Pep Hamilton

Extra Points: AAF, XFL, Murray

Last week the new league Alliance of American Football, the AAF, received a cash infusion of $250MM from investor Tom Dundon. Dundon, who owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, reportedly bailed the league out of some financial trouble, and effectively assumed control of the AAF. But according to a new report, Dundon may not be as tied to the league long-term as it intially seemed, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Apparently Dundon has yet to transfer over all $250MM, and the money will instead be procured over a period of time. Dundon apparently has the ability to pull the plug on the deal and stop funding the league if he determines the investment is no longer with it. None of this means that the league is in any immediate danger or that Dundon has had any sort of change of heart, but it adds another interesting wrinkle to the ordeal. The league has been very tightlipped about the circumstances surrounding Dundon’s investment, and concrete information has been hard to come by.

Here’s more from the football universe:

  • Speaking of alternative pro football leagues, the XFL named its latest head coach, and it was a notable NFL name. Pep Hamilton will be the coach of the league’s Washington franchise, according to Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports. Hamilton was the offensive coordinator of the Colts from 2013-15, and spent the past couple of years as an assistant on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. He was also an assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach with the Browns in 2016.
  • Kyler Murray spoke to the media today, and elaborated a bit on his decision to play football instead of baseball, per Jake Trotter of ESPN.com. Murray said that while it was hard letting the Oakland A’s know he would be going with the NFL, it was something he’d “known for a while.” He reiterated his commitment to playing quarterback at the next level, and said while the A’s “can hold out all the hope they want to”, he definitely wasn’t going to be changing his mind. It’s unclear exactly where Murray will be drafted, but most current projections have him going sometime in the top half of the first round.
  • In case you missed it, wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Adam Humphries could be in for big paydays when they hit the open market next month.

Hue Jackson Wanted To Draft Carson Wentz?

While we’re more than a year and a half removed from the 2016 draft, one team’s actions continue to be discussed. And considering what could happen to the Browns’ power structure at the end of this season, their recent draft decisions could end up being seminal choices.

The Browns have passed on multiple players who look like long-term quarterback solutions in Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, but in Hue Jackson‘s first months in Cleveland, he had his eye on Wentz.

Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports Jackson actually preferred Wentz to Jared Goff. This runs contrary to previous reports that indicated he (and veteran Browns scouts dismissed before the draft) liked the current Rams passer prior to his team’s trade-down decision.

Jackson’s pro-Goff vibe stemmed from a close-to-the-vest mindset, Cabot notes. He worked out Goff privately but was the only head coach to attend Wentz’s pro day. Wentz assumed the Browns were going to draft him, per Cabot, after he and Jackson developed a strong rapport before the draft.

The private workout he and then-assistant Pep Hamilton conducted with Wentz had the duo “instantly sold” Wentz was the Browns’ quarterback of the future. The Browns, of course, traded that pick to the Eagles for a bounty of draft picks. Cabot reports Browns management wasn’t going to be dissuaded from unloading that No. 2 selection because of the myriad needs their team had, and the Eagles aren’t regretting their decision.

When the Browns and Eagles faced off in the 2016 opener, Cabot reports Jackson felt he received a “chilly” reception from Wentz because of the draft snub and Paul DePodesta‘s infamous not-a-top-20-QB comment. Cabot also reports part of the reason Hamilton left Cleveland for Michigan after one season is how far off the Browns were on their evaluations on that 2016 quarterback class.

This would not be the only time Jackson didn’t get his way regarding a quarterback during his eventful stay in northeast Ohio.

Trade targets Jimmy Garoppolo and A.J. McCarron fell through, the latter in an embarrassing snafu. Cleveland is 0-11 and contemplating major changes this offseason, and Jackson is said to want more decision-making power if he returns in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pep Hamilton Leaving Browns, Joining Michigan

The Browns now have another vacancy on their coaching staff. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that associate head coach Pep Hamilton has accepted a job with Michigan to become their assistant head coach/passing coordinator. Reports from this weekend indicated that Hamilton was considering the role, although head coach Hue Jackson expressed optimism that Hamilton would be sticking around Cleveland.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Michigan was actually eying Greg Roman for the vacancy. Ironically, Rapoport notes that the coach now may be a contender for the vacancy on the Browns staff. Roman started the season as the Bills offensive coordinator, but he was fired in late September following a loss to the Jets.

Pep Hamilton (vertical)Hamilton joined the Browns last offseason following a three-year stint with the Colts. Despite the presence of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts offense only had one top-10 season during Hamilton’s tenure. The 42-year-old’s offense predictably struggled during his first season in Cleveland, as the team was forced to rely on five different quarterbacks. Besides his duties as associate head coach, Hamilton also served as the Browns quarterbacks coach.

