Matt Nagy

Khalil Mack Fallout: Suitors, Raiders, Donald

While the Bears won the 11th-hour Khalil Mack sweepstakes, several other teams are now known to have inquired or submitted bids. After reports of interest from the Jets, Browns and 49ers, Albert Breer of SI.com adds the Packers and Bills contacted the Raiders about their disgruntled defensive end. However, neither team was close to agreeing to the terms the Bears did. Only the Jets were on the Bears’ level in terms of compensation, Breer notes, and the Jets are not believed to have offered two first-round picks. A team was reported to have offered a first- and third-round pick for Mack; it’s possible that was the Jets. (Although, that report last week may have been about a possible first Bears offer rather than the Jets’.) The Packers hovered as the team Las Vegas pegged as the favorites to land Mack, but they will stick with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the edge. Buffalo has Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy slotted as its starting edge defenders, with trade-block occupant Shaq Lawson positioned as a depth piece.

Here’s more from one of this century’s biggest NFL transactions:

  • The Raiders submitted an offer to Mack’s agent in February, and it was swiftly rejected, Breer notes. Jon Gruden said Sunday the Raiders were not in the Bears’ ballpark on numbers, and Breer adds once the Aaron Donald $22.5MM-per-year deal surfaced, the Raiders knew Mack’s asking price was going to become more reasonable. For weeks, the Raiders gave hard no’s when approached with Mack trade inquiries. However, teams noticed the Raiders’ tone changed regarding Mack late last week, with Breer adding they were much more open to deals. It’s logical to assume the Donald agreement catalyzed this process.
  • Chicago brass monitored the Mack situation all summer, with Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy having long meetings about the prospect of acquiring the 2016 defensive player of the year last week, Breer reports.
  • As for why the Raiders didn’t try to hold their line about Mack playing on his fifth-year option salary? Jon Gruden referenced Kirk Cousins‘ situation with his brother Jay‘s Redskins as part of his reasoning for why he felt Mack had to go. “We have waited. We waited and waited and the (Week 1) Rams game was looming,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). “Our feeling was that he was not going to report anytime soon. And … I saw the Redskins go through it with Kirk Cousins. … It’s a long process. You can wait it out; you can franchise him; you can force him to play. But we made a decision and we’re going to stand by it.” However, the Cousins situation dragged into the passer’s sixth season. Mack has yet to play his fifth. The Raiders had the franchise tag to use in 2019 and 2020, but it appears Mack’s threat about sitting out games prompted them to take the Bears’ unique offer while it was on the table.
  • Mack’s six-year, $141MM Bears deal will feature $73.3MM coming to the new Bears weapon within the first three years, Breer notes. He’ll make $41MM overall in 2018. Donald’s three-year haul on his six-year, $135MM Rams pact will be $67MM.

Bears Notes: Nagy, Howard, Long

The Bears and Ravens will square off in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2, so they are the only two teams whose training camps are already underway. Bears camp officially opened on Friday, so let’s take a look at a few notes out of Chicago:

  • Bears fans are excited about the innovations that new head coach Matt Nagy will bring to the offensive side of the football, and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times believes that excitement is well-founded. Nagy has a great deal of young talent at his disposal, and while much of that talent is unproven, the club certainly has the chance to turn some heads this year. Nagy’s offense is expected to blend Andy Reid‘s West Coast offense with the run-pass options that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich learned under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and it will certainly include creative formations and shifts. Nagy is also open to innovating and experimenting throughout the course of the season as he adjusts to life as an NFL head coach.
  • One key component of the offense, running back Jordan Howard, is making a concerted effort to improve his hands so that he can become a reliable contributor in the passing game, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune details. Indeed, Nagy’s offense frequently utilizes running backs as pass catchers, so Howard, who has not offered much as a receiver in his first two years in the league, needs to refine his abilities. For what it’s worth, Nagy believes that Howard can be a true three-down back. Nagy said, “There’s this notion that [Howard] is just a first-and second-down back, and I don’t believe that. Jordan can play all three downs. We’re going to do that. We’re going to use him, and we’re going to use other guys on first and second down when we need to.”
  • In a separate piece, Campbell describes the importance of offensive lineman Kyle Long — who suddenly finds himself as the offense’s second-oldest player — to the Bears’ rebuild. There are a lot of intriguing new and relatively new offensive pieces at the skill positions, but those pieces cannot come together to reach their collective potential without a strong offensive line in place. Long, whose career started out with three consecutive Pro Bowl nods, has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. However, Campbell reports that Long is as close to full health as he has been in two years, and that is critical not just for the Bears’ chances in 2018, but for both player and team from a contractual standpoint. After this season, Chicago could cut Long and save $5.5MM against the cap, so the next few months will go a long way towards determining Long’s future in the Windy City.
  • Kevin White, who entered the league as a 2015 top-10 pick with a ton of promise, has seen the first three years of his professional career ravaged by injury. The Bears declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, so he will enter the last year of his rookie contract with a lot to prove. As Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, White has a good chance of making the team’s roster out of training camp, but given the talent that Chicago has added over the past several seasons, he will need to perform very well in camp and in the preseason to earn significant playing time. Finley reports that White looks as good as ever from a physical standpoint, and the fact that he can line up anywhere on the field in Nagy’s offense will only help his cause.

North Notes: Bears, Browns, Ragnow

Fans of another Midwestern team will recognize much of what the 2018 Bears‘ offense looks like. Matt Nagy said, via Dan Pompei of The Athletic (subscription required) the Bears’ offense will be 70-80 percent the same as what the Chiefs run under Andy Reid.

It will be different in some regards, which is only fair to our coaches on offense and the ideas they have,” Nagy said. “But the identity is going to be the same. It will feel very similar to Kansas City’s. We’re in the lab now. That’s the fun part. All the coaches are giving their ideas and thoughts. Coach [Reid] always said he had 51 percent of the say. So ultimately, he had final say. Now I have that. There are plays I liked that Coach [Reid] didn’t like, so now those plays are in.

Reid and Nagy each had roles as the Chiefs’ primary play-caller during the pair’s two years working in an HC-OC relationship, with Nagy’s shift toward play-calling responsibilities coinciding with Kansas City’s late-season charge toward a second straight AFC West title. He’ll attempt to replicate that with the Bears.

With OTAs continuing for some and minicamps starting elsewhere this week, here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • The Browns believe Mychal Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lining up the ex-Eagles starter — who is set to sign with the Browns on Monday — in the middle would give him the best chance of starting, with Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey on the outside. However, Joe Schobert started all 16 Browns games as the middle linebacker and was the top-rated (per Pro Football Focus) Browns ‘backer last season. Kendricks was unhappy with his role with the Eagles, but in Cleveland, the Browns’ recent futility notwithstanding, he’s going to be playing with a deeper group of linebackers. A three-down role won’t be guaranteed. Of course, the previous Browns regime re-signed Collins and extended Kirksey, which could complicate matters a bit as John Dorsey steps into his first full season with the franchise.
  • Also in Cleveland, Browns coaches are high on Duke Johnson, despite the team signing Carlos Hyde and drafting Nick Chubb, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com envisions an extension coming to fruition this offseason. The Browns have nearly $70MM in cap space, and Johnson would seemingly fit alongside either Hyde or Chubb as a passing-down back. The sides have been discussing a re-up for a bit now.
  • Despite being open to Joel Bitonio as Joe Thomas‘ replacement, the Browns kept him at left guard at OTAs this week, per Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. Bitonio would prefer to stay at guard, and the Browns — who drafted Austin Corbett, Bitonio’s left tackle successor at Nevada — in Round 2. Corbett is currently working behind Shon Coleman at left tackle.
  • On the subject of rookie offensive linemen’s roles, the Lions have begun first-round pick Frank Ragnow‘s tenure at guard, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes, adding he took some first-team reps at that spot. This is interesting considering Graham Glasgow played well at guard last season. The Lions have T.J. Lang entrenched at the other guard slot and signed ex-Jets center Wesley Johnson. However, Detroit’s discussed the notion of moving Glasgow to center. Ragnow played center for all but one game as an upperclassman but started throughout his sophomore season at guard for Arkansas.
  • Tyler Matakevich underwent surgery to repair three areas — his rotator cuff, labrum and a biceps muscle — repaired shortly after the Steelers‘ divisional-round loss to the Jaguars. And the Steelers subsequently signed Jon Bostic, seemingly to replace Ryan Shazier this season. However, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes Matakevich was the first-string inside linebacker alongside Vince Williams throughout OTAs this week. While this situation is likely far from being settled, the Steelers holding a competition between a 2016 seventh-round pick and a sixth-year veteran who started 14 games last season is interesting.

Coaching Rumors: Colts, Nagy, Packers

The latest coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • The Colts never offered their head coaching job to Matt Nagy, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. This week, the former Chiefs OC accepted the Bears’ HC position. There were some rumblings that he also had an offer on the table from Indy, but that is apparently not the case.
  • The Packers hired Frank Cignetti as their new quarterbacks coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentintel (on Twitter). The well-traveled Cignetti spent the last two years as the Giants’ QBs coach. Before that, he served as the Rams’ QBs coach for two years and as the Rams’ offensive coordinator for one year.
  • Cardinals offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Harold Goodwin has interviewed recently with the Bengals and Raiders for their OL coach positions, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic tweets. It seems unlikely that Goodwin will return to Arizona in his current role following the retirement of head coach Bruce Arians.
  • To keep up with the latest on every head coaching search, consult PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker. For the latest on offensive and defensive coordinators, check out PFR’s Coordinator Tracker.

Bears Hire Matt Nagy As Head Coach

The Bears will hire Matt Nagy as their next head coach, according to Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Nagy, the offensive coordinator of the Chiefs, became available over the weekend when Kansas City was eliminated from the playoffs by the Titans.

The hire is now official. Nagy will replace John Fox and become the Bears’ latest offensively geared HC, following Marc Trestman in that regard. Nagy was also in the running for the Colts’ head coaching job, interviewing on Sunday, and the Bears did not want to risk losing him. The 39-year-old offensive coordinator will now be tasked with reigniting the dormant Bears offense and putting young quarterback Mitch Trubisky on the right track.

Nagy also interviewed with the Bears on Sunday, and the storied franchise selected the second-year Chiefs OC out of a six-interview process. The Bears also met with Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur, George Edwards, John DeFilippo and incumbent DC Vic Fangio. This marks the latest Andy Reid disciple to land a coaching opportunity, following three-year Chiefs OC Doug Pederson — whom Nagy succeeded.

The Chiefs turned to Nagy late in the season to call plays, and the AFC West champions re-routed their season upon doing so. Kansas City won its final four games after losing six of seven during a midseason swoon. Although the Chiefs stumbled yet again in a home playoff contest, Nagy helped coax breakout slates from Tyreek Hill and rushing champion Kareem Hunt.

Nagy will also serve as the Bears’ play-caller, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). However, his first big decision will be in addressing who oversees Chicago’s defense. Mortensn reports the franchise would like to retain Fangio, but his contract expires at midnight. The veteran DC also has received significant interest elsewhere and could depart for another opportunity.

This also narrows McDaniels’ options. The perennial HC candidate has interviewed in Indianapolis and New York. ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran (Twitter link) point McDaniels as being a likelier fit with the Colts than Giants.

Alex Smith also had a career-best season under Nagy’s guidance, and the Bears will team the young coach with Trubisky after centering their search around offensive-minded leaders. Nagy was a Trubisky fan when the North Carolina product declared for the draft, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), and he’ll have the biggest say in attempting to take the raw passer to the next level in his development.

The Chiefs ranked fifth in total offense under Nagy. He’ll now helm a Bears attack that finished 30th. Affected by multiple injuries at wide receiver, the Bears relied on their ground game. Their new HC figures to attempt to augment the team’s aerial corps. Trubisky himself finished with seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions, completing 59 percent of his passes while going 4-8 as a starter.

The Bears have not produced a winning season since the 2012 campaign under Lovie Smith, and they’ll turn to Nagy to right the ship.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Coaching Notes: Nagy, Cowboys, Cards

As the wild-card round looms, here’s the latest from the NFC side of the coaching carousel.

  • Chiefs OC Matt Nagy will have a quick turnaround after Saturday’s first-round game. He’s set for interviews with the Bears and Colts on Sunday for those franchises’ respective HC jobs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. These are the only two teams to which the 39-year-old OC has been connected. He’s finishing out his second season as Kansas City’s OC. Doug Pederson served in that role for three seasons prior to leaving for Philadelphia.
  • The Cardinals have cast a wide net in their search to replace Bruce Arians, and they are meeting with two members of the Patriots’ defensive staff today. DC Matt Patricia and linebackers coach Brian Flores are meeting with Cards representatives in New England, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). While Flores has only been linked to the Cardinals, Patricia is a candidate for the Giants’ and Lions’ HC jobs.
  • The Cowboys continue to make staff changes as the week winds down. After QBs coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker were dismissed earlier this week, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports (on Twitter) the team is now moving on from wide receivers coach Derek Dooley and tight ends coach Steve Loney. While coordinators Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli are expected to be back in 2018, many position coaching vacancies exist in Dallas.
  • With Joe Philbin reported to be heading back to Green Bay, he will be set to oversee new Packers wide receivers coach Jim Hostler. Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets Hostler will move from the position of Colts wideouts coach to the same job with the Packers, and if the Philbin hire ends up happening, both coaches will be moving from Indianapolis to Green Bay. Hostler’s most notable NFL job came in 2007 when he was the 49ers’ OC.

Coaching Rumors: Bengals, Cowboys, Colts

A roundup of the latest coaching news and rumors from around the NFL:

Colts, Bears Request To Interview Matt Nagy

Both the Colts and Bears have put in requests to interview Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Matt Nagy (Vertical)

Nagy, who is only 39 years old, had been considered a “hot” name within NFL circles, and with good reason. In his first season as Kansas City’s solo coordinator (he split duties with veteran coach Brad Childress prior to 2017), Nagy ran one of the more innovative offenses in the NFL. Utilizing weapons such as Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt, Nagy helped the Chiefs finish third in offensive DVOA.

That the Colts would express interest in Nagy should come as no surprise, as Indy general manager Chris Ballard spent several seasons as an executive in Kansas City. Nagy is the fifth candidate to be linked to the Colts, joining Josh McDaniels, Mike Vrabel, Steve Wilks, and Kris Richard. The Bears, meanwhile, have been tied to Nagy, McDaniels, Wilks, Pat Shurmur, and John DeFilippo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Joseph, Eagles, Colts

This offseason’s coaching carousel is expected to be one of the more exciting ones in recent history given all of the jobs that will become available, though that excitement is not limited to the head coaching gigs. It’s been a busy morning already, but let’s take a look at a few more head coach and coordinator rumors:

  • Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is facing increasingly longer odds of being retained for a second season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets.
  • Former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, who is currently serving as a senior personnel executive for the team, has interest in returning to the sidelines as an offensive coordinator. However, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports that the Broncos are looking to keep Kubiak around and expand his role to include more front office responsibility and perhaps some coaching responsibilities as well.
  • The Eagles may lose their defensive coordinator this offseason, and ESPN’s Adam Caplan reports that Philadelphia could also lose several top position coaches (Twitter links). Caplan says Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo and WR coach Mike Groh could be targeted by other clubs, though Philadelphia could still block either man from accepting coordinator jobs elsewhere.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard has strong ties to several members of the Chiefs‘ coaching staff — special teams coach Dave Toub and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy — and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that both men will get consideration for Indianapolis’ head coaching job. La Canfora points out, however, that Colts owner Jim Irsay may prefer to make a “splashier” hire if possible.
  • The Bengals have reached out to external candidates for their (expected) head coaching opening, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). This will be an open search for Cincinnati, which generally prefers to promote from within.
  • Saints head coach Sean Payton said that Darryl Tapp, who played in the league for 11 years (including four games with the Bucs this season), is now serving as a coaching intern for New Orleans. It would appear, then, that Tapp’s playing days are over and he is shifting his sights to the next stage of his career.

NFL Recommends Coaching Candidates

Each year, the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel releases a list of candidates for head coaching jobs. According to Mike Lombardi of The Ringer (Twitter link), that list includes: Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

  • Dan Campbell (Assistant Head Coach/TE coach, Saints)
  • Jim Bob Cooter (Offensive Coordinator, Lions)
  • John DeFilippo (Quarterbacks Coach, Eagles)
  • George Edwards (Defensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Matt Nagy (Offensive Coordinator, Chiefs)
  • Matt Patricia (Defensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Jim Schwartz (Defensive Coordinator, Eagles)
  • Pat Shurmur (Offensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Dave Toub (Special Teams Coach, Chiefs)
  • Steve Wilks (Defensive Coordinator, Panthers)
  • Mike Vrabel (Defensive Coordinator, Texans)

McDaniels, of course, comes with previous head coaching experience. He was probably too young to handle those responsibilities in Denver, but he has reasserted himself as an offensive wunderkind. Both McDaniels and Patricia will be hot candidates for head coaching jobs this year, so the Patriots may have to make serious changes on the coaching staff.

There is some overlap with the list of minority candidates recommended by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, though Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie did not make the cut on this list. Austin received head coaching interviews in each of the last two offseasons, so he seems likely to garner some consideration this time around.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.