Scott Kuhn

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Edmonds

The Saints made a key tweak to their front office Tuesday, announcing Khai Harley will move into the assistant GM role. Harley has been with the Saints for 16 years, most recently serving as the team’s VP of football administration. Mickey Loomis has credited Harley as being one of the chief architects behind the franchise’s aggressive strategy with regards to the salary cap. Omar Khan used this background to become the Steelers’ GM, and Harley rising to this post may put him on the radar for interviews.

New Orleans also Scott Kuhn as director of football administration, Zach Stuart as director of analytics and Rishi Desai as a scouting assistant. Gaining extensive experience on the analytics front, Kuhn spent 16 years with the Vikings. Stuart spent the past three years as the Jets’ analytics coordinator. Additionally, former safety Matt Giordano is now an assistant on Dennis Allen‘s staff. Giordano, 40, spent one season with the Saints (2010); the 30-game starter also played for the Colts, Packers, Raiders and Rams from 2005-13. Giordano had spent six seasons as head coach of Buchanan High School in his native Fresno, concluding that tenure after the 2021 season.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Although Payton Turner carries a first-round pedigree, he is unlikely to beat out Carl Granderson for the starting role Marcus Davenport vacated this offseason. The Saints are more likely to turn to Granderson — a former UDFA — than Turner opposite Cameron Jordan, Jeff Duncan of notes. Granderson, 26, has stood out in training camp and has two five-plus-sack seasons over the past three years. Turner entered camp after two iffy years, and while the Saints are likely to give the 2021 first-rounder another shot, a rotational role looks to be how this will play out.
  • Jordan’s two-year, $27.5MM Saints extension is fully guaranteed, and it will also include sack incentives. Jordan can pick up an extra $500K with a 10-sack season this year, Nick Underhill of tweets. The 34-year-old defensive end can add $250K by reaching $250K in 2024 and 2025. Sitting 23rd on the official sack list (115.5), Jordan has six double-digit sack slates on his resume — including a 12.5-sack showing in 2021.
  • Frank Reich is in place as the Panthers‘ play-caller to start his HC tenure, but OC Thomas Brown continues to loom as a future option for the post. The first-year Carolina HC said the long-term goal remains to make Brown the play-caller, Darin Gantt of tweets. This is Brown’s first OC post, but he has already booked HC interviews and received interest from other teams regarding their respective OC jobs. A former Rams assistant, Brown earning play-calling responsibilities this year would enhance his case for a top coaching job.
  • Deion Jonesone-year Panthers agreement is worth $1.17MM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. That doubles as the veteran minimum, though Wilson adds the former Falcons mainstay will receive a $75K bonus for making the Panthers’ 53-man roster. The Falcons gave Jones a four-year, $57MM extension before the 2019 season, but the team cut bait on that deal before the 2022 trade deadline. The Browns also removed a year from Jones’ contract, and scant interest came his way this offseason. This will be a key year for the 29-year-old linebacker.
  • The Panthers included four void years in Justin Houston‘s contract, dropping his cap hit to $2.13MM, Field Yates of tweets. Houston signed a fully guaranteed one-year, $6MM deal earlier this month. The contract will include sack incentives, with Wilson adding Houston will receive $500K by reaching 11 sacks and could earn another $500K by hitting 12 (Twitter link). These are classified as not likely to be earned; Houston has one 11-sack season since 2015.
  • As the Buccaneers prepare to use Rachaad White as their starting running back, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes offseason addition Chase Edmonds is locked into the third-down role. Edmonds, who received just $153K guaranteed on a one-year Bucs deal, operated as a solid pass catcher for the Cardinals but is coming off a down year. The Dolphins included him as salary filler in the Bradley Chubb trade, and the Broncos made him a cap casualty in March.

Front Office Rumors: Vikings, DeLuca, Saints

The Vikings made a number of staff moves this past week. They’ve got one season under their belt with new head coach Kevin O’Connell and new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and Minnesota continues to make adjustments to the front office.

The first such adjustment was the release of a longtime staffer in director of football quantitative methods and pro scout Scott Kuhn. According to Seth Walder of ESPN, the two parties decided to part ways after 16 years together. Kuhn first came to Minnesota in 2007, following former general manager Rick Spielman in his move from Miami. The former Dolphins staffer worked his way through multiple roles in Minnesota before finally landing his most recent role back in 2016.

Here are few other front office moves from around the NFC, mostly coming out of the Twin Cities:

  • In further efforts to shape the front office to his liking, Adofo-Mensah brought a big piece over from Cleveland in Sam DeLuca, according to Neil Stratton of DeLuca had been with the Browns since 2013, serving mostly in the role of assistant director of pro scouting. He also spent some time with the Eagles before he joined Cleveland. In Minnesota, DeLuca will claim a role as the Vikings’ senior assistant director of pro personnel.
  • The Vikings will reportedly also be adding a new scout, according to Stratton. Minnesota is poaching Matt Kelly from the Senior Bowl staff, where he served as director of football operations. With the Vikings, Kelly will be the team’s new West Coast area scout.
  • Lastly, the Saints also parted ways with a longtime staffer, according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune, letting go of a top analytics researcher in Ryan Herman. Herman joined the Saints back in 2017 after working with New Orleans’ assistant general manager Jeff Ireland in Miami, when Ireland was the Dolphins’ general manager. Herman’s seven years in Miami culminated in his role as the director of football administration before taking the job in New Orleans. After six years with the Saints as the team’s head of football research and strategy, New Orleans allowed Herman’s contract to expire.

Buccaneers, Vikings Announce Updates To Front Office, Scouting Departments

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht announced a litany of promotions and new titles in the front office and scouting department this weekend, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Rob McCartney and Mike Biehl have both been granted the role of director of player personnel, promotions from their previous roles of director of pro scouting and director of college scouting, respectively. They’ll likely continue to focus on those areas of scouting, but with additional responsibilities added, as well.

Byron Kiefer has been promoted from senior national scout to assistant director of college scouting, Antwan Murray and Tony Hardie have both been promoted from area scouts to national scouts, and Shannon Hogue has been promoted from scouting assistant to scouting analyst. Cesar Rivera and Brian McLaughlin have both been made college scouts, after previously serving as scouting coordinator and NFS/combine scout, respectively, and Zach Smith will step into McLaughlin’s role as combine scout, a step up from his previous role of scouting assistant. Former Jaguars director of college scouting Mark Ellenz has been hired as a college scout and former football operations intern Peighton Roth has been officially brought on as a scouting coordinator.

The Vikings also announced the finishing touches to new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah‘s staff this weekend. The team added two new hires in pro scout Donovan Jackson and national scout David Williams. Chisom Opara has been promoted from national scout to assistant director of player personnel, Chris Blanco has been promoted from assistant director of pro scouting to director of pro personnel, and Taylor Brooks has been promoted from scouting associate to player personnel analyst.

There were a number of updated title announcements, as well. We knew that former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson would be joining Adofo-Mensah in Minnesota, but we now know he will be in the role of senior vice president of player personnel. Ryan Monnens and Jamaal Stephenson have gone from co-directors of player personnel to director of player personnel and senior personnel executive, respectively, Imarjaye Albury has moved from the coaching role of assistant defensive line coach to pro scout, Sean Gustus has gone from area scout to national scout, and Kaitlin Zarecki has gone from manager of player development/special assistant to the general manager to football operations manager & special assistant to the general manager & head coach.

Finally, Minnesota announced some title changes to the analytics team with director of football analytics & pro scout Scott Kuhn dropping “analytics” for the more specific “quantitative methods.” Similarly, Rex Johnson has gone from research manager to football quantitative methods manager and Chris French has gone from football analyst to football quantitative methods analyst.

NFC North Notes: Stafford, Patterson, Jeffery

Andrew Luck is now the highest-paid player in the league after agreeing to a long-term extension with the Colts yesterday, but former NFL agent Joel Corry believes Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could soon be the next to hold that title, as Justin Rogers of writes. With the salary cap continuing to rise, the “highest-paid” moniker often falls on whichever player — or typically, whichever quarterback — has signed the most recent deal. Stafford and Luck have posted comparable statistics, and given how often Detroit management has discarded the notion of quarterback victories, Rogers doesn’t believe the club would hold Stafford’s win-loss record against him in negotiations. Stafford is signed through 2017, with cap hits north of $22MM in each of the next two seasons.

Here’s a look at a few more items coming out of the NFC North:

  • Any way you look at it, Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been a disappointment since the club selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft. But now that Minnesota has declined Patterson’s fifth-year option, meaning he’ll become a free agent after the upcoming season, Patterson is planning to make the most of what could possibly be his final season with the team. “Sometimes you can be here and you feel like you’ve got to be on the team,” Patterson told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “You feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m a first-round pick, I’m on the team.’ Things like that, sometimes they make you not work hard, they make you don’t want to do things, make you be lazy.” Patterson is an excellent return man, but he won’t have a shot to score in free agency unless he contributes in the passing game.
  • Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery signed his franchise tender, guaranteeing himself nearly $15MM for the 2016 season, but then chose to stay away from Chicago’s voluntary workouts. That course of action doesn’t send a great message as Jeffery continues to negotiate a long-term contract with the Bears, opines Rob Demovsky of Jeffery has until July 15 to hammer out an extension with Chicago, and recent reports indicate that a deal is still possible.
  • Sam Shields‘ four-year, $39MM extension with the Packers could set a baseline in talks between cornerback Darius Slay and the Lions, as Jeff Dickerson of writes. Shields garnered only $12.5MM in guarantees on that deal, and given how salaries have risen in the two-plus years since it was signed, Slay would probably ask for more. Slay recently indicated that he wants to be paid as a “top-seven” cornerback — on an annual basis, that would put him around $13MM, while in terms of guarantees, Slay would presumably want more than $20MM.
  • The Vikings announced two changes to their personnel department on Thursday, stating that they’ve promoted Scott Kuhn to director of analytics/pro scout, and Anne Doepner to director of football administration.