Tom Telesco

AFC Rumors: Jackson, Ravens, Jaguars, Chargers

The Patriots’ defense struggled in their Wild Card loss to the division rival Bills. That struggle could perhaps have a noticeable effect on cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s future. An undrafted free agent in 2018, Jackson was on a one-year extension this season, meaning last week’s loss is the last game he will have played before potentially hitting the free agent market.

The game was possibly Jackson’s worst in his four-year career, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, who called out Jackson’s technique playing the ball, coverage breakdowns, and overall effort. Reiss went on to deliberate on the odds of New England tagging the second-team All-Pro, which currently projects as a $17.28MM tag. Reiss believes that Jackson’s playoff performance could prevent New England from using their franchise tag on him at all. The Patriots could always agree on an extension with Jackson, but after an impressive, healthy season, the 26-year old will likely want to test the free agency waters.

Here are a few more notes from the AFC, starting with an item out of the North:

  • We got a bit of peek behind the scenes from Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager who tweeted out that, after some debate on who to take with their first of two third-round picks, the Rams got intel that Baltimore planned to draft Cooper Kupp at 74th overall. The Rams selected the now first-team All-Pro and Baltimore used their pick on current Steeler Chris Wormley.
  • Jalen Ramsey spoke recently with Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic about the events that lead to his exit from Jacksonville. Rodrigue did a deep-dive on Ramsey’s journey and the three-time All-Pro expanded on how undervalued he felt by the Jaguars’ staff and detailed an explosive meeting with the team’s top brass that lead to his eventual trade request.
  • In a tweet earlier this week, LA Daily News reporter Gilbert Manzano gave an account from Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco on the pending free agency of wide receiver Mike Williams. Telesco praised Williams, who topped 1,000 yards receiving for the second time in his career this season, calling him a big part of the team but didn’t discuss how he planned to move forward on contract talks with the fifth-year Charger.
  • Also, in Chargers’ news, Giants’ assistant linebackers and special teams coach Anthony Blevins was interviewed to become Los Angeles’s new special teams coordinator, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. Giants’ special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey also met with Los Angeles and is being considered for the position.

Bears Request To Interview Chargers’ Wooden

Do not be surprised if you start getting calls from Chicago because the Bears are searching far and wide to fill their vacant general manager position and they are interviewing EVERYBODY! The newest candidate to add to the list is Chargers’ director of player personnel, JoJo Wooden, according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Wooden has been with the Chargers since 2013 overseeing the pro and college scouting department for the Chargers. He got his start with the Jets in 1997 and spent 10 seasons working his way up from pro personnel assistant to the assistant director, player personnel, a position he held for six more years.

What makes Wooden an interesting candidate for the Bears’ job is the connections he has to the search committee. Bears Senior Writer Larry Mayer reported a couple days ago that Bill Polian, who has spent time as a general manager for the Bills, Panthers, and, most notably, the Colts, will be a resource to the Bears as they go through the process of hiring a new head coach and general manager. Wooden is known as a key lieutenant for the Chargers’ current general manager Tom Telesco, and Telesco worked under Polian during Polian’s entire tenure in Indianapolis.

To date, the Bears have already interviewed the Browns’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Glenn Cook and their own assistant director of player personnel, Champ Kelly. They’ve also requested interviews with the Colts’ Morocco Brown and Ed Dodds, the 49ers’ Ran Carthon, the Saints’ Jeff Ireland, the Steelers’ Omar Khan, the Giants’ Joe Schoen, and the Patriots’ Eliot Wolf. Texans’ former general manager Rick Smith has also been identified as a candidate.

Bills OC Brian Daboll Is “Favorite” For Chargers HC Job

Brian Daboll could soon be heading to the west coast. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bills offensive coordinator “has emerged as a favorite” for the Chargers head-coaching gig.

Predictably, the Chargers organization is waiting to see how tonight’s Bills game goes before making any moves. If Buffalo loses, Los Angeles can offer Daboll the job as soon as possible. If the Bills win, then the organization has to wait until Buffalo is eliminated before they can negotiate a contract with their new head coach.

As Schefter notes, there are two logical reasons why Daboll has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacancy. For starters, Daboll received a lot of credit for Josh Allen‘s emergence this season, and the Chargers are hoping the coach can help Justin Herbert take the next step. Daboll also went to high school and played football with Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, so there’s an obvious connection there.

Daboll, 45, started his NFL coaching career back in 2000 with the Patriots. He got his first coordinator gig with the Browns in 2009, and he’s since held the same role with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and the Bills (along with Alabama). Daboll was mentioned as a candidate for the Jets vacancy, and he was one of the nine reported candidates for the Chargers job. As our 2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, that list includes:

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

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:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Chargers Liked Tua Tagovailoa At No. 6

With the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft, the Chargers found their new quarterback in Oregon product Justin Herbert. But, even if wasn’t there, GM Tom Telesco says he would have taken a QB, no matter what. 

