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Lions Sign Dan Campbell To Six-Year Deal

The Lions have officially hired Dan Campbell as their new head coach. The former Saints assistant inked a six-year commitment on Wednesday morning (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), a sign of Detroit’s confidence in the former tight end. 

[RELATED: Lions Hire Brad Holmes As GM]

This is an exciting day for our organization as we introduce Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. “With more than twenty years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves.”

Campbell was the reported frontrunner for the vacancy, but with Lions couldn’t hire him until the Saints were eliminated from the playoffs. Eric BieniemyMarvin Lewis, Arthur Smith, and Robert Saleh were also considered for the job, but Campbell made a strong impression in his first interview and quickly secured the gig.

The Lions fired Matt Patricia just after Thanksgiving, capping his tenure with a 13-29-1 record. They also canned GM Bob Quinn, who was replaced by former Rams exec Brad Holmes earlier this month.

The Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016; they believe the energetic Campbell can turn things around. The 44-year-old has spent the last five years as a Saints assistant. Previous to that, Campbell climbed the coaching ladder, all the way up to the Dolphins’ interim head coaching job in 2015. A few years later, the Dolphins asked Campbell to interview for the permanent post, but he opted to wait for a better fit. Now, Campbell has found the right landing spot — and a six-year commitment — with the Lions.

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Colts QB Philip Rivers Retires From NFL

The Colts planned to give Philip Rivers at least a month to mull his NFL future. It turns out, he only needed about a week to make his decision. The star quarterback will retire from the game after 17 seasons. 

It’s just time,” Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s just right…What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.”

Rivers spent the majority of his career with the Chargers before hooking on with the Colts in 2020. In his lone Indy season, he led the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Even at his advanced age, Rivers managed to top 4,000 passing yards for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns against eleven interceptions. After completing 68% of his regular season throws, Rivers & Co. came up short against the Bills in the Wild Card round.

Rivers will coach high school football in Alabama this year, even though he had multiple TV opportunities. He also had plenty of opportunities still waiting for him in the NFL. The Colts seemed interested in an 18th season from No. 17, and they weren’t alone. Still, at the age of 39, Rivers is ready to move on to the next chapter.

I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season,” Rivers said in a statement. “Thank you to all my coaches that helped me grow as a player and person. Thanks to the support staff. I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week. … I also enjoyed the banter. I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!

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Jaguars Plan To Hire Trent Baalke As GM

Although the Jaguars have interviewed a few outside candidates for their general manager job, they are expected to promote from within to replace Dave Caldwell.

The Jaguars are planning to install director of player personnel Trent Baalke as GM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Baalke, who served as 49ers GM from 2011-16, finished the season as the Jags’ interim GM.

Shad Khan made it fairly clear new HC Urban Meyer will be calling the shots in Jacksonville, while the owner will continue to have a strong say in personnel decisions. Jags ownership made a push to sell Meyer on Baalke, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter).

In Baalke, 56, the Jags will retain a veteran personnel exec who previously worked alongside a college coach. Baalke hired Jim Harbaugh from Stanford in 2011, and the duo piloted the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games in their first three years together. However, that relationship soured and led to Harbaugh’s 2014 exit. The 49ers fired Baalke after the 2016 season.

Prior to joining the 49ers as a scout during the 2000s, Baalke spent time with the Jets and Washington. The Jaguars hired Baalke in February 2020, and Caldwell’s brief lieutenant will be called upon to play a central role in Meyer’s rebuilding effort — one expected to center around Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars had Caldwell in place as GM from 2013-19, though Tom Coughlin called the shots for three years during that span. Khan fired Coughlin near the end of the 2019 season and canned Caldwell late in 2020 during a losing streak that swelled to 15 games.

Baalke’s 49ers run dovetailed after Harbaugh’s departure. The 49ers missed the playoffs in Harbaugh’s final season, and Baalke’s two replacement hires — Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly — became one-and-dones during a 7-25 San Francisco stretch from 2015-16. While Baalke brings extensive GM experience, he was not connected to any GM jobs between his 49ers firing and this expected promotion. The Jags interviewed former GMs Jerry Reese, Rick Smith and Ray Farmer for the position while also meeting with Louis Riddick and now-Falcons GM Terry Fontenot for the position.

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Latest On Eagles’ Coaching Search, Josh McDaniels ‘Prime’ Candidate?

With the Chargers hiring Brandon Staley and the Lions expected to agree to terms with Dan Campbell, the Eagles are one of two teams (along with the Texans) with a head coaching vacancy. They’re ramping up their search, and it sounds like Josh McDaniels is picking up some steam. 

We heard over the weekend that the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator would interview, and now multiple sources tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that McDaniels is a “prime candidate” for the job (Twitter link). That doesn’t mean he’s nearing an offer or anything, as Fowler also reports that former Jets coach Todd Bowles will interview today and has some “internal support” in the building. Bowles is currently the DC of the Bucs, and has done a great job with that young defense.

Fowler also writes that Eric Bieniemy does not have an interview planned despite Philly requesting one on Saturday, so maybe the Chiefs OC has no interest in the job. McDaniels, of course, was the Broncos’ head coach from 2009-10, and has been back as the Patriots’ coordinator since 2012.

He infamously almost accepted the Colts head coaching gig a few years ago before backing out at the last minute, but maybe now he’s finally ready to take the plunge. No matter who gets the job, it sounds like they could be walking into an awkward arrangement where the quarterback situation isn’t quite up to them.

Eagles brass has apparently told candidates that they want to bring Carson Wentz back, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link). Not just that, Rapsheet even adds that the “priority with the new coach is to make sure Carson Wentz is as good as he was before.”

If that’s true, it sounds like the Wentz position is somewhat non-negotiable. What that means for Jalen Hurts is anyone’s guess, and the potential for a strained relationship with the front office could be what has kept some top candidates away from Philly.

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Seahawks Speak With Adam Gase About OC Opening

Could Adam Gase be back running an NFL offense in 2021? The recently fired Jets coach has spoken with the Seahawks about their offensive coordinator vacancy, a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Gase is one of the most polarizing coaches in recent memory, and this news will surely have some Seattle fans fired up after Gase’s disastrous tenure in New York. But prior to his time with the Jets, Gase was widely respected in league circles for his work with the Broncos and then as head coach of the Dolphins, so this news isn’t too surprising all things considered.

Bill Belichick also raved about Gase’s abilities toward the end of the season, and there’s been speculation that he could join his staff in New England, potentially as quarterbacks coach with Jedd Fisch departing or even as OC if Josh McDaniels landed a head coaching job. Fowler also notes the Seahawks plan to speak with Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka about the opening.

Kafka, only 33, has been on the receiving end of some buzz in recent years as a quick riser. We heard when Doug Pederson was fired that the latest Andy Reid protege could be a candidate for the Eagles’ head coaching job.

Whatever the case, Gase and Kafka are far from the only two candidates to replace Brian Schottenheimer in Seattle. They’ve also been linked to fellow recently fired head coaches Anthony Lynn and Pederson. Clearly, as Fowler notes, they’re casting a wide net.

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Sean McVay Non-Committal On Jared Goff

The Rams just lost their defensive coordinator to the Chargers, and more big changes could be on the way. Los Angeles just wrapped up what was by all accounts a successful season, winning a playoff game and advancing to the divisional round after failing to make the postseason the year before. But if they want to make it back to their old heights of the 2018 Super Bowl run, they’ll need much better production in the passing game. 

Sean McVay seems to understand that, and he’s now raised plenty of eyebrows in his last two press conferences by declining to commit to Jared Goff. In his post-game press conference immediately after the Rams’ loss to the Packers, McVay was asked whether Goff is his quarterback and he replied “yeah, he’s the quarterback right now.” As we’ve often seen, “right now” can be something of a kiss of death in coach-speak.

In his end of year media availability on Sunday, McVay muddied the waters even further. “I’m evaluating everything we do, and that includes the QB position,” McVay said, adding “I’m not ready to make any sort of statements with regards to ANY starting position,” per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Los Angeles had the league’s top total defense this season, the weapons are good enough, the offensive line is solid, and the coaching is by all accounts great. As such, it’s fair to assume that the only way to increase their ceiling is for Goff to improve, because it’ll be hard for the defense to play any better in 2021. The former first overall pick regressed this season, ranking toward the top of the league in interceptions despite being toward the bottom in average depth of target.

It sounds like McVay is far from happy with his current depth chart, but his options are limited. Goff is under contract through the 2024 season thanks to the big extension he signed in September of 2019 that is only really starting to kick in now. There’s no realistic way to cut him before next season with the dead cap implications.

No team is likely to take on his contract in a trade, which would seem to indicate the only way for McVay to replace him would be to add some competition to the roster. It would be really hard to fit another big contract next to Goff’s, which would mean that competition would likely need to come in the form of a cheaper veteran or a player on a rookie deal.

It’s going to be a very interesting offseason in Los Angeles. Perhaps GM Les Snead, noted for his aggressiveness in recent years, has one more trick up his sleeve.

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Chargers Hire Brandon Staley As Head Coach

Surprising news out of Los Angeles, as the Chargers have hired Brandon Staley to be their new head coach, sources told Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had previously been considered a heavy favorite to land the Chargers’ job, which is what makes this move so eyebrow raising. Staley, currently the Rams’ defensive coordinator, won’t have to travel far for his new gig. It’s a meteoric rise for the young defensive mind, as 2020 was Staley’s first season as an NFL coordinator. As recently as 2019, he was coaching outside linebackers in Denver.

Sean McVay then poached him away to be his DC, and he immediately earned a ton of praise for what he did with the Rams. Understandably so, as they led the NFL in total defense by a healthy margin. Having Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey certainly helped, but Staley was widely commended in league circles for his innovative schemes.

He’ll also have a lot of talent on defense to work with at his new job. Derwin James should be back at an All-Pro level after missing the whole 2020 season, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and Linval Joseph along the defensive line, and Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. in the secondary.

Of course, what made the Chargers job most attractive is the presence of Justin Herbert, who’s coming off a sensational rookie season. We’ve heard that Herbert “loves” his offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and it’s possible that the Chargers preferred to hire a defensive coach so they could keep Steichen in the fold.

Staley, 38, is walking into a prime situation with a talented team that could be poised for a bounce-back. He got his start at small schools James Madison and John Carroll, then broke into the NFL when Vic Fangio brought him onto his Chicago staff back in 2017. Fangio then brought him with him to Denver.

With Staley’s hiring, the Texans and Eagles are the only two teams left looking for coaches. The Lions are believed to be hiring Dan Campbell, and that move will likely become official soon now that the Saints have been eliminated.

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Drew Brees To Retire After Postseason

It’s been rumored for a while, but it’s inching closer to being official now. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will indeed retire whenever New Orleans’ season is over, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports (Twitter video link).

That means that no matter what, tonight will be Brees’ last game at the Superdome, as the Saints will be going on the road to Green Bay next if they win. This is in line with what we heard earlier this weekend, when it was reported that those close to the veteran signal-caller believed he’d hang up his cleats. He could always reverse course, but it looks like this is really the end of the line for 42-year-old.

If that’s the case, it’ll wrap up one of the most illustrious careers in NFL history, with Brees’ name going down all over the record books. He currently has the most yards in league history, and the second-most touchdowns behind Tom Brady. Brees signed a deal with NBC Sports last April, so he’s already got his post-playing career lined up.

There’s been speculation for a couple years now that Brees was nearing the end, and he’s missed significant time with health issues in each of the past two seasons. The moment it’s official, all eyes will immediately turn to what New Orleans will do to replace the man who has been the starter since the 2006 season.

Taysom Hill is the only other passer currently on the roster, although that same report from earlier this weekend indicated they’d like to re-sign Jameis Winston, who is set to be a free agent. Hill was up and down during his stretch as the team’s starter this year while Brees missed time with a rib injury.

Reports have indicated in the past that Sean Payton views Hill as the team’s starter of the future, although it’s unclear if he still feels that way after getting a closer look at him under center in 2020. We’ll have a much longer and more sentimental post on Brees’ retirement whenever the Purdue product and Super Bowl XLIV champ confirms the news himself.

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Eagles To Interview Josh McDaniels

After an unusually quiet start to his offseason, Josh McDaniels will be part of this year’s HC interview circuit. The Patriots OC will meet with the Eagles about their top coaching job, Bo Wulf and Zac Jackson of The Athletic report (subscription required).

The frequently sought-after coordinator will meet with Jeffrey Lurie on Sunday. While McDaniels is certainly one of the more polarizing candidates available, he has already begun recruiting staffers in the event he can land the Philadelphia gig, per Jackson and Wulf. That strategy turned out to have notable consequences in Indianapolis.

McDaniels spurning the Colts three years ago led to the Eagles losing OC Frank Reich. Their offense has not been quite the same since, and the unit cratered this season. McDaniels, however, is not coming off his best season. While he was in place as Patriots OC when Tom Brady grew from Super Bowl winner on a defense-powered team into an MVP, McDaniels could not coax much from New England’s Cam Newton-directed offense. However, the Patriots battled frequent injury issues and have not had much in the way of weaponry over the past two seasons.

Even after McDaniels backtracked on his Colts commitment, the former Broncos HC remained a candidate in 2019 and 2020. The Eagles, though, are the only known team to reach out to the veteran coordinator this year. McDaniels joins fellow Pats staffer Jerod Mayo among those in consideration for the Eagles job.

McDaniels would be tasked with rebooting Carson Wentz‘s career. The Eagles have told candidates they plan to “in an ideal world” keep Wentz for next season, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Wentz’s status helped drive a wedge between ownership and Doug Pederson (and Wentz and Pederson), but Pederson’s ouster has improved the former starter’s prospects in Philly.

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Falcons Hire Arthur Smith As Head Coach

Arthur Smith accepted the Falcons’ offer to become their head coach. The Falcons announced Friday afternoon they have hired the Titans offensive coordinator.

After two years as Tennessee’s OC, Smith received widespread interest. Every team with a head coaching vacancy reached out to the young coach for an interview. The Falcons landed him and will move forward with the breakout play-caller in charge.

Tennessee’s tight ends coach prior to being promoted in 2019, Smith will become the second straight Titans OC to make the leap to a head coaching job. The Packers hired Matt LaFleur in 2019, but Smith’s Titans work exceeded his predecessor’s. Ryan Tannehill revived his career under Smith, posting a historic 9.6 yards-per-attempt figure in 2019 and finishing with a 33-7 TD-INT ratio this season. Both years ended with Titans playoff berths, and each involved Derrick Henry rushing championships.

Riding their retooled offense, the Titans made a run to the 2019 AFC championship game. Henry became the first player to win back-to-back rushing titles since LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2000s, and the 2020 rushing champ’s 2,027-yard performance ranks fifth all time. After making just one playoff berth between 2009-18, the Titans went 2-for-2 in postseason qualification during Smith’s two seasons as their OC. Smith, 38, began his NFL coaching career as a low-level assistant in Washington in 2007 but was with the Titans since 2011.

This will mark a change for the Falcons, who have used defensive-oriented head coaches throughout Matt Ryan‘s career. Atlanta hired Mike Smith in 2008 and Dan Quinn in 2015. Smith will now oversee the final chapter of Ryan’s Falcons career. After an MVP season under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta’s 2016 NFC championship season, Ryan has not made a Pro Bowl since.

The Falcons remain in search of a GM, though former GM Rich McKay played a key role in hiring Smith. Both Atlanta power brokers will now turn their attention to bringing in Thomas Dimitroff‘s successor. The Falcons are believed to be favoring Saints GM Terry Fontenot for that job. This new regime will be tasked with restoring the Falcons to contender status. They fell well off the pace late in Quinn’s tenure, starting 1-7 in 2019 and 0-5 this year.

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