, the 41-year-old QB has been with 12 teams — the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Dolphins, Panthers, 49ers, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns, Jets, Eagles and Texans — in his near-two-decade NFL run. McCown’s Bears stay, which included a productive 2013 stretch filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, reignited his career and led to multiple additional starting opportunities. The Texans may not let him get to a 13th NFL team to start his coaching career, but it is not yet certain where that run will begin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Eyeing Lovie Smith, Josh McCown For Staff

The Texans’ quarterback situation is in flux, but their staff is coming together, at least. After agreeing to hire David Culley as their new head coach, the Texans are now eyeing former Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith and longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown for assistant coaching roles (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com). 

[RELATED: Deshaun Watson Officially Requests Trade]

Smith seems to be the team’s leading candidate for the defensive coordinator vacancy. McCown, meanwhile, would help out on the other side of the ball, though it doesn’t sound like he’d jump straight to offensive coordinator. That job, barring any changes, will continue to be occupied by offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Kelly has drawn interest from around the league, but the Texans have denied every interview request.

McCown & Co. will have the unenviable task of remaking the offense without Deshaun Watson under center. The Texans were hoping to work things out, but his mind is made up — the QB wants a trade, and he appears to be targeting the Jets or Dolphins as his landing spot. Watson is uniquely positioned to dictate his destination, thanks to his no-trade clause.

On defense, the Texans could do the unthinkable and part ways with edge rusher J.J. Watt. The face of the franchise has one year to go on his deal with a $17.5MM cap hit. If the Texans are truly looking to reboot things, they could trade their two biggest stars to replenish their depleted draft stock.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Hire Jonathan Gannon As DC; Latest On OC Search

The Eagles have hired Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon as their new defensive coordinator, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Albert Breer of SI.com reported yesterday that Gannon had emerged as the favorite for the job and that all signs were pointing towards a union between him and Philadelphia (Twitter link).

Both Rapoport and Breer classify Gannon as a coveted addition, with Breer noting that the former Colts staffer had multiple coordinator offers. We knew that both the Chargers and the Bears were considering Gannon, and it’s possible that those two clubs extended him offers, along with the Eagles.

Of course, Gannon may have chosen the Eagles because of his familiarity with new Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni, who served as the Colts’ OC over the past three seasons. Sirianni was clearly a fan of Gannon’s work, as he was a key part of a staff that helped turn Indianapolis’ defense into one of the league’s top units over the past several seasons. Under Gannon’s watch, cornerback Xavier Rhodes revived his career in 2020, while fellow CB Kenny Moore and safety Khari Willis also turned in strong seasons.

Meanwhile, Sirianni is acting quickly to fill out the rest of his staff. Mike Klis of 9News.com reports that the Eagles are meeting with Broncos RB coach Curtis Modkins about their OC opening, while Rapoport notes that the club is also interviewing Chargers OC Shane Steichen (Twitter links).

Modkins is the more experienced of the two, having served as running backs coach or offensive coordinator with seven different NFL teams since 2008. But Steichen is at least partially credited for Justin Herbert‘s terrific rookie season in Los Angeles in 2020, and he and Sirianni did work together on the Chargers’ offensive staff from 2014-17.

In related news, the Eagles considered interviewing Josh McCown for their head coaching position before hiring Sirianni, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. McCown, who is now under consideration for the Texans’ HC job, impressed Eagles brass with his leadership skills and football acumen during his recent stint as a Philadelphia quarterback, and the club believes he has what it takes to be an NFL coach.

But the fact that he had no coaching experience of any kind led the Eagles to move in a different direction.

Texans Interview Jim Caldwell, Josh McCown For HC Job

The NFL’s last remaining head coaching search took another interesting turn Friday. While the Texans have contacted former Colts and Lions HC Jim Caldwell about their vacancy, they also announced they spoke with Josh McCown about the opening Friday as well.

This marks Caldwell’s second interview for the job. The former Lions and Colts HC spoke with the Texans in December, but the team’s search took on a different tone after Nick Caserio‘s GM hire.

