Frank Smith

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.

Dolphins Hire Frank Smith As OC

Not long after interviewing Frank Smith for the biggest remaining role on Mike McDaniel’s new staff in Miami, the team has hired him. As Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports (via Twitter), Smith is the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator.

[Related: Dolphins To Interview Frank Smith For OC]

Smith, 40, began his NFL coaching career with the Saints in 2010, following six seasons in the college ranks. He then spent three years as the tight ends coach of the Bears, which is the same title he held with the Raiders. From 2018 to 2020, Smith oversaw the unit that includes Darren Waller, who has evolved from a castaway to one of the league’s best at the position. Last season, he worked as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach of the Chargers.

With a strong background in developing both TEs and o-linemen, Smith represents an intriguing addition to the Dolphins’ staff. The team has plenty of room for improvement in the run game, as they ranked 30th in the league with just over 92 yards per game on the ground in 2021. He would also play a much-needed role in the TE department, regardless of if free agent Mike Gesicki is brought back or not.

As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets, McDaniel will call plays on offense, but Smith “will be very involved” in forming game plans. If he is able to replicate his success elsewhere, the Dolphins may have just taken an important step towards the offensive turnaround they need.

Dolphins To Interview Frank Smith For OC Job

Mike McDaniel continues to look for an offensive coordinator. The Dolphins will interview Chargers run game coordinator/OL coach Frank Smith for their OC job, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Dolphins Retain Josh Boyer As DC]

Smith joined the Chargers just last offseason. He spent the previous three years with the Raiders as their tight ends coach, overseeing the development of Darren Waller. The veteran coach also served as the Bears tight ends coach for three years, and he had a five-year stint as the Saints assistant offensive line coach (during which time the Saints had four OLs earn Pro Bowl nods: Jermon Bushrod, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, and Carl Nicks).

We previously heard that Curtis Johnson was a candidate for the OC job in Miami. The Dolphins were set to interview the long-time Saints coach for the vacancy.

Elsewhere on the Dolphins staff, McDaniel will be retaining a handful of coaches. In addition to defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, the Dolphins will also be keeping linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, cornerbacks coach Charles Burks, and defensive line coach Austin Clark on the staff (per Barry Jackson of Miami Herald on Twitter).

Coaching Notes: O’Connell, Raiders, Saints

The Rams just lost their DC Brandon Staley when he took the Chargers’ head coaching job, but it doesn’t sound like they’re about to let their OC follow him out the door. We heard yesterday that Staley was interested in bringing Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell with him, but Sean McVay has other ideas. The Rams have blocked him from interviewing with the Chargers, sources told Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link), which they can do since it’s a lateral move.

O’Connell doesn’t call the plays with the Rams, McVay does, and he presumably would’ve been able to with the Chargers. McVay had previously let his former OC Matt LaFleur leave to go become the Titans’ OC when it came with play-calling responsibilities, but it sounds like he’s tired of getting his assistants poached. Breer adds the Rams “really value” O’Connell. Breer does note that things could change, but that’s the Rams’ current position. O’Connell was the OC for Washington in 2019 before he was swept out with the rest of Jay Gruden’s staff.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • Speaking of the Chargers, Staley is at least getting who he wants for one position. Los Angeles is hiring Raiders tight ends coach Frank Smith away to be their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com tweets. Smith and Staley previously served on Vic Fangio’s Bears staff together, so there’s a connection there. As Gutierrez points out, Smith did a great job in helping Darren Waller blossom into one of the league’s best tight ends.
  • Smith isn’t the only assistant coach shuffling the Raiders are doing. New DC Gus Bradley is starting to flesh out his staff, and he’s hired Richard Smith and Ron Milus as his linebackers and defensive backs coaches respectively, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. Smith and Milus held those same roles under Bradley with the Chargers previously.
  • The Lions are by all accounts planning on hiring Saints assistant Dan Campbell to be their new head coach, although notably no deal has been announced even though it’s been a couple of days now since New Orleans was bounced from the playoffs. Interim coach Darrell Bevell “earned serious consideration for the position,” and it’s possible he could get the job if talks with Campbell fell through, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Bevell was Detroit’s OC before taking over for a fired Matt Patricia. Bevell was 1-4 as interim coach, and was the Seahawks’ OC from 2011-17.
  • LSU was finalizing a deal to make Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen their new defensive coordinator, Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets. However, that hit a snag as it was reported New Orleans was blocking him from getting out of his contract. Things were resolved this morning with Nielsen being given a new three-year contract and the added title of assistant head coach to stay with the Saints, a source told Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With Dennis Allen getting a head coaching interview with the Eagles, Nielsen could be a candidate to eventually take over as DC as he’s apparently very highly regarded within the building.

Coaching Rumors: DeFilippo, Chiefs, Raiders

John DeFilippo interviewed for the Cardinals’ HC job, but if the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach does not land it, he could be an offensive coordinator option elsewhere. DeFilippo’s contract expires at season’s end, Albert Breer of SI.com reports. The second-year Eagles QBs coach looks to have caught the eye of Steve Wilks, who has interviewed for two HC jobs. Breer notes Wilks would want DeFilippo to run his offense if he lands an HC job. Interestingly, Wilks’ best path to said job looks to be with the Cardinals. The Bears met with DeFilippo as well but have already selected their next HC.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks.

  • While Wilks and DeFilippo could be connected, Josh McDaniels and Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus may be a possible pairing as well. Breer notes the Patriots’ OC accepting a head-coaching job could lead to Eberflus becoming McDaniels’ DC. Eberflus has coached Dallas’ linebackers since the 2011 season. Prior to that, he served as the Browns’ LBs coach.
  • The Chiefs made quick work of replacing since-promoted Eric Bieniemy as their running backs coach. They interviewed USC running backs coach Deland McCullough for the position on Thursday and will hire him, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. McCullough, 45, played for the Bengals and Eagles in the late 1990s and coached the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard at Indiana during a six-year stay as the Hoosiers’ RBs boss. He coached at USC for one season.
  • Bobby Johnson received a Raiders HC interview that is being scrutinized by the NFL, since it may have happened after a Mark Davis/Jon Gruden agreement, but Johnson won’t be a part of Gruden’s 2018 staff. The Raiders are firing their tight ends coach and are expected to hire Bears tight ends coach Frank Smith, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). A previous contender for the Oakland offensive line coaching job, Smith coached the Bears’ tight ends for three years.
  • The Raiders are casting a wide net for their next O-line coach. Former Patriots and Dolphins OL boss Dave DeGuglielmo is in the mix and will interview Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins, who hired DeGuglielmo to replace the fired Chris Foerster in October, granted permission for this meeting. Miami hired Jeremiah Washburn to coach its O-line, so this would seemingly pave a path out of south Florida for DeGuglielmo.
  • New Packers DC Mike Pettine hired former Giants and Patriots defensive assistant Patrick Graham, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. A Patriots staffer from 2009-15, coaching both New England’s defensive line and linebackers, the 38-year-old Graham is expected to be in charge of Packers ‘backers in some capacity, per Silverstein. Green Bay’s ILBs job is available, and Graham prefers to coach linebackers rather than D-linemen, Silverstein notes.
  • The Bears are interested in Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara to become their quarterbacks coach, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. O’Hara and Matt Nagy were both Arena League quarterbacks in the 2000s, although O’Hara is 10 years older than Nagy. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets an O’Hara hire doesn’t mean incumbent QBs coach Dave Ragone will be dismissed. Ragone, a former wideouts coach with the Titans, was a possible candidate to stay despite a new HC’s hire.

Raiders Notes: Gannon, Fraley, Marynowitz

Rich Gannon will not be the next Raiders’ quarterbacks coach, as he explained to 95.7 The Game (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area). Gannon, now a commentator with CBS Sports, apparently had some level of interest in the position, but “came to his senses” on a flight to Oakland, realizing he couldn’t put in the required time commitment. Gannon, of course, has a long relationship with new Oakland head coach Jon Gruden, as he served as Gruden’s starting quarterback with the Raiders from 1999-2001. The 2002 MVP, Gannon lost to Gruden’s Buccaneers in that year’s Super Bowl. Without Gannon in tow, Oakland may simply choose not to hire a QBs coach, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Here’s more from Oakland:

  • The Raiders are hiring an offensive line coach to replace Mike Tice, and the club has no shortage of candidates. Incumbent Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin — who is also in the running for the Bengals OL job — has interviewed with Oakland. Meanwhile, former Eagles lineman Hank Fraley, former Dolphins coach Jim Turner, and longtime NFL stalwarts Hal Hunter and Frank Smith are also contenders for the position, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • Cowboys running backs Gary Brown is interviewing for the same role with the Raiders today, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Gruden had been expected to target Brown ever since he was linked to the Oakland job, but Dallas reportedly isn’t giving him up without a fight. Whether or not Brown decides to defect to the Bay Area could depend on the content of today’s meeting. Brown, who enjoyed a nine-year career as an NFL running back, first entered the coaching ranks with Cleveland in 2009.
  • Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is interviewing to become the Raiders’ new secondary coach, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Ansley has never coached at the NFL level, but he does offer vast collegiate experience at stops such as Kentucky and Tennessee. Recent reports have indicated Ansley will be Colorado State’s next defensive coordinator, but he could hypothetically pass up that opportunity in order to join the NFL.
  • The Raiders are speaking to Alabama associate athletic director for football Ed Marynowitz about a role in their personnel department, reports Michael Lombardi of the Ringer (Twitter link). Marynowitz previously worked under Chip Kelly in the Eagles’ front office, but was fired along with Kelly in 2015.

