Mike Daniels

Eagles Fire DL Coach Phillip Daniels

Phillip Daniels‘ stint as an Eagles coach has come to an end. Jeff McLane of the Philly Inquirer reports that the organization has fired the defensive line coach.

“Thank you to the Eagles organization for 4 great years,” Daniels said on Twitter. “I’m proud of what we accomplished as a DL and even prouder of what we accomplished this season against all odds. Thank you to Mr. Lurie and entire Eagles Org.”

Daniels played 15 years in the NFL with the Seahawks, Bears, and Redskins before joining the Washington front office as their Director of Player Development in 2012. He later joined the Eagles coaching staff as their assistant defensive line coach, and he earned a promotion to the lead role last offseason.

As McLane notes, Daniels took over a defensive line that led the NFL in linemen sacks (36.5) in 2018. During his lone season at the helm, the grouping compiled 33 sacks, and they were a top-three squad when it came to stopping the run.

This move means the Eagles now have four vacancies on their coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wideouts coach Carson Walch were canned last week, while defensive backs coach Cory Undlin joined the Lions as their new defensive coordinator.

Lions Put Mike Daniels, Kenny Wiggins On IR

The Lions are shutting down a couple of veterans with two games to go in their disappointing season. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels and offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins are going on injured reserve, according to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site (Twitter link). Wiggins has a torn bicep and will undergo surgery on Tuesday, according to a tweet from Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. 

Both players went down during the team’s loss to Tampa Bay this past week. This will wrap up an extremely disappointing first season in Detroit for Daniels. He was one of the biggest names cut during training camp when the Packers suddenly released him back in July. He got a whopping $9.1MM to sign a one-year deal with the division rival Lions, and will end the season only having appeared in nine games. Even when healthy he wasn’t playing that large of a role, and he’ll finish with only ten tackles and one sack.

Daniels made a name for himself in Green Bay, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2017. When he was cut following an injury-plagued 2018 campaign, he was highly sought after on the open market. Set to turn 31 in May, he’ll likely have to settle for a cheap prove-it deal this offseason. Wiggins is a versatile vet who started all 16 games at right guard for the Chargers in 2017.

He signed a two-year, $5MM deal with Detroit before last season, and started ten games in 2018. He only started three games this year but the Lions utilized an unusual guard rotation for most of the year, so he was playing heavy snaps all season. He’s played just shy of 44 percent of the offensive snaps on the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Diggs, Lions, Packers

There’s been a lot of drama with the Vikings this season, as their offense has once again been a disappointment. Minnesota bounced back with a big win over the Giants in Week 5, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to smooth things over. Adam Thielen publicly called out Kirk Cousins, and Stefon Diggs has made it clear he hasn’t been happy with his role. There’s been plenty of trade speculation surrounding Diggs, but it appears it’s little more than just speculation. Speaking recently on a WEEI radio appearance, Peter King of NBC Sports said he’s been told it’s “highly unlikely,” that Diggs gets dealt.

Just earlier today we heard that the Patriots were hoping to pry Diggs away, but it sounds like they’ll have to look elsewhere for receiver help. Diggs is still only 25, under contract through the 2023 season, and the Vikings don’t have any clear replacement for him on the roster, so it makes sense why they’re insistent on keeping him. Minnesota is attempting to establish a run-first identity in 2019, and Diggs has grown frustrated with his usage. The Maryland product has only topped three catches once this season, and he only has put up more than 50 yards on one occasion as well.

Here’s more from around the NFC North:

  • The Lions have been doing something pretty unusual with their offensive line this year. Instead of sticking with their five-man unit at all times for chemistry purposes, Detroit has been rotating three guards in all of their games. Graham Glasgow has been starting at right guard, Joe Dahl has been starting at left guard, and Kenny Wiggins has been mixing in for series’ here and there at both positions. The system was the idea of offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “There came a time, obviously in that first week (of the season that) I’m sitting here trying to agonize over who’s winning the starting job and all that stuff there,” Davidson said. “To me, it was clear who owned the starting jobs, but I also believed that Kenny Wiggins earned the right to be on the field and it’s just a way to be able to get that done also.” As Birkett points out both Glasgow and Dahl have received strong marks from Pro Football Focus, but the team doesn’t plan on changing things anytime soon. The Lions have gotten off to a better start than just about anybody expected, so it’s understandable why.
  • The Packers will be playing Detroit on Monday Night Football in a pivotal divisional game, and they’ll be a little shorthanded. We already know they’ll be without top receiver Davante Adams, but they also just ruled out starting safety Darnell Savage, who picked up an ankle injury in their win over the Cowboys. The rookie first-round pick from Maryland has been an every-down player for Green Bay, so it’s a big loss. Fortunately for them, starting center Corey Linsley has cleared the concussion protocol and will play here after leaving the Dallas game early.
  • Speaking of Monday Night Football injuries, Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels will have to wait a bit longer for his revenge. The longtime Packer was released in July and signed with Detroit shortly after, but he’s going to miss his second straight game with a foot injury. Daniels signed a one-year, $9.1MM deal with the Lions just two days after getting cut.

Extra Points: Gurley, Longacre, CBA

In his first day on the field at Rams training camp, Todd Gurley looked like vintage Gurley, The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore writes.

The All-Pro back looked like his old self early, showing an ability put plenty of weight on his knee and cut without any apparent issue. That knee, of course, underwent reconstructive surgery in college and gave him issues down the stretch in 2018, leading to C.J. Anderson‘s breakout stint in the playoffs.

As Bonsignore writes, that he looked good doesn’t mean much at this point. It’s all about getting him on the field and keeping him there over the course of a 16-game season. The Rams will be sure to take it easy with Gurley, but this is a great first step for one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers.

A healthy Gurley, who led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive season in 2018, would make the reigning NFC champions the conference’s favorites once again thanks to its loaded offense and talent-rich defense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Buccaneers safety Orion Stewart was carted off the field on Sunday with an apparent serious right knee injury, Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The safety was covering Cameron Brate when their legs tangled, leading Stewart to come down awkwardly. A free agent acquisition in 2019, Stewart was working with the Bucs’ second unit.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard suffered a knee injury in training camp and is expected to “miss some time,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Just how long that “some time” is remains unclear, but the defensive end didn’t return to practice on Friday due to swelling and soreness. Colts head coach Frank Reich said the injury isn’t season-ending.
  • Just four days after the Cardinals signed linebacker Matt Longacre, the team released him on Sunday, Florio writes. The move comes just a day after the team activated Brooks Reed from the physically unable to perform list. In 2018, Longacre appeared in 13 games with the Rams, recording one sack and 17 tackles.
  • Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels said he received interest from 13 teams but decided to join Detroit because he wanted to play for head coach Matt Patricia, Florio writes. Though the pair have never worked together before, Daniels called the coach “a genius.”
  • Originally, a meeting was to be held on Monday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFLPA. That will no longer take place, as the meeting has been rescheduled for early August, Florio writes.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Saints, Elliott, Cowboys, Nkemdiche, Cardinals, Daniels

We heard earlier today that the Saints were close to getting a deal done with receiver Michael Thomas, but it apparently hasn’t been the smoothest process. Saints GM Mickey Loomis has been frustrated with the negotiations, sources told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). “The Saints have offered to make Thomas the highest paid wideout in the NFL, with a contract that solidly exceeds Odell Beckham Jr. Loomis feels it’s a great offer w/ great structure,” Robinson writes. Loomis seems to feel like an agreement should’ve been reached by now, but Thomas’ camp is clearly still holding out for something more. Meanwhile, Thomas will continue to stay away from training camp as he awaits his new contract.

Saints coach Sean Payton addressed the media after practice today, and said he isn’t worried about the fact Thomas isn’t at camp (Twitter video link). Payton seemed confident that he’ll be back before too long, saying he’s “optimistic it’ll get done soon.” The most recent reporting suggests the Ohio State product will be getting $19-20MM annually. Thomas has established himself as one of the league’s best receivers the past couple of years, and New Orleans’ offense relies on him heavily. Thomas has the most receptions ever for a player through his first three years, and it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before the Saints break the bank for him.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Speaking of players looking to get paid, Ezekiel Elliott is remaining away from the Cowboys as he seeks a new deal. Head coach Jason Garrett had said he expected Elliott to show up on time, but then he didn’t. The good news is the two sides are apparently still talking. The Cowboys “held contract discussions with Elliott’s agent” on Thursday night, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News. Unfortunately the conversation didn’t lead anywhere, as Watkins reports that “talks remain stale.” Elliott is reportedly looking to eclipse the deal Todd Gurley got from the Rams, and it’s unclear if the Cowboys are going to meet that asking price. Dallas has a lot on their plate with extensions due for several players, and it’ll be interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  • Former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche doesn’t appear to be making a good impression with the Cardinals’ new coaching staff. The 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft is coming off an ACL tear, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Ole Miss product showed up to camp out of shape, per Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Somers adds that Nkemdiche “apparently neglected his overall physical condition while rehabbing from ACL.” Nkemdiche is already on thin ice, and this certainly isn’t going to help his case. We’ve heard that he’s likely to be cut, and he’s also facing a likely suspension for a June arrest. He’s only started six games in his three years in the league, and is looking like a bust.
  • Mike Daniels signed with the Lions after visiting Detroit and Cleveland, and those were far from the only two teams interested. 13 teams called about the former Packer, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Daniels got a $9.1MM deal from the Lions, and Rapsheet reports that four other teams “were willing to do that deal or better,” but that Daniels wanted to play for Matt Patricia as well as the opportunity to play against Green Bay twice a year. Daniels is still only 30, and could prove to be a nice addition for Detroit’s defense.

Lions To Sign Mike Daniels

UPDATE, 4:55pm: Daniels’ deal is worth $9.1MM, with $7.8MM of it being fully guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That’s a great payday for Daniels to get this time of year, and he might end up making more than if the Packers hadn’t released him in the first place. Daniels had been set to earn $8.1MM in the final year of his deal with Green Bay.

UPDATE, 4:23pm: It’s a one-year deal for Daniels, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

3:22pm: The Lions will sign defensive lineman Mike Daniels, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. The two sides are finalizing things now, but the deal should be completed soon. 

The Packers extended Daniels via four-year, $41MM contract during the 2015 season. For the most part, the deal has paid off. Daniels earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2017, though he was less productive in 2018 before ultimately landing on IR in December with a foot injury.

In his Pro Bowl campaign, Daniels notched five sacks and 49 tackles across 14 games. Last year, he had two sacks and 18 tackles in ten contests.

With the Lions, he’ll join fellow D-Line newcomers Trey Flowers, Darius Kilgo, Austin Bryant, and P.J. Johnson. Flowers is currently on the PUP list while Kilgo and Damon Harrison are on NFI, so Daniels will be especially valued in the near term.

Many expected the former Packers lineman to land with the Browns, but it was not meant to be. John Dorsey and fellow team execs Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf were in Green Bay when Daniels was drafted in the 2012 fourth round, but the Lions possibly had the greater need and the higher offer.

Daniels reportedly wanted to land with a Super Bowl contender so he must believe in the Lions’ potential, even though they are not one of Vegas’ odds-on leaders for the 2019 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Visits In Store For Mike Daniels

Like Gerald McCoy‘s did, Mike Daniels‘ visit with the Browns ended without a contract. The recently released defensive lineman, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, left the team’s facility without a deal (Twitter link).

While an earlier report indicated Daniels had a visit set up for Friday, with a mystery team, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot hears the longtime Packers defender has an extensive tour planned. Daniels will make “numerous” visits and will not decide on a team Thursday, Cabot reports (on Twitter).

The Browns make sense for Daniels to a point. John Dorsey and fellow team execs Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf were in Green Bay when Daniels was drafted in the 2012 fourth round. However, Cleveland signed Sheldon Richardson to a lucrative deal this offseason and has emerging defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi in place. Daniels would be a luxury the Browns ($34MM-plus in cap space) could afford, but the 30-year-old interior defender may prefer a team with a surefire starting role available.

McCoy opted for the Panthers’ offer over the Browns’ and Ravens’ proposals. It is not known yet if the Ravens are interested in Daniels. But there appears to be some interest from the league’s non-Cleveland locales. The football-following world stands to soon learn who Daniels will visit Friday, and it looks like there will be more meetings in the days to follow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Meet With Mike Daniels

The Browns are set to meet with free agent Mike Daniels, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Daniels is a logical fit for Cleveland given their Packers connections, but the defensive tackle plans to travel to meet with another team on Friday, Mike Florio of PFT (Twitter link) hears. 

The Browns’ front office, spearheaded by GM John Dorsey, drafted Daniels in Green Bay. The Browns also tried to sign defensive tackle Gerald McCoy before he opted for the Panthers, so there’s a clear need and fit for the veteran in Cleveland.

The Packers released Daniels earlier this week after failing to trade him. In an interview with WBAY, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst indicated that a deal was close, but couldn’t be completed.

“There’s a few factors involved in that. Mike was rehabbing from a foot injury suffered during the season and I think also there was some — quite frankly there was some trade conversations going on and those kind of came apart the last couple of weeks here and that was part of it,” Gutekunst said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Daniels, Pats, Succop

After rounding up some news from the NFC earlier tonight, let’s check out the AFC:

  • Chargers GM Tom Telesco says he did offer an extension to RB Melvin Gordon, as Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets, but there are no reports on how much the offer was worth. Gordon is holding out from camp and was put on the reserve/did not report list.
  • Before the Packers cut Mike Daniels earlier today, they discussed potential trades with the Browns, Patriots, and Chiefs, per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (video link). Garafolo suggests those teams will continue to pursue Daniels, but at least seven clubs have already been in contact with him.
  • Browns GM John Dorsey confirmed that he met with Duke Johnson‘s new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on Tuesday, but Dorsey declined to say whether Johnson is still demanding a trade (via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com on Twitter). In related news, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports RB Kareem Hunt will miss the start of training camp with a groin injury, though the injury is not believed to be serious.
  • The Patriots have placed veteran O-lineman Brian Schwenke on the reserve/retired list, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Schwenke was taking first-team reps at left guard in the spring, but it sounds as if his career could be over.
  • Jets safety Marcus Maye is on the PUP list after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says it’s not a sure thing that Maye will be ready to go by Week 1 (Twitter link). Head coach Adam Gase was non-committal when asked if Maye would miss any regular season action.
  • Titans K Ryan Succop had offseason knee surgery that did not go as well as planned, according to Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. The team has placed Succop on the PUP list, but he is expected to be ready for Week 1 at the latest.
  • Ravens first-round WR Marquise Brown could be getting closer to completing his comeback from a Lisfranc injury. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Brown has passed his conditioning test and now needs to pass his physical (Twitter link). Hensley says it would not be surprising to see “Hollywood” on the field next week.

NFC Notes: Packers, Clark, Lynch, Giants

The Packers made the surprising decision to cut Mike Daniels earlier today, and GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed that the club did try to trade Daniels first (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). It sounds as if Green Bay made some headway in trade talks, but the talks broke down over the last couple of weeks. Gutekunst also mentioned Daniels’ foot injury as a factor in the decision.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • The decision to cut Daniels has opened the door for the Packers to sign NT Kenny Clark to a lucrative extension, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Silverstein suggests (via Twitter) that such a deal could happen at the end of the season.
  • Matt Barrows of The Athletic suggests that, although John Lynch is the 49ers‘ GM, he is primarily in charge of the defense, while head coach Kyle Shanahan picks the offensive talent. And Lynch has missed on a few major decisions on the defensive side of the ball, so if that unit should struggle again, not only will defensive coordinator Robert Saleh be in danger of losing his job, but Lynch could be as well.
  • The Giants worked out free agent safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Tre Boston several days ago, but Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com does not believe Big Blue is going to pay for a starting-caliber safety at this point (Twitter link). He thinks the club was simply doing its due diligence.
  • The Panthers will give Daryl Williams some reps at left tackle and left guard in training camp, per GM Marty Hurney (via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic on Twitter). Williams signed a one-year deal in March to remain with Carolina, but Hurney is said to prefer Taylor Moton at right tackle — where Williams has spent most of his time as a pro — and the club drafted LT Greg Little in the second round this year. So if Williams is to earn the big FA contract that he missed out on this year, he may have to do so at an unfamiliar spot.
  • The Buccaneers have placed Jason Pierre-Paul on the active/non-football injury list, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets. Although a player on the active/NFI list can be activated from that list at any time before the start of the season, that will almost certainly not happen with JPP, who is expected to miss at least a chunk of the regular season.