Jim Leonhard

AFC West Notes: Franklin-Myers, Broncos, Brady, Raiders, OL, Chiefs, Cook, Chargers

As the Jets work on a solution to bring trade acquisition Haason Reddick into the fold, the Broncos have longtime Gang Green D-line starter John Franklin-Myers penciled into a starting post. Franklin-Myers is expected to start alongside Zach Allen and D.J. Jones in Vance Joseph‘s 3-4 scheme. The Broncos acquired the 27-year-old D-lineman for only a 2026 sixth-round pick, with the deal amounting to a salary dump on the Jets’ part. Denver reworked Franklin-Myers’ deal, with terms (two years, $15MM) north of where a Jets pay-cut offer came in, and improved one of their DE spots from last season. The former Rams draftee said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold) he spoke with Joseph and Broncos senior defensive assistant Joe Vitt about how he would fit in Denver’s scheme, helping move the trade across the goal line.

While significant questions remain about the Broncos’ viability as a contender, the team has experienced cogs at just about every spot across both lines. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Chiefs boast experience at four positions on their offensive front, but the reigning champions’ left tackle post is unsettled as of now. Second-round pick Kingsley Suamataia looks to hold an early lead on 2023 third-rounder Wanya Morris for the job, per The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. Suamataia took the majority of the first-team reps during minicamp. Training camp will, of course, provide a clearer indication of this position battle (subscription required). Should Suamataia end up losing the competition, it would stand to reason he would have a shot to eventually claim it as he develops. But the BYU product is off to a nice start, albeit in unpadded work.
  • Down Bryan Cook for their final nine games due to an ankle injury, the Chiefs saw the third-year safety participate fully in minicamp, Taylor adds. This certainly brings good news, given that Cook was carted off Lambeau Field in early December. The Chiefs, who lost fill-in Mike Edwards to the Bills this offseason, are once again planning to turn to Cook and Justin Reid as their starting safeties.
  • Trey Pipkinsmove to guard is looking likely to produce a starting opportunity. Pipkins joined Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson, Bradley Bozeman and Joe Alt in taking every first-team rep during the team’s final OTA and the minicamp open to media, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper writes. Jim Harbaugh said this group is on track to be a “top-tier” O-line. A career-long tackle, Pipkins’ guard move has been in the works for a bit now. Two seasons remain on his three-year, $21.75MM deal.
  • Jim Leonhard interviewed for the Eagles’ defensive coordinator job last year and appeared the frontrunner for the Packers’ DC gig in 2021. After leaving his Wisconsin DC post following the 2022 season, Leonhard spent last year as an analyst at Illinois. Sean Payton hired Leonhard to coach the Broncos‘ DBs this year and said (via DNVR Sports’ Zac Stevens) he attempted to hire the former safety in 2023. Leonhard undergoing a hip replacement delayed this partnership, but he has since replaced Christian Parker, who joined the Eagles this offseason.
  • Nearly 13 months have passed since Tom Brady agreed to buy a Raiders stake. The owners continue to table the matter, with multiple issues — from the stake price (since resolved) to the conflict of interest with Brady’s FOX job — coming up. Owners did not discuss this at last month’s meetings, but the Washington Post’s Mark Maske notes Brady still is more likely than not to end up a Raiders minority owner. Roger Goodell said Brady’s access to team facilities and practices would need to be addressed if he is approved. Barring a special session, the owners’ next chance to vote in Brady as a Raiders part-owner comes in October.

Broncos Hire Jim Leonhard

Viewed as the Packers’ preferred defensive coordinator candidate in 2021, Jim Leonhard instead stayed on as DC at Wisconsin. With the Badgers making changes following the 2022 season, Leonhard left his longtime post. He is now expected to try his hand in the NFL.

The former NFL safety is on track to return to Denver. A Broncos backup in 2012, Leonhard is expected to become part of Sean Payton‘s second Broncos staff, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler indicate. While Leonhard played 10 NFL seasons, he has only coached in the college game. Leonhard, 41, is set to replace Christian Parker as the Broncos’ DBs coach, per the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. The team has since announced the hire with the additional title of pass game coordinator.

As the NIL ruling and transfer portal warp an unsteady college landscape, a few college staffers have made the jump to the pros. Leonhard becomes the latest. While he does not register on the level of Jim Harbaugh or former Boston College HC (and new Packers DC) Jeff Hafley, he was in place as Wisconsin’s DC for six seasons. The Badgers fared well defensively under Leonhard, ranking in the top 25 nationally in all but one of his seasons. Wisconsin deployed four top-10 scoring defenses in that span.

This garnered Leonhard interest from college programs, and ESPN.com indicates he spoke with multiple NFL teams this offseason. Leonhard spent the 2023 season as an analyst at Illinois. The Eagles interviewed Leonhard for their DC job last year.

Leonhard has a past with both the Broncos and Payton. While his career featured better moments, Leonhard signed with the Broncos in 2012 and was part of a 13-3 team. The Broncos used Leonhard as a part-time punt returner, protecting the fumble-prone Trindon Holliday in certain situations, but used the veteran on 260 defensive snaps that year. Also playing for the Bills, Ravens and Browns, Leonhard is best known for his Jets tenure. The 2005 UDFA started 40 games for the Jets during Rex Ryan‘s stay. Leonhard spent the 2013 offseason with Payton in New Orleans but did not make the Saints’ 53-man roster.

The Broncos held Parker in high regard, keeping the Vic Fangio-hired assistant in place on Nathaniel Hackett and Payton’s staffs. Parker interviewed for Denver’s DC job last year and met with the Packers and Patriots about their positions last month. Leonhard was not believed to be in the mix for the Green Bay job this time around, but Matt LaFleur placed him as the top choice in 2021. Parker committed to rejoin Fangio in Philadelphia recently; he will be the Eagles’ defensive pass-game coordinator.

Packers To Fire DC Joe Barry

Although the Packers stunned the Cowboys in the wild-card round and nearly left San Francisco victorious six days later, they are still following through with a change that was rumored near the end of the regular season. They will have a new defensive coordinator next season.

Joe Barry is out, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Barry lasted three seasons as Green Bay’s DC, but his unit struggled down the stretch. Barry’s contract ran past this season, per The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, making this a true firing.

[RELATED: 2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

This marked Barry’s third opportunity running a defense. Like predecessor Mike Pettine, the bevy of former first-round picks present on this unit did not result in the return on investment the Packers have sought. The team’s defensive issues late in the regular season nearly prevented this playoff run from coming to pass. While Matt LaFleur said Tuesday he was not ready to make a call on Barry, the five-year Green Bay HC has done so early Wednesday morning.

After allowing Tommy DeVito extensive success on the ground, the Packers allowed the Giants’ rookie third-stringer to mount a game-winning drive in Week 14. Six days later, Baker Mayfield carved up the Green Bay defense to post the first perfect passer rating by a Lambeau Field visiting quarterback. Week 16 brought a shootout with a Panthers team that went 2-15; Carolina put up 30 points in that game. After that outing, Barry’s ouster was assumed. It appears the Packers’ strong finish could not offset these concerning late-season showings.

Overall, the Pack ranked 10th in scoring defense and 17th in yards allowed. The No. 10 mark represents a seven-spot improvement from 2022. DVOA was much less kind to Barry’s unit, placing it 27th this season. The metric graded Barry’s first-rounder-laden group 25th in 2022 as well. We heard last summer Barry entered a make-or-break year, and while the defense hounded Dak Prescott (garbage-time yards notwithstanding) and flustered Brock Purdy in a game the No. 1-seeded 49ers nearly blew, the former Detroit and Washington DC will need to look elsewhere to continue his career in 2024.

The Packers continue to use first-round picks on defense. With the exception of Jordan Love in 2020, Derek Sherrod (2011) stands as the most recent Green Bay first-rounder on offense. For much of Aaron Rodgers‘ starter run and Love’s first year as a first-stringer, the defense has not looked like a unit flooded with first-rounders. But seven homegrown Round 1 picks (Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, Lukas Van Ness, Quay Walker, Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Darnell Savage) were in place this season. All but Savage are under contract for 2024.

Barry, 53, managed to garner a second chance despite being Rod Marinelli‘s DC on the 0-16 2008 Lions team, serving as Washington’s DC from 2015-16. Both Barry Washington units finished 28th in total defense, but as many coaches have, the veteran assistant elevated his stock on Sean McVay‘s staff. Barry’s four-year run as Rams linebackers coach (2017-20) boosted his value, leading to the Green Bay opportunity.

As for who could be next, SI.com’s Albert Breer indicates Titans pass-game coordinator Chris Harris impressed during his interview for the DC post in 2021. Harris is back on the DC radar, with the Titans firing Mike Vrabel. Ejiro Evero also worked with LaFleur in Los Angeles. Evero was believed to be a finalist for the Green Bay gig in 2021.

The Panthers, however, have long held interest in pairing Evero with their next HC. The first-year Carolina DC also has a second HC interview scheduled with the team. Jim Leonhard was believed to be LaFleur’s first choice for the job in 2021, per ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, but the former NFL safety stayed at the University of Wisconsin. Leonhard finished last season at Illinois as a senior football analyst.

Barry’s replacement will naturally enter a high-pressure situation, with Love ascending during this season’s second half to create expectations for the 2024 team.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Eagles Interviewed Jim Leonhard For DC Vacancy

FEBRUARY 22: Leonhard will not move forward in the Eagles’ interview process. Both sides decided this would not be a good fit, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The former Wisconsin DC and interim head coach planned to undergo hip surgery and skip this season, per Fowler, but the Eagles job opening changed his plans. After discussion, however, the Eagles will choose another candidate.

FEBRUARY 20: A few veteran assistants have already been connected to the defensive coordinator vacancy in Philadelphia. Their list of candidates to replace Jonathan Gannon has grown once again, with another reported interview having taken place.

Philadelphia met with Jim Leonhard to discuss their DC position, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). The 40-year-old has been mentioned as a potential coordinator hire at the NFL level before, while establishing himself as a candidate for an NFL posting during his time at Wisconsin. He has been with the Badgers since 2016, leading the team’s defense for the past six years and taking over as interim head coach this past campaign.

Leonhard was offered the Packers’ DC job in 2021, but turned it down. That illustrated how he was on the radar for a jump to the pro level, something which was repeated when he was mentioned as a candidate in Baltimore for their defensive coordinator vacancy last offseason. Given his track record at Wisconsin, the 10-year NFL player is likely to land an NFL gig soon, and the Eagles would certainly represent a desirable opening.

Philadelphia’s defense played a large role in their 2022 success under Gannon. The unit racked up a remarkable 70 sacks and excelled defending the pass. That made Gannon a late finalist for the HC position in Arizona, one which he accepted not long after the Super Bowl. His absence has left the NFC champions in need of a replacement late into the 2023 cycle.

One of their targets is ex-Cardinals DC Vance Joseph. Before the 50-year-old had been let out of his Arizona contract, it was reported that the Eagles would request an interview with him. Providing an update on that front, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets that Joseph will interview Tuesday and Wednesday with the Eagles. He remains in the running for the DC position in Denver as well, so the outcome of those meetings will be important for both teams.

Here is how the Eagles’ DC search is shaping up:

Ravens Request Interview With Joe Whitt Jr. For DC Job

The Ravens have an unexpected vacancy at defensive coordinator after electing to part ways with Don Martindale, and the club’s first interview request has gone out. Per Steve Wyche of the NFL Network (via Twitter), Baltimore has requested an interview with Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.

This is the second interview request for Whitt, as the Seahawks also want to have a summit with the 43-year-old for their own DC post. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is generating plenty of head coaching interest for his efforts in revamping Dallas’ defense in 2021, but it seems rival clubs also appreciate Whitt’s role in that turnaround.

Of particular interest to the Ravens is the fact that the Cowboys forced a league-best 34 turnovers last season, including 26 interceptions. Though Baltimore’s myriad injuries — including an ACL tear suffered by takeaway savant Marcus Peters just before the season started — certainly contributed to the team’s meager 15 takeaways (tied for third-fewest in the league), head coach John Harbaugh obviously wants a coordinator with a plan for dramatically increasing that total.

Whitt joined the Falcons as an assistant DBs coach in 2007, then spent 11 seasons in Green Bay, first as a defensive quality control coach, then as cornerbacks coach, then as defensive passing game coordinator. His recent history has been more nomadic, as he spent one year each with Atlanta, Cleveland, and Dallas from 2019-21, all as defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach. However, he would be in line for a promotion to Cowboys defensive coordinator if Quinn should leave for an HC gig.

In addition to some of the names mentioned as possible Martindale replacements in yesterday’s report on the matter — like Joe Cullen, Mike Macdonald, and Chris HewittJeff Zrebiec of The Athletic discusses the viability of candidates like Jim Leonhard and Mike Zimmer. Zimmer, recently fired as HC of the Vikings, has generally fielded top defenses throughout his tenure as an NFL coach, but it’s unclear if he wants to become a coordinator right away, especially as he has no prior ties to Harbaugh.

Leonhard, meanwhile, was a key contributor on Harbaugh’s first Ravens team in 2008, and he has established himself as a quality defensive coordinator over the past few seasons at Wisconsin, his alma mater. But Harbaugh may want someone with prior NFL coaching experience, and Leonhard may want to stay where he is; he reportedly turned down the chance to become the Packers’ DC last year.

In related news, it sounds like Wisconsin is trying to pry Ravens tight ends coach Bobby Engram from Baltimore and hire him as its new OC. Per Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com (via Twitter), an agreement between the Badgers and Engram could be finalized soon, leaving the Ravens with a need for a new coach to lead Mark Andrews & Co.

Packers To Hire Joe Barry As DC

The Packers have identified Mike Pettine‘s defensive coordinator successor. They intend to hire Joe Barry, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

This will continue a busy offseason for Barry, who made a previous move in going from the Rams to the Chargers. Barry spent four seasons with the Rams, coaching with Matt LaFleur in 2017, but agreed to follow Brandon Staley to the Chargers last month. Those plans will change.

After Jim Leonhard indicated he will stay on as Wisconsin’s DC, the Packers job came down to Barry and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. It appears Leonhard was the favorite for the position, Silverstein adds (on Twitter), with Barry and Evero being the top backup options. Both were Rams staffers from 2017-20, with Evero still on Sean McVay‘s staff. Barry previously agreed to bolt with Staley and become the Chargers’ defensive passing-game coordinator.

Barry brings defensive coordinator experience to Green Bay, but his previous units mostly struggled. Barry worked as the Lions’ DC from 2007-08. Both seasons ended with Detroit’s defense ranking last in points and yards allowed, with the second ignominiously concluding with an 0-16 record. Barry resurfaced as a coordinator in Washington from 2015-16. While both those defenses landed just inside the top 20 in points allowed, each ranked 28th in total defense. Washington fired Barry after the 2016 season.

The Rams interviewed Barry for their DC post last year, but Staley wound up landing the job. Barry will be tasked with elevating a Packers defense that has come up short in big spots in the past two postseasons. The Packers ranked first in offensive DVOA but 17th on defense. Each of Green Bay’s coordinators is now a LaFleur hire, with Pettine being held over from Mike McCarthy‘s final Packers season.

Wisconsin’s Jim Leonhard Won’t Accept Packers DC Job

It sounds like Jim Leonhard was offered the Packers defensive coordinator gig, but the veteran coach decided to stick with Wisconsin. Matt Schneidman of The Athletic tweets that Leonhard informed the Packers last night that he won’t accept their defensive coordinator job.

Wisconsin State Journal reporter Tom Oates tweets that Leonhard met with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur via Zoom on Tuesday and in-person on Thursday. After careful consideration, Leonhard determined that “his heart was at UW and in college coaching at this time,” and he ended up rejecting Green Bay’s apparent offer (via Oates).

“It was me choosing UW,” Leonhard told Oates (Twitter link). “I want to stay at UW. I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”

Following a 10-year playing career, Leonhard joined the Wisconsin coaching staff in 2016. After initially serving as a defensive backs coach, the Wisconsin alumni was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. During his first season in his new role, Leonhard was nominated for the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistants in the country. Under Leonhard’s watch, Wisconsin has deployed a top-10 scoring defense in three of the past four seasons.

With the 38-year-old Leonhard out of the picture, the Packers will shift focus to one of their many other candidates. We learned this week that LaFleur was set to interview a long list of names as potential replacements for Mike Pettine, including Dolphins DC Matt Burke, Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Saints D-line coach Ryan Nielsen and Packers secondary coach Jerry Gray. The team has also interviewed Chargers passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, along with Bob Sutton and Kris Richard (who have since found gigs elsewhere).

Jim Leonhard, Others In Contention For Packers’ DC Job

The Packers are conducting an expansive search to replace Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator. Several more names joined the early wave of candidates.

Former Chiefs DC Bob Sutton interviewed for the position recently, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who adds five other new candidates emerged on Green Bay’s radar as well. This comes after news of the Packers interviewing former Seahawks DC Kris Richard, Chargers passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero. Richard and Sutton have since lined up positions with the Saints and Jaguars, respectively. Perhaps a sign about the direction the Packers’ search has taken.

Ten-year NFL safety-turned-Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard, former Dolphins DC Matt Burke, Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Saints D-line coach Ryan Nielsen and Packers secondary coach Jerry Gray either have interviewed for the position or will do so by Wednesday, per Demovsky.

Leonhard, whose NFL playing career wrapped up after the 2014 season, has not coached at the NFL level. But he has been the Badgers’ DC since 2017. Three times in the past four seasons, Wisconsin has deployed a top-10 scoring defense in Division I-FBS. Although Leonhard’s nomadic career did not include a Packers stop, the 38-year-old is a Wisconsin native.

Gray served as the Titans’ DC from 2011-13, spent the next six seasons as Vikings secondary coach and signed on as Packers secondary coach last season. The former NFL cornerback has been an assistant in the league since the late 1990s. Kiffin spent 2020 with the Browns but worked with Matt LaFleur‘s brother Mike with the 49ers previously. Burke oversaw the Dolphins’ defense from 2017-18 and was with the Eagles during the past two seasons, while Nielsen has spent the past four seasons as New Orleans’ D-line coach.

AFC North Links: Webb, Browns, Eifert

Lardarius Webb has battled a back injury all season, and the Ravens cornerback told Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun that he suffered nerve damage in his back during training camp, severely hampering the start of his season. However, the 29-year-old is starting to regain his old form, and his defensive coordinater believes he’ll be a force for the rest of the season.

“I actually graded the film on the plane on the way back, and then I came in and watched the film again on Monday morning and I texted him right after I got done and said, ‘That’s the best you’ve played all year. You look like you’re kind of getting back to the Lardarius that I know,'” said Dean Pees. “I think that is a very, very positive thing about him. Hey, we need him right here at the end. I was very pleased with the way he played.”

Webb echoed that sentiment:

“Yeah, I feel awesome. It was late in the season and everything, but I do feel good now. I’ve been through a long season. I started off on the back burner with a back injury. I’ve just been trying to catch up the whole time and get it right eventually. Now, I’m right.

“That’s how nerve injuries do, they take time. I had to fight through it all year with the good and the bad. It would be perfect going into the playoffs to play your best game. Hopefully, we can continue playing and win this game and go into the playoffs and keep improving on the back end. It’s been a long year, a humbling year. I’ve been through a lot of adversity since I’ve been in the NFL. That’s been my career.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the AFC’s northern division…

  • Browns‘ cornerback Buster Skrine is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil wants him back, reports Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald (via Twitter). With Joe Haden playing at a Pro Bowl level and first-round pick Justin Gilbert on the roster, Skrine may be more comfortable going elsewhere to continue his career. Skrine has not talked about his next contract.
  • Meanwhile, Browns coach Mike Pettine was asked if he wants Skrine on the team next season. “Yeah, he’s a Brown,” he answered (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). “It’s tough when you have guys that are up (for free agency). That’s the reality of business. As far as what we’re looking for, and I already talked about it, just everything from Buster from A to Z is a guy that you want on your football team.”
  • Before the season, Browns safety Jim Leonhard declared 2014 his final NFL season. According to Tom Reed of Cleveland.com, the veteran is sticking by the statement. “But, no, it’s not happening. I’m very happy with my decision and I’m looking forward to that next chapter . . .I definitely want to get out and travel a little bit with the family. Outside of that, head back to Madison (Wisc.) and figure it out. I had a lot of conversations with people and we’ll see what happens, where this thing leads.”
  • Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has struggled through injuries all season, and head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed yesterday that the 24-year-old’s season is over. Eifert had left shoulder surgery earlier this month, helping repair an injury he sustained in training camp. “It’s been unfortunate for him,” Lewis said (via ESPN.com’s Coley Harvey), “but it was the best thing for him.”

Zach Links contributed to this post.