Rod Graves

Extra Points: Field, Fritz Pollard, NFL Draft

Could the NFL take a page from the CFL? In recent player safety discussions at the owners meetings, the idea of widening the field was discussed, according to Jay Glazer of The Athletic.

Currently, the NFL field is 53 1/3 yards wide. Over time, players have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, but offensive playmakers have the same amount of room to avoid hits in the open field. Widening the field, potentially, would go a long way towards protecting the ball carrier.

In the CFL, the field is not only longer, but also about 12 yards wider. It’s not clear whether the NFL would be willing to go that for, or if NFL owners would be willing to absorb the cost of the potential revamp. However, with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire soon, this could be an opportune time for a change.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • NFL executive Rod Graves is stepping down to become the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, according to Jim Trotter of The FPA is an advocacy group aiming to increase minority representation throughout NFL front offices, coaching staffs, and scouting departments. Trotter will succeed John Wooten, who is 82 years old and has been in the role since 2003. Graves, meanwhile, has been a senior vice president of football administration at the league office since 2015. Before that, Graves worked in front offices for the Jets, Cardinals, and Bears.
  • A reminder of the NFL Draft’s unpredictability from former NFL PR man Mike McCartney (on Twitter): 33 players who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine were drafted. Meanwhile, 117 players who participated in the NFL Combine went undrafted.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Broncos, Wallace, Jets

Addressing reporters at Jack Del Rio‘s introductory press conference today, Raiders owner Mark Davis announced that CFO Marc Badain had been named team president, and indicated that Del Rio “has all the resources he needs” to go out and hire assistant coaches (Twitter links via Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer). And it appears that Del Rio has taken advantage of those resources to land his first offensive assistant — Michael Silver of reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders will hire Falcons assistant Mike Tice to coach their offensive line. The Falcons had previously been reluctant to grant Tice permission to speak to the Raiders, but were convinced to change their stance after Tice pleaded his case, tweets Silver. Oakland is also expected to formally contact Marc Trestman soon about the team’s offensive coordinator position, says Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).

Here’s more from across the AFC, as the week winds down and we look forward to championship weekend:

  • The Broncos have concluded their head coaching interview with Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, the club announced today (via Twitter). Having now adhered to the Rooney Rule, Denver is free to hire Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak if this Sunday’s meeting between the two sides goes well. With Teryl Austin and Doug Marrone having canceled their interviews, Kubiak is the only candidate currently scheduled to meet with the team.
  • Speaking today to reporters, including Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link), Dolphins owner Stephen Ross indicated that he doesn’t think “anyone really knows” whether wide receiver Mike Wallace will be back with the team for the 2015 season. Wallace will count for $12.1MM against the cap in 2015, a significant figure, though not as high as 2014’s $17.25MM cap hit.
  • With the status of players like Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas uncertain heading into the offseason, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton recognizes that he may not be the Broncos‘ No. 1 priority among free-agents-to-be, but he has “made it clear” that he wants to remain with the team, as he tells Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • New Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has started making changes to the team’s front office, parting ways with senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway and director of college scouting Jeff Bauer, the team announced in a press release. According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter), personnel executive Rod Graves isn’t expected to return either. Mehta reports (via Twitter) that Maccagnan would like to hire Rams scout Brian Heimerdinger – whom he worked with in Houston – to the Jets’ front office. The new GM is also set to hire former Jaguars GM Gene Smith, as had been previously reported, tweets Mehta.
  • The Jets would like to talk to former Raiders quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo about the same position in New York, tweets Adam Caplan of
  • Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel, who is still a year away from becoming eligible for a contract extension, has changed agent, signing with Eugene Parker of Relativity Sports, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.

Coach/GM Notes: Falcons, Bears, Jets, Eagles

According to our head coaching search tracker, there are eight candidates involved in the Falcons‘ hunt for Mike Smith‘s replacement, and if no new names are added to that list, the team’s first round of interviews should conclude tomorrow after a meeting with Todd Bowles. So it makes sense that Ian Rapoport of suggests today (via Twitter) that Atlanta intends to bring in its finalists for a second round of interviews. According to Rapoport, Rex Ryan will be among those finalists, though it’s not clear yet who will join him.

Here are a few more items from around the league related to coaches and front offices:


  • Todd Bowles and Frank Reich completed their interviews with the Jets today, according to Rich Cimini of (on Twitter). Bowles’ next visit will be with the Bears.
  • A Tuesday report indicated that the Bears would likely meet with Mike Shanahan about their head coaching position after hiring a new general manager, but despite Shanahan’s past success with Jay Cutler (and Brandon Marshall), he’s not currently on Chicago’s list of candidates, says Ed Werder of (via Twitter). We’ll have to see if anything changes on that front after the team makes its GM hire.
  • After sitting in on the Raiders‘ interview with Shanahan, John Madden is expected to be in attendance for Tony Sparano‘s meeting with the club as well, tweets Fallon Smith of
  • In the wake of Perry Fewell‘s dismissal, Dan Graziano of offers a few suggestions for the Giants to consider for their defensive coordinator job, including Bills defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, who Graziano thinks could be among New York’s top candidates.

Front office:

  • The Bears confirmed that they interviewed Chris Ballard and Ryan Pace for their GM vacancy, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune tweets.
  • Jon Robinson‘s interview with the Jets will take place tomorrow, according to Rich Cimini of (on Twitter).
  • The Jets announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve lined up an interview with Buccaneers personnel executive Jon Robinson for their general manager position. The club also confirmed the candidates they’ve spoken to so far: Chris Grier (Dolphins), Trent Kirchner (Seahawks), Bill Kuharich (Browns), Mike Maccagnan (Texans), Rick Mueller (Eagles), and their own Rod Graves.
  • The Jaguars have granted pro director Chris Polian permission to interview with the Eagles for their GM job, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network (via Twitter).
  • The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which works with the NFL on minority hiring issues, has filed a complaint with the league over Washington‘s general manager search, writes Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Washington spoke to Jets executive Rod Graves about the GM job, but didn’t run the request for permission by the league, and seemed to do it only as a formality while working out an agreement with Scot McCloughan, so as to abide by the Rooney Rule.
  • Meanwhile, the Dolphins appear to have evaded a Rooney Rule violation by changing the role of recently-hired Mike Tannenbaum, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains. The club has altered Tannenbaum’s and Dennis Hickey‘s duties since first announcing the hiring, so that Tannenbaum doesn’t qualify as a GM-type hire, meaning the club wouldn’t have needed to meet the Rooney Rule.

Extra Points: Shanahan, Trestman, Ryan

Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will consider leaving the Browns, even for a lateral move, because of friction within the organization, writes Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Shanahan is aiming to become a head coach somewhere (perhaps in Buffalo) but he’d also like to reunite with his father, Mike Shanahan. The 49ers, Raiders, and Bills are have interest in hiring Mike as a head coach with Kyle as the offensive coordinator. More from around the NFL..

  • Washington interviewed Rod Graves on Monday for their GM position, according to Albert Breer of (on Twitter). By interviewing Graves, Washington has satisfied the Rooney Rule, so that is not a roadblock in their talks with Scot McCloughan.
  • Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman will interview for the Jaguars‘ offensive coordinator position, a source tells Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). Trestman has already interviewed with the Buccaneers.
  • Rex Ryan will be meeting with CBS executives tomorrow to discuss a possible TV role if he doesn’t land a head coaching job, a source tells Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
  • The Eagles have requested permission to interview recently promoted Packers exec Eliot Wolf for their personnel opening, according to Jason La Canfora of (on Twitter). Wolf was recently promoted by Green Bay, ostensibly to keep him in-house as the heir apparent to their own GM job.
  • The Eagles requested GM interviews with Chris Grier (Dolphins), Chris Polian (Jaguars), and Brian Gaine (Texans), sources tell Adam Schefter of (on Twitter).
  • The Texans might have interest in former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, according to Dan Pompei of Sports On Earth (on Twitter).
  • Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson is scheduled to interview with the Jaguars for their offensive coordinator position on Thursday, a source tells Josina Anderson of (on Twitter).
  • Gaine and Lake Dawson, the Titans‘ vice president of player personnel, completed their interviews with the Bears for their GM opening, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis says that the team will take linebacker Junior Galette‘s arrest “very seriously,” as Mike Triplett of writes. “If at some point we deem it necessary for the club to take some action, we’ll do that,” Loomis said.
  • Loomis feels that the Saints are in better shape financially, Evan Woodbery of The Times Picayune (on Twitter). “I would say we’re in a better situation than we were a year ago — on pure salary cap.” He also scoffed at a recent report indicating that he will move into a new role with the team (link).

George Paton Turns Down Bears, Jets

Despite receiving interest from both the Bears and Jets for their open general manager positions, Vikings assistant GM George Paton has turned down the opportunity to interview with either team, according to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). It appears Paton will remain in the Minnesota front office for the 2015 season.

Paton “has been a hot commodity and is getting hotter,” according to Pompei (Twitter link), who adds that the Vikings executive is well-respected around the league, and has played a large part in restocking the club’s roster. The Jets also expressed interest in Paton during their last GM search, but he turned them down at that time as well.

With Paton out of the mix, the Jets are set to interview Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan, Browns personnel executive Bill Kuharich, Eagles director of pro personnel Rick Mueller, and Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner. Current Jets senior director of football administration Rod Graves, who is running the team’s football operations during the GM hunt, will also interview for the position today, per Rich Cimini of (Twitter link).

As for the Bears, Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, Titans VP of player personnel Lake Dawson, and Ravens director of pro personnel Vince Newsome have all been cited as potential candidates for their GM job. Both Chicago and New York have also expressed interest in Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll be willing to discuss the possibility of leaving Baltimore.

Latest On Jets, Bears GM Searches

Of the five teams hunting for new head coaches, two have an even more daunting task ahead of them, as the Bears and Jets are also on the lookout for new general managers to head their football operations departments. The Jets have tasked two consultants, Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, with identifying potential candidates, while the Bears hired former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi as an advisor for their search.

Heading into today, we’d heard Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner and Vikings assistant GM George Paton linked to the Jets’ opening, while things had been relatively quiet on the Bears’ front so far. More rumors and rumblings on both positions are starting to surface though, so let’s round up the latest updates:

  • The Jets intend to interview their current senior director of football administration Rod Graves for their GM opening, a source tells Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Mehta, confirming the report, tweets that it’s a “courtesy” on the Jets’ part.
  • Costello adds (via Twitter) that the Jets have also asked the Browns permission to interview personnel executive Bill Kuharich.

Earlier updates:

  • The Jets are interested in interviewing Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan for their GM vacancy, tweets Brian Costello of the New York Post. A source confirms to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) that the Jets have indeed asked Houston for permission to speak to Maccagnan.
  • Mehta also reports (via Twitter) that the Jets have requested permission to interview Eagles director of pro personnel Rick Mueller. Mueller has previously worked for the Jaguars and Saints as well.
  • The Jets are expected to make a strong push for Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). However, as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links) points out, DeCosta is contractually designated as Baltimore’s GM-in-waiting behind Ozzie Newsome — he’s a strong GM candidate for rival clubs, but is in a good situation with the Ravens and is “highly valued” by the organization. For now, the Jets have asked for permission to interview him, tweets Mehta.
  • Four interview targets have emerged for the Bears‘ general manager opening, according to Rapoport, who lists the following candidate (via Twitter): Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, Titans VP of player personnel Lake Dawson, and Ravens director of pro personnel Vince Newsome.