Patrick Graham

Giants Notes: McKinney, Gono, Cunningham, Bonuses

Xavier McKinney enjoyed a career year in his second NFL season, leading the Giants with five interceptions. The former second-rounder figures to remain a bright spot on the team, but some aspects of the defense under ex-DC Patrick Graham were the subject of remarks the young safety recently made.

In conversation with Steve Serby of the New York Post, McKinney noted a marked difference in practices since the arrival of Graham’s replacement, Don Martindale, particularly in the level of communication between players and coaches. “We didn’t really have much of that these last two years, and that was a big problem,” he said. “That came with obviously a lot of like everything didn’t look organized. Even defensively there were times we played good, but sometimes the communication wasn’t there, and that’s because everybody was kind of on different… it was a lot of different things going on.

“[Under Martindale] we don’t have to worry about making a mistake on a third down or a fourth down or something like that… and I think that’s what we’ve missed obviously the past two years… I think everybody could tell you on the defensive side everybody was so afraid of being the one to make the mistake instead of just actually going out there and playing.”

The Giants ranked 21st and 23rd, respectively, last season in terms of yards and points allowed per game last season – something McKinney will look to help the team improve on moving forward, and which could be made easier with a new voice on the sidelines. Graham is now the Raiders’ DC.

Here are some other notes concerning Big Blue:

  • Earlier this week, the Giants placed offensive tackle Matt Gono on the exempt/left squad list due to an undisclosed injury. It turns out that the neck injury which caused that absence is likely to end his career (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan). The 26-year-old missed all of last season after having neck surgery, so the return of symptoms in practice would make it challenging for him to make his way back onto the field. Scheduled to be the Giants’ swing tackle, his absence could lead to a larger role for 2020 third-rounder Matt Peart, or require the team to find a depth option in free agency.
  • Staying on the theme of offensive lineman, Korey Cunningham will try to earn a roster spot at his natural position, per Dan Duggan of The Athletic (subscription required). The previous coaching staff experimented with a move to tight end for the six-foot-six, 305-pounder, but the new regime led by Brian Daboll will keep him as an o-linemen. The absence of Gono could help him secure a place at the backend of the roster.
  • Earlier this week, Duggan also relayed (on Twitter) that quarterback Daniel Jones and left tackle Andrew Thomas received roster bonuses of $3.2MM and $2.7MM, respectively. 2022 is seen as a make-or-break year for Jones, whose fifth-year option was declined, whereas Thomas could make that same decision easier on the team with a strong performance this campaign.

Raiders, Chandler Jones Agree To Deal

The Raiders will land one of the top players on this year’s market. They have agreed to terms with Chandler Jones, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $52.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that the deal includes $34MM guaranteed.

This will reunite the former All-Pro with Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham, who were both in New England during the first chapter of Jones’ career. After breaking through to the All-Pro level in Arizona, Jones will relocate to Las Vegas and join Maxx Crosby atop their edge-rushing stable.

For barely a minute, a Raiders reality with Crosby, Jones and Yannick Ngakoue existed. But the team is trading Ngakoue to the Colts. This will clear out some money for a Raiders squad that now has a Pro Bowl edge partnership. Jones bounced back after a biceps injury halted his 2020 season early; he registered 10.5 sacks in his sixth Cardinals season. Cards owner Michael Bidwill expressed a desire to re-sign Jones, who then tweeted laughing emojis after the owner’s comments. Unsurprisingly, the Cards were not closely connected with Jones during the legal tampering period.

Jones, 32, began the 2021 season as a disgruntled Cardinal, having requested a trade after voicing frustration about his contract. Several pass rushers had surpassed Jones’ 2017 extension — a $16.5MM-per-year pact — but he played out the deal. Jones is not exactly leaving the desert, with the Raiders now in Las Vegas, but his Cardinals chapter is over. He has agreed to similar terms with the Raiders. Jones appears to have missed his window to land a $20MM-plus-year-year accord, but he has still done quite well for himself during his prime.

The Raiders recently gave Crosby a $23.5MM-per-year extension. They are now fully loaded at the edge spot. Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2017 — a year after the Patriots dealt him to Arizona — and posted a 19-sack slate in 2019. Making Pro Bowls with both the Pats and Cards, Jones will attempt to aid the Raiders in an AFC West suddenly flush with pass rushers. Jones, Khalil Mack and Randy Gregory are each with AFC West teams now, creating a division stacked at both quarterback and players paid to pursue QBs.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Raiders Hire Patrick Graham As DC

The Raiders have agreed to hire Patrick Graham as their new defensive coordinator, according to sources who spoke with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). With that, Graham will make a lateral move from the Giants to work under newly-hired head coach Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas. 

[RELATED: Raiders Name Champ Kelly Assistant GM]

New Giants head coach Brian Daboll wanted to retain Graham as his DC, even though he was a Joe Judge holdover. The two men worked together in New England, but their history wasn’t enough for Graham to stay put. Ultimately, Graham would have liked to stay as the head coach. The Giants and Vikings both had him as a finalist, but he did not land an HC offer in this cycle.

I have had a good relationship with Pat for some time in this league,” Daboll said at his introductory press conference. “He’s very diligent. He’s smart. I think the players respect him. I have a good working relationship with him. Selfishly, I would love him to be here“.

It’s also worth noting that Graham has even more ties with the Raiders’ new regime — he’ll now work with fellow ex-Patriots in McDaniels and recently crowned GM Dave Ziegler. McDaniels and Graham overlapped in New England from the 2011 postseason through the end of the 2015 season, when Graham left for the G-Men.

Raiders Interview Patrick Graham For DC, Set Up OC Meeting With Drew Petzing

Patrick Graham has generated considerable attention this offseason. After making it to the final round of the Vikings’ HC search, he booked a Raiders defensive coordinator interview.

The Raiders are interviewing the Giants’ DC for the same position Friday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. They also requested a meeting with Browns tight ends coach Drew Petzing, Zac Jackson of The Athletic tweets. Petzing will interview for Las Vegas’ OC job Saturday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Should Graham’s Raiders interview go well, he may have an interesting decision to make. New Giants HC Brian Daboll wants Graham back as DC, despite the latter being a Joe Judge holdover. Daboll and Graham worked together in New England, however. Graham also has close ties to the new Raiders power structure, having worked alongside Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler with the Patriots. McDaniels and Graham overlapped as Pats staffers from the 2011 playoffs — when McDaniels returned after a one-and-done Rams OC stint — through the end of the 2015 season, after which Graham left for his first run as a Giants assistant.

The Vikings chose Rams OC Kevin O’Connell over Graham, but Graham has now met with three teams — also being up for the Steelers’ DC job that went to in-house candidate Teryl Austin — this offseason. The 43-year-old defensive play-caller will land on his feet soon. The Raiders poaching Graham would force the Giants into other plans.

This upcoming OC interview marks new territory for Petzing, who has been a position coach for the past several seasons. Petzing, 34, has worked with Browns HC Kevin Stefanski throughout his career. After five years with the Vikings, Petzing went with Stefanski to Cleveland in 2020. McDaniels plans to call plays for the Raiders, minimizing their next OC’s role to some degree. The team has its new QBs coach in place already, in Bo Hardegree. The Raiders are also retaining wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett.

Jim Harbaugh To Meet With Vikings, Patrick Graham Gets Second Interview

We’re starting to get even more clarity on the Vikings head coaching search. According to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (on Twitter), Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will get a second interview with Minnesota. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will visit Minnesota for an in-person interview on Wednesday.

Serving as New York’s defensive play-caller during Joe Judge‘s tenure, Graham improved the unit considerably in 2020. The Giants ranked ninth in scoring defense, after their 2019 unit ranked 30th. But the team regressed this season, falling back to 23rd. DVOA slotted Graham’s second Giants defense 18th, however.

Harbaugh had a chat with the Vikings on Saturday, and there have been reports that the Vikings wanted an in-person interview with the current Michigan coach. They’ll ultimately get their wish, and Harbaugh will take another major step in returning to the NFL. Harbaugh, 58, spent four seasons with the 49ers before leaving for Ann Arbor after the 2014 season. He has been connected to various teams in the past, but this year represents the closest link to the former NFC champion coach returning to the NFL.

Meanwhile, Pelissero notes (on Twitter) that 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has declined a second interview with the Vikings, with Ryans looking to “further his development in San Francisco.” That leaves four candidates for the job: Graham, Harbaugh, and Rams coordinators Kevin O’Connell and Raheem Morris.

Giants Intend To Keep Patrick Graham; Will Retain Two Key Execs

As Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll begin their respective tenures as the general manager and head coach of the Giants, they have made clear a desire for stability at a number of positions in the organization. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (via Twitter), the team plans on retaining defensive coordinator Patrick Graham if he doesn’t get a HC gig elsewhere. As well, his colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that assistant GM Kevin Abrams and director of football operations Ed Triggs will be staying with the team. 

Graham, as Rapoport notes, recently interviewed with the Vikings for their HC vacancy. That came after he met with the Giants for the same position; while he obviously didn’t get the top job in New York, the team has let it be known they respect his work as DC.

In his inaugural press conference on Monday, Daboll – who worked alongside Graham for three seasons in New England – said, “I have had a good relationship with Pat for some time in this league. He’s very diligent. He’s smart. I think the players respect him. I have a good working relationship with him. Selfishly, I would love him to be here“. As the Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson is expected to be retained as well.

As for Abrams, it appears he will be staying in New York, but quite possibly with a new title. As Duggan tweets, he has “offered to give up” the assistant GM label if it helps Shoen bring in a more familiar right-hand-man. Having been with the Giants since 1999, Abrams was a candidate for the GM opening, but the team stuck to its stated intention of hiring externally.

Triggs, meanwhile, has held his current role since June 2020 and like Abrams, has a plethora of front office experience with the Giants. Clearly, Shoen and ownership want to keep key elements of the existing executive structure in place, as opposed to clearing house as other teams have done in the past.

 

Giants Eyeing Don Martindale For DC

After parting ways with the Ravens earlier this month, Don Martindale is starting to generate interest from other teams. According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, Brian Daboll and the Giants have interest in the veteran coach for their DC vacancy.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens. Baltimore ranked as a top-10 defense from 2018-20, with Martindale’s units helping the team’s Lamar Jackson transition result in three straight playoff trips. Prior to being promoted to replace Dean Pees as Baltimore’s DC, Martindale headed up the team’s linebacking corps from 2012-17. The first of those seasons ended with the team’s second Super Bowl win.

Martindale entered the season with lame-duck status in Baltimore, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout.

Current Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could also keep his role, per Vacchiano. Serving as New York’s defensive play-caller during Joe Judge‘s tenure, Graham improved the unit considerably in 2020. The Giants ranked ninth in scoring defense, after their 2019 unit ranked 30th. But the team regressed this season, falling back to 23rd. DVOA slotted Graham’s second Giants defense 18th, however. The Graham-overseen improvement also caught the Steelers’ attention, with an interview request previously coming Graham’s way.

 

Vikings To Interview Patrick Graham; Giants DC Gig Still On Table?

Despite the Giants’ late-season nosedive, their defensive coordinator will meet with another team about its top coaching job. The Vikings are set to interview Patrick Graham on Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (Twitter link).

Graham has also interviewed with the Giants and remains interested in sticking around as their defensive coordinator, provided someone else lands their HC job. The Giants are also expected to be open to Graham staying on as DC under a new coach, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes, adding that ownership will play a role in determining how Big Blue’s next HC proceeds here.

Serving as New York’s defensive play-caller during Joe Judge‘s tenure, Graham improved the unit considerably in 2020. The Giants ranked ninth in scoring defense, after their 2019 unit ranked 30th. But the team regressed this season, falling back to 23rd. DVOA slotted Graham’s second Giants defense 18th, however. The Graham-overseen improvement also caught the Steelers’ attention, with an interview request coming Graham’s way. Pittsburgh is expected to promote Teryl Austin to fill that role, however.

It is not the norm for prior regimes’ coordinators to stick around, and Graham has ties to both of the Giants’ top HC candidates. He was Brian Flores‘ first defensive coordinator in Miami and worked with both Flores and Brian Daboll in New England. Despite Flores letting Graham make a lateral move to New York, Graham said in December the two remain close friends. Nevertheless, ownership insisting on a partnership between the next Giants HC and Graham would be interesting.

Graham, 43, has been on the Vikings’ radar for a bit now. Minnesota’s coaching search figures to pick up steam in the coming days, with GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now on board. Here is how that search looks:

Steelers Request Interview With Joe Whitt For DC Position

Another name has been added to the list of Steelers targets for their vacant defensive coordinator role. Joe Whitt, the passing game coordinator/secondary coach for the Cowboys, has become the third external candidate for the position, according to Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper

The team has recently asked to meet with Kris Richard, the Saints’ defensive back coach, to replace the now-retired Keith Butler. Prior to that, Giants DC Patrick Graham received an interview request from the Steelers as well.

Whitt is generating interest with multiple teams. Both the Seahawks and Ravens have put in requests to meet with the 43-year-old for their respective DC vacancies. The experienced DB coach has served on the staff of five different teams during his NFL coaching career, never holding a title higher than pass game coordinator. His role in helping the Cowboys’ defense become one of the league’s better units – rather than a liability, as it had been in recent years – has obviously earned him opportunities for a promotion either elsewhere, or perhaps in Dallas if DC Dan Quinn takes one of the many HC jobs he has interviewed for.

The Steelers still have secondary coach Teryl Austin as an option if they prefer to promote from within. While that is certainly a possibility at this point, the team is clearly doing its due diligence with regards to outside candidates.