Coaching Notes: Wilks, Bears, Chiefs, Cards

Steve Wilks has set up three interviews for this week. The Giants will receive the first opportunity to meet with the Panthers’ DC, with ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reporting (on Twitter) Wilks will trek to New Jersey to meet with the Dave Gettleman-led group on Tuesday before flying to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals on Wednesday. Following those meetings, the Colts will host Wilks on Thursday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. These aren’t the only teams interested in securing a sitdown with Wilks. The Lions remain interested in doing so as well, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

The Giants will complete both Wilks’ and Eric Studesville‘s interviews by Wednesday, with the former Broncos running backs coach set for a Wednesday powwow, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (Twitter link). This duo will mark the fifth and sixth interviews the Giants will have conducted. After these summits, Big Blue management could be ready to make a decision. With the Eagles still in the playoffs and no Jim Schwartz interview conducted, it could put the Giants to a decision: wait on Schwartz and risk losing some of these aforementioned candidates or hire one of them instead.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • A possible favorite has already emerged to replace Matt Nagy as the Chiefs‘ OC. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy will be “strongly considered,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 48-year-old Bienemy served as Colorado’s OC from 2011-12 and has coached the Chiefs’ running backs since Andy Reid‘s arrival in 2013. Bienemy could have a clearer path to this job with former K.C. OC Brad Childress planning to retire.
  • Nagy wants to retain Vic Fangio with the Bears, both Peter Schrager of NFL.com and the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs note (Twitter links). But Fangio has interest elsewhere — from the Bengals and Packers — and could opt to depart Chicago after being passed over for the HC job.
  • Chicago may also look to retain a few assistants who worked under John Fox. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone is a candidate to stay under Nagy despite the new HC making his NFL name by working with QBs. The Bears respected Ragone’s work with Trubisky, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets, and adds Nagy and Ragone share an agent. Biggs tweets tight ends coach Frank Smith and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers are candidates to stay put as well.
  • The Browns‘ interviews with OC candidates Ken Zampese and Sean Ryan will take place this week. Rapoport reports (via Twitter) Zampese will receive the first meeting, which will occur today, with Ryan’s interview scheduled for Wednesday. A second-generation NFL assistant, Zampese spent the past 15 seasons with the Bengals before his second year as OC ended after just two games. A nine-year Giants staffer who is currently the Texans’ QBs coach, Ryan does not have any history with Hue Jackson like Zampese does.
  • Ron Rivera does not anticipate the Panthers making any staff changes beyond possibly replacing Wilks, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. This would mean OC Mike Shula is in line to return for a sixth season.
  • Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong‘s Cardinals interview is set for Monday in Atlanta, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Armstrong is allowed to interview under NFL rules despite the Falcons winning in the wild-card round.

Extra Points: Broncos, Titans, 49ers, Bears

The Texans have released defensive line coach Bill Kollar from his contract in order for him to join ex-Houston coach Gary Kubiak and the Broncos, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). Kollar had been the Texans’ DL coach since 2009. He has family in the Denver area, and he credited Bill O’Brien for being gracious enough to let him leave. Per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Kollar is “considered an elite coach by his peers.” Here’s more from around the league…

  • Linebacker Derrick Morgan told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Titans want to re-sign him, tweets Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. The impending free agent has never lived up to his first-round billing, having posted just 23.5 sacks in five seasons as a pro.
  • The Eagles let executive Tom Gamble go earlier this year as part of a reported power struggle, but it appears that he’ll land on his feet. Per John Middlekauff of 95.7 The Game (Twitter link), Gamble has discussed taking a role with the 49ers, and is expected to accept it. Gamble previously worked in San Francisco’s front office from 2005-13.
  • The Bears have found a new tight ends coach, hiring former Saints offensive assistant Frank Smith, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Former Saints executive Ryan Pace, now the general manager in Chicago, may have had some familiarity with Smith.
  • New Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has hired a new front office member, bringing in Rams scout Brian Heimerdinger to serve in a front office role, writes Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Heimerdinger could be installed as the new college scouting director or be given a new title, but he won’t be replacing anyone already on staff, per Cimini.
  • The hiring of Adam Gase as offensive coordinator could be good news for Jay Cutler‘s future with the Bears, according to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Per Pompei, Gase’s system has similarities to that of Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who is known to get the most out of his quarterbacks.