Ryan Grigson

Browns Part Ways With Ryan Grigson

The Browns have parted ways with executive Ryan Grigson, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (on Twitter) hears. Meanwhile, Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, andVP/player personnel Andrew Berry will continue in their present roles with the team, according to ESPN.com’s Tony Grossi (on Twitter). Ryan Grigson (Vertical)

[RELATED: Browns Hire Eliot Wolf As Assistant GM]

New GM John Dorsey has set out to shake things up in the Browns’ front office. Soon after taking the job, Dorsey plucked Alonzo Highsmith (now the team’s Vice President of Football Operations) and Eliot Wolf (newly appointed assistant GM) from the Packers. The former Colts GM, however, will not be a part of the revamped group.

It’s somewhat surprising to hear that DePodesta and Berry will keep their jobs, particularly after Dorsey ripped former head honcho Sashi Brown and “the guys” who were a part of “that system.” Dorsey has used analytics in the past, but he a traditional football man at heart, so DePodesta may not have much impact in what goes down this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Jackson, Haslam, Haden

Hue Jackson did not want to confirm a report that he and ousted executive VP Sashi Brown weren’t on speaking terms, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the two had clashed on numerous occasions — and certain players were at the root of this friction. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo induced disagreements between the Browns’ power structure, as previously reported, but Cabot adds Jackson and Brown were at odds about the likes of Joe Haden, Demario Davis and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson wanted the Browns to sign Maclin, Cabot reports. They were loosely connected to the UFA wideout, but the Ravens, Bills and Eagles were well ahead of them. Jackson presumably wanted Haden to remain in Cleveland, but the Browns released him. Davis was also shipped back to the Jets and has enjoyed a productive season. Cabot also notes Jackson and Gregg Williams received pushback from some members of the front office in the Myles Garrett-vs.-Mitch Trubisky argument that transpired in April, with the coaches’ side winning out and Garrett being the pick.

Here’s the latest on a busy day in Cleveland.

  • Jimmy Haslam made this move Thursday in order to not fall behind on the GM carousel, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reports, adding the owner saw the Giants taking an early lead by landing their former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search to replace Jerry Reese. Ownership was “adamant” not to fall behind in this pursuit, per Grossi. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said during a radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland the early Brown firing was to get an early start on a John Dorsey push (Twitter link). The Browns do not have to wait until season’s end to interview Dorsey like they would an active exec, and Miller reports many believe he will be Cleveland’s next GM. Dorsey steered the Chiefs to three playoff berths in four seasons after taking over following a 2-14 season.
  • Haslam was tinkering with the idea to make in-season changes for the past couple of weeks, Albert Breer of SI.com reports, noting the owner was considering bringing in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him. But after research, the owner decided to fire Brown and begin a search for his replacement.
  • Both Breer and Grossi confirm the Thursday-afternoon report the Browns are going after Dorsey. Grossi reports Dorsey has been “endorsed heartily” by at least one of the football execs with whom Haslam’s already consulted. Breer notes a Dorsey/Jackson arrangement makes more sense than Brown/Jackson, with the ex-Chiefs GM’s scouting background aligning more with Jackson’s admitted old-school approach to football development. That, and not necessarily his impressive work in Kansas City, made him a key name to watch in Cleveland, Breer notes.
  • A Dorsey hire could well mean a more prominent role for ex-Colts GM Ryan Grigson, Grossi writes. Grigson’s currently working as a senior personnel exec, with an emphasis on scouting. Dorsey and Grigson’s friendship and mutual respect would stand to lead to a better title for the since-fired Indianapolis decision-maker.
  • The Browns’ decision to part with Brown and not Jackson could lead to an increased interest in Josh Rosen. Miller notes. Jackson likes the UCLA quarterback as a prospect, with a source informing the draft-based reporter Rosen is “Jackson’s guy.” Rosen seems more certain to declare for the 2018 draft than Sam Darnold at this juncture.