We felt great about all three quarterbacks who went in the Top 6,” Telesco told Pat McAfee of Barstool Sports (Twitter link), referring to No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow and Dolphins choice Tua Tagovailoa. “Hopefully we won’t pick at No. 6 very often…if I do, I won’t be making very many picks hereIf you’re going to pick this high and there’s a potential franchise quarterback, you have to take him.”

Burrow to the Bengals was long considered a sure thing and Tagovailoa was connected to the Dolphins for months. As the draft drew closer, whispers of the Dolphins’ interest in Herbert grew louder and louder. And, days before the draft, there was talk of the Dolphins trading up to the No. 3 pick to select an offensive lineman, rather than a quarterback. That’s one rumor that Telesco didn’t bite on.

Every rumor I heard, I went through my head of, ‘How would we handle this if this happened?’,” Telesco told Pat McAfee. “Now, the whole, Miami taking a tackle at 3, maybe they really were, I just didn’t believe that one. You make plans, you talk with your head coach…you talk about trading up or down in certain situations. When you’re on the clock making the pick, you’re not discussing what you want to do, you’ve already decided.

The opinions on Herbert are pretty mixed in the football world. Those that are high on him believe that his elite arm strength will allow him to succeed as a starter. Others are concerned about his pension for holding on to the ball for too long in the pocket. At the same time, Tagovailoa’s health remains a major question mark moving forward and Telesco says he would have been happy with either QB as the heir to Philip Rivers.

Chargers Extended Tom Telesco In 2018

The Chargers quietly agreed to a multi-year extension with general manger Tom Telesco at the end of the 2018 season, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Telesco’s prior contact was due to expire at the end of this year.

Telesco, 46, was named the Chargers’ GM in advance of the 2013 campaign. Since then, he’s guided the club to two playoff appearances, first during his debut season and again this past year. Telesco is now on his second head coach, having fired Mike McCoy and hired Anthony Lynn during the 2017 offseason.

Telesco began his career in minor roles with the Bills and Panthers, but spent the bulk of his pre-Chargers time with the Colts, serving in a variety of roles including director of pro scouting and director of player personnel. He’s built a solid Los Angeles roster, but could need to address several areas — including finding quarterback Philip Rivers‘ heir — in the near future.

Chargers GM Talks Henry, Gates, Draft

Following an eventful offseason that saw the Chargers suffer a major injury, draft seven rookies, and sign a handful of free agents, general manager Tom Telesco took to Chargers.com to answer fans’ questions. The executive touched on a number of subjects, including his team’s draft strategy and the Chargers’ plans at tight end.

The entire Q&A is worth checking out, but we’ve listed some of the notable soundbites below:

On tight end Hunter Henry‘s recovery from a torn ACL:

“Hunter had surgery yesterday and is home resting and rehabbing already. Everything went well. He will attack his rehab with the same enthusiasm as he plays the game. He will be back stronger and better than ever.”

On a potential reunion with veteran tight end Antonio Gates:

“Would be a natural fit, right? I saw that Philip [Rivers] voted for it. When it comes to roster moves, we are not a democracy. But we are not a dictatorship either. His vote was noted and accounted for. Antonio’s accomplishments and contributions to this organization are immeasurable. We will see what the future holds. I don’t have an update at this time.”

On why the team hasn’t drafted “skilled offensive lineman”:

“It’s a priority every year. We have drafted OL in the top 3 rounds 3x in the last couple years, mostly recently with Forrest Lamp in the 2nd and Dan Feeney in the 3rd. Both are skilled. Both are tough. And both have bright futures.”

On the Chargers’ weaknesses at run defense:

“Our run defense needs to improve. It comes from all 11 players on defense, not just the front 7. To give some perspective though, the top 5 teams in avg rushing yards allowed per game were: Browns, Broncos, Cards, Titans, and Eagles. Combined record 33-42 going into week 17. Worst 5 teams were: Chargers, Patriots, Rams, Jags, and Steelers. Combined record 53-22. We never want to be in the bottom 5 in anything, and improvement is needed. But we have to be balanced and smart.”

On the oddest contract clause he’s seen throughout his career.

“It wasn’t with the Chargers, but we once had an incentive clause to pay a player a certain amount of $ for 10 or more blocked punts. The player was an offensive lineman.”

His perception of the team following the draft and free agency:

“We have some talent on this team this year. But the talent level in the NFL is not much different from the top team to the 32nd team. Every team has talent. We have a great group of coaches, led by Anthony Lynn, who will have an excellent game plan for our players. But the NFL is a very competitive league and there are 31 other great coaching staffs. The key is to have the talent buy in to the coaching staff’s game plan. We control that, nobody else does. And that is what the off-season and training camp is all about. I love what I have seen thus far and I am excited for the future.”

Extra Points: Jones, Lions, Bengals

The Chargers acquired quarterback Cardale Jones from the Bills earlier this week, giving them another signal-caller to backup Philip Rivers. However, if the organization had had their way, they would have had Jones on their squad last season.

General manager Tom Telesco admitted this week that the Chargers had been eyeing Jones since the 2016 draft, when they had the prospect in for a private workout. The organization was seemingly infatuated with the quarterback, but he was ultimately selected by the Bills in the fourth round.

“Obviously we’re looking for competition at that spot,” Telesco told ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams. “And with Cardale, he’s a quarterback with some developmental traits that are hard to find.

“Our scouts had really high grades on him when he came out in the draft. And then the fact that Anthony had him in Buffalo for a year — that way he knew him — so it was a good blend for us and a good combination for that. Since Brad Sorensen, we haven’t had a young quarterback in our system that we could work with, so he’s going to be one of those guys.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • About a month ago, the Lions had free agent Zach Orr in for a workout, but the linebacker ultimately left the audition without a contract. Today, coach Jim Caldwell told reporters to “never say never” when asked if Orr could still join the team, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News notes (via Twitter) that the sentiment “isn’t the most optimistic take.” Orr met with the Texans earlier this week, and he’s also worked out with the Jets and Colts.
  • The Bengals worked out safety DeJuan Rogers today, according to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell (via Twitter). The undrafted rookie out of Toledo finished his senior season with 87 tackles, one interception, and six passes defended. Behind their starters, the Bengals are currently only rostering a pair of safeties in Clayton Fejedelem and Derron Smith.
  • Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, a projected top prospect in next year’s draft, was charged with DUI earlier this morning, according to Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. In 24 games over three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Hand has compiled six sacks and 11 tackles for loss. “This type of behavior is not acceptable and we are disappointed in Da’Shawn’s actions,” said coach Nick Saban. “We are still gathering information and will evaluate what we need to do in terms of appropriate discipline as we move forward, so better choices and decisions can be made in the future.”

Extra Points: Chargers, Steelers, Osweiler

Some assorted notes from around the NFL on this Sunday evening…

  • Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and his staff have been preparing for the upcoming draft for more than a year, and ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams writes that they were prepping with former defensive coordinator John Pagano’s system in mind. However, despite the addition of head coach Anthony Lynn and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Telesco says the team’s plans haven’t been disrupted.
  • The Chargers acquiring Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman “makes too much sense to ever happen,” writes Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Besides Sherman’s connection with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Florio notes that the California native’s temperament would benefit a team that’s seeking “a dynamic personality.” The writer wonders if the Chargers’ 38th-overall pick would be of any interest to Seattle.
  • Now that Lawrence Timmons has departed the Steelers for Miami, Vince Williams projects to start at inside linebacker for Pittsburgh alongside Ryan Shazier. Of course, the Steelers did pursue Dont’a Hightower in free agency, and as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, the team’s draft strategy will say a lot about Williams’ future with the club. If the Steelers select an inside linebacker in the first three rounds of the draft — and this year’s class of inside linebackers is very thin — then that would suggest that their faith in Williams is rather shaky.
  • Nothing has changed on the Brock Osweiler front. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Browns will continue to look to trade Osweiler over draft weekend, and if they cannot find a taker, they will continue to pursue a trade over the coming months. Otherwise, they will simply cut him. Cabot believes the team will still try to add a veteran that can start for them in 2017, and if Osweiler is still on the roster when the regular season rolls around, it will be because they failed to find someone they like better.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Latest On Chargers, Mike McCoy

The Chargers may not have made an official decision on the fate of head coach Mike McCoy, but it would be an “upset” if McCoy is retained for 2017, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that general manager Tom Telesco will keep his job, but team ownership will meet Monday to determine if McCoy will stick around. Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that while Telesco has recommended that McCoy be retained, San Diego is prepared to make a change.Mike McCoy

[RELATED: Antonio Gates Leaning Towards Return]

This isn’t the first time that disparate reports have surfaced regarding McCoy’s status, which could indicate that the Chargers are truly wrestling with a decision on their head coach. Just last week, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com indicated that because the Chargers are likely to relocate to Los Angeles — and thus, compete with the Rams in a major media market — the club would like to begin its head coaching search as soon as possible.

McCoy has led the Chargers to a 5-10 record this season, and last week lost to the previously winless Browns. During his San Diego run, McCoy has posted a career mark of 27-36, and recently confirmed that the club has not offered him an extension (he’s currently signed only through 2016).