Mike Pettine

AFC Rumors: Chiefs, Raiders, Steelers

De’Anthony Thomas was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession on Saturday, according to the Allen County (Kan.) Sheriff’s Office (via KMBC.com). The Chiefs wide receiver has since been released from Allen County Jail on bond. Thomas has played his entire NFL career with the Chiefs, signing a one-year deal to return to the team in 2018 after his rookie contract expired. The wideout’s latest Kansas City deal expired after this season. Thomas, 26, landed on IR in October.

As the Patriots venture to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Needs exist at many spots on the Raiders‘ roster, but they are expected to conduct a defense-heavy draft, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Oakland added several defenders in free agency last year, most of whom on one-year deals. The Silver and Black finished with an incredible 13 sacks — 17 fewer than the next-closest team (the Giants) this season and fewest in a season since the 2008 Chiefs, who also traded their best pass rusher that year (Jared Allen), recorded just 10 — and lack long-term answers at just about every position defensively. The Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades garnered the Raiders, whose own first-round pick became No. 4 overall, the Nos. 24 and 27 selections.
  • The Steelers exercised Bud Dupree‘s fifth-year option last May but have not decided on his long-term status with the team, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dupree collected 5.5 sacks this season and has 20 in his career but has not lived up to his first-round billing. Dupree’s option price is $9.23MM. It would not be surprising if neither Dupree nor 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns inked second contracts with the Steelers, Fittipaldo writes. Burns’ fifth-year option decision is due in May. Considering Burns played just 308 snaps this season and will carry an option cost of close to $10MM, it would be incredibly surprising if Pittsburgh exercised it.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered an injury in Sunday’s Pro Bowl. While the Associated Press notes the injury that caused the Steelers wideout to leave the game was just a bruised knee, the second-year wideout was limping en route to the AFC team bus. Smith-Schuster may be on the verge of becoming Pittsburgh’s centerpiece receiver, should Antonio Brown be dealt. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be in danger of missing OTA time, however.
  • Included in Seth Wickersham’s must-read ESPN.com piece about the Jimmy Haslam-era Browns: a near-deal that would have added to the Browns and Texans‘ unique quarterback pipeline. After Cleveland chose Johnny Manziel in the 2014 first round, then-Browns GM Ray Farmer had to calm down a “furious” Brian Hoyer. The Texans soon called to offer their No. 33 overall pick for Cleveland’s then-starting quarterback, but Farmer declined the deal to get control of a draft that had gone haywire (with Mike Pettine leading the way for Justin Gilbert and Haslam behind the Manziel move). Hoyer played one more season with the Browns and in 2015 signed with the Texans, who used that No. 33 pick on offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo.

Packers To Retain DC Mike Pettine

The Packers will opt for continuity on the defensive side of the ball after hiring new head coach Matt LaFleur. LaFleur will retain incumbent defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, as he told Adam Schein of Mad Dog Radio (Twitter link). 

Early reports suggested LaFleur was open to keeping Pettine around, and that may have played into Green Bay’s decision to hire him as head coach. As a young offensive-minded head coach with little experience, LaFleur will surely lean heavily on Pettine, who is not only a longtime DC but a former NFL head coach. The Packers could use an arrangement similar to that of the Rams, where head coach Sean McVay handles the offense while defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has near total control on defense.

2018 wasn’t a banner year for Pettine and the Packers defense, as the club ranked 18th in yardage, 22nd in scoring, and 29th in DVOA. But Green Bay was working with young options in the secondary and lacked talent elsewhere. Pettine experienced prior success as the DC of the Jets (200-12) and Bills (2013), and even posted a 7-9 record as the Browns’ head coach in 2014.

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Packers Hire Titans OC Matt LaFleur As HC

It looks like the first head coaching search of the offseason might be coming to an end. The Packers are “zeroing in on” hiring Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the hire via press release.

While nothing is official yet, Schefter writes that the Packers “have begun notifying other HC candidates that they’ve interviewed that they’re out and the team has made its choice.” Schefter then posted a follow up tweet noting that the team offered the job to LaFleur. It’s a rapid ascent for LaFleur, who last season wasn’t even calling plays. LaFleur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator for the 2017 season, but Sean McVay called the plays. He was the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach before that from 2015-2016, and learned under two of the league’s most highly regarded offensive minds in Kyle Shanahan and McVay.

He was then hired away by the Titans to become part of Mike Vrabel’s first staff, where he served as the playcaller. Despite Marcus Mariota being frequently hurt, LaFleur helped guide the team to nine wins, with Tennessee ultimately falling just short of the playoffs. LaFleur is only 39, and his hiring continues the trend of teams looking for young offensive gurus as head coaches.

Despite dealing with a nerve injury in his throwing arm that limited him for several games and knocked him out of several others, Mariota averaged the most yards per attempt of his career under LaFleur. While the offense wasn’t nearly as dynamic as the one LaFleur helped build in Los Angeles, it was a lot more creative and innovative than the one Mike Mularkey had been running in Tennessee. Aaron Rodgers had clearly grown frustrated with the offense during Mike McCarthy’s last years with the Packers, and LaFleur should at the very least provide a much needed breath of fresh air to the offense.

While the offensive side of the ball is set to undergo a total makeover, there might be some continuity on defense. The move means the team is likely to keep defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and the rest of the defensive staff in place, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN (Twitter link). Rapoport notes in a separate tweet that former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken was the “other really strong candidate” for the Packers, but the team settled on LaFleur without conducting a second round of interviews.

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Latest On Packers’ Staff, Coaching Search

Only two days until Black Monday and the coaching carousel is in full swing, with rumors flying left and right. The Packers have already fired head coach Mike McCarthy, but some of his assistants status’ are still up in the air. At least one significant change is coming, as one of the Packers’ longtime trainers, Pepper Burruss, is retiring, notes Rob Demovsky of ESPN (Twitter link). Burruss was with the team for 22 years.

Demovsky also notes in a separate tweet that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is unsure whether he’s being retained, but that as of now he’s planning on his usual after the season work. Meanwhile, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that Pettine wants to be back, but that he’ll likely be let go if the Packers hire a defensive minded coach.

It all suggests Pettine has a chance to be back, which might be a surprise to some, but he’s highly respected within the building. Holdovers from fired coaches’ staffs aren’t that common, but they aren’t unheard of either. Jim Bob Cooter was retained as the Lions’ offensive coordinator after Jim Caldwell was fired last year, and there’s plenty of precedent. While the Packers have mostly been linked to offensive minded coaches to pair with Aaron Rodgers, they’ve been rumored to be interested in at least one defensive guru, Pat Fitzgerald.

The team does indeed plan to pursue the Northwestern coach for their head coaching vacancy, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapsheet notes that Fitzgerald “has shut down countless interview requests from the NFL in the past”, but the chance to coach a team like the Packers and Rodgers may change his mind.

Rapoport also writes that while interim coach Joe Philbin will receive an interview from team president Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst, “it would be a surprise if he received the full-time job.” Instead, the team is expected to “conduct a wide-ranging search with perhaps 10-12 candidates.” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is another name that has come up frequently, and the team has already interviewed Chuck Pagano and Caldwell.

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Extra Points: Packers, UDFAs, Panthers, T.O.

After having been fired as the Browns head coach back in 2016, Mike Pettine is back in the NFL as the Packers defensive coordinator. While the 51-year-old acknowledged that he’ll appreciate the brief break prior to training camp, he also admitted that he’ll soon be itching to return to the field.

“That will last about a week, and then I’ll start thinking about football,” Pettine told Jason Wilde of SouthernMinn.com. “I have my own list of things to do, but I’ll be smart with it. I’ll do a little bit at a time. But it’s hard to completely detach from it. [But] that’s what’s great about that time — you can get around friends and families and take you away from it. But it’s always there, and by 10-12 days into July, I’ll be ready to start camp.”

Pettine’s defenses have generally been productive, as the coach has had previous success with the Ravens, Jets, and Bills. The Packers are hoping he can turn around a defense that finished 26th in points allowed last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • NFL.com’s Gil Brandt observes (on Twitter) that there were 32 undrafted rookies to make bonuses of $15K or more. The top earners were Eagles running back Josh Adams, Giants cornerback Grant Haley, and Raiders kicker Eddy Pineiro, with the trio each making $25K. Generally, it’s assumed that the highest-paid undrafted free agents have the best shot of making the regular season roster.
  • The Panthers will not renew the contract of senior executive scout Don Gregory, reports Joe Person (via Twitter). Gregory had previously served as the organization’s college scouting director for more than a decade, but he served in more of a consulting role between Marty Hurney‘s two stints with the team.
  • Terrell Owens, who is set to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, believes he can still play football. Well, the 44-year-old could have his chance…in the Canadian Football League. David William Naylor of TSN tweets that the Edmonton Eskimos have added the receiver to their negotiation list. Teams are allowed to claim exclusive rights on players by placing them on the list, but players can easily be removed at anytime. It’s unlikely that Owens will stay on the list for very long, as the wideout hasn’t played professionally since 2012 (and he hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2010).
  • Speaking of the CFL, former NFL Ricky Stanzi has been released by the Calgary Stampeders (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). The 30-year-old had a standout performance during the 2017 Spring League, and he ended up earning a contract with the Canadian team. The 2011 fifth-round pick had stints with the Chiefs, Jaguars, Texans, Giants, and Lions during his NFL career, although he never managed to take the field for a regular season game.

Mike Pettine Not Interested In Being A Head Coach Again

New Packers defensive coordinator and former Browns head coach Mike Pettine is back in the NFL after two years away from the sidelines, but he didn’t accept his new role in Green Bay with an eye towards a second head coaching job, as he explained during a press conference earlier today (video link).Mike Pettine

When I was the head coach, I didn’t enjoy the lack of interaction with the actual football part of it,” Pettine said. “I always made the comparison of going from being the teacher to now you’re the principal. As a coordinator [you’re] 90 percent football and 10 percent administrative stuff. That essentially flipped and I didn’t like it.”

Pettine, who posted a 7-9 record with the Browns in 2014 before slipping to 3-13 in 2015, also described himself as “beaten up physically and mentally” after spending two years with Cleveland. He interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive coordinator job last offseason, and then spent the 2017 campaign working as a consultant for the Seahawks.

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Packers To Hire Mike Pettine As DC

The Packers will hire former Browns head coach Mike Pettine as their next defensive coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mike Pettine

Pettine interviewed to replace Dom Capers earlier today, and head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t let the ex-Jets/Bills defensive coordinator leave the building. A long-time Rex Ryan disciple who — like Capers — runs primarily a 3-4 scheme, Pettine will now head to Green Bay after not coaching in the NFL in 2017.

The Packers’ decision to hire Pettine could have effects for not only the rest of the Green Bay defensive staff, but the coordinator market as a while. As PFR’s 2018 Coordinator Tracker shows, the Packers had considered three internal candidates — Winston Moss, Darren Perry, and Joe Whitt — as DC options, and reports have indicated some or all of that trio could now leave Green Bay after being passed over for a promotion.

McCarthy & Co. had expressed interest in external candidates, as well, and were thought to have considered Bears DC Vic Fangio their top target. Fangio, who’s drawn interest from multiple clubs, now remains on the coaching market, as does Chargers DC Gus Bradley, another Green Bay candidate. Speculatively, Fangio’s reported price tag of $2MM+ could have played a factor in the Packers taking a pass.

Pettine, 51, was a star high school coach who rose the coordinator ranks to become head coach of the Browns in 2014. After posting a surprising 7-9 record in his debut campaign, Pettine’s Cleveland squad fell to 3-13 the following season, and Pettine wasn fired. He interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive play-calling job last January but lost out to Greg Manusky.

Now that he’s under contract, Pettine could act quickly to form the remainder of his staff, especially if Moss, Perry, or Whitt leave. Former Browns and 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil should be expected to land a role on Pettine’s new coaching unit, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

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Packers To Interview Mike Pettine For DC Job

Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine will interview for the Packers’ defensive coordinator job on Tuesday, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Pettine becomes one of five known candidates in the running for the gig, as shown on PFR’s Coordinator TrackerMike Pettine

Pettine spent last year as a defensive consultant for the Seahawks. In the fall, it was said that he would be one of Matt Nagy‘s top choices for defensive coordinator if he were to land a head coaching job. Now that Nagy is in Chicago, it’s possible that Pettine could wind up as a candidate for two different jobs in the same division.