North Rumors: Browns, Villanueva, Vikings

Ryan Grigson will be working on a much lower level with the Browns than he did during his five seasons as the Colts’ GM, but his new employer wants to get the longtime exec back to what he’s believed to do best. The Browns are going to deploy Grigson as a “super scout” of sorts, with Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting the team believes that is Grigson’s biggest strength. Grigson worked as an NFL scout with the Rams and Eagles from 1999-2009 before becoming Philadelphia’s director of player personnel in 2010. Pluto notes the 45-year-old Grigson will scout pro and college players and travel to schools to gauge talent in his new role, one that will feature him reporting to former Colts subordinate Andrew Berry.

Here’s more out of Cleveland and some other northern NFL cities.

  • The Browns’ contract talks with Isaiah Crowell have stalled for the time being, per Pluto. But the Browns are expected to revisit discussions about an extension for their starting running back “at some point.” Crowell signed his second-round RFA tender earlier this month and as his contract year approaches is in position for a possible career campaign. The Browns devoted considerable resources to upgrading their offensive line this offseason, signing Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter, and extending Joel Bitonio. Crowell averaged 4.8 yards per carry, rushing for 952 on a 1-15 team, so the 24-year-old back could be in line to enhance his value with a strong 2017.
  • Returning Browns tackles leader Christian Kirksey also profiles as player the team wants to extend, Pluto notes, hearing extension talks between the team and the linebacker are progressing. The former third-round pick is moving from inside linebacker in Cleveland’s 3-4 look to the 4-3 weak-side ‘backer, but he should retain a three-down role alongside Jamie Collins. Kirksey’s 143 stops last season were nearly 50 more than the second-best Browns tackler, and the emerging player is entering a contract year.
  • Alejandro Villanueva hasn’t signed his Steelers ERFA tender yet. As it stands now, Pittsburgh’s left tackle starter would be paid $615K this season. Villanueva profiles as an interesting case, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, noting the 28-year-old former Army Ranger is attending Carnegie-Mellon business school and could have options if an NFL career doesn’t unfold to his liking. Fowler also notes the Steelers won’t be keen on giving Villanueva more than high-end right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who makes $6.1MM per year. While the Steelers are in commanding position here due to ERFAs’ lack of leverage, Villaneuva obviously saw the going rate for steady tackles rise this offseason. The Steelers were working to extend their third-year left tackle starter in February, but Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the sides aren’t progressing on an extension. Gilbert believes Villanueva is “very deserving” of a new deal.
  • Jerick McKinnon has largely been forgotten in the Vikings‘ backfield competition this offseason, but the fourth-year back remains on the roster and has added some weight to his lighter (for an NFL running back) frame. The 5-foot-9 McKinnon bulked up to 211 pounds from 200 this offseason, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. That said, the Vikes signed Latavius Murray and used a second-round pick on Dalvin Cook. It’s likely McKinnon — a former college quarterback — will be the No. 3 back.

Browns Add Ryan Grigson To Front Office

The Browns have announced the hiring of former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson as a senior personnel executive. Grigson will report to vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry, who worked under Grigson in Indianapolis from 2012-15.

Ryan Grigson

“Ryan brings valuable experience to our personnel group,” said Browns GM Sashi Brown. “He was raised as a road-scout and has been evaluating talent in this league for almost 20 years. We place a premium on that experience and on his passion for football. Ryan has much to offer to any personnel department and we are pleased that he chose to join our staff.”

Grigson had been out of work since the Colts fired him in January, which ended a five-year run atop their football department. Grigson’s tenure in Indianapolis began with a flourish, as his first draft included the likes of Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen – all of whom helped the Colts win 11 games each year from 2012-14 and earn playoff berths. However, Grigson ultimately struggled to put enough talent around Luck, the crown jewel of the franchise, and had difficulty coexisting with head coach Chuck Pagano. Thanks in part to those factors, particularly the inability to support Luck, the Colts went .500 in each of the previous two seasons and owner Jim Irsay elected to part with Grigson.

Prior to his hiring in Indy, Grigson worked in scouting capacities with the Rams and Eagles from 1999-2011. He’ll return to that type of role with the Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Hired Psychologists For Grigson, Pagano

It had long been speculated that one or both of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson would be fired after the 2016 season, and although it took a little longer than expected, Grigson was relieved of his duties yesterday. Pagano, meanwhile, will reportedly keep his job for the 2017 season (though there are rumors that he, too, could be dismissed if he fails to deliver a championship to Indianapolis next year).

Jul 30, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano (left) talks to team president Ryan Grigson during training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports in a series of Twitter links, there was a significant rift between Pagano and Grigson by the time the 2015 season rolled around, and nothing improved in 2016. Holder says that, this past season, Pagano went into his “bunker” and Grigson went into his, and the dysfunction was such that it was surprising that anything got done.

Holder adds (via Twitter) that owner Jim Irsay went to great lengths over the past several weeks to sort out the issues with his club, and he apparently concluded that the best thing for the Colts was to “untie” Grigson and Pagano, who both joined the team in 2012. Holder observes in a full-length piece that Irsay did not mention any of Grigson’s personnel-related shortcomings when he outlined his reasons for making a change. Instead, he said, “I don’t think you guys understand and give Ryan enough credit for what he’s done here. I really don’t.”

Those statements led Holder to believe that it was the flaws in the Grigson-Pagano relationship that ultimately triggered Grigson’s dismissal, and a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter lends a great deal of support to that theory. As Schefter writes, the Colts brought in psychologists to help repair the relationship, and the primary focus was on ways Pagano and Grigson could improve their communication. Schefter added, “one person compared the meetings to a couple going to marriage counseling, hoping they could work out their issues with the help of a third party.”

Obviously, that innovative step did not work, as the differences between Grigson and Pagano proved to be irreconcilable.

We learned earlier today that interim GM Jimmy Raye III is currently viewed as the favorite to replace Grigson on a permanent basis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Fire GM Ryan Grigson

Jim Irsay‘s long wait regarding a commitment to his top decision-makers appears to be over. The Colts relieved GM Ryan Grigson of his duties today, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Grigson spent five seasons as Indianapolis’ GM, but Irsay had not given an indication despite the Colts being more than three weeks into their offseason that he would be back for 2017. The Colts announced Irsay will address the media later today.

Chuck Pagano is believed to be safe for the time being, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Irsay pulling the trigger on the Grigson ouster nearly three weeks after the season ended shouldn’t create any job security among Colts staffers. Regardless, Indianapolis’ offseason start will be delayed considerably because of this timing.

Irsay has been operating in secret attempting to hire a new GM and coach, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). La Canfora adds (via Twitter) the Colts think highly of vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III, who interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but did not make the list of finalists.

Irsay made some headlines last week when a report emerged he pursued both Jon Gruden and Peyton Manning for a coaching/front-office setup. That didn’t end up coming to fruition, but the owner’s frustration at the state of the franchise has produced a job casualty. Should Pagano return, he will certainly be on the hot seat. Both Grigson and Pagano were thought to be on the way out after an 8-8 season in 2015, but Irsay signed both to extensions instead in a development that surprised many.

Following their extensions, the Colts again missed the playoffs — this time with a full season of Andrew Luck‘s services. That had not happened since Luck arrived. The 2015 season featured just seven games of the Colts’ starting quarterback being healthy and could have been written off. But Indy repeating with an 8-8 record proved too much for the Irsay, who hadn’t seen his franchise miss consecutive AFC playoff brackets since the 1997-98 seasons.

The 44-year-old Indiana native was a first-time GM upon being hired to succeed Hall of Famer Bill Polian, and the Colts immediately rebounded from the 2-14 in 2011 with a run of playoff berths behind Luck. Indianapolis went 11-5 for the next three years, finishing each season one week later, peaking with the Deflategate-marred 2014 AFC championship game. Following the 2012 draft that included Luck and T.Y. Hilton, the Colts have not been able to acquire similar talent. None of Grigson’s 2013 draftees remain on the team, and the much-hyped 2015 veteran contingent added to potentially push the Colts to the Super Bowl largely did not pan out. Only Frank Gore excelled when given a key role upon being brought in along with Andre Johnson and Trent Cole.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Pursued Jon Gruden For Head Coaching Gig

It looks like the whispers were actually rooted in reality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Colts owner Jim Irsay pursued Jon Gruden for their head coaching job. The former NFL coach and current commentator “resisted overtures” from the organization and will be remaining with ESPN.

For what it’s worth, Gruden denied having any discussions with the Colts.

“I know nothing,” he told Schefter (Twitter link). “I’ve told people, I’m not coaching. I’m a broadcaster, I’m not a coach.”

Jon Gruden (vertical)Despite a report from earlier this week that the Colts were planning on retaining head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, rumors still persisted that the organization was eyeing some major changes. Longtime Indianapolis sports writer Bob Kravitz wrote that the organization was hoping to pair Gruden with former quarterback Peyton Manning, who would slide into a front office role. Kravitz was adamant that these were just rumors, noting that no moves were imminent. However, he also noted his belief that the organization did indeed reach out to both Gruden and Manning.

Pagano has an impressive 49-31 record during his five seasons in Indianapolis. The team finished 11-5 during each of Pagano’s first three seasons, but the squad hasn’t managed to finish above .500 since then. The team’s two-season playoff drought is the longest since the late 1990s. The team hasn’t made the Super Bowl since 2009, and Schefter tweets that the team’s pursuit of Gruden is an indication that Irsay will do whatever it takes to return the team to the promised land.

Gruden compiled a 95-81 record during his 11 seasons as an NFL head coach. Gruden helped return the Raiders to relevancy in the early 2000s, and he subsequently led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship in 2002. The 53-year-old lasted seven seasons in Tampa Bay before being fired following the 2009 campaign. Since then, Gruden has served in a variety of roles for ESPN, including color commentator for their Monday Night Football broadcasts.

Despite a report from last year that he might have interest in coaching quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts, Gruden has continually said that he has no interest in returning to the NFL.

I’ve said it a million times. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I have no intention of coaching,” Gruden said in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike back in December.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped teams from pursuing the former coach. The Rams were said to have had interest in the coach, and reports from last offseason indicated that Gruden had interest in the Eagles head coaching vacancy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts To Retain Chuck Pagano, Ryan Grigson

Bad news for Colts fans who were hoping for a change. The team will be bringing back coach Chuck Pagano, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (on Twitter). Meanwhile, we can expect the same for GM Ryan Grigson, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsChuck Pagano 2 (vertical)

Last month, owner Jim Irsay downplayed the possibility of a shakeup in the front office and on the sidelines.

“I would say it would be unlikely for any changes to occur, honestly. It’s unlikely, but look, we’ll see when we sit down and thoroughly vet the season,” Irsay said.

Pagano has a 49-31 record in his five seasons with the Colts. After starting off with three 11-5 seasons, the Colts have now finished .500 in the last two campaigns. The Colts aren’t fond of that trajectory, but the first five years of the Pagano/Andrew Luck regime has gone better than the first five years of Peyton Manning‘s career in Indianapolis under Jim Mora and Tony Dungy. Overall, Irsay feels that the team is still moving in the right direction.

Last January, Grigson was extended through the 2019 season, despite the team missing the playoffs in 2015. He’ll continue to work under that deal, but it sounds like 2017 will be a make-or-break year for both Grigson and Pagano.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/GM Notes, Pt. 1: Pagano, Payton, Kelly

We heard earlier today that Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is likely to step down while the Bears are expected to retain head coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace. Let’s take a look at some other coaching and GM rumors from around the league, which are so abundant that we will split this post into two parts. Part 2 can be found here.

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay has attempted to downplay the notion that head coach Chuck Pagano and/or GM Ryan Grigson are on the hot seat, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Irsay has been “very unhappy” with his team’s performance, and coaches within the organization believe that change is coming. It appears as if Pagano’s job is certainly in jeopardy, although it remains unclear whether Grigson could be fired as well. Irsay could not be reached for comment.
  • There is “mutual interest” between the Rams and Saints head coach Sean Payton, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who reports that the ball is in New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis‘ court. If Loomis decides he’s willing to part with Payton for moderate compensation, Payton would be the clear front-runner to take over in Los Angeles. And if the Saints do move on from Payton, Jaguars interim head coach Doug Marrone would be a strong candidate to replace him in New Orleans, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Marrone could also take over the Jacksonville job on a permanent basis.
  • The Jaguars will not, however, consider Chip Kelly, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.
  • La Canfora tweets out a list of names who could be in contention for the 49ers‘ GM job, a list that includes Louis Riddick, Scott Pioli, and George Paton. Meanwhile, San Francisco is said to be high on Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Dolphins DC Vance Joseph as head coaching candidates.
  • Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com tweets that Panthers DC Sean McDermott is lined up for multiple head coaching interviews.

AFC Notes: Colts, Patriots, Petty

There are plenty of pundits who expect the Colts to part ways with at least one of head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson at season’s end, but owner Jim Irsay has downplayed the notion of major changes, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Irsay said, “I would say it would be unlikely for any changes to occur, honestly. It’s unlikely, but look, we’ll see when we sit down and thoroughly vet the season.” One reason for Irsay’s hesitation is the fact that the first five year’s of the Pagano/Andrew Luck regime has gone better than the first five years of Peyton Manning‘s career in Indianapolis.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • DT Darius Kilgo may be on the Patriots‘ practice squad, but the Pats are not paying him that way. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe in a series of Twitter links, New England is paying Kilgo $30,882 per week, which gives him the same compensation he would have received under his original contract (the practice squad minimum is $6,900 per week). The team also guaranteed him $92,647, the equivalent of three weeks pay. As Volin observes, the team is attempting to “do right” by Kilgo, who was claimed off waivers from the Broncos when it looked like Alan Branch would be suspended, but who was cut and re-signed to the practice squad when Branch won his appeal.
  • The Patriots have until Wednesday to activate quarterback Jacoby Brissett to their active roster, or he will revert to injured reserve and be lost for the season. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots do plan to activate Brissett but that they are waiting until the last possible moment to do so because they do not have an obvious corresponding roster move to make. We had previously heard that the team was expected to activate Brissett on Friday.
  • Cyrus Jones has had a disappointing rookie year for the Patriots, but the second-round selection out of Alabama is not going anywhere, as Volin writes in a separate piece. Jones, who was coveted for his return skills, has been a disaster as a return man this season, and he hasn’t fared much better as a corner. But even if he does not get much playing time the rest of the season, Jones will get the chance to right the ship in 2017.
  • Jets quarterback Bryce Petty was knocked out of last night’s loss to Miami, and initial reports suggested that he had the wind knocked out him. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reports that Petty will have a CT scan on Monday to determine if he has a punctured lung.
  • The injury that landed Jaguars TE Julius Thomas on IR was a fractured tailbone, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The Jags could save $4.7MM against the cap if they were to cut Thomas, who has disappointed since Jacksonville made him the highest-paid tight end in the game last March.
  • One reason for the Raiders‘ success this season is the fact that they have done such a good job at getting contributions from undrafted free agents. As Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com observes, Oakland started the season with four undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster, and now have seven on the active roster. That list includes players like Jalen Richard, Johnny Holton, and Marquette King.