Chargers Rumors

TE Hunter Henry Discusses Free Agency, Chargers

Hunter Henry could be in line for a significant pay day this offseason, as the 26-year-old will headline the class of free agent tight ends. Like any free agent, Henry is naturally looking to secure a lucrative contract in free agency, but the five-year veteran admitted that he’ll also be valuing his suitors’ quarterback situations.

“Obviously, you’ve got to look at it financially,” Henry said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Twitter). “That’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s all about that.

“I want to play somewhere there’s a good quarterback. That’s huge for our position … Playing with a good quarterback always makes things better. You got to look at both. You got to look at some of the financial stuff, but not dive too deep into it that you go chasing it because I also want to play with a good quarterback.”

Of course, some would naturally point to Henry’s incumbent team as a match. Justin Herbert had a standout rookie season, and Henry benefited by hauling in 60 receptions for 613 yards and four touchdowns. Henry noted his connection with Herbert, and he said he’d welcome a return to Los Angeles.

“I really enjoyed my time here, so I’m not going to ever rule that out,” Henry explained. “With a young quarterback, me and Justin have formed a relationship. But I think I’m open to whatever, and I kind of have to [be], in a way. But I’ve really enjoyed my time, and if that continues, I’ll be excited. If it doesn’t, then that will be a new step.”

Due to his lack of consistency and previous injury concerns, Henry will have a tough time reaching the average annual values of fellow tight ends George Kittle ($15MM) and Travis Kelce ($14.3MM). However, after being slapped with the franchise tag last offseason, Henry still ranked third in AVV at $10.6MM (a number that would climb if he’s franchised a second time). Austin Hooper managed to secure a four-year, $42MM deal last offseason ($10.5MM AAV), and that would be a logical financial framework for Henry’s next contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Lead NFL In Salary Cap Carryover

Earlier today, the NFL Players Association announced (via Twitter) the salary cap carryover amounts for all 32 NFL teams for the 2021 season. Effectively, teams are able to rollover their unused cap from the previous season. So, when the 2021 salary cap numbers become official, they can be added to each team’s carryover amount to determine that individual club’s official cap for 2021.

This follows news from earlier today that the NFL has raised its salary cap floor to $180MM for 2021. This total could clue us in to the salary cap maximum, which could end up landing north of $190MM. The salary cap was $198.2MM for the 2020 campaign.

As the NFLPA detailed, the league will rollover $315.1MM from the 2020 season, an average of $9.8MM per team. The Browns lead the league with a whopping $30.4MM, and they’re the only team in the top-five to make the playoffs. The NFC East ($68.8MM) and AFC East ($65.3MM) are the two divisions will the largest carryover amounts.

The full list is below:

  • Cleveland Browns: $30.4MM
  • New York Jets: $26.7MM
  • Dallas Cowboys: $25.4MM
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: $23.5MM
  • Philadelphia Eagles: $22.8MM
  • New England Patriots: $19.6MM
  • Denver Broncos: $17.8MM
  • Washington Football Team: $15.8MM
  • Miami Dolphins: $15.2MM
  • Detroit Lions: $12.8MM
  • Cincinnati Bengals: $10.8MM
  • Houston Texans: $9.2MM
  • Indianapolis Colts: $8.3MM
  • Los Angeles Chargers: $8.1MM
  • Chicago Bears: $7MM
  • Los Angeles Rams: $5.7MM
  • Kansas City Chiefs: $5.1MM
  • Arizona Cardinals: $5MM
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: $5MM
  • New York Giants: $4.8MM
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $4.6MM
  • Minnesota Vikings: $4.5MM
  • Carolina Panthers: $4.3MM
  • New Orleans Saints: $4.1MM
  • Buffalo Bills: $3.8MM
  • Green Bay Packers: $3.7MM
  • Las Vegas Raiders: $3.6MM
  • Tennessee Titans: $2.3MM
  • San Francisco 49ers: $1.9MM
  • Atlanta Falcons: $1.8MM
  • Seattle Seahawks: $956K
  • Baltimore Ravens: $587K

Former Chargers, Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson Dies

Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson was found dead in a hotel room Monday in Brandon, Florida, Josh Benson of WFLA reports (on Twitter). He was 38.

Jackson checked into the hotel Jan. 11 and had stayed there for weeks, but WFLA adds he was reported missing on Feb. 10. Authorities spoke with Jackson on Saturday. A housekeeper at the hotel found him dead around 11:30am ET Monday. No cause of death has been reported. Deputies did not discover any signs of trauma, according to WFLA.

A former Chargers second-round pick, Jackson starred in the NFL for over a decade. He played 12 seasons with the Bolts and Buccaneers. In six of those, the 6-foot-5 wideout surpassed 1,000 receiving yards. Despite being a Division I-FCS product, Jackson made three Pro Bowls and was one of the league’s better receivers for most of his career.

Jackson’s career ran from 2005-16. In 2018, he was said to be “very happily retired” after a decorated career. For four straight years, Jackson won the Bucs’ Man of the Year award. He signed with Tampa Bay in 2012 and played five seasons with the team.

The Bolts drafted Jackson out of Northern Colorado in 2005. They did not use him much as a rookie, but the small-school product stepped into a key role for the contending Chargers a year later and joined Antonio Gates as the team’s top pass catchers for the next several seasons. Jackson was a key player for the Charger teams that won four straight AFC West titles from 2006-09. Jackson held out in 2010 but reported in-season to preserve an accrued year toward free agency. Ten years ago today, the Chargers franchise-tagged him. A year later, Jackson signed a five-year, $55.5MM deal with the Bucs. Jackson played out that contract.

Jackson posted his final three 1,000-yard campaigns as a member of the Bucs, doing so despite lacking the quarterback stability he enjoyed with Philip Rivers. Jackson wrapped his run as a pro by forming one of the more physically imposing receiving duos in NFL history, with Mike Evans joining him in Tampa in 2014. Both Jackson and Evans eclipsed 1,000 yards that year. For his career, Jackson finished with 540 catches for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chargers Extend HC Anthony Lynn

Oh, how much can change in a year. On this date literally last year, the Chargers officially signed head coach Anthony Lynn to a one-year extension that would keep him in Los Angeles through the 2021 season. If you’ve been following along at home since the end of the regular season, Lynn is no longer the head coach of the Chargers.

Let’s recap where the Chargers were on February 13, 2020. The team was coming off an ugly 5-11 campaign, the worst record of Lynn’s (then) three seasons with the team. Naturally, the head coach found himself on the hot seat, but the organization quickly killed that narrative by handing Lynn a one-year extension. The vote of confidence made a bit of sense; Lynn had some success during his first two years at the helm, guiding the Chargers to a 21-11 record and a playoff victory. Plus, as GM Tom Telesco noted following the 2019 season, the team’s abysmal play shouldn’t have been attributed to coaching. Rather, the 2019 Chargers dealt with a long list of injuries and inconsistent quarterback play from Philip Rivers.

Of course, in hindsight, the one-year extension should have been the writing on the wall. If the organization was truly committed to their head coach, they would have given him a lengthier extension. Instead, they effectively made the 2020 campaign a “prove-it” season for Lynn (or, if the organization hadn’t ultimately fired him, they basically just delayed his lame-duck status for one year). In other words, the front office was clearly already preparing for a potential coaching change when they handed Lynn his extension last year.

The Chargers would get off to a brutal 3-9 start to begin the 2020 campaign, with six of those losses being decided by less than a touchdown. Naturally, those close losses landed on the lap of the head coach. Despite a four-game winning streak to end the season and incredible play from rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, Lynn was fired by the Chargers back in January.

It didn’t take long for Lynn to find another gig. After discussing a role with the Seahawks, the 52-year-old ended up joining the Lions as the offensive coordinator on Dan Campbell‘s new staff. The Chargers pivoted to a defensive-minded coach to replace Lynn, hiring Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to be the 17th head coach in franchise history.

On this date in 2020, maybe there was some optimism that Lynn could end up sticking around in Los Angeles (although the comment section of our article tells a different story). In reality, it was a clear sign that the Chargers were already planning for a future with a different head coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey, Chargers’ Mike Pouncey, Retire From NFL

Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey have retired from football. The Pouncey twins made the announcement on Friday, via Maurkice’s longtime teammate Ramon Foster (Twitter link).

It’s my honor that my brothers from another asked me to announce the next stage in their life. After over a decade Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey are retiring from the NFL,” Foster tweeted.

They came into the world together and they’re leaving the NFL together, but they actually turned pro in separate years. Maurkice entered the league in 2010 when the Steelers drafted him No. 18 overall. In 2011, the Dolphins tapped Mike with the No. 15 selection. They both went on to enjoy long careers as starting interior linemen, playing predominantly in the middle.

Maurkice spent his whole 11-year career with the Steelers and earned a reputation as one of the game’s best centers. He leaves the sport with nine Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections. Mike, meanwhile, was limited to nine seasons by injury, but still managed five Pro Bowl appearances.

We began this journey at 6 years old and now, at 31, we will close this chapter of our lives.” Mike wrote. “I am thankful for everything football has taught me and everywhere it has taken me! Dream big, kids, because [dreams] do come true..Never be afraid to make a mistake, learn from them, and fix it!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marty Schottenheimer Passes Away At 77

Longtime NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer passed away at the age of 77, as ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen tweets. Schottenheimer, who spent 21 years in the league, has been battling Alzheimer’s for the past six years.

Schottenheimer served as a head coach for the Browns, Chiefs, Chargers, and the Washington Football Team. All together, he compiled a regular season record of 200-126-1. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who spent five years under Schottenheimer in San Diego, praised Schottenheimer as the best head coach he ever had.

I never went into a game with Marty as coach feeling like I wasn’t fully prepared to win,” Tomlinson said (via ESPN.com). “He really wanted you to understand every detail of the game plan..I will remember him more for the life lessons that he taught me.”

Schottenheimer last coached in 2006, leading the Chargers to a 14-2 regular season record. Though his teams never reached the Super Bowl, he was a highly-respected football mind and mentor throughout his career. His coaching tree spawned the likes of Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Mike McCarthy, and Bruce Arians, who is fresh off of a dominant championship victory. Meanwhile, his son, Brian Schottenheimer, has been coaching in the league for more than two decades. Just last week, Brian signed on for his latest position with the Jaguars’ staff.

Packers To Hire Joe Barry As DC

The Packers have identified Mike Pettine‘s defensive coordinator successor. They intend to hire Joe Barry, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

This will continue a busy offseason for Barry, who made a previous move in going from the Rams to the Chargers. Barry spent four seasons with the Rams, coaching with Matt LaFleur in 2017, but agreed to follow Brandon Staley to the Chargers last month. Those plans will change.

After Jim Leonhard indicated he will stay on as Wisconsin’s DC, the Packers job came down to Barry and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. It appears Leonhard was the favorite for the position, Silverstein adds (on Twitter), with Barry and Evero being the top backup options. Both were Rams staffers from 2017-20, with Evero still on Sean McVay‘s staff. Barry previously agreed to bolt with Staley and become the Chargers’ defensive passing-game coordinator.

Barry brings defensive coordinator experience to Green Bay, but his previous units mostly struggled. Barry worked as the Lions’ DC from 2007-08. Both seasons ended with Detroit’s defense ranking last in points and yards allowed, with the second ignominiously concluding with an 0-16 record. Barry resurfaced as a coordinator in Washington from 2015-16. While both those defenses landed just inside the top 20 in points allowed, each ranked 28th in total defense. Washington fired Barry after the 2016 season.

The Rams interviewed Barry for their DC post last year, but Staley wound up landing the job. Barry will be tasked with elevating a Packers defense that has come up short in big spots in the past two postseasons. The Packers ranked first in offensive DVOA but 17th on defense. Each of Green Bay’s coordinators is now a LaFleur hire, with Pettine being held over from Mike McCarthy‘s final Packers season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Joe Barry, Chris Harris, Ejiro Evero On Packers’ DC Radar

The Packers will soon replace Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator, and some early candidates emerged Sunday night. Green Bay plans to interview or already has met with new Chargers defensive passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

Matt LaFleur has ties to two of these assistants. Barry, who served as Washington’s defensive coordinator from 2015-20, was with LaFleur in Los Angeles during the 2017 season. The Chargers just hired Barry from L.A., where he spent the past four seasons as the Rams’ linebackers coach. Barry interviewed for the Rams’ DC post last year, one Brandon Staley landed, and committed to follow Staley to the Chargers earlier this month.

Also overlapping with LaFleur in 2017, Evero has been on Sean McVay‘s staff throughout his tenure. He has served as Los Angeles’ safeties coach since McVay’s 2017 arrival. This marks his first known opportunity to interview for a defensive coordinator job. Evero leaving L.A. would continue a mass exodus of Rams coaches and staffers. The young assistant has a brief history with the Packers, having served as a quality control staffer with the franchise in 2016.

Harris was up for the Eagles’ DC position, but Nick Sirianni opted to hire ex-Colts coworker Jonathan Gannon for the post. Harris spent last season as Washington’s DBs coach. The former NFL safety spent the previous four seasons with the Chargers, working as their assistant secondary coach.

The Packers ended Pettine’s three-year DC tenure late this week. The former Browns HC declined an extension last year and saw his contract expire. He was a holdover from Mike McCarthy‘s final Green Bay staff. However LaFleur proceeds with Pettine’s replacement, his staff will now include three coordinators he hired.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Chargers, Steelers, Ravens, Taylor, Marrone

After adding Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator and Renaldo Hill as defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley has found the coach who will lead his special teams unit. The Chargers announced this evening that they’ve hired Derius Swinton as their special teams coordinator.

The 35-year-old has made his way up the coaching ranks over the past decade-plus, spending time with the Rams, Chiefs, Broncos, Bears, 49ers, Lions, and Cardinals. He served as San Francisco’s special teams coordinator in 2016, and he helped the 49ers improve their kickoff return average by nearly six yards that season.

We’ve already heard of some other additions to the Chargers’ coaching staff. The team added Joe Barry as their defensive passing game coordinator, and they’ve hired Frank Smith to be their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes…

  • Today, the Steelers officially announced the promotion of Matt Canada to offensive coordinator. Canada served as quarterbacks coach during the 2020 season, and Ben Roethlisberger finished with one of the lowest interception rates (1.6) and sack totals (13) of his career. As Teresa Varley of Steelers.com points out, Canada helped implement jet sweeps and pre-snap motions to the Steelers’ offense.
  • The Ravens have added D’Anton Lynn as their new defensive backs coach, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley (via Twitter). The 31-year-old previously spent time on the Jets, Bills, Chargers, and Texans coaching staff, and he earned a promotion to Houston’s defensive backs coach for the 2020 campaign.
  • Press Taylor won’t be back in Philly next season. Mike Kaye of NJ.com reports (via Twitter) that the Eagles won’t be retaining their quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator. The 33-year-old had been with the organization since the 2013 season, and after serving as QBs coach in 2018 and 2019, he took on the additional role of passing game coordinator in 2020. The Eagles passing game was dreadful this past season, ranking either 31st or 32nd in the NFL in passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interceptions.
  • Doug Marrone is joining the Alabama coaching staff as offensive line coach, per a team announcement. Marrone, of course, spent the past four seasons as the Jaguars head coach, including a 2017 campaign that saw him make the AFC Championship. The 56-year-old has plenty of familiarity with new Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, as the two coaches worked alongside each other during their stints with Georgia Tech back in the 1990s.