Mike Trgovac

Raiders Rumors: Martin, Cook, Trgovac

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • The Raiders say they want to hold onto Marshawn Lynch, but they are also still intent on keeping pending free agent Doug Martin, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Martin finished out the year with 723 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and a yards per carry average of 4.2, his best showing since 2015. In late November, Jon Gruden was adamant about re-signing Martin, so it’s little surprise to hear that he remains in the team’s plans.
  • Gruden also said the Raiders will work hard to re-sign tight end Jared Cook, Tafur writes. “I had a good meeting with Jared before he left,” Gruden said. “And we’ll do the best we can to get him back. It will be competitive. I’m sure there are a lot of teams who look at the tape and put him on their wish list.” Cook was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after he hauled in a career-high 68 catches for 896 yards and six TDs.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner has taken the same job with the Raiders, but former DL coach Mike Trgovac is still in the team’s plans. Gruden says he’ll remain with the club in an advisory role.

West Rumors: Fitz, Raiders, Broncos, Brown

After the Cardinals trudged through their worst season in 18 years, Larry Fitzgerald‘s latest retire-or-not decision now features another new coach and offensive system in the equation — this one with no NFL coaching experience. But the future Hall of Fame receiver has not distanced himself from the process that brought Kliff Kingsbury to Arizona. Fitz has exchanged text messages with his new coach, the 35-year-old wideout told TMZ recently (via the Arizona Republic).

Hell of a coach. … Look at his resume,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s innovative offensively. That’s the wave of the future right now, so I’m excited for the chance to meet him.”

Fitzgerald played out his contract and is a free agent. While it would seemingly be tempting for the 15-year veteran to see if he could land with a team better positioned to compete for a championship, the career-long Cardinal has said multiple times he will only play for the Cards. Fitz continues to deliberate about the possibility of retiring or coming back for a 16th season.

Here is more from the West-division teams that have been working on their offseason strategies.

  • Former Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper will return to Denver as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. Kuper spent the previous three seasons coaching under Adam Gase in Miami. He retired following the 2013 season with the Broncos, who deployed him as a starter for most of his career. Kuper will work under Mike Munchak.
  • The 49ers are the Las Vegas frontrunners to land Antonio Brown, and The Athletic (subscription required) agrees with that assessment. San Francisco should be viewed as the clubhouse leaders to acquire the disgruntled Steelers wideout, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows. Kyle Shanahan balked at paying high prices for this past year’s UFA crop, and Barrows writes the 49ers will not be giving up their No. 2 overall pick for a soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout. However, he cautions a team picking in the late first round may be able to outflank a San Francisco trade offer, regardless of the 49ers’ need at this position.
  • Brentson Buckner‘s position with the Raiders will be defensive line coach, Jon Gruden said Tuesday (via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). Buckner, who coached the Buccaneers’ defensive linemen last season, will replace Mike Trgovac. The latter, however, will be promoted in some capacity, per Gruden. As for the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach position — vacated by Brian Callahan‘s move to become the Bengals’ OC Tuesday — the team might wait until the Combine to fill that position.
  • Gruden believes Daryl Worley underwent shoulder surgery recently after ending his season with a torn labrum, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. Worley, a starter this season prior to landing on IR, is expected to receive an RFA tender from the Raiders.

Coaching Rumors: Blackburn, Bears, Browns

The Panthers will be making a change atop their special teams staff. Incumbent special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey is out, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets, and the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez reports (on Twitter) Chase Blackburn will now run Carolina’s special teams units. A former linebacker who won two Super Bowls with the Giants and finished his career with the Panthers, Blackburn had been working as the Panthers’ assistant ST coach for the past two years.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks.

  • For the first time since 2010, someone other than Chris Tabor will oversee the Browns‘ ST units. Amos Jones will relocate to Cleveland to take over as the team’s special teams boss, Marvez tweets. Jones coached the Cardinals’ ST groups during Bruce Arians‘ five-year stay in Arizona. Tabor is now the Bears’ ST coordinator.
  • Rumored to be a candidate to stay in Chicago despite the Bears‘ coaching change, Dave Ragone will indeed stay on as the team’s quarterbacks coach, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. This comes after the Bears interviewed both ex-Raiders OC Todd Downing and Texans assistant Pat O’Hara for the job. Ragone could be in line for an extension, Biggs notes, with one year remaining on his Bears contract.
  • Biggs also notes Vic Fangio believes most, if not all, of his defensive assistants will remain on staff. The Bears finished as the No. 14 DVOA defense in 2017 and retained Fangio despite his contract having expired.
  • The TitansSteve Wilks HC interview took place Thursday. Both Wilks and Texans DC Mike Vrabel interviewed for this job today. Wilks remains a candidate for the Cards’ HC job.
  • Speaking of the Cardinals‘ HC position, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweets James Bettcher likely won’t need a second interview to be hired. Should the Cards determine their current DC is the right man for the job, Somers notes his five years of experience working with the team should be a sufficient judge rather than a second meeting for the HC job.
  • The Raiders continued to add to their coaching staff this week, bringing aboard four new assistants to Jon Gruden 2.0’s first staff. Recently jettisoned Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac will land in Oakland as its D-line instructor, and Byron Storer will be the team’s assistant special teams coach. Trgovac coached Green Bay’s defensive lines from 2009-17. The 33-year-old Storer played for Gruden as a fullback in Tampa Bay from 2007-08 but hasn’t coached in the NFL since working with the 2013 Chargers. Additionally, Tim Berbenich and Travis Smith will be offensive and defensive quality control coaches, respectively. Smith’s been a Raiders assistant for most of this decade. He served as outside linebackers coach in 2017 after being promoted from the quality control group last year.

Packers Shake Up Coaching Staff

The Packers have decided to make dramatic changes in their coaching staff, the team has announced. Among the bigger news released today was that defensive coordinator Dom Capers officially been fired. It was already reported that the longtime coach was going to be let go a few days ago, but the news just confirmed by team officials today. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and linebackers coach Scott McCurley were also officially relieved of their duties.

“I want to thank each of these men and their families for all that they gave to the Packers during their time here,” head coach Mike McCarthy added. “We enjoyed a lot of success together and they directly contributed to our accomplishments. These are difficult personal decisions and we hope for the best for their families moving forward.”

Tom Pellisero of NFL.com has also reported that current offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett will be reassigned to another post and that the Packers will allow quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt‘s contract to expire this offseason (Twitter link). It should be noted that both of these reported decisions are still awaiting confirmation from the team.

Edgar Bennett (Vertical)

Bennett had been on the Packers staff for awhile, serving in many roles, including the team’s player development, running backs, wide receivers coach since he joined the organization in 2001. He had been promoted to offensive coordinator at the start of the 2015 season. His role change will allow the team to hire an offensive coordinator from outside the organization.

Van Pelt was hired as the team’s running backs coach in 2012 was promoted to handle the team’s quarterbacks in 2014.

Both coaches have had the benefit of working with All-pro signal caller Aaron Rodgers over the past few years. But the offense showed significant flaws when Rodgers went down with injuries for a much of the 2017 season. Today’s news essentially confirms the speculation that the Packers could drastically alter their coaching staff in the weeks ahead since they missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.