McCown began this season with Eagles, residing as the NFL’s oldest practice squad player and operating as a remote emergency quarterback, but signed with the Texans in November. The 41-year-old QB would be one of the most unorthodox choices in modern NFL history, but the Texans are exploring the prospect of hiring McCown and pairing him with at least one former head coach, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

The 19-year veteran has been viewed as a future coach and is interesting under contract with the Texans through 2021. The team viewed the well-regarded backup as a culture-type signing and a player who could help as a coach immediately after retirement. This would certainly spark debate, however. While players jumping straight into HC roles has happened in the NBA — like Jason Kidd or Derek Fisher — McCown would be a controversial hire considering the NFL’s current imbalance between white and minority head coaches.

McCown’s previous plan was to spend time watching his sons play football after retirement. A leap into a head coaching position would certainly change his schedule. And making such a move before gaining any experience as an assistant would represent a risk for McCown. That said, the 49ers hired John Lynch as GM without experience and paired him with Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers won the NFC in that regime’s third year. Of course, this backfired with Matt Millen in Detroit.

A McCown hire would run beyond the “outside the box” label, but this is now something to monitor for a Texans team that began the week interviewing popular HC candidate Eric Bieniemy. The Texans remain interested in Colts DC Matt Eberflus, whom the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin notes (via Twitter) is a frontrunner for the job. Houston has interviewed eight candidates for the position. Eberflus initially declined an interview request but met with Nick Caserio and Co. on Sunday.

Caldwell (feat. Peyton Manning) coached the Colts to a Super Bowl in his first season as Indianapolis’ HC but was out of a job after his third. Caldwell elevated the Lions to a playoff berth in his first year with Detroit in 2014 but was fired after a 9-7 2017 season. The 66-year-old coach experienced a health issue that caused him to step away from his post as Dolphins QBs coach in 2019, but he is back to full health and would certainly represent an experienced right-hand man for McCown or another younger coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Colts, McCown, Harbaugh

The Colts pulled off a rare blockbuster trade this offseason, shipping out their first-round pick in exchange for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Now, we have more details on exactly how that deal came to be. It all happened quickly, as the deal came together in less than a week, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Buckner’s agent met with 49ers brass back at the combine, where they made it clear the big man was looking for at least $20MM annually on a contract extension. San Francisco apparently decided right then and there that they weren’t going to be able to pay that, and needed to look for a trade.

La Canfora reports that a handful of teams were in the mix, but Colts GM Chris Ballard was the most aggressive in his pursuit. Ballard was willing to talk contract details immediately, and of course the defensive tackle ended up getting a new pact worth more than $21MM annually. La Canfora also notes that Indiana’s low three percent income tax played a role in Buckner’s eagerness to join Indy. The Colts have had one of the best defenses in the league this season, in large part due to Buckner’s continued elite play.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • It was a very quiet trade deadline this past week, and the Browns were one of the many teams to stand pat. That doesn’t mean front office head Andrew Berry wasn’t working the phones, and he revealed recently during a call with the media that Cleveland came close on a couple of deals. “We did explore a number of different possible transactions. I’d say maybe a couple of things got perhaps within striking distance but either moved away from us or we moved away from it for various reasons,” Berry said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Berry also indicated that the uncertainty around the 2021 salary cap due to COVID-19 played a large part in the lack of trades. At 5-3, the Browns were in position to be buyers at the deadline for the first time in many years, so it would’ve been exciting to see them add a piece.
  • Here’s something we didn’t see coming. The deal Josh McCown recently signed with the Texans is actually for two years, meaning he won’t be a free agent at the end of the year as was initially assumed, La Canfora writes. While it’s a bit surprising considering McCown is 41 and was only on the Eagles’ practice squad until last week, it does make some sense considering the circumstances. Houston is headed into a period of great uncertainty as they look for a new head coach and GM, and McCown will be a steady veteran presence for this rocky transition. La Canfora’s piece makes it clear that the offer was made as a ‘culture’ signing, with McCown essentially serving as another coach for DeShaun Watson moving forward. McCown, who had been participating with the Eagles remotely while living at home in Texas, “agonized” over the decision to leave Philly’s organization, sources told La Canfora. Pretty much everybody seems to believe McCown is going to become a coach whenever he eventually hangs up his cleats, and La Canfora confirms that he is still “very much on the Eagles’ radar as a potential quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator soon after he retires.”
  • Speaking of things seemingly everyone believes, Adam Gase is nearly universally thought be on his way out as the Jets head coach. Whenever he’s officially fired New York’s head coaching search will become very interesting, and one name that is bound to come up again is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has been rumored as a Jets candidate in each of their last three coaching searches, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com isn’t sure it would be a great fit. Although he notes New York interviewed Harbaugh in 2009 and were interested in 2014, he thinks a coach of Harbaugh’s pedigree would likely want to have personnel control over whatever team he heads to. Considering the Jets just recently hired GM Joe Douglas and aren’t planning on firing him any time soon, that arrangement wouldn’t really gel. All that being said, Cimini does point out that Douglas knows John Harbaugh from his time with the Ravens, so perhaps we shouldn’t totally shut the door on this one.

Texans To Sign Josh McCown

The Texans have agreed to sign Josh McCown off of the Eagles’ practice squad roster, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. The veteran quarterback will serve as insurance for starter Deshaun Watson and could dress for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.

McCown signed an unprecedented deal to become the Eagles emergency remote quarterback (and a QB whisperer for Carson Wentz) in September. Now in his 40s, McCown is essentially viewed as a player/part-time assistant, with the expectation that he’ll be a coveted coaching candidate once he eventually retires.

McCown was the backup to Wentz last year when he was suddenly inserted in their first-round playoff game against Seattle. Then, he nearly led the Eagles to an improbable win.

This year, McCown has spent the bulk of his time at home in Texas, so he won’t have to make much of an adjustment as he joins up with Watson & Co. Furthermore, the deal could give him an opportunity to showcase his expertise as the Texans plot their coaching staff for 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Eagles, McCown, Claiborne, Saints, Crawley

Josh McCown agreed to an unprecedented deal to become the Eagles’ emergency remote quarterback by signing to their practice squad earlier this month, and now we have more details on the arrangement. One of the reasons McCown was brought in was because of his strong relationship with Carson Wentz, and he’s been talking Wentz through his slow start, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Sources also told La Canfora that McCown is viewed by the Eagles and other organizations across the league as a future NFL head coach. McCown is essentially working as a part-time coach right now, as La Canfora writes he’s staying in shape but not training with the team at all. “Several” execs told La Canfora that he “could be an NFL head coach within five years of retiring from the game, perhaps sooner.” Those same execs said he could have a quarterback coach job right now if he wanted it, and would be fast-tracked to be a coordinator.

This isn’t all that surprising considering the Eagles discussed a coaching job with him as far back as January. The 41-year-old McCown was the backup to Wentz last year when he was suddenly inserted in relief in their first-round playoff game against Seattle and nearly led them to an improbable win. If Wentz keeps playing like he has been, they might need him to come in cold off the bench one more time.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of guys on the verge of retirement, that’s apparently a good way to describe free agent corner Morris Claiborne. While not officially retired Claiborne is “not actively looking for work and spending family time,” Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Fowler adds that while he’s “staying ready just in case,” it “would take the ideal circumstance” to get him off the couch. The sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft by the Cowboys, Claiborne won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last year, appearing in eight games and starting one. He made 15 starts in each of the previous two seasons with the Jets. If this is really it for him, he’ll hang up his cleats having made 74 starts across eight years, but never quite living up to his draft status.
  • The Saints are playing right now on Sunday Night Football, and they could be reuniting with a familiar face soon. New Orleans brought in cornerback Ken Crawley for a visit on Friday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The 2016 UDFA started his career with the Saints, and was with him until he was cut and claimed off waivers by the Dolphins in October of last year. He was with both the Raiders and Cardinals during training camp, and was ultimately cut by both. Still only 27, Crawley was a big part of the Saints’ defense for a while, starting 13 games in 2017 and five in 2018. He struggled pretty badly toward the end with the Saints, which is what led to his release.

Matt Moore, DeAndre Washington Land On Chiefs’ Practice Squad

After agreeing to re-sign with the Chiefs late in the offseason, Matt Moore learned he did not make their active roster. But he is not leaving Kansas City.

The defending Super Bowl champions are carrying Moore on their expanded practice squad. Moore joins Josh McCown as veteran quarterbacks who agreed to join practice squads Sunday. Teams are now permitted to carry up to six veterans of unlimited service time on their taxi squads, and the Chiefs will also use one of their slots for quarterback insurance.

