Dolphins Rumors

Latest On Vic Fangio

The Dolphins appeared to make a significant addition to their coaching staff yesterday, coming to terms on a deal with Vic Fangio to make him their new defensive coordinator. Contrary to what some have since reported, though, the move does not appear to be official at this point.

When speaking to Fangio himself, both 9News’ Mike Klis and Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle were told that a deal is not, in fact, in place yet (Twitter links). In the latter’s case, Fangio stated that “nothing has been decided on my end,” a reference to his commitment to head to Miami. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that his Dolphins contract is three years in length (with a team option for a fourth year) and will make him the league’s highest-paid coordinator.

Fangio, 64, was always likely to be a hot commodity on the DC market when he made it clear he would return to coaching in 2023. The former Broncos head coach had previously stated his intention of taking on a coordinator position, rather than another HC opportunity. Over the course of his decorated career, he established himself as a one of the game’s top defensive minds in terms of scheme and play-calling, as well as one with connections all over the league.

The Panthers were tapped as a likely destination for Fangio in the wake of their Frank Reich hiring. It was reported early today, to no surprise, that Carolina was willing to meet his financial demands, though even in the uncertainty regarding his future they are no longer expected to pursue him. That could make another notable DC vacancy one to keep an eye on in this situation.

Silver notes the “huge amount” of respect shared between 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Fangio. The latter served as San Francisco’s DC from 2011-14, and it was reported in the fall that a return to the Bay Area could be in the cards. The 49ers have enjoyed elite play on the defensive side of the ball under current coordinator DeMeco Ryans, but he has been one of the top HC candidates this offseason and is widely expected to soon become the Texans’ new bench boss. His departure could open the door for Fangio to replace him, should the Miami agreement fall through.

On that point, Pelissero’s colleague Cameron Wolfe tweets that Fangio had been a target of Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel before he even began his tenure with the team this past season. That underscores the desire the Dolphins have long had to bring him onboard, though it remains to be seen if they have officially done so this offseason.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spins, many of the league’s offensive and defensive coordinator positions are open as well. Teams seeking new head coaches will soon begin OC and DC searches — some have already started those processes — but a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

The Browns and Patriots have begun 2023’s coordinator hires. Here are the rest of the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 1-30-23 (7:00pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Carolina Panthers 

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

Dolphins Not Eyeing Tom Brady Addition?

One of several names set to dominate the QB storylines of the 2023 offseason is Tom Brady. The all-time great is a pending free agent who faces a number of possible options should he choose to continue his playing career.

One of those could be a move to Miami, something which has come close to taking place in the past. The Dolphins were involved in a tampering scandal in an unsuccessful attempt to land both he and head coach Sean Payton. That led to a number of punishments being handed down by the league, including the team forfeiting its first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Despite that, the Dolphins were said to be a potential suitor for him in 2023.

Momentum for a Brady-to-Miami contract does not appear to exist at this point, however. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Dolphins “are not expected to pursue” the 45-year-old in the event he hits the open market for the second time in his career. Brady helped the Buccaneers make the playoffs for the third straight year in his tenure there, but signs have pointed since their Wild-Card loss to him not returning to Tampa Bay.

While that certainly leaves the door open to a second retirement decision (one which the seven-time Super Bowl winner has said would be final, unlike his last one), it could also lead him elsewhere in free agency. The Raiders have quickly emerged as a logical landing spot for him, given the presence of Josh McDaniels and the team’s apparent desire to move on from Derek Carr. Earlier this month, it was reported that Vegas is doing their homework on Brady, amongst other QB options.

Miami has given Tua Tagovailoa a vote of confidence heading into the 2023 season, so it would come as little surprise if the team avoided making a big splash on the QB market. A veteran insurance policy is expected as a backup, given his concussion issues that arose this year, but the former top-five pick showed considerable improvement when healthy this season. Even if Miami is out of the running, Brady is likely to sill have multiple suitors in the coming weeks.