This will be a reunion of sorts for Hamilton and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Hamilton previously served as Harbaugh’s wide receivers coach while the duo was at Stanford. As Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com writes, the Michigan coaching staff had an opening after passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch left to become UCLA’s offensive coordinator. While there are no reports regarding the length or value of Hamilton’s new contract, Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com notes that Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown recently earned a five-year contract worth $1.4MM annually.

The Browns filled one hole on their coaching staff yesterday, as the team hired Gregg Williams as their new defensive coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns AHC Pep Hamilton Considering Michigan Gig?

SUNDAY, 11:44am: Rapoport tweets that Harbaugh has been telling recruits for several days that Hamilton will be joining his staff at Michigan, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson stated earlier today that he believes Hamilton is staying in Cleveland (Twitter link via Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald).

SATURDAY, 08:49am: A day after the organization fired defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Browns may be seeing some additional changes to their coaching staff. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), associate head coach (and de facto quarterbacks coach) Pep Hamilton may also be on his way out. The long-time coach is considering taking a gig on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff at Michigan. Rapoport is clear that Hamilton wouldn’t be fired, as the Browns are more than willing to keep him on in his current role.

Pep HamiltonHamilton joined the Browns last offseason following a three-year stint with the Colts. Despite the presence of talented quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts offense only finished in the top-10 for points once during his tenure in Indy. Hamilton’s offense predictably struggled during his first season in Cleveland, as the team was forced to rely on five different quarterbacks.

Prior to his Colts gig, Hamilton served as Harbaugh’s wide receivers coach while the duo was at Stanford. As Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com writes, the Michigan coaching staff now has an opening after passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch left to become UCLA’s offensive coordinator. This would presumably be the role that Hamilton would fill. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com notes that Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown recently earned a five-year contract worth $1.4MM annually. Considering the instability of the Browns organization, Hamilton would surely be enticed by the money and job security.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Hire Ray Horton, Other Coaches

FRIDAY, 8:49am: The Browns have officially confirmed the hiring of Horton as the team’s defensive coordinator, along with the other moves noted below and a few more. Here’s the full list of coaches and titles announced today by the team:

  • Ray Horton, defensive coordinator
  • Pep Hamilton, associate head coach/offense
  • Al Saunders, offensive assistant/wide receivers
  • Kirby Wilson, running backs/run game coordinator
  • Hal Hunter, offensive line
  • Mark Hudson, assistant offensive line
  • Greg Seamon, tight ends
  • Bob Saunders, offensive quality control
  • Shawn Mennenga, special teams assistant
  • Stan Watson, special teams quality control

WEDNESDAY, 7:32pm: In addition to naming Saunders, Hamilton and Wilson to his offensive staff, Jackson has hired Hal Hunter as his O-line coach, Breer tweets. Hunter had been the Colts’ assistant O-line coach since 2013. He was at the helm of the Chargers’ line from 2006-12.

5:08pm: The Browns’ Hue Jackson-led coaching staff is rounding into form. Jackson has hired Ray Horton as his defensive coordinator, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, the Browns have addressed their offensive staff by hiring Al Saunders as a senior assistant, according to Cabot (Twitter link), Pep Hamilton as assistant head coach/offense and Kirby Wilson as their running game coordinator (Twitter links via ESPN’s Josina Anderson).

The last few days have been a whirlwind for Horton, who appeared likely to join the Browns before a report came out that he was negotiating a contract extension with the Titans – whose defensive he coordinated over Pep Hamilton (vertical)the last two seasons. However, the extension didn’t come to fruition and Horton interviewed with the Browns to become their new D-coordinator on Tuesday. Horton is familiar with Cleveland, having coordinated its defense to a top 10 ranking in 2013. Before that, he worked in the same capacity in Arizona from 2011-12. Horton’s defense in Tennessee finished 12th overall in 2015-16, but the team seemingly marginalized his role in the offseason when it hired Dick LeBeau as an assistant head coach. LeBeau was given “complete control” of the defense, and Horton had to report to him during the season as a result. Horton has already put in requests to bring some of the Titans’ defensive coaches to Cleveland, according to Cabot (Twitter link), as he tries to improve a Browns ‘D’ that finished 27th in the league in 2015-16.

