Mike Kafka

AFC West Notes: Mahomes, Broncos, Raiders

Everyone has known for a while now that when Patrick Mahomes signs his first contract extension, it’s going to involve some eye-popping numbers. The Chiefs are expected to pursue an extension sometime after the draft, and there has been a lot of chatter about Mahomes becoming the first player to eclipse $40MM in annual salary. While he wouldn’t get into specifics about negotiations, Mahomes made it clear in a recent interview with Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports that he’s in Kansas City for the long haul. “I want to make sure I do it the smart way and do it the right way, and so I don’t know exactly which way that is, yet. I know that my people and the Chiefs’ people will talk about it, and will do it at the right time and for the betterment for the team. But I’m excited to be a Kansas City Chief for a very long time, and I know that’s going to be handled the right way because of the people the Kansas City Chiefs have in their organization,” he explained.

There has been some speculation the Chiefs will try to get him on somewhat of a team-friendly deal in order to spread their cap resources around, similarly to what the Patriots have done with Tom Brady. Mahomes is going to get paid big-time either way, but he did seem to indicate that keeping their core together is a priority for him. “Whichever way possible, we’re going to do it and we’re gonna try to keep as many people on this team as we possibly can that won the Super Bowl this year so we can run it back again next year,” he said.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Speaking of the Chiefs, they made a couple of assistant coaching moves today. Quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka has been given the additional title of passing game coordinator, and the team hired Andy Hill as a special teams assistant. The Eagles were interested in Kafka for their offensive coordinator vacancy, but Kansas City was ultimately able to retain him. All the way back in October we heard that Kafka was well-respected in the league and considered by some to be a future head coach. The former backup quarterback is the latest in a long line of Andy Reid assistants to get buzz.
  • The Broncos have a crowded backfield, but it’s about to get a little thinner. Both Devontae Booker and Theo Riddick will be allowed to walk in free agency, sources told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Booker was drafted by Denver in the fourth-round back in 2016, and had an up and down career with the team. He was the team’s starter for some of his rookie season, and he often played a big role on passing downs. At the same time, he was often relegated to the bench for extended stretches. 27 now, it’ll be interesting to see how his market develops. Riddick is another passing-downs specialist who signed with Denver this past summer after a productive six-year run with the Lions. He ended up missing the entire season with a shoulder injury, although Klis notes that he is healthy now and has been medically cleared. He’s 28 now, and will likely have a tough time finding much guaranteed money coming off the injury.
  • The Raiders are believed to be interested in signing linebacker Nick Vigil, sources told Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio and Insidethebirds.com. Vigil, an impending free agent, spent the first four years of his career with the Bengals. He started all 16 games for Cincy this past season, racking up 111 tackles and five passes defended. Vigil will likely be seeking a decent-sized contract, and he should have a relatively strong market. Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther coached Vigil in Cincinnati, so there’s a lot of familiarity between the two sides.

Chiefs To Retain Mike Kafka

Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka isn’t going anywhere. Kafka will stick on Andy Reid’s coaching staff in 2020, sources tell Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter), which means that he won’t be leaving for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator vacancy or any other club.

The Eagles had interest in Kafka as an OC candidate, but they’ve been informed that Reid won’t let him stray. It’s possible that Kafka could receive a new title to stay in KC, but nothing has been made official on that front. Eric Bieniemy did not land a head coaching job in this cycle, so a bump up to OC is off the table.

With that, the Eagles have lost out on yet another OC option. USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell was on the radar, but earlier this week, he opted to return to the Trojans. Before that, Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban declined their request for an interview and ex-Redskins OC Kevin O’Connell accept the Rams’ OC job.

The Eagles drafted Kafka in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and the Northwestern product spent his first two seasons in the league as Philly’s backup/third-string signal-caller. After that, he parlayed his football IQ into a successful coaching career. After serving as the Chiefs’ offensive quality control coach in 2017, he was elevated to QB coach in 2018, the same year Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm.

