Scott Tolzien

Cowboys Make Staff Changes

In announcing their coaching staff, the Cowboys revealed more new names coming to join Mike McCarthy in his first season.

Although this offseason featured a few ex-Cowboys assistants going to New York to follow Jason Garrett, McCarthy hired former Giants staffer Lunda Wells to be his tight ends coach. Wells joins assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko and first-year coach Scott Tolzien as the latest additions to McCarthy’s first Dallas staff.

However, the most notable move may be a holdover changing roles. Doug Nussmeier will move from tight ends coach to leading the Cowboys’ quarterbacks.

This marks a notable promotion for the two-year tight ends coach, but this new position will mark a return to the kind of responsibilities the longtime college assistant enjoyed. Nussmeier served as QBs coach and offensive coordinator at several major college programs — Washington, Alabama, Michigan and Florida among them — from 2009-17. In between, he served as the Rams’ QBs coach under Scott Linehan from 2006-07. Linehan helped bring Nussmeier to Dallas before the 2018 season.

The Cowboys retained Kellen Moore as their OC, and Nussmeier’s role with the franchise grew last year after the team transitioned from Linehan to Moore in that job. Nussmeier was also a candidate to be Dallas’ OC. His rise within the organization continues, with McCarthy tabbing Moore and Nussmeier to be his top voices on the offensive side of the ball. Nussmeier, 49, will replace Jon Kitna as QBs coach.

Set to move into Nussmeier’s previous role, Wells spent the past eight seasons with the Giants — seven of those coaching Big Blue’s offensive line or tight ends. Blasko worked under James Campen in Cleveland last year. Blasko worked with McCarthy in Green Bay.

Given starts with the Packers and Colts, prior to a stay in the Alliance of American Football, Tolzien will transition to coaching. The 32-year-old ex-quarterback spent three seasons with McCarthy in Green Bay before moving to Indianapolis to be one of Andrew Luck‘s backups in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Christian Hackenberg Signs With AAF

Former Jets second-round pick Christian Hackenberg has agreed to play for the Alliance of American Football, according to an announcement from the league. He’ll be joined by quarterback Scott Tolzien, wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers, safety Rahim Moore, linebacker Steven Johnson, and tight end Wes Saxton, the AAF says. 

The AAF will kick off in February, meaning that Hackenberg has likely exhausted all present options in the NFL. Hackenberg never saw the field in his two seasons with the Jets and failed to hook on with the Raiders after an offseason trade brought him to Oakland. After that, he lasted only a few weeks on the Eagles’ 90-man roster and his stint on the Bengals’ practice squad ended when he was released earlier this month.

Hackenberg became Penn State’s all-time leader in passing yards (8,457) and touchdowns (48) after three years on campus. His stats did not jump off of the page and he completed just 53.5% of his passes in his final collegiate season, but NFL teams were enamored by his size and pro-style experience in 2016. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan reached for him at No. 51 overall and that gamble never paid off.

AAF contracts probably include an out clause for NFL offers, so Hackenberg and the league’s other players could conceivably get back into the NFL in the second half of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts To Start Jacoby Brissett At QB

The Colts are planning on starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Sunday against the Cardinals, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Scott Tolzien, who started for the Colts in Week 1, will head to the bench. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) hears that Brissett was actually informed of the team’s decision on Monday. Jacoby Brissett (vertical)

The Colts were criticized this offseason for not upgrading their backup QB situation. Right around the 53-man cutdown deadline, the Colts acquired Brissett from the Patriots in exchange for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Brissett was supposed to be Tolzien’s backup while Andrew Luck recovered from injury, but Tolzien’s putrid performance in the season opener has vaulted Brissett into the starting job.

Earlier this week, Colts coach Chuck Pagano admitted that he was thinking about starting Brissett.

He’s got a sense of calm to him, poise,” Pagano said of Brissett. “Obviously, you love his physical traits, he’s a big man. He can see over things. … Been there before, so obviously it’s not too big.”

Tolzien went 9-of-18 in the season opener for 128 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked four times. Brissett was called in at the end and completed two of three passes for 51 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Andrew Luck’s Timetable

The Colts made it official that Andrew Luck won’t be on the field for them Sunday in Week 1, making the game against the Rams the franchise’s first opener without its franchise passer since 2011.

However, Luck is not exactly a lock to return to the field in time for Week 2, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The NFL insider adds the rest of September is not certain for Luck, reporting some believe this absence will extend into October.

The Colts are exercising extreme caution with Luck in hopes of not having to see the quarterback go through right shoulder trouble again, Rapoport reports, adding there is perhaps a “strong possibility” Scott Tolzien receives more than one start and possibly more than two or three. Mike Wells of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) Luck is still without a timetable for a return to practice.

Being removed from the PUP list would point to Luck returning at some point early in the season, but Indy’s September slate — which features a trip to Los Angeles and home tilts against the Browns and Cardinals — could feature a Tolzien-fronted operation. Luck has been out since January because of shoulder surgery.

In Luck’s 10 games out of the lineup over the past two years, the Colts are 6-4. But the since-retired Matt Hasselbeck was responsible for five of those victories.