Jackson and Saunders have a working relationship that dates back to the 2009 season, when both were with the Ravens. Saunders was also on Jackson’s staff when Jackson was the Raiders’ head coach in 2011. This is the fourth decade in which Saunders has worked as an offensive assistant at the NFL level. The 68-year-old spent this season on the Dolphins’ staff and has been an offensive coordinator with four different teams. While the Browns will value Saunders’ input, Jackson will call the plays.

Hamilton was the Colts’ O-coordinator from 2013 until this past November, when they fired him after their third-ranked attack in 2014 regressed significantly. Part of his duties in Cleveland will entail working with quarterbacks, tweets Albert Breer of NFL.com. Cabot reports (via Twitter) that he’ll be the Browns’ passing game coordinator. The 41-year-old has plenty of experience in that realm, having coached QBs with the Jets (2004), 49ers (2006) and Bears (2007-09) at the pro level.

Prior to joining the Browns, Wilson worked with running backs for six different NFL organizations since 1997, having spent the last three years in Minnesota. The Vikings attempted to keep Wilson, according to ESPN’s Ben Goessling, but the expiration of his contract enabled him to land a promotion with the Browns.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Negotiating With Pep Hamilton

A day after we heard Hue Jackson wasn’t planning to hire an offensive coordinator to start his Browns regime, the Browns are negotiating with former Colts OC Pep Hamilton, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).

Hamilton is in talks to become the Browns’ assistant head coach/offense, basically becoming the top offensive assistant to Jackson in the event these negotiations progress toward Hamilton joining the Browns’ staff.

Jackson, per Cabot will be the Browns’ play-caller this season, just as he was with the Bengals the past two years and with the Raiders, when he coached in Oakland in 2011.

Hamilton, who called plays in Indianapolis before being fired after the Colts started 3-5 this season, met with Jackson on Friday to initially discuss a potential role in Cleveland.

The Browns today informed 2015 offensive coordinator John DeFilippo he would not be back next season. DeFilippo has two years remaining on his contract, which the team will be required to pay out.

Andrew Luck‘s offensive coordinator at Stanford before moving to Indianapolis, Hamilton carried a reputation as a conservative play-caller with the Colts. Hamilton reportedly wasn’t receptive to internal calls to speed up the Colts’ offense this season. An injured Luck helped the Colts regress from third in total offense in Hamilton’s final full season in Indianapolis to 28th this season.

Hamilton previously served as the quarterbacks coach for the Jets, 49ers and Bears from 2004-2009 before spending three seasons in Palo Alto.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Browns To Go Without Offensive Coordinator?

During a radio interview Friday, Hue Jackson mentioned he does not plan to hire an offensive coordinator after being brought on as the Browns’ head coach, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Jackson will almost certainly call plays in Cleveland this season after doing so in Cincinnati the past two seasons and in Oakland in 2011, when he served as the Raiders’ head coach.

The newly hired Browns HC didn’t rule out the possibility of someone else calling plays but seems intent on doing so himself, and this could well mean the Browns going without an offensive coordinator this season.

Right now in my mind, I don’t really plan on having an offensive coordinator ‘cause I want to reserve that right to call plays,” Jackson said on a Sirius XM Radio appearance.

I think that’s something that’s gotten me this job. So if it’s something that you’re an expert at, I think you want to continue to work at that and keep that in your pocket so you can use it to help your team. Now if I get somebody I really trust who has that [expertise], then obviously I’m very willing to kind of give that away as we go, but it’s got to be somebody I really trust and admire.”

This move would basically make Jackson the head coach/offensive coordinator. Jackson worked with an offensive coordinator in Oakland, Al Saunders, in his 8-8 slate in the Bay Area.

Jackson interviewed ex-Colts OC Pep Hamilton on Friday, per Ulrich, and seeks to bring Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson aboard as a running-game coordinator. Wilbert Montgomery‘s served as Cleveland’s running backs coach the past two seasons.

The Vikings would have to grant the 54-year-old Wilson permission to interview for this job. Wilson has been the coach of six different franchises’ backfields, the longest stint coming with the Steelers from 2007-13. Prior to catching on in Pittsburgh once Mike Tomlin took over in 2007, Wilson coached with the Patriots, Washington, the Buccaneers and Cardinals from 1997-2006, with a one-year stint mixed in as USC’s wide receivers coach.

