Miles Austin

Coaching Notes: Rams, WFT, Jets, Falcons, Broncos, Steelers

The Rams have found their new special teams coordinator, as the team announced that they’ve hired Joe DeCamillis. The veteran coach will be replacing John Bonamego, who’s transitioning to a senior coaching assistant role.

DeCamillis brings 32 years of NFL coaching experience, including the past four years as the Jaguars special teams coordinator. During his stint in Jacksonville, the team traditionally ranked top-10 in many special teams categories, and in 2019, DeCamillis helped guide punter Logan Cooke and kicker Josh Lambo to becoming the first teammates to lead the NFL in net punting average and field goal percentage.

Prior to working with the Jaguars, the 55-year-old spent time as special teams coordinator with the Broncos, Bears, and Cowboys, and he also spent time on the Falcons and Giants coaching staffs.

Bonamego, 57, joined the Rams last February. He spent the 2019 season as special teams coordinator of the Lions, and he was Central Michigan’s head coach between the 2015 and 2018 seasons.

Some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Jennifer King is expected to become a full-time offensive assistant on Washington‘s coaching staff, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). This makes King “the first full-time Black female coach in NFL history,” per The Athletic. The Guilford College product spent the 2020 season as a full-year coaching intern on Ron Rivera‘s staff.
  • It’s looking like new Jets head coach Robert Saleh has finalized his offensive coaching staff. We previously heard about the hirings of Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp as quarterbacks coach, John Benton as offensive line coach, and Rob Calabrese as passing game specialist. ESPN’s Rich Cimini passed along a few names we can add to the list, including wide receivers coach Miles Austin, running backs coach Taylor Embree, and tight ends coach Ron Middleton. As Cimini notes, the staff doesn’t feature a whole lot of experience, with Calabrese, Embree, and Austin serving as first-time NFL positional coaches.
  • The Falcons are expected to hire Charles London as their new quarterbacks coach, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). It’s a bit of an interesting hire, as London has spent the last nine years serving as a running backs coach with the Texans, Bears, and Penn State. However, the 45-year-old does have experience as an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Titans and Bears.
  • Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweets that Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins has drawn interest “from around the league as offensive coordinator.” The 50-year-old has consistently served as an NFL running backs coach since the 2008 season, spending time with the Chiefs, Cardinals, Bills, Lions, 49ers, and Bears.
  • Mike Tomlin interviewed Hank Fraley for the Steelers OL coach gig, reports Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (via Twitter). Fraley actually started his NFL career in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent back in 2000. Following a playing career that saw him appear in 142 games (mostly with the Eagles and Browns), Fraley has served as a coach at both the collegiate and professional level, including a recent stint as the Lions offensive line coach.

Staff Notes: 49ers, Chiefs, Eagles, Packers

Former NFL wide receiver Miles Austin is joining the 49ers as an offensive quality control coach, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Austin, 34, spent the majority of his playing career with the Cowboys and then joined the Dallas scouting staff after announcing his retirement in 2016. The Cowboys interviewed Austin for their vacant wide receivers job last offseason, but that gig ultimately went to Sanjay Lal. Austin will join recent retirees Wes Welker (receivers) and DeMeco Ryans (inside linebackers) on the San Francisco staff.

Here’s more from the NFL’s coaching carousel:

  • The Chiefs have hired Dave Merritt as their new defensive backs coach, per Yates (Twitter link). Merritt was actually hired as the Jaguars’ assistant defensive line coach earlier this offseason, but Jacksonville has apparently let him out his contract in order to pursue a better opportunity. The 47-year-old Merritt worked under new Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in New York, working as the Giants’ defensive backs coach alongside Spags from 2007-08. The Chiefs haven’t announced whether incumbent secondary coaches Emmitt Thomas and Al Harris will be retained.
  • Alabama running backs coach Joe Pannunzio will leave Tuscaloosa in order to take an undisclosed role with the Eagles, reports Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network (Twitter link). The 59-year-old Pannunzio, who previously served as the head coach at Murray State, worked in Philadelphia’s personnel department under former head coach Chip Kelly from 2015-16. The Eagles already have a running backs coach in place in Duce Staley (who also holds the title of assistant head coach), so it’s unclear if Pannunzio will join the club’s on-field staff or instead head to the front office.
  • The Packers announced that they’ve hired Luke Butkus as assistant offensive line coach and Rayna Stewart as a special teams quality control coach. Butkus, the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, will work under new Green Bay OL coach Adam Stenavich, while Stewart will advise new ST coordinator Shawn Mennenga.