Pettine first made a name for himself as a key defensive coach on the Ravens’ staff. When Rex Ryan left Baltimore for the Jets, he brought Pettine along as his DC. After a stint as Buffalo’s DC and Cleveland’s head coach, he’s once again a candidate for a coordinator job.

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NFC Notes: Clayborn, 49ers, Lions

Falcons defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn was prepared to hang up the cleats last offseason, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Clayborn suffered a torn biceps in Atlanta’s playoff win over the Seahawks in January, which marked the third time that he had endured a season-ending injury, and he was ready to retire rather than risk more pain and frustration. However, his fiancee (now wife) convinced him to give it another shot, and Atlanta is reaping the benefits. In addition to his otherworldly (and perhaps cathartic) six-sack performance against Dallas last week, Clayborn has rated as the 10th-best edge defender in the league (out of 110 qualifiers) per Pro Football Focus. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and he could be on the verge of a very nice payday.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • 2017 was always going to be a rebuilding year for the 49ers, and Cam Inman of the Mercury News offers his thoughts as to each current player’s future with the club. He suggests, for instance, that the team may prefer to let oft-injured Jimmie Ward test a soft free agent market but may want to re-sign fellow free agent-t0-be Daniel Kilgore.
  • Kyle Meinke of MLive.com says he would not be surprised if the Lions simply cut Eric Ebron this offseason. While Ebron is due an $8MM salary under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, that salary is guaranteed for injury only, so Detroit could move on from him with no penalty (assuming, of course, he does not get hurt in the meantime). Theoretically, the two sides could attempt to work out some alternate arrangement — after all, Ebron would not get close to $8MM on the open market — but given that Ebron seemed anxious for a fresh start when his name was bandied about at the trade deadline, it sounds as if Ebron may be playing his last games as Lion.
  • In the same piece, Meinke says it is hard to imagine Lions head coach Jim Caldwell getting the axe after the season, even if the team fails to qualify for the playoffs. However, Meinke predicts that Detroit will let impending free agent center Travis Swanson, who has performed poorly this season, hit the open market while sliding Graham Glasgow from guard to center.
  • Ty Montgomery‘s re-aggravated rib injury is more painful than the original injury that he suffered earlier in the year, as ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets. Anderson said the Packers running back, who will miss today’s contest against the Ravens, will try to practice later this week with the hopes of suiting up for Green Bay’s Week 12 game against Pittsburgh, but it does not sound particularly promising right now.
  • Mike Pettine, who is currently serving as a consultant with the Seahawks, would be one of Matt Nagy‘s top choices for defensive coordinator if Nagy lands a head coaching job this offseason, as Michael Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Pettine served as the Browns’ head coach from 2014-15, and he was previously a defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills. Nagy currently works as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and is expected to be one of the hottest head coaching candidates in 2018.

Redskins Interviewed Mike Pettine For DC

Time to add another name to the list of Redskins defensive coordinator candidates. The team announced that they interviewed former NFL head coach Mike Pettine for the open position on Monday.

Pettine was the head coach of the Browns from 2014 through 2015, compiling a 10-22 record. Prior to his tenure in Cleveland, Pettine served as the defensive coordinator for the Bills and Jets. The 50-year-old had plenty of success during his stints in New York and Buffalo. As Stephen Czarda of Redskins.com notes, Pettine’s Jets defenses were responsible for an “NFL-low 71.0 quarterback rating, completion percentage (52.6 percent) and passing yards (186.3 per game)” during his four seasons with the organization. During his one season in Buffalo, Pettine helped the defense move from 22nd in yards allowed to 10th.

Former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is reportedly the Redskins’ main target for the gig. This isn’t very surprising considering the coach’s connection to many members of the Redskins organization. Bradley previously worked with general manager Scot McCloughan in Seattle, and he worked alongside head coach Jay Gruden and president Bruce Allen in Tampa Bay.

As our coordinator tracker shows, the Redskins are also set to interview Panthers associate head coach/defensive backs coach Steve Wilks. The team was denied permission to interview Bengals defensive coordinator Paul GuentherESPN.com’s John Keim reports that there hasn’t been any contact between the Redskins and Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The Redskins fired former defensive coordinator Joe Barry last week. The team finished towards the bottom of the league in yards allowed during Barry’s two seasons in Washington.

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