The Browns ranked 25th this season under first-time OC John DeFilippo.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Coach Rumors: Browns, Pep, Ravens, Bucs

New Browns head coach Hue Jackson confirmed earlier today that he’ll be retaining special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, but there have been announcements yet on Cleveland’s other coordinators. While Ray Horton and Leslie Frazier are among the names that have been linked to the Browns’ defensive coordinator job, one possible candidate worth keeping an eye on is former Dolphins DC Kevin Coyle, says Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reported on Wednesday that Coyle was expected to replace Vance Joseph as the Bengals‘ defensive backs coach, but there are hints he may join Jackson in Cleveland instead. Marvez tweets today that Cincinnati is interviewing 49ers defensive backs coach Tim Lewis for the same position, and Albert Breer of NFL Network tweets that the Bengals are looking at Michigan secondary coach Greg Jackson for that job, so it certainly doesn’t seem like there’s a deal in place between the Bengals and Coyle.

As we keep an eye on that situation, let’s check in on some other coaching updates from around the NFL….

  • On the other side of the ball for the Browns, a former Colts offensive coordinator may be a candidate for the job in Cleveland. As first reported by Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com (Twitter link), Pep Hamilton met today with Hue Jackson.
  • Last week, a report suggested that the Buccaneers had turned down a Chargers interview request for defensive line coach Joe Cullen. However, after hiring Mike Smith as their new defensive coordinator, the Bucs are willing to let Cullen go. Cullen will join the Ravens as their defensive line coach, tweets Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports.
  • To replace Cullen, the Buccaneers are hiring Jay Hayes from the Bengals, per Marvez (all Twitter links). Tampa Bay is also hiring Titans special teams coach Nate Kaczor and former Dolphins linebackers coach Mark Duffner for those same positions.
  • Since the Titans are the last team without a head coach, they should take their time to make a decision, perhaps interviewing potential candidates from eliminated playoff teams after this weekend’s games, writes Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.
  • Former Giants wide receivers coach Sean Ryan will head to Houston to become the Texans‘ WRs coach, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Colts Fire OC Pep Hamilton

The Colts have fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Coach Rob Chudzinski will be promoted in his place, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets.

This season has not gone as planned for the Colts, who are the defacto No. 1 team in the AFC South. Locked at 3-5 with the Texans for first place, the Colts are looking to shake things up and save their season. Chudzinski, who previously held the title of associate head coach in Indianapolis, drew interest from multiple teams with offensive coordinator vacancies over the offseason. The Colts did not allow him to pursue those jobs and that was probably because they viewed him as a safety net for Hamilton.

Hamilton has garnered some head coaching buzz in the past but the Colts’ offensive performance this season hasn’t done him any favors in that regard. Of course, Hamilton has built up a strong reputation as an offensive mind over the years and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get back into the OC mix this spring.

La Canfora’s Latest: Colts, Texans, Trades

With 2015 shaping up to be Chuck Pagano‘s last in Indianapolis, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes, the Miami Hurricanes job could be in play for the fourth-year coach.

The rest of the Colts‘ staffers are set for an uncertain future, with Jim Irsay considering changes after the thus-far-underwhelming team’s Week 10 bye.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton‘s job is on the line. Pagano, per La Canfora, wanted associate head coach Rob Chudzinski to run the offense, and longtime organizational staffer Clyde Christensen also looms as an OC candidate in the event Pagano’s preferences are no longer relevant.

Pagano’s Miami connection stems from being the Hurricanes’ secondary coach from 1995-2000.

Irsay hopes to lure a top head-coaching candidate to Indianapolis next year, and that would mean GM Ryan Grigson would almost certainly be shown the door, the CBS reporter notes.

Here are some additional notes from La Canfora on Week 8 Sunday.

  • The schism that formed in Houston recently between Bill O’Brien and GM Rick Smith regarding now-ex-Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett will lead to a change in the organization’s power structure, La Canfora reports. The ninth-year GM could see a reassignment if O’Brien is to assume more control, as he’s used to the head coach having from his years with the Patriots. The present setup involves both O’Brien and Smith reporting to owner Bob McNair separately, and McNair doesn’t see that as a sustainable model in light of the Mallett incident. It’s caused a divide within the organization, sources told La Canfora. “It’s gone from a slow drip to a waterfall,” a team source told the CBS scribe, describing the rift that’s become off-putting for McNair.
  • Matt Forte and Brian Cushing are available for trades, La Canfora notes, mentioning the Bears, Texans and 49ers as the teams most likely to operate as sellers in advance of the Nov. 3 trade deadline. The 49ers have also entertained teams’ interest on offensive lineman Alex Boone and have fielded calls on Vernon Davis. The Seahawks are a team that is willing to trade a depth piece to acquire an offensive lineman to help fix their biggest issue, La Canfora reports. The Ravens and Chargers, despite carrying 11 losses between them, are viewed as being more hesitant to sell off veterans.