Thad Lewis

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Lombardi, Bucs

Drawing a few negative headlines during his five-year run as Panthers owner, David Tepper has seen his team continue a years-long search for a quality quarterback. Carolina will be at it again this offseason. Although Tepper’s multi-offseason push for Deshaun Watson stalled near the end zone, the Panthers came close to acquiring Matthew Stafford in 2021. After negotiations with Lions GM Brad Holmes, team brass left the Senior Bowl convinced it would land the longtime Detroit QB. The Rams subsequently swooped in, and Joe Person of The Athletic notes Tepper mandated his staff slow down on Stafford due to wanting more information on his injury history (subscription required).

At that point, Stafford had only missed games in one of the previous 10 seasons. Though, the rocket-armed QB had played through a host of injuries during his 12-year Lions run. This delay, however, helped allow the Rams time to formulate a trade package that ended up sending the talented QB to Los Angeles and Jared Goff to Detroit. This could have been a moot point, with Stafford indicating he did not want to play for the Panthers, but Carolina did offer its first-round pick (No. 8 overall) and more for a passer without a no-trade clause. The Panthers sent three picks for Sam Darnold soon after. Darnold is a few weeks from free agency.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Frank Reich has praised Tepper for his willingness to spend for assistant coach talent. This included what looks to have become a defensive coordinator bidding war. Shortly after the Broncos let Ejiro Evero out of his contract, the hot HC candidate drew interest from the Panthers and Vikings. Carolina outbid Minnesota to land the defensive coordinator, Person adds. The Panthers have also added ex-HCs Jim Caldwell and Dom Capers, along with Josh McCown, to Reich’s staff.
  • Broncos ownership could also outmuscle teams for assistants. It is not known what kind of interest Joe Lombardi drew, but the new Denver assistant also drew interest from the Saints, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com tweets. The two-year Chargers OC spent 12 years under Payton in New Orleans. The Saints are keeping Broncos OC candidate Ronald Curry on staff as QBs coach, but they were unable to lure Lombardi back to town. Lombardi is set for a coordinator-type role in Denver.
  • The Buccaneers will fill their quarterbacks coach post by promoting former NFL passer Thad Lewis, in news reported by Seahawks QB Geno Smith (Twitter link). Lewis and Smith played against each other as Miami high schoolers and have remained close; the free agent-to-be clarified (via Twitter) this was the reason — not a sudden interest in joining the Bucs — for his excitement. The Bucs employed Lewis as their assistant wide receivers coach over the past two years, with the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud adding Bruce Arians had visions of Lewis as a future offensive coordinator (Twitter link). Smith and the Seahawks have begun negotiations.
  • Tampa Bay hired Dave Canales as OC, from Seattle’s staff, to help fix its league-worst rushing attack. Leonard Fournette did not make the same impact he had in 2021. While the Bucs signed Fournette to a three-year, $21MM deal in March 2022, the running back has changed agents (Twitter link). The seventh-year running back is now with GSE Worldwide.
  • North Carolina’s tight ends coach, John Lilly will be making an NFL move in the same state. The Panthers will keep Lilly in North Carolina, bringing him in to coach their tight ends, Person tweets. Lilly, who worked on the 2019 Browns’ staff, overlapped at Georgia with new Panthers OC Thomas Brown in 2015. He has 30-plus years’ experience at the college and pro levels.
  • Former Colts staffer Brian Decker will follow Frank Reich to Carolina. The Panthers announced Decker is now the team’s vice president of development, a role Darin Gantt of Panthers.com notes will involve evaluating and developing players and coaches. A 22-year military veteran, Decker joined the Colts in 2017 and was in on the interviews that produced Reich’s hire.

Buccaneers Officially Add A.Q. Shipley, Thad Lewis To Coaching Staff

The Buccaneers have officially added two more popular names to their coaching staff. James Palmer of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that the team has signed Thaddeus Lewis as assistant wide receivers coach and A.Q. Shipley as an offensive assistant.

Lewis was kind of, sort of on the Buccaneers coaching staff in 2020; he served as as “assistant to the offense” via the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellow program. According to the team website, he’d spend time catching for the quarterbacks, and he’d work with the receivers on reacting to the QBs’ cues. He’ll now have an official role in Tampa Bay, filling the gig that was previously held by Antwaan Randle El.

Following a successful collegiate career at Duke, Lewis put together a seven-year NFL career as a quarterback. He only saw time in seven games (six starts), throwing for 1,296 yards and five touchdowns. Following his playing career, Lewis worked under Chip Kelly at UCLA during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Shipley managed to stick around the NFL for a decade despite being a seventh-round pick. The offensive lineman was a favorite of Bruce Arians, having played with the coach in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Arizona. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Shipley joined the Buccaneers last offseason, but a spinal cord injury ultimately finished his career in November.

Shipley stuck around the organization as an unofficial coach for the remainder of the 2020 campaign, and he’ll now have an official role heading into 2021.

Coaching Notes: Kitchens, 49ers, Bucs

Freddie Kitchens will see his role expand in New York. The Giants are promoting the former Browns HC from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). Earlier this month, we heard the Giants may be eyeing more responsibility for Kitchens. Derek Dooley, who received interest from other teams, will take over as the Giants’ tight ends coach, Raanan adds. Previously the Mizzou offensive coordinator, Dooley joined Joe Judge‘s staff last year. The Giants used Kitchens as their interim play-caller while Jason Garrett battled COVID-19 last season and will lean on him more in 2021.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • To replace Antwaan Randle El on their coaching staff, the Buccaneers will also turn to a recently retired quarterback. Thad Lewis will rise from intern to offensive assistant on Bruce Arians‘ staff, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Randle El left to become the Lions’ wide receivers coach. Lewis bounced around the NFL for nearly eight years; he was most recently with the Ravens in 2017.
  • A day after hiring Jay Valai as cornerbacks coach, the Eagles will lose him. Alabama will instead hire Valai, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg (on Twitter). Announced as one of the Eagles’ hires earlier this week, Valai will join former Texans HC Bill O’Brien at Alabama. Valai will replace Karl Scott as the Crimson Tide’s cornerbacks coach. Scott joined the Vikings’ staff this week.
  • Hired recently after a one-year stint as Lions DC, Cory Undlin will serve as the 49ers‘ secondary coach and defensive passing-game specialist. Fellow former DC James Bettcher will be a senior defensive assistant and the team’s run-game overseer on that side of the ball. The 49ers are promoting Darryl Tapp to assistant defensive line coach and hiring former wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and Klay Kubiak as quality control assistants. Klay is one of Gary Kubiak‘s sons. Even after Gary’s retirement, there are still three Kubiaks in the NFL — Klay and brothers Klint (the new Vikings OC) and Klein (a Cowboys scout). Hankerson also has a history with Kyle Shanahan, having played with Washington from 2011-13.
  • The Bengals hired Justin Hill as running backs coach. Hill will come to Cincinnati from the college ranks, having spent the past six seasons as Tulsa’s running backs coach. This will be his first NFL job. The Bengals are also promoting former NFL wideout Troy Walters to receivers coach. Walters served as Cincy’s assistant wideouts coach last season, working under Bob Bicknell.
  • Robert Saleh made an interesting hire recently. The new Jets HC added Steve Scarnecchia as his chief of staff, per Brian Costello of the New York Daily News. The son of longtime Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Steve spent the past six years as the Falcons’ assistant to the head coach. Steve Scarnecchia was part of both the Patriots’ Spygate scandal, working in the team’s video department from 2001-04, and was the Broncos staffer whose filming of a 49ers walkthrough in 2010 led to Josh McDaniels‘ firing in Denver. The younger Scarnecchia will accompany new Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich in moving from Atlanta to New York.

Workout Notes: Patriots, Jets, Bills

The Patriots auditioned some players of note this week, including linebacker Akeem Ayers, quarterback Thad Lewis, and wide receiver Jeremy Ross (Twitter link via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).

Ayers has some history with New England after playing on their 2014 Super Bowl championship team. Last year, Ayers appeared in all 16 games for Indianapolis and recorded two sacks.

Linebackers Nicholas Grigsby and Antwione Williams also showed their stuff for the Pats.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s other workouts from around the NFL:

Ravens Cut Jeremy Zuttah

The Ravens have released offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah and quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has also that he’s been waived (Twitter link).Jeremy Zuttah (Vertical)

Zuttah, 31, has had an eventful offseason, as Baltimore originally dealt him to the 49ers earlier this year. Unable to stick on the roster in San Francisco, Zuttah re-signed with the Ravens last month after the club suffered a multitude of injuries along the offensive line. The Colts were previously interested in Zuttah, who started all 16 games a season ago, so Indianapolis could potentially circle back to Zuttah now that’s available again.

Lewis and Dixon, meanwhile, were never expected to play large parts for the Ravens in 2016. With Joe Flacco on the mend, Baltimore will roll with Ryan Mallett as their No. 2 quarterback. Taliaferro wasn’t able to crack the roster despite the Ravens having lost fellow back Kenneth Dixon for the year.

Ravens Sign QB Thad Lewis

The Ravens announced that they have signed free agent quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. To make room, fellow QB Dustin Vaughan has been shown the door. Thad Lewis (vertical)

Vaughan was hoping to make the cut as a third-string quarterback behind starter Joe Flacco and primary backup Ryan Mallett. But, given Flacco’s back injury and Mallett’s struggles in practice, the Ravens are taking an especially look at their reserves. Vaughan apparently didn’t do enough to practice to assert his spot, prompting the team to look elsewhere.

Lewis, 32, signed a one-year deal with the 49ers last year, but a torn ACL ended his season before it could begin. The good news is that Lewis was medically cleared in May and he was able to hit the workout circuit starting in late July. An audition for the Rams did not yield a deal, but the Ravens apparently believe that he is 100% healthy and ready to contribute. It seems likely that the Ravens will allow Lewis to compete with Mallett for the QB2 role, though it could be challenging for him with only a few weeks to go before the start of the season.

The signing of Lewis may not sit well with those around football who were hoping the Ravens would sign Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is coming off of a decent season in which he spearheaded a less-than-decent offense. Lewis, meanwhile, hasn’t seen the field since 2013.

Rams Audition Two Quarterbacks

The Rams aren’t just looking at defensive line help today. Los Angeles is also auditioning quarterbacks Sean Renfree and Thad Lewis, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsThad Lewis (vertical)

[RELATED: Rams Host Sean Lissemore On Visit]

The Rams recently inked veteran quarterback Dan Orlovsky to potentially serve as a third quarterback behind Jared Goff and Sean Mannion. It’s possible that Orlovsky, who turns 34 next month, hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in practice.

Lewis was medically cleared in late May, but this marks his first known visit since getting the green light from doctors. The 32-year-old was supposed to serve as a backup for the 49ers last season, but an injury took him out of action before the season opener. Lewis hasn’t seen the field since the 2013 season, which was Lewis’ best campaign to date. That year, Lewis started five games for Buffalo and completed 59.2% of his passes for 1,092 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Renfree inked a reserve/futures deal with the Bucs in January but he was dropped in May when the team signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. His only NFL action came in 2015, when he completed three of seven passes for 11 yards and one interception.

Free Agent QB Thad Lewis Medically Cleared

Free agent quarterback Thad Lewis has been medically cleared as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last August, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who suggests Lewis will generate interest on the open market.Thad Lewis (vertical)

Lewis, 32, signed a one-year deal to serve as a backup for the 49ers last year, but went down before he ever took the field during a regular season contest. A career reserve, Lewis has spent time with seven different NFL clubs since entering the league in 2010. He hasn’t seen action since the 2013 campaign, which was Lewis’ most productive season to date. That year, Lewis started five games for the Bills and completed 59.2% of his passes for 1,092 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Now that he’s been medically authorized to play, Lewis joins a free agent quarterback market that also includes the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Zach Mettenberger, Dan Orlovsky, Austin Davis, and others.

49ers QB Thad Lewis Out For Season

49ers quarterback Thaddeus Lewis suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Thad Lewis (vertical)

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick Unlikely To Start]

Lewis was forced to exit from the Niners’ preseason opener on Sunday night with a leg injury, but the severity of the issue was not immediately apparent. Before his night ended prematurely, Lewis completed 12-of-21 passes for 97 yards against the Texans.

In March, Lewis inked a one-year, $760K minimum salary benefit deal with SF. Although the deal included $25K in playing-time incentives and a $428K split salary, it doesn’t appear that the pact called for much in the way of guarantees.

Lewis, 28, was on the Eagles’ roster when Chip Kelly was their head coach last season and the two reunited in San Francisco this spring. Lewis has appeared in seven NFL games, though none since 2014, making six starts with five touchdowns against four interceptions.

With Lewis out of the equation, the Niners are left with Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, and Jeff Driskel at quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Harrison, Benjamin, Massie

Here are some of the latest details on recently agreed-upon or signed contracts from around the NFL. All Twitter links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…

NFC:

  • Damon Harrison, DT (Giants): Five years, $46.25MM. $24MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Bobby Massie, T (Bears): Three years, $18MM. $6.5MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. $2MM roster bonus due on March 14 (Twitter links).
  • Thad Lewis, QB (49ers): One year, $760K. Minimum salary benefit. $25K playing-time incentive. $428K split salary (Twitter link).

AFC:

  • Travis Benjamin, WR (Chargers): Four years, $24MM. $13MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. $2.75MM salary for 2016 and $4.25MM salary for 2017 fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Antonio Gates, TE (Chargers): Two years, $11MM. $6MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Ramon Humber, LB (Patriots): One year, $885K. Minimum salary benefit. $25K signing bonus. $30K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald).