Jordan Kovacs

Bengals Block Chargers Interview Request, Add Pass-Game Coordinator

Brian Callahan‘s departure to become the Titans’ head coach marked the first major shakeup among Zac Taylor‘s top offensive assistants during his five-year tenure. The Bengals will bring in an outside hire to help compensate for Callahan’s Nashville exit.

Cincinnati is hiring former Minnesota assistant Justin Rascati as its pass-game coordinator, the team announced Thursday. Rascati previously worked as the Vikings’ assistant offensive line coach. He will join new OC Dan Pitcher among Taylor’s top assistants.

While this is a common position across the NFL, the Bengals did not utilize it previously. Rascati will also work with new Bengals quarterbacks coach Brad Kragthorpe, whom the team promoted from assistant QBs coach to fill the void Pitcher left when he moved up the ladder. Like Pitcher, Kragthorpe has been with the Bengals throughout Taylor’s tenure. These two figure to be natural candidates to become Cincy’s OC in the event Pitcher — a popular OC candidate over the past two years — becomes part of the 2025 HC carousel.

The Bengals also made an effort to retain assistant Jordan Kovacs on defense. The Chargers wanted to interview Kovacs, but’s Mike Garafolo notes the Bengals blocked that request. Kovacs is a Michigan alum who served as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh from 2017-18. Kovacs has been with the Bengals since Taylor’s 2019 arrival, moving to assistant linebackers coach in 2022. The Bengals are promoting him, assigning him as their secondary coach/safeties for 2024.

Kovacs’ promotion also came about because previous Bengals secondary coach, Robert Livingston, left to take a job on Deion Sanders’ Colorado staff. Livingston met with Sanders about the position Wednesday,’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Buffaloes are finalizing a defensive coordinator agreement with Livingston, according to the Associated Press.

Although Livingston was not on the coordinator level in the NFL, his departure will be an adjustment for the Bengals. He spent the past 12 seasons with the team, arriving as a scout during Marvin Lewis‘ tenure. Taylor retained Livingston upon arriving, keeping him in place as the team’s secondary coach — a position he took over in 2018. With Lou Anarumo failing to land a head coaching job in recent years, Livingston did not have a path to move up in Cincinnati. He will take an opportunity to reach the coordinator tier with Colorado, which received considerable attention last year thanks to Sanders’ arrival as HC.

Coaching Notes: June, Vikes, Saints, Bengals

The Colts are making an interesting hire. Gus Bradley‘s first Indianapolis defensive staff will include Cato June, a former Pro Bowl Colts linebacker in the 2000s. June will make a big jump, going from Bowling Green’s outside linebackers coach to the Colts’ assistant linebackers coach, Pete Thamel of tweets. June made a name for himself in Indianapolis in the mid-2000s, climbing from 2003 sixth-round pick to 2005 Pro Bowler. June then started all four Colts playoff games during their 2006 Super Bowl-winning season. June played seven NFL seasons, before finishing his career in the United Football League, and has been coaching at the college level since 2015. Bradley coached June as the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach in the late 2000s.

Here is the latest from the league’s coaching staffs:

  • The Saints are also turning to the college ranks to fill one of their positional jobs. Kodi Burns will move from Tennessee’s wide receivers coach to the same position with the Saints, Thamel tweets. Burns is just 33 but has been a college position coach since 2014. He worked as Auburn’s passing-game coordinator in the two seasons prior to a 2021 move to Tennessee. Curtis Johnson, who interviewed for the Dolphins’ OC job, held this position last year. It is not yet certain if Johnson is part of new HC Dennis Allen‘s plans.
  • Veteran special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica will resurface in Minnesota. The Vikings hired Kotwica as their assistant ST coordinator. Formerly the ST coordinator with the Jets, Washington and Falcons, Kotwica sat out last season. The Falcons fired him midway through the 2020 campaign. The Vikings hired Matt Daniels as their ST coordinator.
  • Daronte Jones is also joining Kevin O’Connell‘s staff, doing so as the Vikes’ defensive backs coach. This will be a quick return for Jones, who served as Mike Zimmer‘s DBs coach for the 2020 Vikings. Jones became LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2021. Tuesday saw both ex-Tigers coordinators — Jones and OC Jake Peetz — land on their feet in the NFL. Peetz is now on the Rams’ staff. Jones, 43, previously worked with the Dolphins and Bengals’ secondaries. The Vikings also hired Mike Smith as outside linebackers coach. Not the ex-Falcons HC, Smith spent the past three seasons coaching the Packers’ outside linebackers. Smith had left the Packers to pursue other opportunities; this will now mean providing intel to an NFC North rival.
  • The Bengals‘ offensive line stands as one of the league’s top position groups to monitor. The unit will feature a new coach, with Cincinnati naming Derek Frazier as an assistant O-line coach. Frazier, who formerly worked as the Jets’ assistant O-line coach (2019-20), has extensive experience at the college level. He will share assistant O-line coaching duties with incumbent Ben Martin. Frank Pollack remains the Bengals’ top O-line coach. Cincinnati will also move Jordan Kovacs from defensive quality control coach to assistant inside linebackers coach. Kovacs, 31, has been with the Bengals since 2019.
  • The Bills are adding Jaylon Finner to their staff, per Aaron Wilson of Formerly the safeties coach at Division II Texas A&M Commerce, Finner will work as a defensive assistant in Buffalo.

Bengals Hire Ex-Bucs DC Mark Duffner

The Bengals have hired former Buccaneers interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner as a senior defensive assistant, tweets Albert Breer of 

Duffner, 65, has worked in Cincinnati before, serving as the club’s linebackers coach from 1997-2000 before taking over as defensive coordinator from 2001-02. After coaching LBs in Green Bay, Jacksonville, and Miami in the following years, Duffner joined Tampa Bay as linebackers coach in 2016. He was promoted to interim DC in October after the Bucs fired incumbent Mike Smith. For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s defense finished dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA but 29th in weighted DVOA, meaning the unit improved as the season progressed.

Duffner will fill two voids on the Bengals’ defensive staff. The first is familiarity, as Duffner worked with both new head coach Zac Taylor and new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo on the 2014-15 Dolphins staff. Second, Duffner is now the most experienced coach on Cincinnati’s staff, on either side of the ball. Aside from quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, Duffner is the only coach on the team that has been a full-time (non-interim) coordinator.

In addition to hiring Duffner, the Bengals also finalized their roster by hiring four other coaches: Nick Eason (defensive line), Tem Lukabu (linebackers), Brad Kragthorpe (offensive assistant), Jordan Kovacs (defensive quality control).

Rams Cut Akeem Ayers, Move To 53

The Rams have announced the following moves as part of moving their roster to 53 players:


Placed On IR:

Ayers is perhaps the most surprising release, given that the 2015 free agent signee started 11 games for the club last season. Los Angeles will clear all $3.3MM of his cap charge by parting ways.

Chiefs Sign Four Players, Cut Four

In the wake of their three-day rookie minicamp, the Chiefs have made some changes to their 90-man roster, announcing today (in a pair of Twitter links) that they’ve four players and cut four others.Drew Nowak

The Chiefs have signed defensive back Shannon Edwards and offensive linemen Garrick Mayweather, Drew Nowak, and Zach Sterup, cutting defensive back Jordan Kovacs and offensive linemen Jake Bernstein, Ben Clarke, and Laurence Gibson to open up the necessary roster spots.

Of the incoming players, Nowak is the most notable name. Having been waived last week by the Seahawks, the 26-year-old entered the 2015 season as Seattle’s center, starting seven games at the position before being replaced.

Among the four players cut by Kansas City, Kovacs is the only one with real NFL experience. The ex-Dolphin, who turns 26 next month, appeared in 28 games during his three seasons in Miami, recording 10 total tackles and a sack. When Kovacs saw the field with the Dolphins, it was almost exclusively as a special-teamer.

Outside of Gibson, the rest of the players involved in today’s Chiefs transactions are undrafted free agents. Bernstein and Clarke signed with the club last week, but lost their spots on the 90-man roster to new UDFAs following the rookie minicamp. Edwards, Mayweather, and Sterup played their college ball at Fresno State, Fordham, and Nebraska, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workouts/Visits: 1/8/16

As teams look ahead to formulating their offseason rosters, they’ve begun to bring in free agents for both workouts and visits. Let’s look at the latest:


Chargers (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle)

  • Freddie Bishop, DL
  • Euclid Cummings, DE
  • Cleyon Laing, DL

Chiefs (Twitter link via Wilson)

Jaguars (Twitter link via Wilson)

Ravens (Twitter link via Wilson)

Steelers (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Freddie Bishop, DL
  • Dexter McCoil, LB
  • Eric Rogers, WR
  • Dustin Vaughan, QB

Washington (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Cleyon Laing, DL
  • Eric Rogers, WR


Cardinals (Twitter link via Wilson)

  • Toby Johnson, DT (prior to signing with Vikings’ practice squad)

Chiefs (Twitter links via Wilson)

Giants (Twitter link via Wilson)

Steelers (Twitter link via Wilson)

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/5/16

Here are today’s reserve/futures contract signings from around the league. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2016 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ 90-man rosters.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Taylor Boggs, C (Twitter link via Darren Urban of
  • Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, C
  • Mike Reilly, OLB
  • Tyrequek Zimmerman, S

Baltimore Ravens

  • Jerod Johnson, QB (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

  • Burton Pierce, OT
  • Ben Heenan, G
  • Edwin Jackson, LB
  • Kitt O’Brien, G
  • Dezmen Southward, DB
  • Joshua Stangby. WR

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

  • Garrett Gilbert, QB (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle)
  • Giorgio Tavecchio, K

San Diego Chargers

San Francisco 49ers

  • Corey Acosta, K (link via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle)

St. Louis Rams

Workout Notes: 12/30/15

Here are Wednesday’s workouts from around the NFL:

  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Devon Still, receivers Marcus Thigpen and Eric Rogers, linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive end/LB Tristan Okpalaugo (Twitter links via ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
  • The Cardinals tried out center Taylor Boggs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The Bills worked out defensive end/linebacker Xzavier Dickson, Wilson tweeted. Dickson ended up joining Atlanta’s practice squad.
  • The Bengals worked out quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end John Peters, per Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Browns tried out quarterback Dustin Vaughan, running back Timothy Flanders, receivers Eric Rogers, Ricky Collins and Levi Norwood, and safety Jordan Kovacs (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Quarterback Ryan Lindley, defensive linemen Warren Herring and Eze Obiora, and linebacker Ryan Mueller worked out for the Colts, according to Wilson (Twitter link). They signed Lindley afterward.
  • The Giants worked out linebackers Cole Farrand and Glenn Carson – the latter of whom they signed to their practice squad – quarterback Pete Thomas, safety Ty Zimmerman, punter Spencer Roth and kicker Quinn Sharp (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • The Steelers tried out two safeties, Ray Vinopal and Jake Hagen, and linebacker Marquis Spruill (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Chargers worked out receiver Jeff Fuller, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and linebacker Dexter McCoil, Wilson tweeted.
  • The Titans worked out receiver Kenny Stafford, defensive end Freddie Bishop, defensive backs Aaron Grymes, Steven Clarke and Emanuel Davis, long snapper Dax Dellenbach and kicker Swayze Waters (Twitter link via Wilson).

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/8/15

We’ll track all of Tuesday’s minor transactions from around the NFL in this space, with the latest moves added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • The Dolphins have re-signed tight end Brandon Williams to their active roster, waiving safety Jordan Kovacs in a corresponding move, the team announced today (Twitter links). Miami also opened up another roster spot by placing defensive tackle Robert Thomas on the injured reserve list.
  • Jets defensive end Mike Catapano has landed on IR due to a foot injury, with safety Ronald Martin getting the promotion from the practice squad to take his spot on the roster, the Jets announced today (via Twitter).
  • The Chiefs are signing offensive lineman Jarrod Pughsley from their practice squad to their 53-man roster, tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. The corresponding move to make room for Pughsley isn’t yet known.
  • The Falcons have released defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli from their injured reserve list, the team announced today (via Twitter). He’ll become a free agent if he clears waivers.

Earlier updates:

  • In the wake of Nick Boyle‘s suspension, and with Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams both battling injuries, the Ravens have added two tight ends to their roster. According to a press release, the club has promoted Konrad Reuland from its practice squad and signed veteran free agent Richard Gordon. Boyle was moved to the reserve/suspended list and cornerback Cassius Vaughn was cut to create space on the roster.
  • The Bills have also made a change at the tight end position, promoting Nick O’Leary from the practice squad and cutting veteran Matthew Mulligan, the team announced today. Mulligan had played a role this season for the Bills as a blocker and special-teamer, making the move a little surprising. Joe Buscaglia of WKBW wonders (via Twitter) if another team – perhaps the Ravens? – showed interest in O’Leary, prompting Buffalo to protect him.
  • The Eagles have signed outside linebacker Steven Means from the Texans‘ practice squad, the club announced today (via Twitter). Means will take over the roster spot vacated by Miles Austin, who was released on Monday.
  • With a Thursday night showdown against Arizona around the corner, the Vikings have made a handful of roster moves, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed safety Shaun Prater and elevated safety Anthony Harris from the practice squad. To make room for the incoming defensive backs, Minnesota placed safety Antone Exum on injured reserve and waived defensive end Justin Trattou.
  • The Colts are adding some depth at the linebacker spot by promoting linebacker Amarlo Herrera to their active roster, a source tells Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). Jerrell Freeman and Nate Irving are banged up for Indianapolis.
  • The Browns have re-signed offensive lineman Darrian Miller to their 53-man roster just three days after cutting him, placing fullback Malcolm Johnson on injured reserve in a corresponding move, per a team release.

Minor Moves: Saturday

With free agency fast approaching, teams are doing their best to take care of the small but necessary moves as they prepare for a hectic market. Here are a number of minor moves and updates from around the league:

  • The Chiefs have also come to terms on a new one-year deal with outside linebacker Dezman Moses, who was set to be a restricted free agent, according to Paylor (via Twitter).
  • Packers linebacker Josh Francis signed a three-year contract for the league minimum, writes Wes Hodkiewicz of (via Twitter).
  • The Buccaneers have agreed to terms with tight end Luke Stocker, writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Stocker was expected to reach unrestricted free agency before this deal.
  • Details from Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne’s contract with the 49ers have come out, and it is a three-year deal worth $1.583MM and $115,100 in guaranteed money, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • The Titans are working on signing long snapper Beau Brinkley to a multi-year contract, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean (via Twitter). Brinkley was set to be a restricted free agent.