Peyton Manning

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Chung, Bills

Sam Darnold spoke with Adam Gase before the Jets ended up hiring him. The Jets‘ second-year quarterback said during an interview with SI.com he “interviewed” Gase prior to the team naming him as Todd Bowles‘ successor. Darnold and Gase share an agent, CAA’s Jimmy Sexton. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com wonders how much of a factor that was in the Jets going with Gase, positing that this connection should not be dismissed in tracing how the Jets arrived on Gase. CAA client Peyton Manning also called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson to endorse Gase, Cimini notes. Gase was Manning’s OC for two years in Denver. A previous report indicated Gase’s interview distinguished him from the other candidates. Gase and Darnold will now go about attempting to revive the Jets.

On the first of many Sundays without NFL games, here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Although Isaiah Crowell set the Jets’ single-game rushing record with a 219-yard performance against the Broncos in October, Cimini does not expect the team to keep the veteran running back around for 2019. Crowell tied his career-high yards-per-carry figure with 4.8 but only amassed 685 rushing yards last season. The Jets can save $3MM by releasing Crowell before March 15, when $2MM of his $4MM 2019 base salary becomes guaranteed. The Jets have been the team most linked to Le’Veon Bell, and the team now has $99MM-plus in cap space.
  • Patrick Chung recently underwent surgery to repair a broken forearm, but the Patriots safety will go back under the knife soon. Chung will undergo an additional procedure to address a shoulder issue that bothered him during the season, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required). It’s the shoulder issue, and not the forearm break, that is expected to sideline Chung for a while. The 31-year-old defender is not expected to participate in Patriots OTAs or minicamp.
  • The Patriots are going to have to make moves to address their wide receiver situation. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson are UFAs-to-be, and Josh Gordon‘s return should not be considered likely at this point. Hogan was a key contributor for the Patriots in 2016 and ’17 but could not re-establish himself as a reliable option down the stretch this season. Hogan finished the campaign with a six-target, zero-catch Super Bowl after compiling just 58 receiving yards in the AFC playoffs, and Howe expects the Pats to allow him to depart in free agency.
  • While there could be significant roster turnover in New England, with several coaches already leaving as well, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes this offseason is expected to feature far less drama than last year’s did. Last year featured more fallout from the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, a lengthy Tom Brady absence and Rob Gronkowski considering retirement. After the Pats’ latest Super Bowl title, their situation looks more stable, even if Gronk is once again pondering leaving the game.
  • The Bills made multiple moves in order to trade up and land Josh Allen in the 2018 first round, but Brandon Beane may be looking to move back this year. The third-year Bills GM said recently the team does not need to pick in the top 10, and Mike Rodak of ESPN.com expects Buffalo to engage in trade-down discussions from its No. 9 overall slot.

David Tepper Frontrunner To Buy Panthers?

The Panthers may be on the verge of having a new owner soon. David Tepper is the frontrunner to succeed Jerry Richardson and buy the Charlotte, N.C.-based franchise, Joe Person, Katherine Peralta and Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer report.

Tepper refuted an April report that he was out of the mix to make this acquisition, and it appears the hedge-fund billionaire is close to moving forward with this purchase. Worth approximately $11 billion, the 60-year-old Tepper has the most capital of any of the men vying to buy the team, per the Observer trio. Tepper’s finances being the least complicated aided his bid, per Person, Peralta and Rothacker, who add Tepper was back in Charlotte on Wednesday meeting with team officials.

This comes after another potential buyer, Ben Navarro, wanted to involve Peyton Manning as a part-owner. Alan Kestenbaum and Michael Rubin represented the other bidders for the team. Richardson’s son, Mark, put weight behind Navarro to be his father’s successor. However, Tepper now appears to be leading the race, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reporting Jerry Richardson has zeroed in on Tepper. Although, the Observer reporters caution this deal is not finalized.

Rapoport adds (via Twitter) Tepper wants to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. This deal could be ready to be approved by the next set of owners’ meetings in Atlanta later this month, per Rapoport, who also reports Tepper is the only one of these potential buyers who could be approved by the upcoming meetings. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes he’d be “shocked” if Tepper wasn’t the next Panthers owner, adding this sale could be announced early next week.

