Nick Eason

Extra Points: Texans, Bills, Haskins, Bengals

Brandin Cooks has been traded three times during his seven-year career, and the Texans wideout is hoping he isn’t included in any more deals.

“[A]s far as a team thinking they could trade me for draft capital, I would caution them to think twice, because quite frankly, I’m not going to accept any more trades,” Cooks told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. “And so, for me, if you want me off your team, you’ve just got to let me walk and choose my destination.”

While Cooks isn’t anxious to uproot his family, he also wants to stay in Houston so he can continue receiving passes from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“I would love to continue to grow with Deshaun and have that commitment, however that looks,” Cooks said. “I don’t get into that. I’ll leave that to my agent and the team, but playing with a guy like that — who wouldn’t want to play with a quarterback like Deshaun?”

Cooks still has three years remaining on his contract, and he’ll have a manageable $12MM cap hit in 2021. However, he doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on the deal, adding a bit of uncertainty to his future. For what it’s worth, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the organization has yet to talk contract with the wideout, but “it’s a conversation expected to take place in the offseason” once the team officially hires their GM and head coach.

Some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Speaking of, we learned earlier today that the Texans were set to hire Patriots executive Nick Caserio as their new GM, and it apparently took a giant offer to get him to Houston. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Houston gave Caserio a six-year contract that will make him one of the three-highest paid general managers in the NFL. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the deal is worth “at least” $6MM annually.
  • The Bills are scheduled to audition quarterback Chad Kelly, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). There’s an obvious connection here, as the 26-year-old is the nephew of legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. Yates suggests that the audition could result in a “possible reserve/future” deal. The final pick of the 2017 draft, the younger Kelly has spent time with the Broncos and Colts during his career, getting into a single game.
  • After going unclaimed on waivers last week, former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins and agent David Mulugheta mutually agreed to part ways. The former first-rounded has since found new representation, as ESPN’s Jenna Laine reports (via Twitter) that Haskins has hired Goal Line Football.
  • Following a 2020 season where the organization finished with only four wins, the Bengals have moved on from three assistants, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby (via Twitter). Jim Turner, Nick Eason, and Gerald Chatman will not return in 2021. However, Baby notes that the Bengals defense showed flashes this past season, meaning Eason and Chatman could end up landing new gigs relatively quickly.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Steelers, Bengals

The RavensSteelers rematch is no longer a guarantee to follow the customary Lions and Cowboys contests on Thanksgiving. With the Ravens having five coronavirus positives among players and the Steelers at four, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes that more cases will result in the NFL moving the game off the Thanksgiving schedule (Twitter link). It is not known how many more positive tests between these franchises would cause the NFL to move the game, but given its time slot and the fact the league has resisted postponing games since Week 7 would make this a game difficult to move. However, this situation may be close to producing a postponement. In addition to five Ravens players having tested positive, Mark Maske of the Washington Post notes five Ravens staffers also have in recent days (Twitter links). Both the Ravens and Steelers encountered virus issues earlier this month but played their respective games as scheduled.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Ravens are working to determine if these are connected or isolated incidents part of a spread in the Baltimore community, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The team remains on track to leave for Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
  • More COVID-19 issues have hit the Bengals‘ coaching staff. Defensive line coach Nick Eason tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the team to go through contact tracing, Pelissero notes (on Twitter). This followed multiple games of Cincinnati coaches being sidelined. Cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson, wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell and safeties coach Robert Livingston missed the Bengals’ Week 11 game due to COVID protocols; linebackers coach Al Golden and senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner did not coach during the team’s Week 10 game. Considering the volume here, this is a situation to monitor ahead of Week 12.
  • As of now, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow-less quarterback plan consists of Ryan Finley as the starter and recent practice squad cog Brandon Allen backing him up. But the team is scrambling for depth. The Bengals worked out ex-Browns QB Kevin Hogan and Alex McGough on Tuesday. Hogan was last with the Broncos from 2018-19. He failed to make Denver’s 53-man roster in ’19, when the team used Allen as its backup. The Bengals should be expected to sign a quarterback to their practice squad.

Bengals Hire Ex-Bucs DC Mark Duffner

The Bengals have hired former Buccaneers interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner as a senior defensive assistant, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. 

Duffner, 65, has worked in Cincinnati before, serving as the club’s linebackers coach from 1997-2000 before taking over as defensive coordinator from 2001-02. After coaching LBs in Green Bay, Jacksonville, and Miami in the following years, Duffner joined Tampa Bay as linebackers coach in 2016. He was promoted to interim DC in October after the Bucs fired incumbent Mike Smith. For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s defense finished dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA but 29th in weighted DVOA, meaning the unit improved as the season progressed.

Duffner will fill two voids on the Bengals’ defensive staff. The first is familiarity, as Duffner worked with both new head coach Zac Taylor and new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo on the 2014-15 Dolphins staff. Second, Duffner is now the most experienced coach on Cincinnati’s staff, on either side of the ball. Aside from quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, Duffner is the only coach on the team that has been a full-time (non-interim) coordinator.

In addition to hiring Duffner, the Bengals also finalized their roster by hiring four other coaches: Nick Eason (defensive line), Tem Lukabu (linebackers), Brad Kragthorpe (offensive assistant), Jordan Kovacs (defensive quality control).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cousins, Cowboys, Garoppolo, Cards

One of the top dominos to fall in free agency this offseason will be the future of Kirk Cousins. The Redskins have used both the transition tag and franchise tag on the signal-caller in the last two years, respectively, and their intentions this offseason remain unknown.

One option would be to again use a tag on Cousins and then trade him to another team, NBC Sports’ Rich Tandler writes. In theory, Tandler states, Cousins would agree to a deal with another team but would not sign an offer sheet. He would then be receive the transition tag from Washington, who would then trade him to the agreed upon team.

Tandler notes the pros to the deal would be an assurance to Cousins that Washington wouldn’t match an offer, the Redskins would receive compensation for his departure and the other team would get their franchise quarterback without signing him to a heavily front-loaded contract.

Of the teams who would potentially be interested in such a deal, the Browns, Broncos and Jets seem like the most obvious candidates to get something done.

It’s still early in the offseason, but the Cousins situation will be among the most interesting and pivotal of the offseason.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Cowboys wide receiver Ryan Switzer underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle, the team reported. Primarily deployed as a kickoff and punt returner in his rookie season, the North Carolina product is expected to assume a heavier workload on offense in his second season.
  • The Cardinals are looking to hire Titans defensive line coach Nick Eason for the same position, AZ Central’s Kent Somers hears (Twitter link). The position was previously held by Brentson Buckner for the last five seasons. Eason played 10 seasons in the NFL and has been with the Titans since 2014.
  • 49ers general manager John Lynch has stated often that he envisions Jimmy Garoppolo as the quarterback in San Francisco for the foreseeable future. Lynch confirmed this week that steps have been taken to ensure that happens, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes. The chances of Garoppolo playing somewhere other than the Bay Area in 2018 are slim to none. If a multi-year deal cannot be quickly reached, the team is sure to use the franchise tag on the signal-caller who has yet to lose as a starter in the NFL (7-0).

Coaching Notes: Campbell, Saints, Golden

New Saints hire Dan Campbell has been brought aboard as an assistant head coach to Sean Payton, but it is not accurate to say that he is the assistant head coach in New Orleans. Campbell, who was hired just weeks ago in New Orleans, will share the assistant head coach title with linebackers coach Joe Vitt, as Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune writes. With that matter cleared up, Payton says there is only one minor open matter remaining on his staff – finding an offensive assistant to work with receivers coach John Morton.

More coaching news from around the NFL:

  • Former Miami/Temple coach Al Golden is in line for a defensive assistant job with the Cowboys, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports hears (via Twitter). Golden, 46, coached Miami to a 32-25 record from 2011 through 2015.
  • The Titans made some moves on their coaching staff, as Jim Wyatt of Titans Online reports (via Twitter links). Nick Eason will be the team’s defensive line coach, Bob Bratkowski is the Titans’ new wide receivers coach, and Sylvester Croom will remain as the team’s running backs coach. Croom has had many stints as an NFL RBs coach and also served as the head coach of Mississippi State from 2004-2008.
  • The Eagles requested permission to interview Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, but they were denied, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). Kocurek is an advocate for an attacking 4-3 front which would have made him a good fit under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Coach Rumors: Ragone, Titans, Manusky, Giants

While the 49ers have been making the most news today in forming their new coaching staff under Chip Kelly, here is the latest from around the league, starting in Chicago.

  • The Bears hired former Texans quarterback and Titans quarterback coach Dave Ragone as their new quarterback coach, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Bears wide receiver coach Mike Groh was also considered for the job, Rich Campbell of Chicago Tribune tweets. The 36-year-old Ragone worked with new Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, Chicago’s previous QBs coach who was promoted last week, with the Titans. Ragone coached the Titans’ quarterbacks in 2013 and instructed their wideouts during the previous two seasons. He spent this past season as an offensive quality control coach in Washington. Prior to that, he began his coaching career guiding Josh McCown with the Hartford Colonels of the now-defunct United Football League.
  • Longtime offensive line coach Russ Grimm will head to Nashville to become the Titans‘ offensive line coach, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports tweets. Grimm hasn’t coached since 2012, which was his final year of a six-season stay with the Cardinals. The 56-year-old Grimm, a Hall of Fame Washington guard, began his coaching career as Washington’s tight ends coach in 1992, a year after retiring before beginning as the team’s line coach in 1997. Grimm crossed paths with Titans HC Mike Mularkey during his time in Pittsburgh (2001-06), where Mularkey served as the offensive coordinator from 2001-03.
  • New Browns DC Ray Horton planned to hire ex-Browns defensive lineman Nick Eason for his defensive staff, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter), but the Titans promoting him from assistant defensive line coach to defensive line coach convinced him to stay in Tennessee.
  • The Giants hired former Eagles outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern to be their linebackers coach, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). McGovern spent 23 years coaching at various colleges in the northeast before teaching the outside backers with the Eagles under Kelly the past three seasons.
  • Washington hired another former player and longtime coach to preside over its outside linebackers, adding Greg Manusky to its staff, Andrew Walker reports on the team’s website. Manusky began his career in Washington, but only coached there in 2001. The 49-year-old former linebacker served as defensive coordinator for the Colts from 2012-15 before being fired earlier this month. He was previously the DC for the 49ers and Chargers for a combined five seasons.
  • Former Panthers and Bears safety Chris Harris will serve as the Chargers‘ assistant defensive backs coach, Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk reports. Harris worked as a quality control coach with the Bears in 2013-14 and played for the Panthers toward the end of current Chargers HC Mike McCoy‘s lengthy stay in Charlotte. Harris replaces Greg Williams, whom the Colts recently hired as their DBs coach.

Coaching Notes: Bills, Browns, Titans, Cowboys

Kathryn Smith made history earlier this week, being named the Bills quality control-special teams coach. Today, she released a statement regarding the new gig (via Buffalo Bills PR on Twitter):

“I would like to thank Rex Ryan, Kim and Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Bills franchise for this opportunity.

“I am excited to continue to work with out special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, special teams assistant Eric Smith and our entire coaching staff and players as we prepare for the 2016 NFL season.

“The amount of attention generated from this announcement in the past 24 hours has been extraordinary, however, my focus remains on my job responsibilities and helping the team win.

“I would like to thank my family and friends for all their support. It’s a tremendous honor to become the first full-time female assistant coach in the National Football League and I appreciate Rex Ryan giving me this opportunity based on the merit of my work and commitment to this organization.”

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

  • Rob Ryan turned down “coordinating jobs” to join his brother, Rex, and the Bills, tweets Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.
  • The Browns have hired former Titans defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi for the same coaching position, reports Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (via Twitter). Cioffi was on the Browns coaching staff in 2013.
  • There are some differing reports regarding the future of Titans assistant defensive line coach Nick Eason. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (via Twitter) that Eason will join the Browns in an unspecified role. However, Marvez tweets that Eason will instead by promoted by the Titans and become their defensive-line coach.
  • ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure hears that Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson may be joining the Falcons coaching staff (Twitter link). Henderson will reportedly be in Atlanta tomorrow for an interview. McClure notes that while Atlanta’s current defensive backs coach, Marquand Manuel, interviewed to be the Jaguars defensive coordinator, it would appear he’s staying put.

Coach Notes: Giants, Texans, Bills, Titans

There aren’t many offensive or defensive coordinator jobs still available, as our tracker shows, but teams continue to tweak their coaching staffs in preparation for the 2016 season, interviewing and hiring position coaches and other assistants. Here are a few of Thursday’s updates on that front:

  • First-time head coach Ben McAdoo appears to be considering an assistant with head coaching experience for his staff. Per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Giants interviewed former Niners head coach Mike Singletary today for their linebackers coach job.
  • On the other side of the ball, the Giants interviewed Packers assistant Mike Solari on Wednesday for their offensive line coach position, tweets Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. According to Marvez, Solari is a “strong candidate” to be added to McAdoo’s staff.
  • As expected, the Texans have hired former Ravens and Texans defensive lineman Anthony Weaver as their defensive line coach, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Weaver, who last played for Houston in 2008, will replace Paul Pasqualoni.
  • According to Marvez (via Twitter), the Bills are making Pat Meyer their assistant offensive line coach.
  • Marvez also reports (via Twitter) that the Titans have promoted Nick Eason from defensive line assistant to defensive line coach.
  • The Bengals announced three coaching moves today (via Twitter), re-assigning Robert Livingston as assistant defensive backs coach and adding Robert Couch and Dan Pitcher to their offensive staff.