Eagles Expected To Request OC Interview With Mike Kafka

The Eagles are still on the lookout for a new offensive coordinator after firing Mike Groh earlier this month, and their search could lead them to a familiar face. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Philadelphia is expected to request an interview with Chiefs QB coach Mike Kafka.

The Eagles drafted Kafka in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and the Northwestern product spent his first two seasons in the league as Philly’s backup/third-string signal-caller. He got looks with a number of clubs after he was cut by the Eagles in the summer of 2012, but he chose to end his playing career and try his hand at coaching in 2016, returning to his alma mater as an offensive graduate assistant.

His football IQ was always considered perhaps his best trait, and he has risen quickly through the coaching ranks. After serving as the Chiefs’ offensive quality control coach in 2017, he was elevated to QB coach in 2018, the same year Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm. We heard back in October that Kafka was considered a future NFL head coach, and he may have been promoted to Kansas City OC if Eric Bieniemy had gotten a head coaching job this year.

But because Eagles head coach Doug Pederson calls offensive plays, Rapoport says Chiefs head coach Andy Reid may block the interview request and give Kafka a promotion on KC’s staff.

The Eagles are also reportedly interested in Ravens QB coach James Urban and USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Ramsey, Steelers, Kafka

It looks like Jaguars owner Shad Khan was mistaken. Khan, who has seemingly been overly optimistic about the Jalen Ramsey situation ever since his trade demand became public, said earlier this week that he expected Ramsey to play in Week 6. That was apparently news to Ramsey, and his camp soon put out word that he hadn’t committed to playing this week. Indeed, it “would be a major surprise if he plays this week,” tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Ramsey was limited in practice all week, which is obviously a step in the right direction considering he hadn’t practiced until then since his back injury popped up. All indications are that Ramsey hasn’t wavered from his trade demand, although Khan continues to act like nothing is wrong. The Jaguars owner has also said he intends to give the Florida State product a record-breaking extension. Jacksonville has a tough game against the Saints on Sunday, and it looks like Gardner Minshew will be leading them into the game shorthanded.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of injured cornerbacks, Steelers corner Steven Nelson won’t be playing this week either. Nelson suffered a groin injury during the team’s Week 5 loss to the Ravens, and the team just announced he’s been ruled out. In his place, Pittsburgh will start 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns. Burns has been labeled a bust by many and the Steelers declined his fifth-year option this past offseason, which shows you how they feel about him. Nelson had been playing pretty well alongside Joe Haden, so this is a big downgrade to the Steelers’ secondary as they prepare to take on the Chargers.
  • Add one more young assistant coach to the list of ones to monitor in the Chiefs’ Mike Kafka. Kafka is “very well respected” and is a possible future head coach, tweets Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL radio. Kafka was a former backup quarterback for the Eagles, and he now works under his former head coach Andy Reid. Kafka is Patrick Mahomes‘ position coach and there’s a long history of former Reid assistants landing head jobs, so it certainly makes sense.
  • In case you missed it, the Jets moved on from quarterback Luke Falk after he started the last two weeks for them.

Breer’s Latest: Cardinals, Rosen, Dolphins, Chiefs, Kafka, Bears, Trubisky

The Cardinals finally made the decision to insert Josh Rosen into the game last week, giving the public their first look at the last of the ‘Big Four’ quarterbacks to make an appearance. All four of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Rosen are starters now, and Rosen was the last to see game action. The Cardinals’ plan had reportedly been to continue to start Sam Bradford moving forward, but he played so poorly that he forced Arizona’s hand.

Apparently for Cardinals coaches, Rosen’s command of the huddle in his brief relief appearance last Sunday “was the final piece of the puzzle in deciding to the pull the trigger on the quarterback switch” reports Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer notes that Cardinals sources told him Rosen has “been outstanding of late in practice”, and it sounds like they have full confidence in the rookie signal caller. The tenth overall pick from UCLA will get his first start this Sunday at home against the Seahawks.