The report indicating Tepper was out doesn’t appear to have been entirely off base, either, with La Canfora reporting Tepper has told confidants at multiple times during this process he was out. But evidently he’s back in and ready to finish the process. Additionally, La Canfora reports Manning was unlikely to join Navarro’s ownership group.

Since Tepper has been a part-owner of the Steelers since 2009, he also would not need to be approved by the NFL. Many NFL owners wanted Tepper to win this race, the New York Times reported in April.

Panthers Bidder Wants To Involve Peyton Manning

Panthers bidder Ben Navarro has made contact with former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning regarding a limited ownership role if Navarro were to land the Carolina franchise, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, who adds Manning is considering the offer.

Manning has long been connected to NFL front office openings, but Person’s report doesn’t mention any possibility that Manning would be involved in personnel decisions. That could certainly change, of course, if Navarro does indeed secure the Panthers, as he’d likely want to remake the club’s front office. General manager Marty Hurney recently had the interim tag removed from his title, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be asked to stick around once new ownership is in place.

Manning, 42, hasn’t made a re-entrance to NFL life since retiring following the 2015 campaign. He was recently linked to a position within the Browns’ front office, but Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam denied ever making Manning an offer. Earlier this year, both ESPN and FOX heavily pursued Manning as a television analyst, but he rejected overtures from both networks.

The remaining bidders for the Panthers include Steelers minority owner David Tepper, steel magnate Alan Kestenbaum, and entrepreneur Michael Rubin, according to Person.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Peyton, Fuller, Big Ben, JuJu

Peyton Manning has taken a few years off from the game after his Super Bowl farewell in 2016. However, he’s been widely speculated to move into a team president type role as soon as he fills like jumping back into the industry, and there should a wide amount of interest in his services.

As part of his Friday column, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Manning would likely be on the top of the list for any team with an opening at the head of their football operations. He spoke to a source on the Broncos current staff who said that, “There’d honestly be no one better.” 

Breer expressed that while the former Colts and Broncos signal caller doesn’t have any front office experience, he’s been preparing for the position for years as a player, specifically shadowing the actions of current Broncos football czar, John Elway. As a player, Manning always kept tabs on the draft, free agency and many of the other aspects that go into leading an NFL franchise. While there’s nothing like firsthand experience in that atmosphere, Manning has clearly demonstrated his vast knowledge of the game in the way he revolutionized the quarterback position during his time in the league.

“He’ll be extremely successful in anything he chooses to do because of the person is, how smart he is and how hard he works,” said one personnel man who worked with him in Indy. “He’ll be extremely well prepared, have done research on the job and have an understanding of what the job entails. 

Breer speculates that the Browns would likely be clamoring to bring Manning aboard to lead their football operations, among pretty much any other front office needy franchise.

  • The Texans have been without big play threat Will Fuller for the past two weeks and head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t expect that to change in Week 13, reports Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 2016 first round pick missed the opening part of the year with injury too, but sandwiched an outstanding run of games in which he scored six times in four contests. Barshop does note that the O’Brien didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of Fuller making a return in the final few weeks of the regular season.
  • The Steelers are in a much different spot than the Giants at this point in time, but veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger opened up to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to discuss how he empathizes with the situation Eli Manning is going through right now. “It sparks the reality that that could be me,” Roethlisberger said. “They could do that to me next year or whenever, who knows? It’s eye-opening that you have to take every play, every game, don’t take it for granted, take it for what it is because you never know when you’re done.” However, while Big Ben and Eli were taken in the same draft and both have multiple Super Bowls to their credit, the Steelers signal caller doesn’t believe that the only team he’s ever known would treat him in the same way. “I don’t, and I don’t mean to talk negatively about the Giants, especially I know the Steelers and Giants are very close and are family, too. But I don’t think they would, I think they would handle it differently.” These are interesting comments considering Roethlisberger expressed some reservations about continuing to play this past offseason, and even though he’s recovered nicely from a unusually slow start, the fact that he’s thinking about these career questions shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • On the field, Pittsburgh is expected to have rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster back in the lineup for the team’s Monday night affair against the Bengals, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The 21-year-old sat out last week’s victory over the Packers with an ankle injury, but returned to practice in-full on Thursday. He’ll likely continue to operate in the slot with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant playing more on the boundaries.

 

 

La Canfora’s Latest: Bills, P. Manning, Giants, Goodell

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is likely to be an attractive trade chip this offseason due to his relative youth, upside, and athleticism (not to mention his reasonable salary). Taylor is due a $6MM roster bonus in the first week of free agency this March, and even when he inked his current deal, it was speculated that Buffalo could cut Taylor before having to pay out that bonus. So while teams theoretically could wait for the Bills to release Taylor — they did just bench him, after all — La Canfora’s sources indicate that the ability to land him at a reasonable contract and secure his rights for at least 2018 would lead to someone giving Buffalo something of reasonable value.

Indeed, aside from the $6MM roster bonus, Taylor is owed a fairly modest $10MM base salary, and it’s not as if the free agent QB market is likely to set the world on fire. Plus, there will be plenty of teams who are unable to address their QB needs in the draft. La Canfora names the Jaguars, Broncos, Cardinals, and Saints as potential landing spots for Taylor, and he says the Bills will be doing their own homework on the 2018 quarterback draft class. He also says the Bills could continue to look to trade Cordy Glenn this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora, who has again treated us to a bevy of Sunday morning notes:

  • Taylor might draw plenty of trade interest this offseason, but La Canfora writes that the Bills had been weighing the decision to start Nathan Peterman over Taylor for weeks, and the team’s slow starts and inability to throw the ball downfield ultimately forced the change.
  • We have heard plenty of speculation about the Browns‘ desire to bring future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning on board in some sort of high-level capacity, and La Canfora writes that club owner Jimmy Haslam is serious about recruiting Manning and could be willing to offer him a small stake in the team as incentive to take on a team president/top executive role.
  • Although Giants ownership recently indicated that head coach Ben McAdoo would at least get the opportunity to finish out the season before they make a decision on his future with the club, La Canfora says the club’s evaluation will not be limited to the coaching staff. He believes ownership could also make changes to the personnel side of team operations, suggesting that GM Jerry Reese could be on the hot seat.
  • La Canfora says that Roger Goodell never demanded $50MM per year and use of a private jet for life as part of his contract extension, as was reported last week. Instead, the structure that Goodell agreed to weeks ago will pay him a base salary of $20MM per year, with a chance to hit $200MM over five years if all incentives are met (Goodell had been earning about $40MM per year under his present contract). His new deal is still awaiting a formal signing/announcement.

Latest On Rift Between Browns’ Execs, Coach

Publicly, all of the Browns’ key players are saying the right things. But, with more and more stories coming out about discord between coach Hue Jackson and team brass, it’s apparent that something isn’t right in Cleveland. Hue Jackson (Vertical)

[RELATED: Browns To Start DeShone Kizer]

Jackson came to the Browns prior to the 2016 season with a vow to win right off of the bat and said the team would not rebuild, but “retool.” With that in mind, Jackson and his staff were miffed this offseason when the Browns shipped linebacker Demario Davis back to the Jets and released cornerback Joe HadenMary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com hears.

Through six weeks, Davis is third in the NFL in tackles with 53. Haden, meanwhile, is playing quality football with the Steelers. The Browns, still searching for their first win heading into Sunday’s game against the Titans, could use some players like that.

The rift between the coaching staff and the front office could result in a shakeup at the executive level, though the Browns deny reports of shopping for executives. Peyton Manning‘s name has come up as a potential GM candidate for the Browns, but Cabot hears that the QB’s recent trip to Cleveland was not for the purpose of discussing the job.

If Manning – a good friend of owner Jimmy Haslam – winds up as the team’s next GM, the Browns still might want to surround him with experienced execs. The Browns are currently guided by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown (effectively the GM), Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, and Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew Berry. None of those three have a track record of assembling a winning football team and DePodesta’s background is in a different sport entirely.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Targeting Peyton Manning As GM?

Despite making frequent public appearances, including Sunday for a jersey-retirement ceremony in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning has not been involved in football since retiring from the Broncos in March 2016. However, the future Hall of Fame quarterback plans to change that soon.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports Manning “will be back in the NFL next year as a GM,” mentioning the Rams, Browns and Titans as possible landing spots (via Mike Jurecki of Arizonasports.com, on Twitter).

This is indeed strong language regarding Manning accepting a GM job when none are as of now available, but the 41-year-old recent retiree has been connected to both the Titans and Browns as a possible executive and would certainly be a coveted commodity among teams for a front office position.

However, the rumblings connecting Manning to the Titans and Browns were at their strongest in 2015 — when neither Tennessee’s nor Cleveland’s current power structures were in place. Jon Robinson took over as Titans GM in 2016, and Sashi Brown began a polarizing tenure as Browns executive VP that year as well. The Browns’ job could well be available if the team continues to crater like this, but it’s also debatable if Manning would consider the position given the franchise’s lack of success since rebooting.

The Rams were once listed as a possible Manning suitor if he were to have continued playing in 2016 rather than retiring. Los Angeles has Les Snead operating in his sixth season as GM, and while Snead’s tenure hasn’t been especially successful, the franchise kept him around to make a second coaching hire this offseason.

An arrangement like the one the Jaguars now have with Tom Coughlin presiding over GM Dave Caldwell could seemingly be a consideration, and Jurecki notes one of these teams could offer Manning an ownership stake as well. Manning was also connected to the Colts’ GM role before Jim Irsay confirmed that wasn’t a path considered this offseason. A high-level Indianapolis exec job would be waiting for Manning, should he want it, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Manning, Fins, Carr, Cousins

In the wake of quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s season-ending knee injury last December, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase reached out to the retired Peyton Manning about a possible comeback. “It started with Gase,” Peyton’s father, Archie Manning, told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “He said, ‘Hey 18, Tannehill went down.’ He said, ‘I think he’s going to miss some time. The first question I’m going to get at the press conference in the morning is if I’m going to try to bring you to Miami. What do you want me to tell them?” Peyton Manning was resoundingly successful under Gase when he was Denver’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2012-14, but neither a reunion with Gase nor joining a playoff-bound club late in the season could entice the future Hall of Famer to return. Continued Archie Manning: “The text message came back from Peyton, ‘You tell them I could probably come play, but there’s no way I can miss carpool the next two weeks.’ So, he was done.” With Peyton Manning unwilling to come out of retirement, the Dolphins turned to backup QB Matt Moore toward the end of the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs, in which Pittsburgh soundly defeated them.

A few more notes from around the NFL…

  • At $25MM per year, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr‘s newly signed contract is a record deal in terms of average annual value, but it still doesn’t match up to Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck‘s pact, writes Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com. While Luck is collecting less per season (just over $23MM) on the six-year, $139.1MM extension he inked last summer, he outpaces Carr in terms of both three-year value ($75MM to $67.6MM) and four-year value ($96.125MM to $87.7MM). Those are better gauges than the overall value of a contract, suggests Barnwell, who argues that the last year of a quarterback’s deal is essentially irrelevant. By then, the QB will have either landed a raise, thereby eliminating what was left on the previous contract, or gotten cut.
  • Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t going to sign a long-term deal worth less than $52MM over the first two years, contends JP Finlay of CSNMidAtlantic.com. That figure represents the combined totals of the $24MM franchise tag for 2017, which Cousins is slated to play under, and the $28MM transition tag for next year. Even that might not be enough for the Redskins to lock up Cousins by the July 17 deadline, observes Finlay, who’s not particularly optimistic that a deal will come together.
  • Fourth-year Steelers defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is facing a make-or-break summer, notes Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The 352-pound McCullers is coming off his first 16-game season, but he only played 17.4 percent of defensive snaps, and the Steelers opted against giving him first-team reps in minicamp while starter Javon Hargrave dealt with an injury. When speaking with the team’s official website about McCullers’ status, Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell didn’t mince words, saying: “Dan McCullers, he’s got to grow up. It’s time to make a move right now. This is going to be his fourth year. And usually in this league, after about four years, you have got to make a move. Or, either, you move somewhere else.”

Latest On Colts’ Decision-Making Structure

The Colts will conduct an expansive GM search, owner Jim Irsay said Saturday (via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter) and one that will include internal candidate Jimmy Raye III. The team will interview Raye, the Colts’ VP of football operations, for the position, and Raye will serve as interim general manager in the meantime.

Raye and Chuck Pagano will travel to the Senior Bowl to head up the team’s presence there. Pagano will stay on as the Colts’ coach in 2017, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This comes after Irsay fired GM Ryan Grigson, whose hire led to Pagano’s in 2012.

I hope Chuck can be our coach for many years to come. He is our coach,” Irsay said.

Another report surfaced just before Irsay’s press conference noting Peyton Manning has a high-level Colts executive job waiting for him if he wants it, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com writes. However, Irsay said today Manning is not in consideration for the GM job, Scheter tweets. The owner and his previous employee had conversations this offseason, however, and Breer tweets Manning would be considered for a role in the organization, per Irsay.

Regarding the Jon Gruden pursuit, Irsay denied he talked to the current ESPN analyst for the team’s HC position. Instead, the owner said the conversations with Gruden were to get feedback on the team, per Holder (on Twitter). Irsay also said he’s had discussions with former GM Bill Polian but added he will not have a role with the organization, Holder tweets.

Raye interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but was not given finalist consideration. Irsay noted today he has a list of candidates in mind, but the assortment is fluid at this point, Holder tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/FO Notes: Manning, Redskins, Jaguars, Broncos

Despite Jim Irsay’s dream of a superstar decision-making duo featuring Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden failing to come to fruition, the Colts‘ owner is still trying to land Manning in a key front office role, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter). During an appearance on Fox NFL Sunday, Glazer described Irsay as making a “strong push” to bring Manning back to the Colts.

However, the 40-year-old recently retired quarterback may not be ready to do that at this time. Previously loosely connected to a pursuit of a front office career, Manning coming back to the Colts is unlikely at this time, Bob Kravitz of WTHR tweets. The Colts did release Manning in 2012, but the future Hall of Fame passer did return for a special Colts-centric retirement ceremony last year.

Nevertheless, the owner’s faith in the Ryan Grigson/Chuck Pagano tandem may be wavering, despite each being tentatively expected to keep their jobs. Although, Irsay has yet to come out publicly and confirm that.

Here’s the latest from the NFL’s post-regular-season hiring period.

  • Today’s revelations have Irsay going after splashy candidates for jobs that aren’t yet open, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the owner has yet to reach out to Nick Saban about the HC job. The Colts have been connected to Saban via rumors for a while now, but nothing substantial has come out of it.
  • The Redskins are “very likely” to promote quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh to their OC position to take Sean McVay‘s place, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. This arrangement would entail Jay Gruden calling plays, La Canfora notes. Cavanaugh has previously served as OC for two different franchises, doing so for the Bears and Ravens, but hasn’t functioned in that capacity since 2004. The 60-year-old longtime assistant has been with Washington since 2015.
  • Tom Coughlin has thus far either shown faith in the existing Jaguars assistants or brought in former Giants coaches in his first week in Jacksonville. The newly hired executive went in the latter direction on Saturday, hiring former Giants DC Perry Fewell to coach the Jags’ defensive backs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports (on Twitter). This will mark Fewell’s second stay in this role. His first NFL coaching gig came as the Jags’ secondary coach under Coughlin from 1998-2002. The 54-year-old coach served as the Redskins’ DBs boss during the past two seasons. Fewell was Coughlin’s DC from 2010-14, serving as the coach whose Super Bowl champion 2011 team unveiled its famous NASCAR package. But Fewell will serve under retained DC Todd Wash and work a sixth stint as a secondary coach.
  • Manning’s second NFL team continued to piece together its Vance Joseph-led coaching staff. The Broncos are retaining strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson, Mike Klis of 9News reports (via Twitter). Richesson will enter his sixth year in this position.