Ryan Lindley

Browns Hire Todd Monken, Steve Wilks

The Browns’ coaching staff is officially set. On Monday, the Browns officially announced the hiring of Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator and Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator. In addition to those hires, the club appointed Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator, Stump Mitchell as the running backs coach/run game coordinator, James Campen as offensive line coach/associate head coach, and Ryan Lindley as quarterbacks coach.

Monken has a reputation for savvy play calling, even though Buccaneers’ offense was inconsistent in 2018. The Bucs didn’t consider him as a potential replacement for head coach Dirk Koetter, but other clubs were eager to talk with him. The Bengals, Packers, and Jets all interviewed him for their head coaching vacancies and several clubs showed keen interest in bringing him on as their new OC. Ultimately, Monken chose the Browns, who offer tremendous potential and a potential star quarterback in Baker Mayfield.

Wilks was one-and-done as the Cardinals’ head coach after the team limped to a 3-13 record. His defense did not perform up to par in Arizona, but he built a reputation for himself as a smart defensive mind in Carolina. In his six seasons with the Panthers (five as defensive backs coach, one as DC), the club finished with a top 10 defense five times.

AFC Coaching Notes: Bengals, Browns, Broncos

When the Rams’ postseason run comes to a close, the Bengals are expected to offer quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor their head coaching position. With the expected move, Cincinnati cleaned house on Friday, dismissing the previous staff of Marvin Lewis, including offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, ESPN’s Katherine Terrell writes. Among the other assistants let go include running backs coach Kyle Caskey and tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes.

This move, of course, is not unexpected. Most head coaches will bring in their own guys and Taylor — or whoever ends up with the job — is no exception.

A longtime NFL assistant, Lazor began his tenure with the Falcons as an offensive quality control coach in 2003 before moving to the Redskins as an offensive assistant in 2004. After a handful of other jobs, including a stint in the college ranks with Virginia, Lazor landed the offensive coordinator role with the Dolphins in 2014. After serving there two seasons, he joined the Bengals as quarterbacks coach in 2016 and was promoted to offensive coordinator the following season. In two seasons running the show in Cincinnati, Lazor ranked in the bottom 10 in yards and bottom half in points both seasons.

Here’s more from the AFC’s coaching carousel:

  • Sticking in the AFC North, Browns new head coach Freddie Kitchens cleaned house after getting the job. Once person he didn’t let go, however, was Ryan Lindley, who will serve as his quarterbacks coach next season, AZCardinals.com’s Mike Jurecki tweets. Lindley, who played in the NFL from 2012-15 as a quarterback, served as the Browns running backs coach in 2018.
  • Also with the Browns, the team added former Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as its special teams coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero [Twitter link]. Priefer filled the same role in Minnesota from 2011-18, but declined to re-sign with the team after his contract expired after this past season. Priefer was born in Cleveland and coached two seasons at nearby Youngstown State in the 1990s.
  • New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is bringing back special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, News9 in Denver’s Mike Klis tweets. McMahon concluded his 12th season in the NFL this past season, his first as special teams coordinator with the Broncos. He previously held the same position with the Colts, Chiefs and Rams.

Browns To Part Ways With Several Coaches

Although the Browns kept a key part of their 2018 late-season setup in place, promoting Freddie Kitchens to head coach, they are going to be looking for a largely new staff.

In addition to letting interim HC Gregg Williams go, the Browns are ending the Cleveland tenures of several coaches, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Among them are quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, special teams coordinator Amos Jones, offensive line coach Bob Wylie, tight ends coach Greg Seamon and special teams assistant Josh Cribbs. The Browns, as could be expected, will ax linebackers coach (and late-season play-caller) Blake Williams, Cabot notes.

Expected to stay are wideouts coach Adam Henry and DBs coach DeWayne Walker, Cabot adds, with running backs coach Ryan Lindley — a Cardinals quarterback during Kitchens’ time as Arizona’s QBs coach — could remain as well.

This Browns team lost fewer games than the franchise had since its 2007 season, but the Kitchens regime will involve many new faces at the Berea, Ohio, facility. This should not be incredibly surprising, considering these assistants arrived during Hue Jackson‘s tenure.

Jones finished his first season as ST coordinator, while Zampese took the QBs job last year as well. He’d previously served as the Bengals’ OC before being fired early in the 2017 season. Seamon served on all three Jackson staffs, finishing his tenure under Gregg Williams. Wylie, of Hard Knocks fame, came to Cleveland in 2017 after a CFL stint. Known obviously for his special teams brilliance in Cleveland, Cribbs broke into coaching this season.

Also let go: assistant DBs coach Jerod Kruse, offensive assistant Bob Saunders, assistant offensive line coach Mark Hutson and quality control coaches Brian Braswell and Eric Sanders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Tate, Packers, Browns, Burns

The Lions are only one game out of the NFC North lead, but they nonetheless made the decision to trade their most productive wide receiver since Calvin Johnson to the Eagles. Golden Tate is now in Philadelphia, and some Lions staffers are “very surprised” about that transaction, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. This led Breer to wonder if there was a conflict between Tate and the Lions, and a team source informed him that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Eagles’ offer of a third-round pick for a player who was likely on his way out after 2018 was too good to pass up. Tate would have netted the Lions a compensatory pick had he left in free agency, but that selection would’ve come in the 2020 draft. Now, Detroit has an additional Day 2 pick in 2019. Tate’s departure, though, makes any Lions playoff hopes less likely.

Several of the North divisions’ teams made moves before the trade deadline. Here’s more fallout from some others, along with the latest from some other North franchises:

  • Ty Montgomery‘s fumble on Sunday in Los Angeles didn’t just prompt non-essential Packers to anonymously gripe about the mistake. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes respected veterans called out the since-traded running back/return man. That, coupled with Montgomery not accepting full responsibility for his mistake and publicly expressing trust issues with teammates, signaled the Packers had to move on from the former third-round pick, per Silverstein. Montgomery stands to finish out his contract year with the Ravens.
  • The Packers were not happy about the way Ha Ha Clinton-Dix‘s 2017 season ended, with Silverstein writing Green Bay brass believed the 2014 first-round pick avoided tackles in the season finale against the Lions. This helped influence the Packers’ decision to not enter contract talks with Clinton-Dix prior to the 2018 season. While this tactic isn’t uncommon for the Packers, who let established starters Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, Sam Shields and others play out their contract years before re-signing them, it led Clinton-Dix to believe he wasn’t going to be back next season. Hence, the trade to Washington. GM Brian Gutekunst, however, said (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky) these trades weren’t meant as a message for the locker room.
  • As far as replacing Clinton-Dix, the Packers have some interesting options. One NFC scout told Silverstein their best choice might be to move recently added cornerback Bashaud Breeland to safety and play him in tandem with Jermaine Whitehead. Kentrell Brice served as Clinton-Dix’s safety running mate this season. A four-year Redskins starter, Breeland has not played a snap for the Packers yet. Another option, as Demovsky details, would be to play 2017 second-rounder Josh Jones. He’s worked as a special-teamer thus far. Tramon Williams could be an option as well, so Green Bay is not lacking in possible solutions.
  • The Browns named former Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley as their running backs coach today. This is interesting on multiple levels. The 29-year-old now-coach’s highest level of experience came as a San Diego State graduate assistant. Lindley, though, played under new Browns OC Freddie Kitchens with the Cardinals when Kitchens was their QBs coach.
  • Artie Burns did not play a snap in the Steelers‘ win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin said he benched the former first-round cornerback because he was late for a walkthrough, but Burns said Wednesday (via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) he was back with the starters at practice. Coty Sensabaugh started in place of Burns in Week 8.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/2/17

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Steelers announced that they’ve signed long snapper Greg Warren to a one-year deal. While there’s word on the financial details, Warren has signed a minimum salary benefit contract in each of the past few offseasons, so it’s fair to assume he’s agreed to a similar pact. Warren, 35, has served as Pittsburgh’s long snapper since 2005, and has played in 180 career games.
  • The Steelers weren’t done inking new deals with special teamers, as the club has also agreed to a one-year contract with exclusive rights free agent Chris Boswell, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. As an ERFA, Boswell lacked the ability to negotiate with any other teams unless Pittsburgh waived its rights of first refusal. Acting as the Steelers’ placekicker for the past two seasons, the 25-year-old Boswell has managed an 87.7% career success rate on field goals, and converted all of his extra point attempts in 2016.
  • Former NFL quarterback Ryan Lindley announced (via Twitter) that he’s signed with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. Lindley, 27, started six regular season games in two seasons with the Cardinals, and was memorably under center during Arizona’s 2014 playoff contest. After a brief stint with the Colts in 2015, Lindley was out of the league last year.
  • The Jets have agreed to sign former Sacramento State long snapper Josh Latham, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Tanner Purdum is New York’s current long snapper.

Colts Waive Ryan Lindley

The Colts have reduced their quarterback depth chart by one, announcing today in a press release that they’ve cut Ryan Lindley. The 26-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent this week if he clears waivers.Ryan Lindley

Given the opportunity to play briefly for the Colts in the final week of the regular season, Lindley completed six of 10 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Prior to that game, his only regular-season experience had come during his time as a Cardinal. Lindley started six regular season games over the course of three seasons for Arizona, and also started a playoff game for the team a little over a year ago.

Lindley was one of two quarterbacks signed by the Colts prior to their Week 17 game, when Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, and Charlie Whitehurst were all battling injuries. Unlike Lindley, Josh Freeman – the other quarterback signed during Week 17 – remains on Indianapolis’ roster, and could have an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 job in 2016.

Outside of Luck, the Colts currently only have Freeman and former Jaguars Stephen Morris under contract at the QB position. Hasselbeck and Whitehurst are both eligible for free agency next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Jaguars, Babineaux, Colts

The Jaguars became the first NFL team of the offseason to officially part ways with its defensive coordinator today, announcing that Bob Babich won’t return in 2016. With Babich no longer in the picture, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union has seven suggestions for potential replacements, including former head coaches Jim Schwartz and Mike Smith.

As we wait to see which direction Jacksonville goes for its DC opening, let’s check in on a few more items out of the NFL’s South divisions….

  • An elite free safety would be a welcome addition to the Jaguars‘ defense, but GM David Caldwell suggested today that finding one could be even harder than finding a franchise quarterback, as John Oehser of Jaguars.com tweets.
  • Falcons veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who just completed his eleventh season, says that he still has more football left in him, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. “Maybe one to two [years left]. My goal always was to get to 12 and decide if I wanted to continue or retire then. I know I have a few more years left in me,” he said. Babineaux is signed through next season.
  • The Colts have late-season additions Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley signed through the 2016 season, so they plan on bringing back both quarterbacks in the offseason and evaluating them, tweets Mike Chappell of CBS4.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Workout Notes: 12/30/15

Here are Wednesday’s workouts from around the NFL:

  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Devon Still, receivers Marcus Thigpen and Eric Rogers, linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive end/LB Tristan Okpalaugo (Twitter links via ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
  • The Cardinals tried out center Taylor Boggs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The Bills worked out defensive end/linebacker Xzavier Dickson, Wilson tweeted. Dickson ended up joining Atlanta’s practice squad.
  • The Bengals worked out quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end John Peters, per Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Browns tried out quarterback Dustin Vaughan, running back Timothy Flanders, receivers Eric Rogers, Ricky Collins and Levi Norwood, and safety Jordan Kovacs (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Quarterback Ryan Lindley, defensive linemen Warren Herring and Eze Obiora, and linebacker Ryan Mueller worked out for the Colts, according to Wilson (Twitter link). They signed Lindley afterward.
  • The Giants worked out linebackers Cole Farrand and Glenn Carson – the latter of whom they signed to their practice squad – quarterback Pete Thomas, safety Ty Zimmerman, punter Spencer Roth and kicker Quinn Sharp (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • The Steelers tried out two safeties, Ray Vinopal and Jake Hagen, and linebacker Marquis Spruill (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Chargers worked out receiver Jeff Fuller, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and linebacker Dexter McCoil, Wilson tweeted.
  • The Titans worked out receiver Kenny Stafford, defensive end Freddie Bishop, defensive backs Aaron Grymes, Steven Clarke and Emanuel Davis, long snapper Dax Dellenbach and kicker Swayze Waters (Twitter link via Wilson).

Colts Sign Josh Freeman, Ryan Lindley

4:07pm: The Colts have gotten back up to the 53-man roster limit by signing another quarterback, Ryan Lindley, the team announced in a press release. The move gives Indianapolis five signal-callers in total on its roster, including three healthy QBs, and gives the team another option for this Sunday.

2:39pm: The Colts have filled two openings on their 53-man roster, announcing today that they’ve signed quarterback Josh Freeman and promoted inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera from their practice squad. The team created two open spots on Monday by placing quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and guard Hugh Thornton on the injured reserve list, and created one more today by also sending linebacker Josh McNary to IR.

Since starting his career with the Buccaneers and then spending a little time in 2013 in Minnesota, Freeman has not appeared in a regular season game or even spent any real time on a club’s in-season roster. Most recently, he played for the Dolphins this summer and then joined the FXFL’s Brooklyn Bolts in the fall.

After working out for the Colts on Monday, Freeman becomes the second healthy quarterback on the roster, joining Stephen Morris. Assuming Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck are unable to play this weekend, as is expected, either Freeman or Morris – who was signed off the Eagles’ practice squad last Thursday – will have to start for Indianapolis in its regular season finale.

We’ll have to wait and see whether Freeman gets a shot to play in Week 17, and if he’s a part of the Colts’ plans for 2016 at all.

Workout Notes: Broncos, Moore, Thomas

Earlier today, we learned that former first-round pick Phil Taylor is auditioning for the Vikings. However, he’s not the only notable player to show his stuff for an NFL team this week. Here’s the full rundown:

  • The Broncos auditioned wide receivers DeVier Posey, Greg Little, and Denarius Moore plus running back Daniel Thomas, according to PFT (on Twitter). Moore didn’t have a single reception during his time with the Bills this year and he was cut loose in late November. He worked out for the Packers on December 1st, but nothing came of that tryout.
  • The Broncos also worked out tight end/fullback Manasseh Garner today, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Tight end Nick Kasa and quarterback Ryan Lindley also showed their stuff for the Broncos, as Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The Panthers worked out former Chiefs first-round pick wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Panthers also auditioned wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Baldwin, the 26th overall pick of the 2011 draft, has 44 career receptions for 607 yards, mostly with the Chiefs.
  • The Cardinals will work out Edmonton Eskimos corner Aaron Grymes today, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Grymes was a CFL All-Star this past season, intercepting four passes and even returned one for a touchdown. In three seasons with the Eskimos, Grymes has eight interceptions total.