Staff Notes: Fins, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs

Having interviewed for the Giants’ HC position earlier this week, Eric Studesville will make a trip to Miami. With the Giants zeroing in others for their top coaching job, Studesville is set to interview with the Dolphins for a position on their offensive staff, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets.

This comes on the same day a running backs coach vacancy opened up with the Dolphins, who are relieving Danny Barrett of his duties overseeing the team’s backfield, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). Salguero adds Studesville could be a candidate for the running backs job but possibly something else. Adam Gase tried to hire Studesville as RBs coach in 2016, but the Broncos blocked the move, Salguero reports.

Studesville coached the Broncos’ running backs for the past eight seasons and was listed as a Denver assistant head coach prior to being fired after this season. Studesville has coached NFL backfields since 1997 and instructed the Bears’, Giants’ and Bills’ running backs from 1997-2009. Barrett coached in college and in the CFL prior to leading the Fins’ backfield the past two seasons. Gase worked with Studesville for a longer period of time, however. The two spent five seasons together on Broncos staffs.

Here’s the latest from the assistant carousel.

  • Elsewhere in the RBs-coaching game, the Chiefs are interviewing USC running backs coach Deland McCullough for the job Eric Bieniemy vacated when he received a promotion to OC, per Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). McCullough has coached the Trojans’ backs for one season but is better known for helping Indiana ball-carriers from 2011-16. Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard thrived under McCullough’s tutelage in Bloomington.
  • Gary Brown‘s become a coveted assistant over the past two weeks. The Cowboys want to retain him, and the Raiders were interested prior to hiring their next RBs instructor as well. The Texans are now in the mix, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting Brown has offers to coach in Houston and Dallas. Brown is a coaching free agent; he led the Cowboys’ RBs from 2013-17. The Texans fired running backs coach Charles London last week.
  • Miles Austin interviewed for the Cowboys’ wide receivers coach position, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. The Cowboys saw previous WRs coach Derek Dooley join Missouri’s coaching staff as OC. Austin’s worked in Dallas’ scouting department the past two seasons since retiring.
  • The Browns hired a new wideouts coach in Adam Henry, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a three-year deal for Henry, who was previously the Giants’ receivers coach. Henry coached Big Blue’s wideouts the past two seasons.
  • The Bengals hired former Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack, Hill reports. Pollack coached Dallas’ O-line from 2015-17. He’ll replace Paul Alexander, whom the Bengals fired after more than two decades on staff. Alexander could make this a swap, with Hill reporting he interviewed Thursday to become Cowboys offensive line coach.
  • Cowboys tight ends coach Steve Loney is retiring, Hill reports. The 65-year-old assistant worked with five NFL teams and served as OC for Iowa State and Minnesota during the late 1990s and early ’00s.

Eagles Release Miles Austin

The Eagles have parted ways with veteran wide receiver Miles Austin, tweets Howard Eskin of FOX 29 in Philadelphia. Austin will have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent, but he’s unlikely to be claimed, given the money left on his deal and his performance this season.

Austin, who signed a one-year, $2.5MM contract with the Eagles in March, has been a disappointment for the team this season. Despite seeing a decent amount of playing time, the ex-Cowboy has hauled in just 13 of 31 targets, for 224 yards and a touchdown. He was inactive for his final game with the Eagles.

While Philadelphia could add another receiver to the roster to replace Austin, the team still has plenty of depth at the position on the 53-man squad. The move could result in a few extra snaps for players like Josh Huff and Jonathan Krause.

Sunday Roundup: Kelly, Beachum, Fauria

Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that coaches like the EaglesChip Kelly, who exercise control over both the football and business side of a team’s operations, frequently succumb to the pressures and difficulties of absolute power. Bill Belichick has managed to make it work in New England, but he is the exception to the rule.

Philadelphia’s recent saga with Evan Mathis demonstrates just how difficult Kelly’s position can be. As McLane writes, “Kelly received nothing in return for a Pro Bowl guard who had little leverage and claimed that he was prepared to report and perform without being a disruption – as he did last year.” And if the decision to release Mathis turns out to be a poor one, Kelly will have no higher authority to share the blame.

Although players will typically side with their teammates when asked about contract difficulties, the responses to Mathis’ release suggest that Kelly is still commanding respect in the locker room even as he takes full control of the team’s personnel affairs. McLane says that Mathis’ former teammates offered “vociferous support of management” after Mathis was cut, and tight end Zach Ertz had this to say: “I understand where [Mathis is] coming from. In his mind he thinks he’s underpaid, so he’s got to do what he thinks is best. But we want people here that are going to trust the process.”

