Beyond the previously covered quarterback situation, the Watts departure is Minnesota’s most notable cut. The 2019 sixth-round pick started nine games last season, moving into the lineup after Michael Pierce‘s injury. The Vikings cut Pierce this offseason, though Watts did not profile as a pure nose tackle. He was also drafted to play in a different scheme.
Minnesota hired a new DC this offseason (Ed Donatell), and the team acquired former Texans second-round defensive tackle pick Ross Blacklock on Tuesday. The Vikes had also added veteran Jonathan Bullard this offseason. These moves appear to have affected Watts’ status, as does the Vikings keeping only six D-linemen. They retained 10 after 2021’s cutdown day. Some of the changes can be attributed to classification, with edge defenders classified as outside linebackers in 3-4 sets. Watts also carried a $2.5MM cap charge, allowing Minnesota to save some decent money.
The Davis cut represents a quick bailout on a 2021 third-round pick. One of two guard Davises the Vikes shipped out Tuesday (along with Jesse, whom they traded to the Steelers), Wyatt — an Ohio State alum — played in six games last season and did not log an offensive snap. In addition to drafting Ed Ingram in the second round this year, the Vikings signed veteran interior linemen Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann.
One of four teams who fired their GM in-season, the Falcons have been looking into Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. However, the NFL’s new minority hiring rule may complicate matters. Were the Falcons to hire Fontenot, who is Black, the Saints would receive two third-round picks. Fontenot has been with the Saints longer than Sean Payton and rose from pro scouting director to assistant GM this year.
“How many teams would trade two third-round picks for an unproven GM?” a source familiar with this situation informed La Canfora. “… Is it worth (the Saints) getting two straight extra third-round picks — possible 10-year starters — just to hire their assistant general manager? They like Terry a lot, but I’m telling you, that’s a very real factor in the discussion. I’d be shocked if they (hired Fontenot) based on what I’ve heard.”
This would fall into the “unintended consequences” category for the new rule. However, the recently passed rule that will award teams two third-rounders if another franchise hires a minority head coach or GM from their organization has bothered some around the league. Multiple NFL voices of color expressed concerns, via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, about this initiative passing so quickly and without much notice. These sources also expressed curiosity about potential intradivisional hirings and how teams (such as the Falcons) will proceed when third-round draft choices are now part of the equation, Schefter adds.
Here is the latest from around the league:
Going forward, Roger Goodell will be able to fine teams that fail to comply with an NFL rule mandating franchises have one person in ownership holding final say — particularly on league voting matters, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Bengals owner Mike Brown proposed stripping teams that violate this rule of their vote on league issues, but Florio adds the owners voted to keep fines (up to $10MM) in place rather than see teams have their respective votes stripped. Neither the Broncos nor Titans have a primary owner. The Broncos’ squabble involving multiple children of late owner Pat Bowlen will result in the team paying steep fines until the issue is resolved. One source told Florio that, rather than seeing older Bowlen children stand down for top successor candidateBrittany Bowlen, the Broncos will end up being sold. Pat Bowlen bought the team in 1984.
With the salary cap expected to fall by a record number in 2021, franchise and transition tag figures will drop from their 2020 places. Using the 2021 cap floor ($175MM) to calculate tag figures, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry expects the running back tag to drop by a staggering 19% — from $10.3MM (on this year’s $198.2MM cap) to $8.3MM — and every position’s franchise tag price to drop by at least 10%. While this would factor into situations like the Packers’ with Aaron Jones or the Steelers’ with James Conner, both those teams are projected to be well over the 2021 cap (as of Dec. 4). That will make using a tag incredibly difficult.
Authorities dropped all charges against free agent defensive back Kameron Kelly, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The Steelers waived the defender after he was arrested for disorderly conduct and making terroristic threats last year. The NFL has since closed its review on the matter as well. Kelly, who played in 14 Steelers games in 2019 after arriving in Pittsburgh as a UDFA, is a free agent who may attract interest after playing well in The Spring League this year.
When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.
A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.
Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:
Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989
Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991
Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000
MickeyLoomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006
Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010
Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011
Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020
Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.
Owczarski heard from multiple sources that Lewis met with team owner Mike Brown on Monday and the two did not come to a resolution. The pair may wait until Tuesday to come to a decision.
The Bengals surely want a speedy decision with the NFL’s coaching carousel already turning just hours after the season has ended. The Lions, Raiders, Colts, Giants and Bears have already fired their coaches and have begun lining up candidates to fill those roles.
Lewis, however, has coached the Bengals since 2003 and the team is sure to respect the coach’s wishes. Following the team’s 31-27 win over Baltimore, Lewis said his future with the team is “complicated” and he doesn’t know if he will return to the team. Earlier in December, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the team and Lewis were expected to part ways at season’s end when Lewis’ contract expired.
Rumors have already begun to swirl about members of the Bengals’ coaching staff, with the team’s defensive coordinator Paul Guenther being linked to Oakland.
December 22nd, 2017 at 10:06pm CST by GregGoldstein
The Browns are in serious danger of joining the 2008 Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a single season. Cleveland will take on the Bears and Steelers before the dust is settled, but will be moving forward with a new head football man in John Dorsey.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com answers a variety of questions in a video addressing many different questions swirling around the franchise. One question she touches on is how quickly of an impact Dorsey will have on the field? While Cabot did say that it will take some time to turn around the franchise, one thing Dorsey will emphasize is finding that franchise quarterback that the team has been craving for a long time. Cabot states that just like with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, if the Browns can find their guy this offseason, there could be a dramatic shift in the long-term outlook of the organization.
The Browns will likely hold the first overall pick so they could be faced with a choice regarding Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen should both draft eligible QB’s turn pro this offseason.
Here are more stories coming from the AFC:
While the Browns do have a new decision maker in Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson remains a bit in-flux. While the team’s owner has expressed his desire to keep the veteran coach, there could be an added twist in this story because of the division rival Bengals, states Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Pluto opines that should Jackson replace the embattled Marvin Lewis, that would allow Dorsey to put his own coach in place, leaving his relationship with owner Jimmy Haslam in-tact. Bengals owner Mike Brown seems to like guys he’s worked with in the past, so Jackson seems like a reasonable possibility, even given his 1-29 record in Cleveland.
The Broncos are very much playing out the string of this season with a number of different QB’s given injuries and poor play. However, the wide receiver position has taken a hit over the past week, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Klis notes that Denver could only have four wideouts active against the Redskins in Week 16. Demaryius Thomas, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie are the only healthy receivers available and could lead the team to serious depth problems should one of them go down this weekend. Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable and really have no reason to be pushed given that the Broncos are not in the playoff race. Expect the team to rely on the running game in order to keep their receiving corps healthy on Sunday.
Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has not been 100% since he suffered a concussion and an ankle injury vs. the Broncos a few weeks ago. The third-year wideout has been inconsistent while on the field this season, but said after practice on Friday that he “felt all right” and is “still working through” the injuries, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link). He remains questionable to play for Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Gehlken also passed along that four Raiders missed practice today, including: CB David Amerson (foot), C Rodney Hudson (ankle/illness), DL Treyvon Hester (ankle) and TE Clive Walford (concussion/neck) (Twitter link).
It has already been widely reported that the Browns botched a trade for Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron, but information is still coming out about exactly what made the deal fall through. In a piece from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, she explains some of the background behind the negotiations. Kabot states that the main problem behind the failed trade, apart from being sent to the league past the deadline, was that the documents of each team failed to match. Cabot reports that the conditions of the trade were not explained equally on both sides, which meant that the deal would have fallen through even if the deal was made within the desired time frame.
Kabot’s article dives deeper into the failed trade, stating that Bengals owner Mike Brown was the “driving force” behind McCarron being shipped to a division rival. However, this wasn’t a sign of distaste for the backup signal caller, rather Kabot explains that Brown actually wanted to put McCarron in a situation where he could play. While Kabot clarifies that not all of the Bengals front office was on board with the move, she relays from a source inside the league that, “no one in the Bengals’ organization was standing in the way of getting it done.”
Kabot’s article also touches on the logistics of the trade, with it having been called dead and then alive once again within the hour of the trade deadline. She also explains that sources in the NFL believe the Bengals did the right think in submitting their own paperwork after they had received the Browns materials too late.
However, through all the chaos McCarron remains a Bengal and addressed the media through the team’s website about how he’s handling the situation.
“I’m not angry. I’m not upset. It feels good to be wanted,” McCarron said. “Today I’m going to thank Mr. Brown personally. I admire that he was going to give me an opportunity to go start and play somewhere. I really appreciate that of him. He’s been an unbelievable owner in my experience here.”
In addition to the fiasco that unfolded a few days ago, the backup quarterback is also dealing with a contract dispute regarding whether he should be a restricted free agent at season’s end. But, McCarron seems to have taken his current situation in stride.
“The biggest thing it does, I have been through a lot of mind games,” McCarron said. “I think it makes you mentally tougher. Stronger. Let’s you see all the crazy sides of this business in a short amount of time. Just in my year-long of experienced a lot guys who have been in the league 10 years haven’t experienced. Just by hearing your name and you are, you might be, but like I said, I am blessed to be in my situation and enjoying every minute of it.”
It remains to be seen what will unfold in the coming months for one of the league’s most intriguing number two signal callers. All we do know is that he’s been put in a unique situation and will remain in the same role he started the season, as the backup behind Andy Dalton.
The Bengals recently made Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the No. 48 overall pick of the 2017 draft, a move that predictably sparked a great deal of conversation and controversy. Mixon’s assault of a female Oklahoma student several years ago caused a number of teams to remove him from their draft boards completely — a recent report indicated that only four clubs said they would consider drafting Mixon — and any team that did select him knew it would have to contend with significant public backlash.
Cincinnati, no stranger to taking a chance on players with character concerns, decided to take the plunge in the second round of the draft. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are on the Bengals’ roster, but neither back reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season, Hill will be a free agent next offseason, and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November. So Mixon, who was perhaps the most talented back in this year’s class, made sense from an on-field need and value perspective.
Nonetheless, the off-field concerns needed to be addressed, and Bengals owner and president Mike Brown wrote a letter to the team’s fanbase in an attempt to do that. Here are the highlights (courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer):
On the incident itself:
“Joe’s regrettable deed was that he struck a young woman, another student, shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, Oklahoma, three years ago. Joe and this young woman recently met in person, came to terms with the incident, and they agreed to resolve their differences so they could move forward with their lives.”
On Mixon’s response to the incident:
“Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions. He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.”
On why the team selected Mixon:
“[H]e is a rare football talent, and his conduct over the past three years leads us to believe he can help us win football games and also become a productive member of this community.”
On Mixon’s future with the club:
“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside. We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”
In addition to placing rookie defensive end Arthur Miley on injured reserve and reaching an injury settlement with offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, the Panthers cut Jordan Todman. This leaves Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne as Jonathan Stewart‘s primary backups.
The former Wofford standout joined the organization last season as an undrafted free agent, and he ended up compiling 13 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in 15 games. The 25-year-old reportedly had a solid camp, but the recent acquisition of former Seahawks wideout Kevin Norwood made Bersin expendable.
Even after acquiring Norwood, the writers note that the Panthers plan on being aggressive on the waiver wire as they look to reinforce their receiving corps. The team’s depth chart was thrown into disarray following the season-ending injury to Kelvin Benjamin.
The Panthers also let go of three other players this morning: