Karl Dunbar

Coaching Rumors: Colts, Steelers, Morton

John Morton and Jim Harbaugh worked together during the best stretch of 21st-century 49ers football, with Morton coaching San Francisco’s wide receivers from 2011-14. That duo could link up again in Ann Arbor. Michigan is interested in the one-and-done Jets OC to coach its wideouts, Bruce Feldman of SI.com reports. Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain is also in the running for this job, Feldman reports, noting the ex-Gators leader interviewed recently. Morton spent one year as an NFL OC but has experience on the college level, having overseen the 2009 and ’10 USC offenses. He coached the Trojans’ WRs in the two years prior. Morton spent the past seven seasons in the NFL. The Jets fired Morton last month.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks, now that every NFL team has a head coach again.

  • Frank Reich has been contacting coaches about joining his first Colts staff over the past few days, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and former Lions defensive backs coach (and ex-Vikings DC) Alan Williams is a candidate to join Reich in Indianapolis. If hired, Williams would be returning to Indianapolis, along with Reich. Williams served as Colts DBs coach throughout the Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell tenures, which spanned 10 years from 2002-11. Reich was on Caldwell’s three Colts staffs. Matt Patricia did not retain any Lions defensive coaches upon taking the job in Detroit.
  • A defensive line coach for four NFL teams between 2004 and 2015, Karl Dunbar will join a fifth staff in that capacity. The Steelers hired Dunbar after he’d spent the past two seasons coaching at Alabama. He’ll head up the Pittsburgh D-line and rejoin forces with Mike Tomlin. Dunbar served under Tomlin for one season with the Vikings (2006) before the defensive assistant took the top coaching job in Pittsburgh. Dunbar, who coached in Minnesota for six years, also was an eighth-round Steelers pick in 1990. John Mitchell served as Pittsburgh’s defensive line coach from 1994-2017. The longtime Steelers assistant will remain on staff and retain his assistant head coach title next season.
  • The Steelers also promoted Shaun Sarrett to assistant offensive line coach, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Sarrett has worked with Steelers blockers since 2012.
  • Ricky Manning Jr. will not return for a third season with the Seahawks, Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk tweets. The former NFL cornerback had been the teams’ assistant defensive backs coach the past two seasons.

East Notes: Bills, Cowboys, Dolphins, Pats

The latest from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Bills have fired defensive line coach Karl Dunbar after one year on the job, reports Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday (Twitter link). Dunbar had worked under head coach Rex Ryan with both the Jets and Bills since 2012.
  • The Cowboys are “intent” on decreasing cornerback Brandon Carr‘s $13.8MM cap hit, so whether he sticks with the team will hinge on his willingness to take a pay cut – something he may be open to – writes David Moore of The Dallas Morning News. Carr, who will turn 30 in May, joined the Cowboys in 2012 and has since intercepted six passes, though he hasn’t registered a pick since 2013.
  • The Dolphins haven’t closed the book on signing a veteran wideout at some point to replace the departed Rishard Matthews, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. As Jackson notes, available options include big names like Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston Roddy White and Percy Harvin.
  • The Patriots didn’t make a push to sign tight end Ben Watson before he agreed to a deal with Baltimore earlier this week, but they might have done so had he come cheaper, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. Watson, who got two years and $8MM from the Ravens, was the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2004. He was with the franchise through the 2009 campaign, catching 167 passes and 20 touchdowns.
  • Patriots guard Tre’ Jackson missed both of the team’s playoff games with a knee injury. As a result, he has undergone a knee scope within the last month, per Reiss, who adds that it’s unlikely to affect the 23-year-old’s long-term availability. Jackson, a fourth-rounder last year, appeared in 13 games and made nine starts as a rookie.

Coach Notes: Quinn, Bears, Cowboys, Bills

Teams considering waiting for Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to become available are wary about the possibility that, despite what they’re saying, the Dolphins could hire Quinn to replace Joe Philbin, given the presence of Mike Tannenbaum, says Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Prior to joining the Dolphins’ front office in an official capacity, Tannenbaum was Quinn’s agent, and according to La Canfora, that connection concerned the Jets to some degree.

However, a source tells La Canfora that there’s no chance Miami will hire Quinn if he’s available next month — if another team wants to wait on him, that club should have a shot at him (Twitter link). That team isn’t likely to be the 49ers though, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, who tweets that San Francisco hasn’t talked about Quinn in several days. All signs are pointing to Adam Gase for the 49ers, per Cole.

Let’s check in on a few more coaching-related items….

  • John Fox‘s interview with the Bears is happening today, tweets Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Meanwhile, a source tells Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune that Kyle Shanahan will be one of Fox’s top offensive coordinator choices if he lands the Bears’ job.
  • According to La Canfora (Twitter link), the Falcons “love” Josh McDaniels, but the Patriots offensive coordinator still seems unlikely to leave New England.
  • Scott Linehan‘s deal with the Cowboys hasn’t been completed yet, a league source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). He’s waiting for his deal to get done before considering taking interviews and the sense is that it will be finalized soon (link). Linehan currently serves as Dallas’ passing game coordinator.
  • It’s not clear yet if Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan will return to the Cowboys, writes Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, who says that eight teams have expressed interest in Callahan. With Linehan now handling the offensive playcalls in Dallas, it’s unlikely that Callahan will be back, in George’s view.
  • Tony Sparano won’t be staying with the Raiders now that he didn’t get the team’s head coaching job, tweets Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (Twitter link) hears from sources that Jack Del Rio, who is expected to become Oakland’s coach, has been recruiting Marc Trestman for his offensive staff.
  • Jay Glazer of FOX Sports joined Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on PFT Live to discuss the events that led to the divorce of John Fox and the Broncos. Glazer explains that the breakup, while shocking on the outside, has actually been a long time coming. Glazer sensed back at last year’s Senior Bowl that it would be a “one and done” for Fox, unless he could win a Super Bowl this season.
  • Former Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar is joining Rex Ryan on the Bills‘ staff, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jordan Raanan of NJ.com adds (via Twitter) that Pepper Johnson has been told there’s a spot for him on Ryan’s coaching staff if the Giants‘ defensive coordinator position doesn’t pan out for him. Speaking of Ryan, he said today at his introductory press conference that it’s not true that he preferred the Falcons and 49ers jobs to the Bills position, tweets Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Mailbags: Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, Jags

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags to answer questions from readers. Let’s first take a look at some of the rumbling coming out of the AFC…

  • The Ravens can’t realistically expect rookie defensive back Rashaan Melvin to continue exceeding expectations. As a result, Jamison Hensley believes the team should still draft a defensive back, forcing Melvin to compete with Asa Jackson for the fourth cornerback spot.
  • If the Dolphins struggle next season, James Walker expects the organization to “clean house.” This would allow new executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum to bring in his own staff.
  • When asked which Jets coaches could ultimately stick around for 2015, Rich Cimini points to defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, quarterbacks coach David Lee and running backs coach Anthony Lynn.
  • Meanwhile, Cimini has no interest in paying Jets wideout Percy Harvin his $10.5MM salary next season, with the writer suggesting a more reasonable $6MM deal.
  • When it comes to some of the notable free agents, Michael DiRocco would support the Jaguars pursuit of wideout Randall Cobb or safety Devin McCourty. However, the writer isn’t as high on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.