James Casey

AFC Coaching Notes: Bengals, Broncos, Texans, Jaguars

While Super Bowl LVI didn’t go the way the Bengals wanted, their 2021 postseason run demonstrated that they are set to be a force in the AFC for years to come. One of the results of their success is not only an expected contract extension for head coach Zac Taylor, but a number of assistants on his staff as well.

As Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network writes, the list of coaches receiving new deals includes at least five names. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receivers coach Troy Walters is listed; he jumped into coaching almost immediately after an eight-year playing career, and has worked with the Bengals’ wideouts since joining the team in 2020. The other offensive assistant is tight ends coach James Casey, who has coached that position (after playing it himself in the NFL) since 2017. He has been in Cincinnati for the past three seasons.

Defensively, new deals are forthcoming for linebackers coach Al Golden and defensive line coach Marion Hobby. The former has been coaching since 1993, between the college and NFL ranks, including the last two years with the Bengals. The latter is equally experienced, and coached the position in Cincinnati this year, after four seasons doing the same in Jacksonville and Miami. Wilson adds that strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese is the final name on the list.

Here are some other coaching notes from around the AFC:

  • Nathaniel Hackett‘s new staff continues to take shape in Denver. Wilson tweets that Tyrone Wheatley is the new running backs coach. He has previously coached the position at four colleges, including Michigan, as well as the Bills and Jaguars. He was most recently the head coach at Morgan State.
  • The other offensive addition in Denver is Jake Moreland, who is taking over as tight ends coach, according to 9News’ Mike Klis (Twitter link). The 45-year-old’s first NFL coaching gig came with the Jets this past season, serving as an assistant offensive line coach. Klis notes that his background is the same as fellow newcomer Ben Steele.
  • Defensively, the Broncos are adding Bert Watts to their staff. He was most recently the associate head coach at Auburn, but he also held the titles of special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. The latter will be his purview in Denver, where he was an assistant in 2012 (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dan Graziano).
  • The Texans have made an interesting hire on their offensive staff. Wilson tweets that Ted White, who was a quarterback during the days of NFL Europe, and also in the CFL, has been hired as an offensive assistant. His coaching career includes stints at five college programs, and most recently in the XFL, with a background in working with QBs.
  • Graziano tweets that Jacques Cesaire is coming to Houston as their defensive line coach. The former Charger defensive end began coaching in San Diego in 2015, also spending two years with the Bills as an assistant at that same position.
  • Finally, Deshea Townsend is being hired by the Jaguars, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). This comes as a surprise, since he was expected to join the Vikings’ staff, but changed course due to a perceived sense he’ll get a “bigger role within the defense” in Jacksonville (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press). He has previously worked with cornerbacks with five different teams, including four in the NFL, Chicago being the most recent.

Bengals Planning Zac Taylor Extension

In charge of one of the longest-odds Super Bowl entrants in NFL history, Zac Taylor has transformed his career this season. The third-year Bengals HC has gone from the hot seat to extension candidate.

The Bengals are indeed preparing to give their young coach a new contract, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com reporting the surprise Super Bowl team is planning to extend Taylor soon after Sunday’s game.

The ex-Sean McVay disciple was 6-25-1 as a head coach coming into this season and had only a partial year of NFL OC work (with the 2015 Dolphins) under his belt. Rumors about Taylor’s firing emerged, but Mike Brown opted to keep his play-caller for a third season. Taylor’s offense took a significant step forward, and Joe Burrow‘s ACL recovery went historically well — despite the burgeoning-superstar quarterback leading the NFL in sacks taken — to the point the Bengals have reached the third Super Bowl in franchise history.

Taylor’s offense features Burrow and near-lock Offensive Rookie of the Year winner Ja’Marr Chase, with Tee Higgins taking a step forward as well. Burrow and his skill-position troops compensated for Cincinnati’s below-average O-line, which the AFC champions will surely aim to bolster in the offseason. Cincinnati’s offense ranked seventh in scoring this season — the team’s highest mark since 2015.

At 38, Taylor is one of the youngest coaches in Super Bowl history. The Bengals, of course, have a track record of patience with their head coaches. Most notably, Brown gave Marvin Lewis 16 seasons — far more than most expected — after the latter turned the team around in the 2000s.

Cincinnati is also planning to keep most of Taylor’s staff. Extensions are in the works for several assistants, per Wilson, who notes wide receivers coach Troy Walters, linebackers coach Al Golden, D-line coach Marion Hobby and tight ends coach James Casey are among those set to receive new deals. Re-ups for DC Lou Anarumo and OC Brian Callahan should be expected as well. Each received moderate interest on this year’s coaching carousel, with Anarumo interviewing with the Giants and Callahan with the Broncos — former employers for each — and no other teams.

Bengals Notes: Taylor, Turner, Casey, Martin

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will call his own offensive plays, as he told reporters at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (Twitter link via Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV). Taylor was hired on the strength of his offensive acumen, so it’s no surprise that he’ll direct Cincinnati’s offense, leaving new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to serve in a game-planning role. Taylor, for what it’s worth, doesn’t boast much play-calling experience: he led the Dolphins’ offense for a half-season in 2015, and coordinated the University of Cincinnati’s offense the following year. Under former coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals’ offense ranked 17th in scoring, 19th in DVOA, and 26th in yardage in 2018.

Here’s more from the Queen City:

  • Taylor will hire Texas A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner for the same role, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Turner has worked with Taylor at three different stops, so there’s obvious familiarity between the two. He’d be replacing Frank Pollack, with whom the Bengals parted ways despite his excellent efforts in 2018. Turner, notably, was Miami’s offensive line coach during the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal, and was eventually fired in 2014 after an independent report indicated he participated in harassment of players. He was also suspended by Texas A&M in 2016 after using sexually-charged presentation slides during a women’s football clinic.
  • Former Texans tight end and current University of Houston tight ends coach James Casey will join the Bengals in the same role, while Ben Martin — who had recently been hired as an assistant offensive line coach at Brown — will take over as Cincinnati’s assistant OL coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Casey is only 34 years old, and was still playing as recently as 2015. He joined Houston as an offensive assistant in 2016 and became tight ends coach the following year. Martin, meanwhile, worked at Texas A&M with Taylor.
  • Among the Bengals coaches who are expected to be retained under Taylor are Alex Van Pelt (quarterbacks), Dan Pitcher (assistant quarterbacks), Bob Bicknell (wide receivers), Robert Livingston (secondary), Daronte Jones (secondary), and Brayden Coombs (assistant secondary), per Dehner. Coombs, notably, was thought to be a candidate for the Packers’ special teams coordinator position, but he’ll instead remain in Cincinnati.

Workout Notes: Patriots, Texans, Chargers

The latest workouts from around the NFL:

Workout Updates: 10/20/15

Today’s workouts and visits from around the NFL..

Earlier today:

  • The Panthers are working out tight end/fullback James Casey today, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
  • The Saints tried out defensive backs Akeem Davis and Robert McClain, wide receiver T.J. Graham, guard David Arkin, and center Ryan Seymour, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Seymour was ultimately signed to New Orleans’ practice squad.
  • The Jets worked out cornerback Jeremy Harris on Monday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams are both uncertain for this week, so Gang Green is likely looking at Harris as possible insurance.
  • The Vikings worked out former Ravens defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi on Tuesday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers worked out former Ravens quarterback Bryn Renner according to a source who spoke with Wilson (Twitter link).
  • The Broncos are working out former Titans linebacker J.R. Tavai, according to a source who spoke with Wilson (Twitter link).
  • The Titans will try out ex-Ravens fullback Kiero Small, Wilson tweets.
  • The Ravens tried out a trio of defensive backs: Jonte Green, Sheldon Price, and Cornelius Brown, Wilson tweets.
  • The Chiefs tried out defensive back Trovon Reed, Wilson tweets.
  • The Steelers worked out tackle James Brewer, Wilson tweets.
  • Former Seahawks wide receiver Douglas McNeil is working out for the Panthers today, according to a source who spoke with Wilson (link).
  • The Broncos working out tight end Matt LaCosse today, according to a source who spoke with Wilson (link).

Broncos To Release James Casey

The Broncos are going to release fullback/tight end James Casey, a league source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Casey inked a one-year deal with the Broncos back in April.

The Broncos will make this move in order to clear room for Derek Wolfe, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Wolfe is returning from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Casey has appeared in three games so far for Denver but he has ye to record a carry or a reception. Currently, the veteran is dealing with a knee injury and prior to today’s news he was said to be questionable for Sunday’s tilt against the Raiders.

After being released by the Eagles in late February, the veteran received interest from a variety of clubs, including the Cardinals, Titans, Browns, Jaguars, Bengals and Washington. Casey first visited with Denver in late February but he didn’t put pen to paper until a couple of months later.

A 2009 fifth-round pick out of Rice, Casey saw his snap count progressively increase during his tenure with the Texans. His best season came in 2012, when he caught 34 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. In 2013, he inked a three-year, $14.6MM contract with the Eagles. His role was diminished while playing in Philadelphia, as his snap count decreased from 609 in 2012 to only 173 last season. Still, Casey continued his six-year run of receiving a positive rating from Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

As a former Texan, Casey has a history with coach Gary Kubiak who also encouraged Denver to sign tight end Owen Daniels earlier this offseason. Daniels hasn’t set the world on fire offensively in 2015, but he has seen far more burn than Casey.

Contract Details: Crabtree, Ridley, Casey

The details for a few of the more notable recent free agent signings are in, so let’s take a look at some specifics, starting with the newest wide receiver in Oakland….

  • Michael Crabtree, WR (Raiders): One year, $3.2MM base value. $1.4MM base salary. $1.3Mm signing bonus. $250K workout bonus. $250K in per-game roster bonuses. $1.8MM in not-likely-to-be-earned incentives — $400K for Pro Bowl and $1.4MM based on catches or receiving yards. Lowest incentive threshold is $400K for 70 catches or 900 yards. Can max out at $1.4MM by exceeding 100 catches or 1,400 yards (three Twitter links via Joel Corry of CBSSports.com).
  • Stevan Ridley, RB (Jets): One year, $1.25MM base value. $750K base salary. $80K signing bonus. $50K workout bonus. $20K first-game roster bonus. $350K in per-game roster bonuses. Has injury waiver, which voids if he’s on 53-man roster in Week 1 (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun).
  • James Casey, TE (Broncos): One year, $1.25MM base value. $750K base salary. $500K roster bonus. Has injury waiver, split salary (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Joe Mays, LB (Jets): One year, minimum salary benefit. $870K base salary. $20K first-game roster bonus. $60K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • John Kuhn, FB (Packers): One year, minimum salary benefit. $870K base salary. $25K workout bonus. $25K Pro Bowl incentive (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Zackary Bowman, CB (Dolphins): One year, minimum salary benefit. $745K base salary. $80K signing bonus. Has injury waiver (Twitter link via Wilson).

Broncos Sign James Casey

MONDAY, 4:13pm: Casey officially signed his contract today, per Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link).

SATURDAY, 12:48pm: Casey will official sign his contract on Monday during phase one of the Broncos offseason program, according to Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post.

11:29am: Former Texans fullback/tight end James Casey will be reunited with former coach Gary Kubiak, as the Broncos have announced (via Twitter) that they have signed the 3o-year-old.

After being released by the Eagles in late February, the veteran received interest from a variety of clubs, including the Cardinals, Titans, Browns, Jaguars, Bengals and Washington. Casey visited with Denver in late February, but ultimately left without signing a contract.

A 2009 fifth-round pick out of Rice, Casey saw his snap count progressively increase during his tenure with the Texans. His best season came in 2012, when he caught 34 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. In 2013, he inked a three-year, $14.6MM contract with the Eagles. His role was diminished while playing in Philadelphia, as his snap count decreased from 609 in 2012 to only 173 last season. Still, Casey continued his six-year run of receiving a positive rating from Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Of course, Casey isn’t the first former Texan to be brought in by Kubiak. The new Broncos head coach also signed tight end Owen Daniels earlier this offseason.

NFC Mailbags: Rams, Panthers, Lions, Packers

We took a look at ESPN.com’s AFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now shift focus to the NFC…

  • Nick Wagoner says the Rams would like to re-sign tight end Lance Kendricks, but the writer wonders if the rumored $4MM annual salary the player is seeking is too pricey.
  • The Panthers need a speedy wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin, and David Newton suggests free agents Eddie Royal, Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Crabtree, although he warns that the former 49ers receiver may not be a “Dave Gettleman guy.”
  • With Cam Newton‘s contract situation being a priority in Carolina, Newton says the Panthers likely won’t make any progress on an extension for Luke Kuechly until next season.
  • The Lions releasing Reggie Bush is not an indication that they’ll draft a running back early, says Michael Rothstein. The team still has Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, so there doesn’t need to be any panic from the organization to replace the former second-overall pick. With the said, Rothstein still believes the team will select a running back, albeit much later in the draft.
  • Dan Graziano believes Bush would be the type of running back the Giants would be looking to acquire. However, the writer says that the team wasn’t among the organizations that displayed initial interest in the veteran.
  • Rob Demovsky says the Packers could keep both Tramon Williams and Davon House, but he notes that it’s unlikely for both players to remain on the roster. After all, the team is looking to expand Casey Hayward‘s role, meaning one of the two defensive backs would be on the outside looking in.
  • John Keim opines that Washington needs to improve their tight end depth. The writer says the team can’t rely on Jordan Reed, and he adds that Logan Paulsen is most productive as a blocker. Keim points to former Eagles tight end James Casey, noting that Washington has already shown interest in the 30-year-old.

James Casey Visiting Several Teams

10:02pm: Casey’s visit with the Broncos concluded without a contract, according to the Denver Post’s Mike Klis. He will move on to his other summits.

THURSDAY, 11:11am: Caplan (via Twitter) adds a few more clubs to Casey’s list of suitors, reporting that the tight end also has visits scheduled with the Jaguars, the Bengals, and Washington.

WEDNESDAY, 8:07am: After meeting with the Cardinals and Broncos, Casey will move on to visit the Titans and Browns, according to Caplan (via Twitter). Caplan adds (via Twitter) that at least eight teams have requested to have Casey in for a visit, as clubs value his positional versatility and recognize that 2015’s tight end draft class is weak.

MONDAY, 3:48pm: Tight end James Casey got a head start on the 2015 free agent market last week when the Eagles released him from his contract, and he’s taking full advantage of that. According to Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 (Twitter link), Casey is scheduled to visit the Cardinals this week. Adam Caplan of ESPN.com confirms Jurecki’s report and adds (via Twitter) that two or three other teams would also like to bring in Casey, who is scheduled to meet with the Broncos after his sitdown with the Cards.

Casey, 30, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Texans, parlaying a solid 2012 season into a three-year, $12MM deal with the Eagles. Although he caught 34 balls during his final year in Houston, Casey wasn’t used as a pass-catcher in Philadelphia, having totaled just six receptions on nine targets in two seasons with the team. He was released last week without any discussions about taking a pay cut, and is expected to seek out a situation where he’ll have a larger role than he did with the Eagles.

In 2014, the Cardinals relied primarily on John Carlson and Rob Housler at tight end, so it makes sense that the club would target a player like Casey. Housler is eligible for unrestricted free agency next month, and Carlson didn’t have a great year — Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him 65th out of 67 qualified TEs, grading him poorly as a pass catcher, pass blocker, and run blocker.

The Broncos would be a logical fit for Casey as well, since Julius Thomas is expected to land elsewhere as a free agent and Virgil Green‘s contract is also expiring.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report