Pete Carroll

West Rumors: Seahawks, Broncos, Brock

As he did during minicamp, Bobby Wagner attended Seahawks practice but merely as an observer. Pete Carroll confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the Seahawks and their four-time All-Pro linebacker are discussing an extension but did not elaborate on where the sides are in the process. Longtime Wagner linebacker sidekick K.J. Wright believes a deal is imminent, however. Any extension would probably have to make Wagner the highest-paid off-ball linebacker, and while Deion Jones‘ recent Falcons re-up bridged the gap between C.J. Mosley‘s $17MM-AAV pact and the field, the Jets linebacker still makes over $2.5MM per year more than any other traditional ‘backer. Wagner has confirmed he wants to exceed Mosley’s deal, and this may lead to the eighth-year standout continuing his hold-in strategy.

Shifting first to a former Seahawk who took a different contract-seeking approach last year, here is the latest from out west:

  • Earl Thomas skipped all Seahawks activities before making a pre-Week 1 return last year. Now with the Ravens, Thomas said (via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson, video link) Carroll communicated to him the week of his season-ending injury indicating an interest in working out a long-term deal. The reason Thomas then flipped off Carroll as he was being carted away? The three-time All-Pro did not believe Carroll was being honest with him. He and Carroll have not spoken since. The Seahawks were not linked to a potential Thomas reunion this offseason.
  • John Elway praised Joe Flacco throughout the Broncos‘ offseason program. One of the reasons why Elway targeted him was a belief the Ravens did not surround him with enough talent or a good system, after Gary Kubiak left his OC post to become Broncos HC in 2015, during his latter years in Baltimore. New Denver OC Rich Scangarello‘s system is derived from Kubiak’s. “To me, he hasn’t had a great system and he hasn’t had great people around him,” Elway said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “So he can have success when you have people around him and he’s in the right system, which I think he is because this is the system he’s had success in.” The Broncos, who relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay last season before their year-ending injuries, are banking on second-year wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton making strides in Year 2.
  • While Mike Munchak lost out to Vic Fangio in the pursuit of Denver’s HC job, the Broncos’ offensive line coach has seen his role quickly expand. Munchak now has influence over the Broncos’ passing game and rushing attack, Jhabvala notes. Munchak worked as the Steelers’ O-line coach the past five seasons — each ending with a Pittsburgh top-10 offensive ranking.
  • The Cardinals are focusing Tramaine Brock on a role as a slot cornerback, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Brock mostly played outside under Vance Joseph last season, prior to Chris Harris‘ season-ending injury. On the outside, second-round pick Byron Murphy and second-year corner Chris Jones are the top candidates vying to play opposite Robert Alford. This arrangement looks like the plan until Patrick Peterson returns from his six-game suspension.

Coaching Notes: Harbaugh, Ravens, Carroll, Seahawks, Packers, Fitzgerald, Joseph, Bengals

It’s the time of year where the coaching carousel is about to be in full swing, and there are a ton of rumors floating around. While there are a slew of coaches who are near locks to be fired come next Monday, the biggest stories of the week have been about two coaches who are staying put, John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. The Ravens suddenly announced Harbaugh would be back in 2019 after there was a ton of speculation that he’d be fired if Baltimore missed the playoffs. While the team announced in their statement they were going to try to work on an extension and all appeared to be well and good, his long term future with the team is apparently very much still in doubt.

There’s a “real chance” that Harbaugh opts not to sign any extension from the Ravens, notes Peter King of NBC Sports. King writes Harbaugh may “coach his final season and take his chance on the market in 2020.” Harbaugh was expected to be pursued by several teams if he was let go by the Ravens, and would likely have his pick of at least a few jobs if he decides to go that route in 2020. For what it’s worth Harbaugh didn’t sound particularly excited after the Ravens announced he’d be back in 2019, calling the news a “non-story”, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN (Twitter link). Coaches very rarely willingly switch teams, but it sounds like Harbaugh could be an exception.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks as we barrel toward Week 17:

  • Carroll got an extension from the Seahawks this past week, and is committed to Seattle for the long haul. Carroll spoke glowingly of the organization, and said he plans on coaching at least another five years, according to Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune. His new deal is reportedly paying him around $11MM per year, so it’s no surprise he’s in no rush to get going. The three year extension will take Carroll through his age 70 season.
  • Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald could be a candidate for the Packers’ head coaching job, multiple people told Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer points out that Packers president Mark Murphy used to be Northwestern’s athletic director, and hired Fitzgerald at NU. Fitzgerald has done a great job turning the Wildcats into a good program, and his name has come up a couple of times in recent NFL coaching cycles. It would be an outside the box hire, but that might be exactly what Green Bay needs to re-energize the team.
  • Vance Joseph is all but certain to be fired by the Broncos at the end of the season, but his days as a head coach might not be over. Joseph’s name “has popped up in recent weeks as a potential heir to” Marvin Lewis with the Bengals, according to Breer. Joseph was a defensive backs coach with the Bengals for a couple of years before landing the DC gig in Miami, and as Breer notes, the Bengals love to hire people they’re familiar with. Breer also writes that “there’s been talk that owner Mike Brown could take one more run at it with Marvin Lewis in charge in 2019″, before he cedes more control over to his children after next year. It’s quite possible Joseph joins the team on the defensive staff next year, and that he and Hue Jackson battle it out to succeed Lewis after that.

Seahawks Sign Pete Carroll To Extension

The day after Pete Carroll steered the Seahawks to another NFC playoff bracket, he signed an extension to stay with the team long-term.

The Seahawks announced they now have their head coach under contract through 2021. This deal will be worth more than $11MM per year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), keeping Carroll among the NFL’s highest-paid coaches.

Carroll’s previous Seahawks contract, signed in 2016, ran through next season. Both Carroll and GM John Schneider are now locked up through 2021. Contract talks began last week, Carroll said (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, on Twitter) and obviously progressed quickly.

The most successful coach in Seahawks history, Carroll has now piloted teams to the playoffs in seven of his nine Seattle seasons. Given the expectations going into this season, this latest berth may be the veteran coach’s most impressive work. Viewed as a rebuilding team after jettisoning many Super Bowl-era cornerstones, the Seahawks are 9-6 and likely set for the NFC’s No. 5 seed. Seattle has defeated other playoff-qualifying teams, its best win coming Sunday night against likely AFC No. 1 seed Kansas City.

The oldest active NFL head coach at 67, Carroll said at the end of last season he was not considering retirement. Carroll retooled his coaching staff, replacing coordinators Darrell Bevell and Kris Richard with Brian Schottenheimer and Ken Norton Jr., and helped oversee significant roster turnover. The Seahawks have quickly moved into a Russell Wilson-centric era — playing 2018 without the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and, for the most part, Earl Thomas — and may be a dangerous underdog next month.

Formerly the Jets’ and Patriots’ HC, Carroll has now passed Mike Holmgren as the Seahawks’ winningest coach. He is 88-54-1 running the Seahawks after going 33-31 in four combined 1990s seasons in the AFC East. In between, Carroll revitalized the USC program, winning two national championships.

With more than $63MM in projected 2019 cap space, the swiftly reloaded Seahawks could be an interesting team this offseason. And their longtime Schneider-Carroll power structure will oversee matters for the foreseeable future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Franchise Expected To Be Sold

The “sense” at the NFL’s ongoing league meetings is that the Seahawks franchise will be eventually be sold following owner Paul Allen‘s death, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Allen, who passed away Monday due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, purchased the Seahawks in 1996. Allen never married and has no children, so there’s no clear heir to helm the club. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, the Seahawks could be turned over to Allen’s sister Jody, but it’s not apparent she has any interest in running an NFL team.

As such, the team is likely to be sold at some point, although the organization is expected to remain in Seattle, tweets Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who holds a significant amount of sway in league matters, told Garafolo that he “can’t imagine the Seahawks not being in Seattle.”

Per Forbes, the Seahawks are currently valued at $2.5 billion, with yearly revenue of $413MM and an operating income of $71MM. Those are obviously unofficial figures, but the price of NFL teams has only risen in recent years. The Bills, sold in 2014, went for roughly $1.1 billion, while the Panthers, who were purchased by David Tepper earlier this year, sold for at least $2.2 billion.

No matter who owns the team, the Seahawks don’t need to worry about their head coach. Asked if he wanted to stay in Seattle following Allen’s death, Pete Carroll responded “absolutely,” according to Florio. Carroll is currently under contract through the 2019 season under the terms of a 2016 extension that is believed to have made Carroll one of the NFL’s highest-paid coaches.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Carroll, Foster, Saints

Appearing on Dave Dameshek’s podcast, Cliff Avril said that following the Seahawks‘ loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll started losing the trust of his players. The former Seattle defensive end said “a lot of guys got turned off” when the head coach opted for a potential game-winning pass instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch.

Of course, we know what happened next. With the ball at the one-yard line, quarterback Russell Wilson ended up throwing a game-deciding interception to New England cornerback Malcolm Butler.

“If we win that Super Bowl I think we would have won another one,” Avril said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “I do think the team would have bought in more to what Coach Carroll was saying, instead of going the opposite way.

“Guys started kind of questioning him more instead of following his lead if we had won the Super Bowl.”

The Seahawks ended up losing in the divisional round during the 2015 and 2016 playoffs, and they failed to make the postseason in 2017. The team ultimately let go of a number of veterans this offseason.

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

  • Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has left Athletes First and is without an agent, reports Liz Mullen SportsBusiness Daily (via Twitter). Wagner signed a four-year, $43MM extension (about $22MM guaranteed) with the Seahawks back in 2016, and he still has two years remaining on that deal.
  • According to Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb, 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster had “several months of clean drug screen results” during his pre-trial diversion program (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch on Twitter). Foster ultimately completed the program. In this past week, Foster has seen both of his offseason arrests lead to dismissed cases. Yesterday, the former first-rounder had a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge dismissed, and we learned earlier this week that he wouldn’t be charged in a domestic violence case.
  • The Saints are still hoping that special teams coach Mike Westhoff will return to the organization after he successfully completes recovery from offseason surgery, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. The 70-year-old underwent surgery for “an issue from his hip all the way down his leg,” and he’s yet to return to New Orleans. Sean Payton had previously expressed some optimism in Westhoff’s return, but he also said he didn’t expect the coach to come back until training camp. After retiring in 2012, Payton convinced Westhoff to return to the NFL towards the end of last season.

Extra Points: Kaepernick, Raiders, Greg Little, Cardinals

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were deposed in the collusion grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick this week, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Expanding on the subject, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recounts that the “Seahawks were planning to bring in the quarterback for a workout, but the team canceled the session when Kaepernick declined to commit to stand for the national anthem.” 

Despite the case, Carroll has not closed the door on the former 49ers quarterback joining the team. As Florio writes, however, “It would be awkward, to say the least, for Kaepernick to sign with Seattle after his lawyers questioned Schneider and Carroll under oath…”

Seattle is still the only team to have brought Kaepernick in for a visit since hitting free agency after the 2016 season. This long saga still appears to be far from a conclusion.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Earlier this week, the Raiders signed longtime Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson to a one-year deal. The details of that contract came out today, with the 13-year pro set to make $1.5MM. The contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and $500,000 total guaranteed. With incentives, the deal could top out at $2.25MM, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets.
  • Former Browns receiver Greg Little appeared at the Cardinals rookie minicamp, Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com writes. Little, who hasn’t played a game since the 2014 season, was a promising second-round pick who flamed out after three seasons. The Cardinals offered the 28-year-old wideout a tryout this weekend and impressed new head coach Steve Wilks.
  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano took a crack at projecting the next big-money quarterbacks. To no one’s surprise, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list in 2020, but the sides are expected to come to a deal before that time. Among the other signal-callers who could surpass Kirk Cousins‘ big deal are Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Rams, Brockers, Lions, Dunlap

After much speculation, Cowboys defender Byron Jones confirmed on Monday that he will be switching from safety to cornerback in 2018, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota writes.

Viewed as a versatile defender coming out of college, Jones played cornerback as a rookie in 2015 and a safety the past two seasons. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard preferred him at the former.

“I think it will be a good move for me and the team. I’m always open to making position changes, as long as I’m in the best position to succeed. If [Richard] believes my best position is corner, then I’m down.”

Richard knows a thing or two about getting the best from bigger cornerbacks. With the Seahawks, Richard oversaw Richard Sherman’s ascent to one of the premier corners in the league. What remains to be seen is if the team prefers him on the boundary or in the slot. In 2017, rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed plenty of promise on the outside.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • In a press conference on Monday, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers told reporters he tore his MCL in the team’s playoff loss to the Falcons in January, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. During that game, the sixth-year defender sat out the second half. The good news for Los Angeles is that Brockers took part in team activities on Monday, but they’re not in pads until training camp.
  • If any Lions players are moved in draft-day deals, some of the names that make sense include Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Jake Rudock, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. Those names all come to mind after the team added veterans in LeGarrette Blount and Matt Cassel in the offseason.
  • The goal is for the Bengals to sign both Carlos Dunlap and get a new deal with Geno AtkinsBengals.com writer Geoff Hobson notes in a mailbag. Both Dunlap’s and Atkins’ deals run through the 2018 campaign.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be deposed in the next two weeks in Colin Kaeperncik‘s collusion case against the league, USA Today’s A.J. Perez writes. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are also on the docket to be deposed.

West Notes: Reid, Broncos, Carroll, Rams

Eric Reid looks set to become a UFA for the first time. The fifth-year safety’s 49ers contract expires after Week 17, and should the former first-round pick hit the market, he’ll be doing so at age 26 and with five seasons of full-time starter work. However, Reid is aware his protest participation over the past two years could play a role in his market.

I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, when asked about his potential UFA market diminishing because of his participation in the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”

Pro Football Focus rates Reid as a middle-of-the-pack safety this season. He’s suffered injuries in back-to-back years as well. But the ex-LSU cog started for an NFC championship game entrant as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl recognition, and has gone on to play both safety spots in San Francisco.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions as the majority of those coalitions’ teams prepare for their seasons’ final games.

  • Vance Joseph‘s bid at a second Broncos season is suddenly at risk. After ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported the rookie HC was facing longer odds at returning, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the growing sense is Joseph will be canned after today’s finale. Several Broncos players have come out in support of Joseph, and a report earlier this month said Joseph was likely to earn a second season. But eight of Denver’s 10 losses have been by double digits, putting Joseph in line to possibly become the franchise’s first one-and-done coach.
  • Pete Carroll‘s obviously earned protection against being fired, but the eighth-year Seahawks coach doesn’t sound like he’s close to leaving the sideline especially soon. Seemingly in response to a rumor about a possible retirement floated by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the 66-year-old HC said (on Twitter) “I ain’t old enough to think about retiring.”
  • Trumaine Johnson is finishing out his second franchise-tagged season, but he’s unsure the Rams will bring him back. The cornerback said at the beginning of the season it didn’t sound like he was in the team’s long-term plans, but he’s played a big role for a contending team this season. And Johnson, who turns 28 on Monday, pointed out this week he would like to stay in Los Angeles. “I’d love to be around,” Johnson said, via Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News. “But again, I understand the business side of it, so we’ll see. We’ll see in these next couple months.”
  • Sean McVay (via Hammond) isn’t sure Mark Barron will return for the Rams’ playoff opener next weekend. The linebacker’s battling an Achilles’ tendon injury and will be one of many players the Rams will rest today.
  • Jamaal Charles is inactive for the Broncos‘ season finale, and the 10th-year running back will fall just short of a $100K incentive, the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes (on Twitter). Charles was to earn that bonus if he reached 500 yards from scrimmage, which was one of many thresholds in his incentive-laden contract. The 31-year-old back looked like a lock to get there at midseason, but he fell out of Denver’s rotation and will end his season with 425 yards. This could be the end for the two-time All-Pro, although he said earlier this season he wanted to play two more seasons.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

Seahawks RB Chris Carson Suffers Setback

Seahawks running back Chris Carson‘s attempt at a 2017 comeback has been halted for the time being, as head coach Pete Carroll told reporters that Carson suffered a setback in his recovery from a broken leg, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.Chris Carson (vertical)

“(Carson) a little bit of an ankle turn. Just caught it a little bit,” said Carroll. “So just got to make sure we know what that means as he bounces back from it. We were looking to try to find a time when we could put him back on the practice field next week or the week after that.

We were looking with real optimism. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen after the little setback. We’ll have to see when we get though the weekend. We won’t know until like Wednesday or something of next week where that fits.”

As Carroll alluded to, Seattle was hopeful that Carson would be able to return from injured reserve at some point this year. In fact, Carroll said earlier this week that Carson had been “unbelievably ahead of schedule” in his rehab. While a return now appears doubtful, Carson could conceivably come back if/when the Seahawks earn a postseason berth. Carson has already been sidelined for more than eight weeks (the league minimum when placed on IR), so he can return to Seattle’s active roster at any time.

Carson, whom the Seahawks selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft, had seized the club’s starting running back job before going down with injury. On 49 carries, the 23-year-old Carson had managed 4.2 yards per carry while also handling seven receptions. Even though he’s been absent for two months, Carson’s 208 yards rushing are still tops among Seattle running backs.

Without Carson available, the Seahawks have tried a number of options in the backfield with little success, as the club ranks just 22nd in rushing DVOA. The latest candidate for playing time is former fourth-rounder Mike Davis, whom Seattle claimed off waivers from San Francisco before the season began. Davis managed 64 yards on 16 carries in Week 13 against the Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.