Here’s more from Breer’s latest column:

  • The Dolphins have shocked everyone with their 3-0 start, and Breer has identified at least one reason behind the unexpected strong first few weeks. “There was an effort from coach Adam Gase, EVP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier to get faster” across the board. Breer points to the team’s offseason addition of speedsters Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker as evidence of the identity change.
  • Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka is a “name to keep an eye on” according to Breer in future coaching searches. Reid apparently assigned Kafka, then a quality control coach, to do one-on-one work with Patrick Mahomes last year, and thinks quite highly of him. Reid has an extensive coaching tree of former assistants, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kafka, a former quarterback under Reid in Philadelphia, become the next one.
  • Scouts are concerned that Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is too quick to tuck and run, and isn’t processing the field, according to Breer. Breer writes that “Trubisky seems to be making a single read, and running if it’s not there”, and that his processing ability had previously been seen as one of his biggest strengths coming out of college.

Coaching Rumors: Giants, Texans, Chiefs

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will call his own offensive plays in New York but still plans to hire an offensive coordinator, and Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski is a “strong candidate” for the position, sources tell Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Stefanski, of course, worked under Shurmur in Minnesota, and is now a candidate to take over Shurmur’s old role with the Vikings (where he’d presumably get the opportunity to call games). Minnesota, however, is also considering former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for its coordinator job, so if Stefanski isn’t promoted, he could conceivably bolt for New York. Meanwhile, Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is a “name to watch” for the Giants’ OC position, while ex-Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin could also “be in the mix,” per Vacchiano.

Here’s more on the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Former Raiders and Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will join the Texans as a linebackers coach, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Specifically, Pagano is now a senior defensive assistant who will coach outside linebackers, while Bobby King — already on Houston’s staff — will coach inside ‘backers, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). Pagano, the brother of former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, spent five years as the Chargers’ DC before landing with the Raiders in 2017. When Oakland fired Ken Norton Jr. midway through last season, Pagano stepped in as the club’s defensive coordinator.
  • The Chiefs will promote offensive quality coach Mike Kafka to quarterbacks coach, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Kafka, 30, originally entered the league as a 2010 fourth-round of Andy Reid‘s Eagles and went to play for six other clubs before hanging up his cleats. He coached at Northwestern (his alma mater) before joining Kansas City’s staff in 2017. Reid’s coaching tree is obviously impressive, and the past two men to serve as quarterbacks coach under his employ — Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy — are now head coaches with the Eagles and Bears, respectively.
  • The Titans also have a new quarterbacks coach: former Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who adds ex-Texans defensive assistant Shane Bowen is now Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach. O’Hara interviewed for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach job earlier this year, but Chicago ended up retaining Dave Ragone for the role. Meanwhile, new Titans assistant coach Kerry Coombs will indeed lead defensive backs in Tennessee, meaning he’ll coach the same position group that he did at Ohio State, tweets Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel offered incumbent secondary coach Deshea Townsend a job as Coombs’ assistant (read: a demotion), but Townsend will instead leave the club.
  • The Panthers have hired Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ as their new linebackers coach, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Russ will replace Al Holcomb, who followed Steve Wilks to Arizona earlier this week to become the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator. Although he enjoyed a four-year pro career, the 45-year-old Russ has never coached at the NFL level. He’s been at Air Force since 2012, and previously spent time at Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Ohio. Carolina has also added former Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same role, reports Omar Ruiz of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Coaching Notes: Kafka, Chiefs, Bucs, 49ers

After a bit of a lull, today was a busy day for coaching moves. We first learned that the Falcons would be hiring Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator. Later, it was reported that the Rams were bringing in Matt LaFleur as their new offensive coordinator.

Of course, there were plenty of other coaching moves today, and we’ve compiled all of those below…

  • Former quarterback Mike Kafka has been hired by the Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The 29-year-old spent six years in the NFL after being selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, as he has an obvious connection with current Kansas City (and former Philadelphia) head coach Andy Reid. Kafka spent the 2016 season serving as an offensive graduate assistant with Northwestern, his former college.
  • The Chiefs have also hired Rod Wilson as their new assistant special teams coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter). The former NFL linebacker will be replacing Brock Olivo, who was hired as the Broncos special teams coordinator earlier this offseason. The 2005 seventh-round pick spent six years in the NFL with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Jaguars.
  • The Buccaneers have promoted Ben Steele to tight ends coach, reports ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. The former NFL tight end spent the past three seasons serving as Tampa Bay’s offensive quality control coach. “We’re fortunate that we have a qualified coach like Ben already on our staff and are able to fill this role from within. He earned it through the quality of his work,” said head coach Dirk Koetter (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter). “Ben played the position at the NFL level and has spent a great deal of time with our tight ends on the practice field and in the meeting room. We know he will do an excellent job leading that group going forward.”
  • The 49ers have released their entire strength and conditioning staff, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. This includes director of human performance Mark Uyeyama, strength, conditioning and nutrition assistant Kurt Schmidt, and strength and conditioning assistants Brian Johnson, Taylor Johnson and David Young. We learned last week that Uyeyama would be leaving the organization, and (as Maiocco notes on Twitter) Brian Johnson’s departure was evident after he took a job with Texas A&M. The reporter notes that Taylor Johnson “is still in play” to remain on Shanahan’s new staff.
  • Former NFL defensive end Andre Carter will meet with the Dolphins regarding their assistant defensive line coach vacancy, reports Alex Marvez of The Sporting News. After being selected in the first-round of the 2001 draft, Carter spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers, Redskins, Patriots, and Raiders. Marvez notes that the 37-year-old spent the 2015 season as a student assistant coach at the University of California.

Workout Notes: 12/30/15

Here are Wednesday’s workouts from around the NFL:

  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Devon Still, receivers Marcus Thigpen and Eric Rogers, linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive end/LB Tristan Okpalaugo (Twitter links via ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
  • The Cardinals tried out center Taylor Boggs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The Bills worked out defensive end/linebacker Xzavier Dickson, Wilson tweeted. Dickson ended up joining Atlanta’s practice squad.
  • The Bengals worked out quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end John Peters, per Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Browns tried out quarterback Dustin Vaughan, running back Timothy Flanders, receivers Eric Rogers, Ricky Collins and Levi Norwood, and safety Jordan Kovacs (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Quarterback Ryan Lindley, defensive linemen Warren Herring and Eze Obiora, and linebacker Ryan Mueller worked out for the Colts, according to Wilson (Twitter link). They signed Lindley afterward.
  • The Giants worked out linebackers Cole Farrand and Glenn Carson – the latter of whom they signed to their practice squad – quarterback Pete Thomas, safety Ty Zimmerman, punter Spencer Roth and kicker Quinn Sharp (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • The Steelers tried out two safeties, Ray Vinopal and Jake Hagen, and linebacker Marquis Spruill (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Chargers worked out receiver Jeff Fuller, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and linebacker Dexter McCoil, Wilson tweeted.
  • The Titans worked out receiver Kenny Stafford, defensive end Freddie Bishop, defensive backs Aaron Grymes, Steven Clarke and Emanuel Davis, long snapper Dax Dellenbach and kicker Swayze Waters (Twitter link via Wilson).

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/29/15

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Signed: RB Kevin Monangai (Twitter link via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: CB Kyle Sebetic (link via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com)

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/22/15

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL, with new moves added to the list throughout the day:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Minnesota Vikings

  • Signed: LB Alex Singleton (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press)

New York Jets

San Diego Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: WR Deshon Foxx, WR Antwan Goodley (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times)
  • Cut: DT Justin Hamilton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans