Mike Martin

Staff Notes: Johnson, Lions, Ravens, Browns

Jets owner Woody Johnson is back running his team, after his United Kingdom ambassadorship under President Donald Trump ended. Johnson now oversees a staff hired while his brother — Christopher Johnson — was operating as owner. Woody Johnson is behind the Jets’ current Joe DouglasRobert Saleh power structure, despite not being involved in their respective hirings.

They’ve got a tremendous amount of leeway,” Johnson said of Douglas and Saleh, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “I’m totally in sync with these guys. Chris [Johnson] made some unbelievable choices, and we’re lucky to get both of those gentlemen. I couldn’t be more excited,” he continued. “I’m very optimistic, generally, but I’m particularly optimistic now when I see what happens on the field [in practice].”

It will be interesting to follow Johnson’s relationship with Douglas and Saleh, given the unique circumstances behind this power trio. The returning owner does not plan to interfere with the Douglas regarding personnel, Cimini adds. The Douglas-Saleh partnership follows two unsteady pairings formed during Christopher Johnson’s interim ownership tenure, with the Adam GaseMike Maccagnan tandem lasting less than six months together and Douglas firing Gase — who helped him land the GM gig — after the 2020 season.

Here is the latest from the front office and coaching ranks:

  • Although the Lions hired a new GM (Brad Holmes), several Bob Quinn-era staffers will remain going forward. Holmes will keep Lance Newmark (player personnel director), Dave Sears (college scouting director) and Rob Lohman (pro scouting director) on staff, with select other scouts from Quinn’s regime remaining in place, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Newmark turned down an offer to join Scott Fitterer‘s Panthers front office, per Birkett. Both Newmark, who has been with the Lions for nearly 25 years, and Lohman, who joined the Lions in 2007, interviewed for the Lions’ GM job that went to Holmes.
  • Holmes did hire some new personnel. Former Panthers and Texans exec Mike Martin will join the Lions as director of scouting advancement, while ex-Miami Hurricanes football ops director Don Corzine is now in Detroit as a senior advisor. These two join John Dorsey and assistant GM Ray Agnew as key new arrivals under Holmes.
  • Going into his third season with the Ravens, Nick Matteo will rise to the position of director of football administration. Matteo, who worked in the league office for 10 years, will be involved with the Ravens’ salary cap. Additionally, Andrew Raphael will rise from an area scout to a national scouting role.
  • Browns assistant coach Callie Brownson was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated last month, 92.3 The Fan’s Daryl Ruiter tweets. Brownson pleaded guilty to the charge, and the Browns suspended her. However, Kevin Stefanski said Brownson will be back for training camp. Currently working as the team’s chief of staff, Brownson became the first woman to coach a position group during a regular-season NFL game — when the team’s COVID-19 outbreak led to her coaching wide receivers and tight ends in separate games last season.

Texans Fire Jimmy Raye III, Other Scouting Personnel

The Texans just completed their first draft under new GM Brian Gaine, and now the team is shaking up its scouting department. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the team has dismissed assistant GM Jimmy Raye III, director of college scouting Jon Carr, assistant director of college scouting Mike Martin, college scouting coordinator Matt Jansen, and college scout Seth Turner.

As Wilson observes, Martin was credited for uncovering UDFA gems like Arian Foster and A.J. Bouye, but the biggest name on that list is Raye, who actually replaced Gaine in Houston last season when Gaine went to Buffalo as the Bills’ vice president of player personnel. After 17 years as a scout and executive with the Chargers, Raye served as vice president of player operations with the Colts and has been a GM candidate for several clubs (including the Texans) in recent years.

All of the dismissed personnel were hired by former GM Rick Smith, and it is not unusual for an overhaul like this when a new general manager or head coach comes aboard. However, Carr and Martin had been with the team for over a decade, and both have a solid track record.

As of yet, there is no word on any potential replacements.

AFC Notes: Pats, Broncos, Texans, Bills

In an interview Wednesday with Charlie Rose of CBS, Gisele Bundchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, said that the five-time Super Bowl winner “had a concussion last year” and “has concussions” that they don’t talk about (Twitter link). If Brady actually has dealt with head injuries and the Patriots have been aware of them, they could face discipline from the NFL. After all, the Pats have never listed Brady’s alleged concussions on the injury report. For its part, the league issued a statement Wednesday (via Doug Kyed of NESN) indicating that it’s now looking into the matter, saying: “There are no records that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms. Today we have been in contact with the NFLPA and will work together to gather more information from the club’s medical staff and Mr. Brady. The health and safety of our players is our foremost priority and we want to ensure that all our players have and continue to receive the best care possible.”

More from the AFC:

  • Running back Jamaal Charles, one of the Broncos’ highest-profile pickups this offseason, only has a 50-50 shot to make their roster, opines Mike Klis of 9News. While the 30-year-old Charles averaged a whopping 5.5 yards per carry with AFC West rival Kansas City from 2008-16, knee injuries limited him to a combined eight games over the past two seasons. Combining Charles’ recent health issues with, as Klis notes, his low-money contract and the presences of fellow runners C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and rookie De’Angelo Henderson, Charles might not play a down for Denver.
  • As expected, the Texans have added ex-Colts executive Jimmy Raye III to their front office. Raye will serve as the Texans’ vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com was among those to report. He’s replacing Brian Gaine, who left Houston for Buffalo earlier this week. Additionally, the club has tabbed Rob Kisiel as its director of pro personnel and Mike Martin as its assistant director of college scouting.
  • The Bills, continuing to reshuffle their front office, have announced the hiring of Lake Dawson as their assistant director of college scouting. Formerly with the Titans and Browns, Dawson joins Gaine, Joe Schoen and Malik Boyd as additions the Bills have made to their front office since naming Brandon Beane their general manager last week. Dawson was a wide receiver with the Chiefs from 1994-97.

Eagles Cut Rueben Randle

The Eagles have announced a series of roster moves today, and the most surprising transaction is the release of wide receiver Rueben Randle, who was signed to a one-year deal over the offseason. Randle, who is still only 25 years old, was thought to be a clear starter for Philadelphia after averaging 56 receptions, 782 yards, and six touchdowns over the past three seasons with the Giants.Rueben Randle (Vertical)

But after the Eagles acquired Dorial Green-Beckham, Randle’s roster spot became tenuous, especially given his lackluster performance during the preseason. Philadelphia handed Randle $500K in guarantees plus a $25K roster bonus, so the club will incur $525K in dead money. Because he’s a vested veteran, Randle will not have to clear waivers and will become a free agent immediately.

The Eagles also made the following transactions:


Placed On Injured Reserve:

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/26/2016

The Chiefs have released guard Paul Fanaika, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. As Adam Teicher of ESPN.com writes, it’s an interesting move for the team to make so close to the draft. The Chiefs could go with Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as their starting guards, but they now lack depth on the interior line. Fanaika spent one year with the Chiefs but he unfortunately spent that time on the IR.

According to a source who spoke with Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter), KC cut the veteran lineman after he refused to accept a pay cut. Efforts were made to get a new deal done, but Wilson writes that he was “firmly opposed.”

Here’s a rundown of today’s minor moves:

  • The Browns withdrew their minimum tender offer to offensive lineman Darrian Miller, thereby withdrawing their rights to him, as Wilson tweets.
  • The Eagles announced (on Twitter) that they have signed defensive tackle Mike Martin to a one-year pact. Martin worked out for Philly on Monday, according to Caplan (via Twitter).

AFC Rumors: Titans, Tunsil, Chiefs, Steelers

Although a report on Monday suggested that Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa remains in the mix for the Titans with the first overall pick, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil still appears to be the overwhelming favorite to be Tennessee’s pick, as Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) outlines. According to Cole, the fact that Tunsil won’t run a 40-yard dash and is dealing with a lingering hamstring issue shouldn’t have any real impact on his draft stock.

Still, while Tunsil is the odds-on favorite to be the first player off the board next month, not everyone agrees he should be. Writing for the Florida Times-Union, Hays Carlyon makes the case that the Titans should select Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey first overall. As Carlyon details, landing Ramsey would fill a hole for Tennessee and would keep a talented defender away from the division-rival Jaguars, who would probably love to grab him with the fifth overall pick.

As we look forward to seeing what Tennessee decides, let’s round up a few more updates from around the AFC…

  • A report earlier in March suggested that the Chiefs and 49ers had discussed a possible trade that would send De’Anthony Thomas to San Francisco. However, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter links), Kansas City GM John Dorsey said today that Thomas isn’t going anywhere, denying that he had spoken to the Niners about a deal. Even if the two sides did have a conversation about Thomas, it’s unlikely that Dorsey would confirm it now that the 23-year-old appears likely to stay put.
  • The Steelers remain on the lookout for defensive line help. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets that free agent defensive tackle Mike Martin recently visited Pittsburgh, while Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that the club will also bring in defensive end Jack Crawford for a visit this week. Martin has been a backup in Tennessee for most of the last four seasons, while Crawford picked up four sacks as a part-timer in Dallas in 2015.
  • Houston cornerback William Jackson III is visiting the Dolphins today, a source tells Wilson (Twitter link). Jackson projects as a probable first-round pick.
  • The Texans guaranteed $37MM to a player that the team’s decision-makers had essentially never met, as Peter King of TheMMQB.com writes. Using the Brock Osweiler signing as a point of reference, King makes the case for why the NFL should expand its annual legal tampering period to allow for free agent visits.

South Notes: Titans, D. Martin, Colts, M. Martin

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota obviously has some pull with his franchise, but he told Pro Football Talk that he didn’t want to be significantly involved with the team’s head coaching search.

“I didn’t want any input or anything like that,” Mariota said. “They did ask. They asked about Chip Kelly, about Coach (Mike) Mularkey. They obviously asked my opinions about people here and there, but I wanted them to make their own decision.”

Last month, the Titans made the call to elevate Mularkey from interim head coach to head coach, while Kelly – Mariota’s old head coach at Oregon – joined the Niners.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s South divisions:

  • Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is eligible to hit the open market in March but on Thursday, he took yet another opportunity to profess his love for Tampa Bay. “I love Tampa and Tampa loves me,” Martin told PFT. “I’ve got a house out there so I do wish I’ll go back to Tampa.” Muscle Hamster Martin also said that he was surprised by the firing of coach Lovie Smith, though he’s excited about playing for Dirk Koetter, who was elevated from offensive coordinator.
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay told WISH-TV’s Anthony Calhoun that he hopes to see Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning retire as a member of the Colts, signing a one-day contract with Indianapolis when he decides to call it a career. Of course, rumors have been swirling in recent weeks that Super Bowl 50 could be Manning’s final game. Then again, maybe this won’t be Manning’s “last rodeo” — the Rams have reportedly discussed Manning internally as they gear up for their move to Los Angeles.
  • Titans defensive lineman Mike Martin has had to adjust to several different schemes throughout his college and NFL career, as his teams made multiple coaching changes. As he tells Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Martin – a pending free agent – is hoping for some stability with his next team, assuming he isn’t back with Tennessee.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/22/15

Tuesdays are typically busy days for roster changes during the NFL regular season, and even with the holidays around the corner, this week is no different. Here are the latest minor transactions from around the league:

  • The Packers announced that they’ve placed long snapper Brett Goode on injured reserve, signing fellow snapper Rick Lovato to take his place. Per Wes Hodkiewicz of PackersNews.com (Twitter link), Goode tore his ACL during Sunday’s game against the Raiders.
  • The Bears announced (via Twitter) that they’ve promoted defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith from the practice squad, waiving running back Antone Smith to create a roster spot. D’Anthony has spent time with the Jaguars, Lions, and Seahawks, while Antone had seen just one carry for Chicago this year.
  • With Marcus Mariota ailing, the Titans have signed quarterback Alex Tanney off the Colts’ practice squad, reports Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter link). Tanney, known for his “trick-shot” Youtube videos, will back up Zach Mettenberger on Sunday. Tennessee placed defensive tackle Mike Martin on injured reserve to create a roster spot.

Earlier updates:

  • The 49ers have signed running back DuJuan Harris from off the Ravens‘ practice squad, cutting running back Travaris Cadet to make room, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted this afternoon (via Twitter) that the knee injury sustained by Shaun Draughn didn’t appear to be serious, but the club wanted to add some insurance just in case. San Francisco may get some added insurance in the form of Mike Davis, who is currently on the IR-DTR list, and will begin practicing this week, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link).
  • After somehow playing through a fractured fibula for three quarters on Sunday, safety David Bruton will head to injured reserve, officially ending his season, the Broncos confirmed today in a press release. Safety Shaun Prater will take the open spot on the roster, with Bruton expected to require four to six weeks to recover from his injury.
  • As expected, the Browns formally placed starting right guard John Greco on injured reserve today, per a team release. Cleveland has re-signed wide receiver Darius Jennings to the roster, after waiving him last week.
  • The Buccaneers have filled the opening on their 53-man roster by promoting wide receiver Evan Spencer from their practice squad, the team announced today in a press release. Spencer was selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft by Washington.
  • The Bills are elevating wide receiver Walter Powell to their active roster from the practice squad, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Powell figures to replace Robert Woods, who is expected to land on IR.
  • Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock is headed to the injured reserve list, reports Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Whitlock suffered a knee injury that isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, but it will keep him sidelined for the club’s last couple games of the season.