Dolphins To Hire Vic Fangio As DC

The most coveted defensive mind during this year’s coaching cycle is headed to Miami. The Dolphins are set to hire Vic Fangio as their new defensive coordinator, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link).

Pelissero notes that it is a three-year deal, with a team option in place for a fourth season. Fangio will become the league’s highest-paid coordinator, which comes as little surprise given how highly-regarded he is around the NFL for his work as a premier defensive play-caller. The 64-year-old will now take over for Josh Boyer, who was fired at the end of a disappointing season for the Dolphins’ defense.

Fangio’s last foray onto an NFL sideline came during his three-year tenure as the Broncos’ head coach. That time resulted in a 19-30 record, and the expectation that his first HC opportunity would be his last. Having spent the past season out of coaching, it was widely expected that he would return in a DC capacity. That was reflected by the interest shown by the Falcons, Panthers and Dolphins in interviewing him to fill their respective vacancies. Carolina was thought to be his likeliest destination as a high-profile partner for new coach Frank Reich, but the Panthers will now have to look elsewhere.

In Miami, Fangio will join head coach Mike McDaniel, who had a strong rookie campaign as a bench boss on the offensive side of the ball in particular. His work with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (when healthy) helped the latter take significant strides, but the team’s defense put up underwhelming numbers in most defensive categories. The Dolphins ranked 24th in the league in points allowed (23.5), especially struggling in the secondary. Improvement in that department should be expected given Fangio’s track record at the coordinator level.

Fangio’s time as an NFL staffer dates back to 1986, and includes DC postings with the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers and Bears prior to his head coaching stint with the Broncos. After a year off, and fielding numerous offers to resume his acclaimed work, the veteran coach is now slated to join an ascending team which, in spite of its late-season struggles, still managed to qualify for the postseason in 2022. A repeat of that feat will likely be expected next year if they can remain productive on offense while taking a step forward defensively under Fangio’s guidance.

Here is a final look at Miami’s DC search:

  • Anthony Campanile, linebackers coach (Dolphins): Interviewed 1/27
  • Sean Desai, defensive assistant (Seahawks): Interviewed 1/25
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Hired
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed 1/26

Dolphins Want To Re-Sign CB Nik Needham

The Dolphins’ defense underperformed in 2022, and their struggles on that side of the ball have resulted in DC Josh Boyer being fired. The team is looking to retain at least one notable member of that unit this offseason, however.

When select injured members of the squad spoke to the media, cornerback Nik Needham indicated that Miami has communicated an interest in re-signing him (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). The 26-year-old has played all four of his NFL seasons with the Dolphins, and took on an increased workload in 2022 with a career-high 78% snap share.

However, his campaign was abruptly cut short by an Achilles tear in October. That halted a season in which he was counted on as a full-time perimeter corner, and likely hurt his free agent value as he approaches UFA status for the first time in his career. The former UDFA played on the second-round RFA tender this season, which gave him a one-year payout of just under $4MM. Now, he faces the possibility of another short-term pact keeping him in Miami, or the option of testing the open market to leverage a multi-year deal.

Needham failed to record an interception in his limited action this past season, after notching a pair of picks in each of his first three campaigns. He only added two pass breakups and 21 tackles, but also allowed a career-best completion percentage of 52.6%. That continued his general improvement over the past two years in particular in terms of PFF rating, which could help make him a viable candidate for a new deal from the Dolphins in spite of the injury.

That could especially hold true given the availability issues the team faced at the position. Byron Jones did not take a snap in 2022, underscoring his disappointing rehab from offseason surgery which was not expected to cost him time in the regular season. That led in large part to Needham’s usage rising to the level it did, and would leave Miami with a notable vacancy in the secondary if he were to leave in free agency. The Dolphins ranked 27th in the NFL in passing yards allowed last year (235 per game), so improvement on that front is likely to be an offseason priority. If the team has its way, that will involve keeping Needham in the fold for 2023.

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Flores, Evero

By far the biggest name on this year’s coaching carousel, Sean Payton looks to have seen his momentum stall a bit. While Payton is interviewing with the Cardinals today, his candidacy has not produced a second interview anywhere yet. The Panthers met with Payton this week but just hired Frank Reich. While the Texans remain on the radar for the longtime Saints HC, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com does not get the sense much momentum is present for such a partnership. The Broncos have been connected to other names recently as well, but that path may be dwindling as well. There might not be a place for Payton — as odd as that sounds, given his track record — on this year’s market, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com offers (video link)

Trade compensation being required to land the Super Bowl XLIV-winning HC, with the price varying from a first-rounder and other early picks to two first-rounders, has affected teams’ plans here. Payton, 59, has also been mentioned as waffling on this year’s lot of jobs. Returning to FOX for another year and surveying the 2024 market, when two jobs he has long been connected to (Chargers, Cowboys), could be available might be what comes out of this run of interviews. Payton remains in this year’s mix, but buzz has died down.

Here is the latest from the coaching landscape:

  • Regarding the Cardinals‘ search, Brian Flores remains firmly in the mix. GM candidates received the impression Arizona is high on the three-year Miami HC-turned-Pittsburgh linebackers coach, Fowler notes. Previously mentioned as a frontrunner — due partially to the Cards hiring ex-Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort as GM — Flores may have a right-hand man on defense lined up. Some around the league expect the ex-Dolphins HC to bring Gerald Alexander, Miami’s defensive backs coach for the past three years, with him to Arizona, per Fowler. With the Dolphins looking for a new DC, Alexander may be on the move anyway. While ESPN colleague Dan Graziano points to Vance Joseph and Aaron Glenn remaining strong candidates, Flores has generated the most buzz to this point. Flores has also interviewed for the Falcons and Vikings’ DC posts.
  • Raheem Morris booked a second HC interview with the Colts and also met with the Broncos and Texans. Should the Rams‘ DC land a second HC opportunity, Albert Breer of SI.com notes Ejiro Evero is the team’s top candidate to replace him. The Denver DC is no lock to be available. He is under contract with the Broncos, who blocked a Falcons DC interview, and has gone through second HC interviews with the Colts and Texans. Denver could pass on retaining Evero by hiring a defensive-minded coach, of course. Evero came to Denver from Los Angeles; he spent five years on Sean McVay‘s staff.
  • The Browns considered bringing in Vic Fangio for a DC interview, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, but they stood down and ended up hiring Jim Schwartz. Cleveland having run a 4-3 defense in recent years may have been a reason for passing on a Fangio meeting, Cabot offers. Fangio has remained quite popular still, having interviewed for three DC jobs — the Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers — already.
  • The Bills are making a change to their defensive staff. They fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com tweets. Salgado had been on McDermott’s staff throughout the head coach’s six-season tenure.
  • Giants DC Don Martindale is attached to a three-year contract, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Giants thought enough of the veteran coordinator, whom the Ravens did not bring back last year, they gave him the three-year deal as opposed to the more common two-year pact. Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey also received extensive interest from other teams, with Duggan adding the Chargers joined the Panthers in offering him their ST coordinator jobs. McGaughey, who has been with the Giants since 2018, turned down a Bears interview and opted to stay and work for Brian Daboll.

Dolphins To Interview Vic Fangio, Kris Richard, Sean Desai For DC

Vic Fangio will interview for a third defensive coordinator position during this year’s cycle. The Dolphins’ previously rumored interest will produce a meeting.

Miami is set for interviews with Fangio, Seahawks assistant Sean Desai and Saints co-DC Kris Richard, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Fangio and Desai worked together with the Bears, while Richard has been a fixture in defensive coordinator searches in recent offseasons. The Fangio and Desai meetings will occur Wednesday.

Richard, 43, re-emerged as a DC after four seasons on the position coach level. The Saints promoted the veteran staffer to that role, placing him alongside Ryan Nielsen in a rarely utilized co-DC arrangement. The former Seahawks DC had spent time under Rod Marinelli as the Cowboys’ secondary coach from 2018-19 and caught on with the Saints as their DBs coach in 2021. Richard is best known for his time in Seattle, however. He served as the Legion of Boom’s position coach and later Seattle’s DC during that unit’s heyday, and the Seahawks of that period became the first team to lead the NFL in scoring defense in four straight years since the 1950s Browns.

This garnered Richard some HC interest back in the late 2010s — which included a 2019 Dolphins interview — but nothing materialized. The Saints have ranked in the top 10 defensively in each of Richard’s two years with the team, though Dennis Allen has overseen both those units. The Panthers have also spoken to Richard about a meeting. Nielsen has come up as a candidate — in Atlanta and Minnesota — as well, so New Orleans faces the possibility of losing both its DCs this offseason. Desai, the Bears’ DC in 2021, also received an interview request from the Vikings.

Fangio has interviewed for the Falcons and Panthers’ positions thus far but came up in connection to the Dolphins gig soon after it became available. He is believed to be the lead candidate, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington noting (via Twitter) Fangio and Mike McDaniel share an agent and have a good relationship.

Fangio, 64, did not last too long in his HC opportunity with the Broncos, though his three-year Denver tenure was the longest since John Fox‘s, but the longtime defensive staffer was long believed to be a hot candidate to return to a full-time role as a DC. That is coming to fruition. Fangio’s options could soon include a return to the 49ers, with the team being connected to rehiring him in the event DeMeco Ryans departs.

Dolphins To Interview Anthony Campanile For DC Job

After three years with the Dolphins organization, Anthony Campanile is eyeing a promotion. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Dolphins will interview their linebackers coach for their vacant defensive coordinator gig.

[RELATED: Dolphins Request DC Interview With Sean Desai]

Campanile had a long collegiate coaching career prior to his stint with the Dolphins. He coached defensive backs at Boston College before earning a promotion to co-defensive coordinator in 2018. He had a one-year stint as linebackers coach at Michigan, where he earned praise for his work with Josh Uche and Khaleke Hudson.

The 40-year-old has spent the past three years in Miami, serving as the team’s linebackers coach. Despite coaching alongside now-fired defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, Campanile “has impressed” enough to still be in consideration for a promotion, per Rapoport. The LBs coach is Miami’s first known in-house candidate for the job.

We previously heard that the organization was planning to interview former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai. We’ll presumably hear of at least a few more candidates in the coming days.

Vikings, Dolphins Request DC Interviews With Sean Desai

The Vikings and Dolphins are in need of a new defensive coordinator, and both clubs have requested interviews with Seahawks defensive assistant and associate head coach Sean Desai (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Desai was also a candidate for the Browns’ DC post that was recently filled by Jim Schwartz.

Minnesota enjoyed a 13-4 record in 2022, Kevin O’Connell‘s first year as head coach. However, the team’s defense was a sore spot all season, and after a wildcard-round loss to the Giants in which the Vikes struggled to slow New York quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell received his walking papers. Minnesota subsequently requested an interview with Steelers senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach Brian Flores and also hopes to talk to Desai. In addition, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that the Vikings have requested an interview with Saints co-DC Ryan Nielsen, who is expected to interview with the Falcons for the same position.

Like the Vikings, the Dolphins were bounced in last week’s wildcard round, giving up over 400 total yards in their loss to the Bills. The team’s defense finished the regular season in the middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed, but the unit dropped from 16th in points allowed in 2021 to 24th in 2022 while falling from 10th to 15th in DVOA. That drop-off cost defensive coordinator Josh Boyer his job, and in addition to Desai, the ‘Fins hope to talk with Vic Fangio about their DC vacancy.

Desai, 39, may not have Fangio’s track record, but he did work under the renowned defensive guru for a few years while both men were on the Bears’ staff, and he was named Chicago’s defensive coordinator in 2021. He found himself in need of new employment at the end of that campaign, as the Bears elected to part ways with head coach Matt Nagy & Co. In 2022, Desai ended up in Seattle under fellow ex-Fangio staffer Clint Hurtt.

Although the Bears were anxious to clean house after a disappointing end to the Nagy era, Desai’s defense did finish sixth in the league in yards allowed per game (316.7) in 2021, despite injuries to a number of key players. The Vikings — along with the Giants and Raiders — actually interviewed him for their DC post in last year’s cycle before opting to move forward with Donatell, and they are now giving him another look.

QB Rumors: Packers, Carr, Burrow, Colts

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to play in 2023, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). Fowler cites the ~$60MM balloon payment that Rodgers is due between March and the start of the 2023 regular season as a motivating factor for the four-time MVP, and assuming he does want to suit up, Green Bay will have to decide if it wants him back or wants to seek a trade.

The club’s top power brokers, GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur, have publicly indicated they want Rodgers back in Wisconsin, which could — in Fowler’s estimation — force Jordan Love to request a trade. The 2020 first-rounder believes he is ready to become a QB1, and as he is entering the final year of his rookie deal, now would be a good time for him to get that chance.

Here are more QB rumors from around the league:

  • In the same piece linked above, Fowler says that the Derek Carr sweepstakes will start to heat up as we get closer to the Super Bowl. Carr, whose contract with the Raiders includes a no-trade clause, is beginning to do his homework on possible landing spots, and Fowler hears (unsurprisingly) that the Jets, Saints, and Commanders are expected to have interest. Several clubs have already reached out to Las Vegas to lay the groundwork for trade talks.
  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be eligible for an extension when Cincinnati’s season comes to an end, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the club wants to get a new deal done this offseason. A Burrow extension will be hugely expensive, and owner Mike Brown and Burrow himself acknowledged the challenges that such a deal creates for roster construction (via Ben Baby of ESPN.com). Of course, the Bengals will have to operate within the same salary cap confines as every other team in the league, but as Rapoport observes, the small-market franchise does have more cash on hand these days thanks in large part to the success that the team has enjoyed with Burrow under center.
  • In a comprehensive piece that is well-worth a read for Colts fans, a piece that details owner Jim Irsay‘s increasingly impulsive decision-making and the ensuing fallout, Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required) says that Irsay wanted to draft and develop a rookie QB in the 2021 draft. However, then-head coach Frank Reich convinced Irsay that he could resuscitate Carson Wentz‘s career. When that experiment went awry, Irsay began to lose faith in Reich, who apologized to his boss for his misstep. The team again opted for an established passer last offseason when it engineered the Matt Ryan trade, and in light of that failure, Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required) believes Indianapolis is finally going to eschew the veteran QB route. The Colts, armed with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 draft, are in prime position to select a top collegiate signal-caller and could trade up to land the player of their choice.
  • Dolphins GM Chris Grier recently confirmed reports that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, as Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald writes. Grier says the medical professionals he has consulted have told him that the concussions Tagovailoa suffered this season will not make him more prone to concussions going forward. He also said “everything’s on the table for us” when asked if the team would exercise Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for 2024 and/or engage in extension talks.
  • The Jets may keep 2021 first-rounder Zach Wilson on the roster in 2023, but the team is widely expected to pursue a veteran like Carr or Rodgers to upgrade the quarterback position. Apparently, that will be a welcome development for some of Wilson’s teammates and coaches, who “rejoiced” when Wilson was benched in favor of Mike White in November and who were disappointed when Wilson was reinserted into the lineup following White’s rib injuries (via Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic (subscription required)). Regardless of whether Wilson’s apologies to his teammates in the wake of his failure to accept much blame for his poor performance in New York’s Week 11 loss to the Patriots helped him regain the respect of the locker room, the consensus seems to be that he is not the passer who will guide the Jets back to the playoffs.