Moore, signed after he’d left the game and begun working as a scout and a high school assistant coach, started two games in relief of Patrick Mahomes last year. He won one of those, against the Vikings, and that game ended up helping the Chiefs clinch the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Moore, 36, will play an emergency role behind Mahomes and Chad Henne. The Chiefs are carrying two QBs — Moore and former XFL passer Jordan Ta’amu — on their P-squad.

Former Raiders backup running back DeAndre Washington also rejoined the Chiefs after being released. The Chiefs signed the veteran back this offseason but gave holdovers Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson roster spots over him, despite Washington having played with Mahomes at Texas Tech.

Here is Kansas City’s full squad:

Eagles Sign Josh McCown To Practice Squad

Well this is an unusual arrangement we didn’t see coming. The Eagles are signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown to their practice squad, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Thanks to a new COVID-19 exception veterans will be able to serve on practice squads, making this possible. As Schefter notes, he’ll easily be the oldest practice squad player in NFL history. Making the situation even more unique, McCown won’t even be reporting to the team. Instead McCown will continue to live in Texas, earn a $12K weekly salary, and serve as Philly’s emergency quarterback remotely.

McCown’s lovable journeyman career has taken him all over the football world, so it feels right for him to blaze this unheard of trail. We had heard back in January the Eagles were talking about adding him to the coaching staff, and this is the next best thing.

After originally announcing his retirement in June of last year, he signed with Philly last August after they had a couple of injuries. After serving as Carson Wentz‘s backup and not starting a game he was suddenly thrown into the spotlight when Wentz went down in the Eagles’ first round playoff game against Seattle.

McCown came into the game cold off the bench and nearly led them to a miracle victory, tearing his hamstring in the process and playing through the injury.

The Eagles have Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts behind Wentz now, but in these uncertain times it can’t hurt to have too much insurance. McCown has turned into a fan favorite over the course of his career that started in 2002 with the Cardinals, and this is a nice feather in his cap.

Here is Philly’s full practice squad:

* = international player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: McCown, Kitchens, Woods

Whenever Josh McCown decides to hang up his cleats, it sounds like he’ll have an opportunity to pursue a new career path. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles discussed “the idea of [McCown] returning to the team in a coaching role” next season.

Notably, the exit meeting was attended by the 40-year-old quarterback, head coach Doug Pederson, general manager Howie Roseman… and owner Jeffrey Lurie, who rarely makes an appearance at those meetings. It’s uncertain if McCown was offered a definitive coaching gig, and the 40-year-old ultimately couldn’t commit to retirement. At the very least, it sounds like the organization is optimistic about the veteran’s coaching ability.

McCown had retired following the 2018 season and caught on with ESPN as an analyst. However, he later signed with the Eagles following injuries to backups Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler. The 18-year veteran ended up appearing in three games for Philly, and he filled in for Carson Wentz during the team’s playoff loss to the Seahawks.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Earlier this month, we heard whispers that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens could land with the Giants. However, Dan Duggan of The Athletic writes that the coach “isn’t a lock” to land in New York. We learned yesterday that the two sides still hadn’t finalized an agreement. Kitchens worked alongside new Giants head coach Joe Judge during their time at Mississippi State, and there was speculation that the 45-year-old could join the staff as a tight ends coach. The Browns went 6-10 during Kitchens’ lone season as their head coach, and he was canned following the regular season.
  • Before hiring Patrick Graham as their defensive coordinator, the Giants had interest in Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, reports Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post (via Twitter). While he missed out on the gig, the 47-year-old still interviewed for another role on the Giants coaching staff today. Prior to this stint with New Orleans, the 1994 first-round pick served as the Browns assistant defensive backs coach.
  • Joe Woods is the favorite to become the Browns defensive coordinator, but the 49ers won’t let that happen without a fight. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets that San Francisco is making a “late push” to retain their defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator. Woods has coached in the NFL since 2004, and he served as the Broncos defensive coordinator between 2017 and 2018.
  • Speaking of the Browns, head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that three assistants will be sticking around next season (via the team’s website): special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, assistant special teams coach Doug Colman and run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell.
  • Vikings receivers coach Drew Petzing won’t be back with the team next season, reports Goessling (via Twitter). Petzing had spent the past six seasons with the organization, spending time with wideouts, running backs, and quarterbacks.