Duce Staley

Coaching Notes: Callahan, Browns, Vrabel, Seahawks, Smith, Johnson, Texans, Jets

The Titans ended Brian Callahan‘s five-year stay as a non-play-calling Bengals OC, hiring the veteran assistant as their Mike Vrabel successor. Although Callahan has never been his team’s primary play-caller, he will not give his first Tennessee OC that responsibility. Callahan will call Titans offensive plays, veteran reporter Paul Kuharsky notes. Callahan has spent five years learning from Bengals HC/play-caller Zac Taylor. He also worked under Jon Gruden in 2018 and Gary Kubiak in 2015. Not calling plays in Cincinnati undoubtedly held Callahan back, considering the success the Bengals’ offense generated during Joe Burrow‘s early years.

During a busy day on the coaching carousel, here is the latest from around the league:

  • Duce Staley will land on his feet. The recently dismissed Panthers running backs coach will take the same position with the Browns, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports. The Jets had planned to make Staley an offer as well, but the veteran RBs coach will replace Stump Mitchell in Cleveland. Staley has coached running backs for the past 11 seasons, doing so with the Eagles, Lions and Panthers. The former NFL running back will have a chance to coach Nick Chubb, assuming the perennial Pro Bowler returns from his ACL tear.
  • The Browns are also working to hire one of Nick Saban’s former assistants to replace the other position coach they fired last week. Tommy Rees, who landed the Notre Dame OC job in his 20s and held the same position at Alabama last season, is on the Browns’ radar, The Athletic’s Zac Jackson tweets. A former Chargers assistant, Rees is expected to become the Browns’ tight ends coach. Cleveland dismissed T.C. McCartney last week.
  • Two casualties of this coaching carousel are candidates to land elsewhere soon. Ex-Falcons HC Arthur Smith and recently dismissed Eagles OC Brian Johnson have generated interest around the league, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. Smith is being monitored as an OC candidate, per Russini, with a handful of teams looking into the three-year Atlanta HC. Prior to Smith’s Falcons tenure, the ex-Titans OC generated widespread interest as a head coach option in 2021. Johnson has not achieved similar status, and Russini does not confirm the one-year Eagles play-caller is on the OC radar. Though, that would not surprise considering Johnson received multiple HC interview requests during this cycle.
  • Mentioned recently as a candidate on the Seahawks‘ radar, Vrabel may be receiving some support from Seattle players. Some Seahawks view Vrabel as the best option for the job, per Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline. Although Vrabel now has three interviews completed or booked, the Seahawks have not yet met with him. They have met with their former DC, Dan Quinn, who was the first name to emerge as the top Pete Carroll successor option. The Dallas DC should still be considered the frontrunner, Pauline adds. Quinn has a second interview scheduled for Friday, but the Seahawks have a few targets set for second meetings this week.
  • The Texans are not bringing back defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes. Lovie Smith hired Cesaire in 2022, whose contract is expiring. DeMeco Ryans‘ club did set a single-season sack record, with 46, which is quite something considering this franchise employed J.J. Watt for nine seasons. A former NFL D-lineman, Cesaire has been a D-line coach in the league since 2020.
  • On the subject of AFC D-line coaches, the Jets are retaining theirs. Aaron Whitecotton‘s contract was set to expire, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, but the New York Post’s Brian Costello notes the team reached an extension agreement Wednesday. Considering the success the Jets have had up front over the past two seasons, it is unsurprising they made a commitment to keep the Robert Saleh lieutenant around. The Jets also interviewed former Titans assistant Tony Dews for their RBs coach job, The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt tweets. Tennessee’s tight ends coach in 2023, Dews worked alongside current Jets staffers Todd Downing and Keith Carter in Tennessee.

Jets Part Ways With RBs Coach Taylor Embree; Team Interested In Duce Staley, Tony Dews

Many members of the Jets’ coaching staff and front office will remain in place after a highly underwhelming performance in 2023. Some changes are being made, however, including the departure of one coach on Robert Saleh‘s original staff.

Running backs coach Taylor Embree will not be back next season, Connor Hughes of SNY reports. Embree has experience at both the college and NFL levels, and he was brought in by Saleh in 2021 after the pair worked together in San Francisco. As Hughes notes, Saleh considered Embree an “untouchable” member of the staff upon offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett‘s arrival last offseason, but he is now headed elsewhere.

Before the news of Embree’s departure, it was reported the Jets were one of the teams looking into former Panthers RBs coach Duce Staley (along with the Browns). Saleh met with Staley last Thursday, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports. The Jets are expected to make an offer to the 48-year-old, who was let go midseason as part of Frank Reich‘s firing. Staley had held the title of assistant head coach during his brief Carolina tenure.

The same was true for Staley during his time with the Eagles and Lions which preceded his arrival with the Panthers. He is likely to receive continued interest from the Browns in the event New York does not reach an agreement with him. Failing that, a number of teams looking to make additions could also look into him. The Jets are eyeing another staffer for the RBs coach posting, however.

Tony Dews is interviewing with the Jets, ESPN’s Turron Davenport reports (via colleague Rich Cimini). Dews had a lengthy coaching career at the college level before taking his first NFL opportunity with Tennessee in 2018. He served as the Titans’ running backs coach for five seasons before working with tight ends in 2023. He would represent an experienced option for New York as the team seeks to tweak its staff ahead of a 2024 campaign in which signficant improvement on offense will be needed.

Of course, lead back Breece Hall will be a major factor in that effort. Recovering in full from last year’s ACL tear, the 2022 second-rounder totaled 1,585 scrimmage yards in 2023 despite the Jets being saddled with several offensive line injuries and poor quarterback play. The team’s hire at the RBs coach spot will thus be an important one as the team considers at least a few different options.

Browns, Jets Interested In Duce Staley

The Browns moved on from running backs coach Stump Mitchell on Wednesday as part of the staff changes which included offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt‘s firingDuce Staley is on Cleveland’s radar to replace the former, but the team is set to have competition.

Staley interviewed with the Browns this week for their vacant RBs coach position. He could very well find himself in Cleveland in the near future as a result. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports the Browns plan to make Staley an offer. Notably, though, she adds the same is true of the Jets.

New York does not have a known vacancy at that position, so it is certainly interesting to see the Jets mentioned as a suitor. Questions about the job security of head coach Robert Saleh and OC Nathaniel Hackett were raised amidst the Jets’ struggles throughout the season. However, owner Woody Johnson put those doubts to rest when announcing they (along with general manager Joe Douglas) would return for the 2024 season. Still, changes in some posts would come as little surprise as the team looks to avoid a repeat of 2023’s offensive output.

Staley was one of several members lauded for their inclusion on Frank Reich‘s Panthers staff heading into the campaign. Things did not go according to plan in Carolina this year, though, and Reich was ousted after just 11 games at the helm. Staley was among the positions coaches let go at the same time. The 48-year-old could easily find himself on another NFL sideline if competition for his services does indeed exist.

Both the Browns and Jets struggled with injuries up front during the campaign, though Cleveland fared better than New York in the ground game. Improvement in efficiency and consistency at the RB spot (along with improved health) will be a priority for both teams in the offseason. Staley – who has held a number of different titles in his coaching career while coaching running backs with the Eagles, Lions and Panthers – would be a notable addition to either staff.

Coaching Notes: Vrabel, Seahawks, Quinn, Morris, Falcons, Staley, Browns, Giants, Izzo, Steelers, Rams

The Seahawks have not met with Mike Vrabel yet, but interest is believed to exist on the NFC West team’s part. More smoke has emerged connecting Vrabel to Seattle. Several sources indicated this is a match worth monitoring, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano, while the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora has heard Vrabel and Dan Quinn are the two names to watch with regards to the Seattle HC job.

Vrabel and Seahawks GM John Schneider are believed to be close, La Canfora adds. With Pete Carroll out of the picture, Schneider — who operated in a right-hand man role as Carroll held final say — is running the show in Seattle. Vrabel sought full personnel control in Tennessee when the team was between GMs, but the organization did not grant it. A structure in which Schneider holds final say but Vrabel possesses more input than he held with the Titans could make sense, but Quinn’s four seasons — spread across two stints, the latter two as a Super Bowl-bound DC — obviously provide a strong connection. The Dallas DC was also the first candidate mentioned for this opening. Quinn has a busy week on tap; the Cowboys’ DC is interviewing virtually with the Panthers, Chargers, Seahawks, Titans and Commanders.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Deviating from their Arthur Blank-era trend, the Falcons are believed to be eyeing a coach with experience. Raheem Morris represents an interesting choice, considering he was Atlanta’s interim HC in 2020, but La Canfora adds some around the league view this as a potential match. Sean McVay is advocating for his three-year DC, and a coaching agent informed La Canfora that Morris is believed to have left Atlanta the first time on good terms. Morris, who served as Buccaneers HC from 2009-11, was a Falcons staffer from 2015-20. Bill Belichick having a second interview booked does point to the ex-Patriots coach being the favorite here, however.
  • Duce Staley paid a visit to the Browns this week, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson. The Browns just fired running backs coach Stump Mitchell and are in need at that post. Staley did not make it into December during his first season as Panthers RBs coach, joining QBs coach Josh McCown in being fired. But Staley has been an NFL backfield coach — with the Eagles, Lions and Panthers — since 2013.
  • The Browns are also interviewing Titans outside linebackers coach Ryan Crow, per veteran NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky. While incumbent D-line coach Ben Bloom is not believed to have been fired, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot confirms the Crow report, indicating Bloom could be reassigned. Crow was with Tennessee throughout Vrabel’s six-year tenure; Bloom has enjoyed two stints in Cleveland — 2009-10 and over the past four seasons under Kevin Stefanski.
  • Seeking a replacement for six-year special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, the Giants are eyeing one of their Tom Coughlin-era assistants. Larry Izzo, the former Patriots linebacker who coached on Coughlin’s staff from 2011-15, is in the mix for the ST coordinator job, ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets. Izzo spent the past three seasons as the Seahawks‘ ST boss, but with Carroll gone, the organization has given its assistants permission to explore other opportunities. Izzo broke into coaching in New York, serving as assistant ST coach before moving up the ladder elsewhere.
  • The Rams are losing their defensive line coach to the college ranks. USC announced the hiring of Eric Henderson, who spent the past five seasons as the Rams’ D-line coach. Henderson’s Los Angeles run will continue; he started his NFL coaching stay with two seasons as the Chargers’ assistant D-line coach. Henderson, 40, will become the Trojans’ co-defensive coordinator.
  • Steelers assistant Glenn Thomas will rejoin Matt Rhule, according to The Athletic’s Mitch Sherman, who notes the former Baylor and Temple assistant will become co-OC at Nebraska. Thomas spent one season with the Steelers, coming to Pittsburgh after being Arizona State’s OC in 2022.

Frank Reich Unlikely To Coach Again; Panthers Expected To Target Offensive HC For 2024

NOVEMBER 28: When speaking to the media in the wake of Reich’s dismissal, Tepper unsurprisingly pushed back on the notion that his impatience regarding coaches will make the Panthers opening an unattractive one. He also suggested, via Person, that an outside hiring firm will not be consulted for the latest search process (subscription required). Tepper has elected to keep his previous hiring decisions in-house, and it appears that will remain the case in 2023.

Confirming previous reports on the matter – as well as Reich’s public remarks – Tepper also said the Panthers’ decision to draft Young over C.J. Stroud was “unanimous.” Tepper is widely understood to have played a role in the selection (as well as other elements of the team’s football operations), but his assertion on the matter of the Young pick may help smooth over meddling-related concerns for prospective coaching candidates, especially if those with a background on offense are again prioritized.

NOVEMBER 27: Frank Reich now joins Nathaniel Hackett, Urban Meyer and Pete McCulley as the only post-merger head coaches to be fired before their first season ended. This resided as a McCulley-only list for more than 40 years, but owners have acted swiftly over the past three. David Tepper pulled the plug on a four-year contract Monday, and Reich’s firing edges out Hackett and Meyer, who were respectively fired 15 and 13 games into their Denver and Jacksonville HC tenures. Only McCulley was fired sooner since 1970; the 49ers canned him after nine games.

Offset language helped the Panthers avoid much of the remaining payments on the ill-fated seven-year Matt Rhule contract, with the longtime college HC signing on as Nebraska’s leader. But Reich may not give the Panthers the chance to recoup money. The veteran NFL HC and assistant and former quarterback said shortly after his firing this is probably it for him in the NFL, though he did not definitively announce a retirement.

This is probably the final chapter of my NFL journey,” Reich said, via the Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler. “… There’s a heart-pounding disappointment in not hitting the marks that we needed to hit to keep this going and try to get it turned around. It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans.

Reich has been an NFL assistant or head coach since 2006, moving into the profession on a full-time basis eight years after his playing career concluded. The Super Bowl-winning OC’s remark Monday differs from his plan upon being fired midway through last season. Following the Colts dismissal, Reich revealed intentions to coach again. He received another opportunity, beating out Steve Wilks for the Carolina job. But the Panthers regressed after making that change. Despite Reich being in his first season, Tepper, who was irate after a Week 12 loss dropped the Panthers to 1-10, canned the coach he hired in January.

Reich, 61, appeared to pull back the curtain on rumblings of Tepper overreach during the season, indicating the owner took a hands-on approach. While animosity would understandably exist after being fired 11 games into his tenure, the well-liked coach did not indicate any existed. Tepper has now fired three coaches in-season; he dismissed Ron Rivera 12 games into the 2019 campaign.

I want to convey that I have nothing but positive thoughts about Mr. Tepper. On a personal level, I saw a side of him that I deeply respect and care about,” Reich said, via Fowler. “But the NFL is a meritocracy. It’s not unconditional love. I understand from a professional standpoint Mr. Tepper is going to have certain standards that he expects to have met. I have no hard feelings, and my personal relationship with him was actually a real highlight of this short time.”

Firing coaches during the season in back-to-back years brings the latest round of turmoil for the Tepper-era Panthers, whose first-round pick — stationed atop the 2024 draft board with six weeks left — goes to the Bears via the Bryce Young trade. It will be interesting to see the run of candidates interested in the job, but despite Reich’s struggles, The Athletic’s Joe Person indicates the sixth-year owner is likely to again target an offense-minded HC (subscription required).

As should be expected, veteran special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is unlikely to receive much consideration for the long-term job, ESPN.com’s David Newton and Jeremy Fowler note. Although Tabor has been an NFL special teams coach since 2008, the path for ST staffers to rise to the top sideline job — John Harbaugh‘s Baltimore success notwithstanding — remains narrow.

Wilks drew support to become the first interim HC since Doug Marrone (Jaguars, 2017) to see his interim tag removed, but Person adds Tepper had zeroed in on an offense-geared coach. Ben Johnson had emerged as Tepper’s top target, but the young Lions OC removed his name from consideration a week before the Panthers hired Reich. Wilks interviewed twice along with Reich, instead ending up as the 49ers’ DC. It is not surprising to see an owner prefer an offensively oriented HC, given recent NFL trends. The Panthers will aim for a leader who can get more out of Young, presumably with a better cast of weaponry in place for 2024.

The Panthers fired Young’s position coach and their running backs coach after canning Reich, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates the ousters of Josh McCown and Duce Staley came from Tabor and Jim Caldwell. Staley had worked with Reich in Philadelphia as well, while McCown interviewed twice for Houston’s HC job.

A Reich hire, Caldwell has received more power following Monday morning’s change. Thomas Brown is back in place as the play-caller, however. Reich had taken back play-calling duties after handing them off to Brown for a three-game stretch. The Panthers, who had attempted to blend Reich concepts with those Brown learned from Sean McVay with the Rams, rank 30th in total offense and 29th in points scored.

Former Panthers tight end-turned-FOX analyst Greg Olsen would be interested in the position, per Person, should Tepper contact him regarding what would be an outside-the-box hire. Olsen is best remembered for his Panthers years and is early in his broadcasting career. FOX, however, is still planning to effectively demote him for Tom Brady in 2024.

Prior to the Panthers’ Week 12 loss to the Titans, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo had not gotten the sense Reich being a one-and-done was a certainty (video link). Though, Reich and GM Scott Fitterer were reported to be on the hot seat several days ago. Tepper had naturally planned to evaluate Reich’s work at season’s end. It turned out the owner no longer wanted the former Carolina QB mentoring Young, whom the owner was believed to have made a strong push for ahead of the draft. Hired to work with Rhule in 2021, Fitterer should certainly be considered on a hot seat going into the season’s home stretch.

NFC South Notes: Campbell, Maye, Sanders

Defensive lineman Calais Campbell has accomplished a great deal in his NFL career, though he has never won a Super Bowl ring. So it came as something of a surprise when the six-time Pro Bowler, who is entering his age-37 season, agreed to sign with the Falcons in March after the Ravens made him a cap casualty. After all, Atlanta has not made the playoffs since 2018 and will be starting Desmond Ridder — a 2022 third-round choice who made just four starts in his rookie campaign — at quarterback.

Still, when this offseason arrived, the Falcons had free agency money to spend for the first time in the Terry Fontenot/Arthur Smith era, and they have been especially aggressive in bolstering their defense. Jessie Bates, Mike Hughes, Kaden Elliss, and David Onyemata were signed, and as Mike Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, adding those talents and a player like Campbell supports the message that Fontenot and Smith want to convey: that Atlanta is ready to compete and is a prime destination for high-end talent.

Campbell acknowledged that the uncertainty of the NFC South played a role in his decision (Twitter link via Rothstein), and he believes that the Falcons will indeed contend for a playoff spot in 2023. He spoke glowingly of his meetings with Smith, Fontenot, and new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, and he also watched tape of Ridder. All of that turned the Falcons from a team that was not on Campbell’s radar into the team for which he eschewed an extended free agency courtship.

Now for more from the NFC South, starting with several more items on Campbell and the Falcons:

  • Campbell said that more teams were interested in his services in 2023 than during his free agency stay in 2022, which ultimately concluded with a new deal with Baltimore. He also said he was “close” to signing with another club this year before agreeing to terms with the Falcons, though that mystery team did not make him feel the same way Atlanta did. In addition to his meetings with the Jaguars and Falcons, he had visits with the Jets and Bills on the docket, and he told CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson during an episode of The Crew podcast that Aaron Rodgers — who is expected to join the Jets in the near future — texted him and implored him to sign with Gang Green (Twitter link via Ari Meirov of The33rdTeam.com).
  • As Campbell explained in the above-referenced podcast, the Jets tried to get a deal done with him even before his would-be visit with New York, so perhaps they were the team that he nearly picked over the Falcons. And, per Rothstein, another factor that worked in the Falcons’ favor is that Atlanta plans to use him as a “true D-end,” meaning that he will line up on the edge on first and second downs.
  • Saints safety Marcus Maye was arrested in September on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm. As Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk wrote last month, those charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. As most NFL fans know by now, the absence of criminal charges does not mean that a player will avoid league punishment, but since the time of Williams’ report, nothing has emerged on that front.
  • Running back Miles Sanders signed a four-year, $25MM contract with the Panthers in March, a deal that features $13MM in guaranteed money. Sanders indicated that the presence of Duce Staley, whom Carolina recently hired as its assistant head coach & running backs coach, was a big reason for his decision to join the Panthers (Twitter link via ESPN’s David Newton). Sanders spent the first four years of his career (2019-22) with the Eagles, and Staley was Philadelphia’s assistant head coach and running backs coach for the first two of those seasons.

Panthers WR DJ Chark Undergoes Ankle Surgery

DJ Chark was one of two notable receiver additions made by the Panthers this offseason. He comes to Carolina with injury concerns from his previous stops, but a step aimed at ending them has been taken.

Chark recently underwent ankle surgery, as confirmed by head coach Frank Reich (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Joe Person). The new Panthers coach added that Chark could be available to take part in at least some of the team’s OTAs later this offseason. The procedure, if successful, could help the latter move on from the lingering foot and ankle issues he has dealt with in his career.

The 26-year-old did not play a full regular season campaign during his four years in Jacksonville or his one-year stint in Detroit. Chark’s time with the Lions only lasted 11 games, but he averaged 16.7 yards per catch in 2022, demonstrating his continued ability to stretch the field. His production led to a one-year Panthers contract featuring $5MM in guaranteed money. That will give him the opportunity – along with fellow veteran Adam Thielen – to contribute in Carolina’s new-look WR room, one which no longer includes D.J. Moore.

Chark was one of the better members of this year’s weak receiver class in free agency, and he had interest from the Lions in remaining for at least one more season. Instead, he chose to come to Carolina in no small part due to the connection between himself and Duce Staley. The latter – hired by Reich with the title of running backs/assistant head coach – worked alongside Chark in Detroit last season.

“Duce was a big factor in DJ coming here,” general manager Scott Fitterer confirmed, via Mike Kaye of the Charlotte Observer“He reached out to him once we hit free agency… He reached out and said, ‘Hey, listen, here’s the role, what do you want to do? I’ve been with you’… And really, he recruited him.”

Chark will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him in 2023 as part of his adjustment to a third career NFL team. His connection with Staley will give him a familiar face, however, as he looks to put together a healthy season and boost his free agent value in the process. Assuming he recovers in full from surgery, he will be well-positioned to do just that.

Panthers To Hire Duce Staley, Request OC Interview With Jim Bob Cooter

The Lions will lose a key assistant to Frank Reich‘s new Panthers staff. Detroit running backs coach Duce Staley will rejoin Reich in Carolina, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.

Reich and Staley worked together with the Eagles from 2016-17, and while Staley was under contract with the Lions, they chose not to block the maneuver. The Lions will let Staley out of his contract, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports, so he can move closer to his mother. Staley’s mother, whom Rogers adds is battling health issues, lives in South Carolina. Staley grew up in Columbia, S.C.

Staley, 47, had been on Dan Campbell‘s staff for the past two years, moving to Michigan after 10 seasons in Philly, his primary team during his playing career. The former Eagles running back worked as their running backs coach from 2013-20. Staley has interviewed for the Eagles and Giants’ OC positions during the late 2010s and took over as Philly’s HC temporarily in 2020, during a Doug Pederson COVID-19 spell, but it does not appear Staley is joining Reich’s staff in a coordinator role.

Staley’s role is uncertain, but he stands to be one of Reich’s top assistants. The Lions made a surprise playoff push during the season’s second half, and Jamaal Williams provided an equally stunning performance to help drive it. Williams finished with the league lead in rushing touchdowns (17) and smashed his previous career yardage high with 1,066.

The Panthers are moving forward on their OC search, requesting to interview Jaguars passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. As he was with Tampa Bay, Cooter is believed to be Carolina’s first interview request for this job.

Reich has not committed to calling plays just yet. Despite David Tepper coming out against CEO-type coaches, Reich noted a recent trend of HCs not calling plays in indicating (via ESPN.com’s David Newton) he has not made that decision. The Cowboys, Eagles and Giants represent recent examples of offense-oriented HCs ceding play-calling duties to lieutenants, though Mike McCarthy will go the other way — intending to call plays after dismissing Kellen Moore — in 2023. It will be interesting if Reich, the Colts’ play-caller throughout his tenure, follows suit. That will make the OC position a more prominent role in Carolina.

Cooter, 38, also has experience in Detroit; his Lions stay doubles as his most relevant NFL work. The Lions promoted their then-31-year-old staffer to OC during the 2015 season. Cooter stayed in that role through the 2018 slate, keeping the gig for a year despite the Lions firing Jim Caldwell. Cooter and Reich were each on the Colts’ staff from 2009-11, with Reich coaching Indy’s QBs and wideouts and Cooter starting out as an offensive assistant. Cooter’s past with Pederson, who hired Reich as Eagles OC in 2016, also could check a box here.

Given Trevor Lawrence‘s second-year production, teams have wanted to speak with Cooter. The Buccaneers have not made a decision about their OC yet, so Cooter is now in play for two positions. He has not been a coordinator since the Lions let him go four years ago.

Duce Staley Joins Lions

Duce Staley got his wish. The Eagles granted the assistant coach’s request for release, paving the way for him to join the Lions’ staff (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Lions To Add John Dorsey To Front Office]

Staley will now serve as the Lions’ assistant head coach/running backs coach under Dan Campbell. The ex-Eagles running back joined the Birds’ coaching staff all the way back in 2013, but he got frustrated after being passed over twice for the head coaching job. In 2016, the Eagles chose Doug Pederson instead. This year, the Eagles went with Nick Sirianni, who opted against promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, also drew interest from the Bears. Instead, he’ll face Chicago a couple times per year. With ex-RBs Staley and Anthony Lynn (offensive coordinator) in the fold, you can expect the Lions to focus on the run game in 2021. That might be for the best, since the Lions will probably be moving forward without quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Duce Staley Requests Release From Contract

Longtime Eagles assistant Duce Staley has requested a release from his contract, as John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia was first to report (Twitter link). As Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP writes, it’s unclear if the team will honor the request, but it seems likely that Staley will be permitted to move on.

Staley, a former running back, was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 1997 draft. He spent the first seven seasons of his playing career in Philly, cracking the 1,000-yard barrier three times. He rejoined the club as a coaching intern in 2010 and has served as the running backs coach since 2013. However, it appears as though his career trajectory has hit its peak in Philadelphia.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, has been passed over for promotion multiple times in recent years. He interviewed for the team’s head coaching gig in 2016, a job that ultimately went to Doug Pederson, and he interviewed for the HC post again this year, after Pederson’s dismissal. The Eagles elected to hire Nick Sirianni instead, and it does not appear that Sirianni is interested in promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley was also passed over for the OC post in 2018, when Pederson promoted Mike Groh. Staley was given the additional title of assistant head coach that year, but his frustration is understandable. He obviously believes he will get another job elsewhere, one that comes with an immediate promotion or at least a better opportunity at advancement.

We heard recently that the Bears are interested in adding Staley to their staff, and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Lions have interest as well (Twitter link). He would be a good get for either club, as he has done a terrific job with the Eagles’ RBs and is a popular locker room figure.