Of course, there will be many more difficult personnel decisions to be made, decisions that will truly test whether Kelly can first construct a talented roster and then get that roster to win football games. It is a decidedly tall task, and one that most have been unable to meet.

Now let’s take a look at some links from around the league:

  • One of Kelly’s acquisitions this offseason was Miles Austin, who signed a one-year, $2.3MM deal with the club. Austin might not be getting a lot of attention from those outside the Eagles locker room, but Kelly himself is pleased with what he has seen from the one-time star, writes Connor Orr of NFL.com. “He’s got really, really good range,” Kelly said. “Catches the ball extremely well. Intelligent. Kind of knows the subtleties of the exact route running, kind of exactly where to maybe place his elbow to get separation in terms of pushing off the hip and things like that. And he’s imparted that on the younger guys, which I think has really helped us to have that true veteran route runner in there, and I think he’s been really good at doing that.”
  • The Colts have four locks to make the team at wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and first-round pick Phillip Dorsett, writes Kevin Bowen of Colts.com. After that, they have three players competing for either one or two spots in Vincent Brown, Duron Carter, and Griff Whalen.
  • David Newton of ESPN.com says Jerricho Cotchery is likely to make the Panthers‘ final roster due to his leadership abilities, but Newton does not see him making a significant on-field contribution considering the talent ahead of him on the depth chart.
  • In the same piece, Newton says he does not see the Panthers making any significant additions along the offensive line unless there is a major injury in training camp, even if a player like the newly-acquired Michael Oher struggles.
  • The Steelers have not spoken with tackle Kelvin Beachum, who is entering the final year of his contract, about a new deal, tweets Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com. Beachum though, says he is not sweating his contract situation and is fully focused on the 2015 season.
  • Tashaun Gipson is the talk of the town in Tony Grossi’s latest mailbag for ESPN.com, and Grossi writes that the recent contract drama surrounding Gipson has created a bad vibe between player and team. He also addresses whether the Browns could keep Johnny Manziel inactive all year during his recovery.
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com is somewhat surprised by how limited Lions tight end Joseph Fauria was in the spring, and the fact that the team signed David Ausberry and attempted to claim Tim Wright off waivers suggests that Detroit is at least considering contingency plans. That said, Fauria is expected to be ready for training camp, and the Lions continue to be impressed by his upside.

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.

Eagles Sign Miles Austin

TUESDAY, 12:50pm: The Eagles have officially signed Austin, the team announced today (via Twitter).

MONDAY, 4:23pm: The Eagles and Austin have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.3MM, with another $700K available in incentives, tweets Rapoport. Presumably, the agreement is still pending a physical, which isn’t necessarily a given, considering Austin’s history of health issues.

10:40am: Assuming all goes well with his visit and his physical this week, Austin is expected to sign a contract to join the Eagles, according to Rapoport (via Twitter).

9:40am: One former Cowboys offensive playmaker has notably joined the Eagles this offseason, as DeMarco Murray made the jump from Dallas to Philadelphia. Now, the Eagles are eyeing another free agent who used to play for their division rivals. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), veteran wideout Miles Austin is set to visit Philadelphia this week.

Austin, of course, isn’t the same sort of impact player Murray is at this stage of his career. However, he had a decent bounce-back season in Cleveland last year, catching 47 balls for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. The 30-year-old has racked up 348 catches for more than 5,000 yards during his nine-year NFL career, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods during his time with the Cowboys.

The Eagles are in the market for receiving help after seeing Jeremy Maclin leave for Kansas City earlier this month. Jordan Matthews appears poised to take on a more significant role for the club in 2015, and Chip Kelly has praised the wide receiver depth in this year’s draft class. Still, besides Matthews, Riley Cooper is the only wideout currently under contract who has more than 10 career receptions, so Philadelphia could use another veteran.

Miles Austin Wants To Stay With Browns

Browns wide receiver Miles Austin says he wants to return to the Browns in 2015 after his contract is up, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Austin enjoyed his year in Cleveland even though his season ended prematurely. The veteran suffered a lacerated kidney during the team’s Week 13 game in Buffalo which led to him being placed on IR.

The Browns signed Austin in May after they lost Josh Gordon to a (then) season-long suspension and neglected to take a wide receiver in the draft. General Manager Ray Farmer made it known that he would target affordable veteran help instead and the former Cowboy was a part of that plan as he was signed to a modest one-year deal with a $1.7MM base.

The 30-year-old came to the Browns with two Pro Bowl appearances on his resume but, as was the case in years past, the injury bug slowed him down significantly. Austin appeared in 12 games for the Browns in 2014, recording 47 receptions for 568 yards and two touchdowns.

Austin’s best years came in 2009 when he hauled in 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns and in 2010 when he caught 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns. The New Jersey native will turn 31 in the spring.

Browns Sign Shaun Draughn, Place Miles Austin On IR

10:34am: The Browns have officially confirmed the addition of Draughn, announcing that wideout Miles Austin has been placed on injured reserve to accommodate the signing (Twitter link). Austin sustained a kidney injury during the team’s Week 13 game in Buffalo.

10:29am: As we wait for word on which quarterback will start for the Browns against the Colts this weekend, there’s some more minor news out of Cleveland to pass along. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Browns have signed running back Shaun Draughn to a one-year contract.

Draughn, who turns 27 on Sunday, played for the Chargers earlier this season when San Diego’s backfield was hit hard by injuries, earning 10 carries in an October game against the Jets. However, Draughn wasn’t particularly effective in his limited action, rushing for just 19 yards on those 10 attempts, and was cut by the team about a month ago. The former Chief and Raven has accumulated 73 career carries for 254 yards and two TDs, as well as 24 receptions for 158 yards.

The Browns cut one veteran running back last month, parting ways with offseason signee Ben Tate and opening the door for rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West to carry the load in Cleveland. However, neither player had a good game on Sunday in Buffalo, with Crowell totaling just 29 yards on 17 carries, while West lost a key fumble in the second half that was returned for a touchdown. Draughn is unlikely to push for a featured role in Cleveland, but his presence could help provide some stability in a backfield that features multiple rookies, including third-string back Glenn Winston.

The Browns have a full 53-man roster, so for Draughn’s signing to become official, the team will have to make a corresponding move.

Injury Updates: Sunday

Let’s take a look at some injuries that could force clubs to make a change to their rosters as they enter the final quarter of the regular season:

  • Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel suffered a triceps injury during today’s game against the Saints, meaning his season could be in jeopardy, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Keisel, 36, contemplated retirement before re-signing with Pittsburgh earlier this year, so if this injury is serious, it could potentially signal the end of his career.
  • Receiver DeSean Jackson had to leave Washington’s game against the Colts after bruising his right fibula, but X-rays didn’t show any broken bones, per Zac Boyer of the Washington Times. Jackson, who allowed that he was in pain, called himself day-to-day.
  • In the same game, Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was forced to leave after suffering a concussion, writes Mike Wells of ESPN.com. Davis will presumably enter the league’s concussion protocol, which immediately leaves his Week 14 status in doubt.
  • Titans receiver Justin Hunter suffered an alarming injury today, as he lacerated his spleen against the Texans, tweets Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. He will remain in the hospital overnight.
  • Another receiver was sent to the hospital today, as Browns pass-catcher Miles Austin had to leave the field in a stretcher after suffering abdominal pain, per Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Cardinals lost three starters during today’s game, as running back Andre Ellington (hip), defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) and guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) all left Arizona’s contest against the Falcons and were soon declared out for the day, the team announced on Twitter.

Browns Agree To Terms With Miles Austin

MAY 21: On his one-year deal with the Browns, Austin received a $300K signing bonus to go with a $1.7MM base, for an overall value of $2MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

MAY 15: After not picking up a wideout in last week’s draft, the Browns have made a move to bolster a potentially thin receiving corps. Cleveland has agreed to terms with former Cowboy Miles Austin, according to the club’s official Twitter account.Miles Austin

The Browns had been expected to target receivers last week even before word broke that Josh Gordon could be facing a season-long suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. However, GM Ray Farmer downplayed the urgency of picking up receiving help in the draft, pointing to trades and free agency as ways the club could add short-term, inexpensive options. There are rumblings that the team may also bring former Bear Earl Bennett aboard, though that has not yet been confirmed.

Austin, who turns 30 next month, earned a pair of Pro Bowl berths earlier in his career, hauling in 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010. However, he has been slowed by off-and-on hamstring issues in recent years and became a cap casualty earlier this offseason when he was released by the Cowboys. Dallas head coach Jason Garrett suggested earlier this week that the door wasn’t closed on a potential Austin return, but it always seemed as if the Cowboys were moving on from the veteran.

Although the potential loss of Gordon is a significant blow to the Browns and whichever quarterback wins the competition between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, the team has been active in fortifying its receiving group in free agency. Austin becomes the third veteran receiver to sign with the Browns since the season ended, following in the footsteps of Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson.

Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but I’d expect a one-year contract worth the minimum or close to it, likely with some bonus money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.