Peyton Manning Not An Option For Vikings

Peyton Manning has no interest in coming out of retirement to play for the Vikings, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Presumably, Manning wouldn’t re-enter the league to quarterback any club given that he left the NFL on top, but Minnesota is in especially dire straits after Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL and suffered knee damage earlier today."<strong

While Manning isn’t an option for the Vikings, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link) throws out Colts backup quarterback Scott Tolzien as a potential trade target for Minnesota given that offensive coordinator Norv Turner was (at one point) a fan of Tolzien. Turner has never coached Tolzien, so it’s possible that the veteran play-caller liked Tolzien’s college tape. However, a trade is unlikely at this point, per Marvez.

As it currently stands, the Vikings have veteran Shaun Hill on the depth chart. Hill offers experience, but he is an uninspiring starting option for a team with playoff aspirations. He also has never started more than 10 games in any given season. Other than Hill, the Vikings have Wisconsin product Joel Stave on the depth chart. Fellow signal-caller Taylor Heinicke has been placed on the NFI list with an injury.

A cursory glance at our list of NFL free agents shows that veteran options such as Matt Flynn, Michael Vick, and Charlie Whitehurst are available, as is former Viking Tarvaris Jackson. T.J. Yates, meanwhile, was recently cleared to return to action after recovering from a torn ACL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/10/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • Fullback Toben Opurum was claimed by the Broncos after he was waived by the Saints, Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune writes. Opurum, 25, has been with the Saints since the end of the 2014 season. In a related move, the Broncos have waived tight end Anthony Norris, Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets.
  • The Bills have claimed running back Dri Archer off waivers from the Jets, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. Rodak notes that Archer owns the second-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.26 seconds) in NFL history. Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin holds the third-fastest time.
  • The Colts have claimed quarterback Josh Woodrum off waivers from the Giants, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. In a related move, the Colts waived-injured tight end Mike McFarland. McFarland will go on the Colts’ IR if he clears waivers. As for Woodrum, he becomes the team’s fourth QB on the depth chart after Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, and Stephen Morris.
  • The Rams released wide receiver Isiah Ferguson, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). To replace him, the Rams have inked wide receiver J.J. Worton (link).
  • The Vikings announced that they have waived safety Johnny Lowdermilk. The arrival of Lowdermilk will make room for the addition of running back C.J. Ham, whose signing was reported on Monday. Ham, a Duluth native, rushed for 1,097 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final season at Augustana University.
  • The Texans waived outside linebacker Eric Lee, who had signed as undrafted free agent from South Florida, John McClain of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Lee was making the transition to outside linebacker from college defensive end, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter).
  • The Packers announced the signing of safety Marwin Evans. Evans, 23, finished his collegiate career at Utah State. The Milwaukee native started 13 of 27 games played for the Aggies, recording 83 tackles (36 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, two sacks, an interception he returned 90 yards for a touchdown, three forced fumbles and five pass breakups.
  • The Giants‘ signing of Matt Smalley will wait until the Lafayette cornerback is done with his finals, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News (on Twitter). That will give Big Blue time before they have to release someone from the 90-man roster.
  • The Giants released linebacker Uani Unga (Twitter link via SiriusXM).
  • The Rams signed former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams after his recent tryout, Vincent Bonsignore of the Daily News tweets.

Colts Sign Scott Tolzien

MARCH 14, 9:20am: Tolzien’s two-year deal is worth $3.5MM, with a $500K signing bonus, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

MARCH 11, 5:39pm: Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter) that Tolzien’s deal is for two years, and Silverstein writes that he doesn’t expect Tolzien to have to fend off a prospective rookie for the Colts’ No. 2 job.

5:17pm: The Colts and Scott Tolzien have agreed to a deal, owner Jim Irsay tweets. It looks like Andrew Luck‘s backup quarterback will indeed be much younger, and Tolzien jumps from sitting behind Aaron Rodgers to a role as Luck’s understudy.

The Colts had a visit with former Dolphins backup Matt Moore scheduled for Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). It’s not known at this time whether they’ll keep that appointment. Former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin now resides on the Colts’ staff, but Indianapolis may already have Matt Hasselbeck‘s successor in mind.

Originally a 2011 UDFA of the 49ers’, Tolzien served as Rodgers’ backup for the past three seasons, going 0-1-1 as a starter. However, when Rodgers missed several games due to injury in 2013, Tolzien was replaced by Matt Flynn and hasn’t started a game since. The 28-year-old career reserve threw one touchdown pass and five interceptions in relief of Rodgers in 2013.

Tolzien threw one pass in the past two seasons for the Packers. Luck’s backups needed to do a lot more than that during a disappointing Colts season. Hasselbeck served as Luck’s backup for the past three seasons but retired this week to accept and ESPN analyst position.

Luck’s injury resulted in five different quarterbacks throwing at least 10 passes for the Colts last season, with late-season addition Josh Freeman starting Indianapolis’ Week 17 contest after Hasselbeck’s slew of injuries caught up with him.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

QB Rumors: RG3, Kaepernick, Jets, Hoyer

If Colin Kaepernick leaves for the Broncos, Browns, or Jets, Ed Werder of ESPN.com (on Twitter) expects 49ers head coach Chip Kelly to have serious interest in Robert Griffin III. RG3 has already been connected to the Broncos, but it sounds like this week’s game of quarterback musical chairs could put the Baylor product in San Francisco instead.

Here are the latest QB rumors:

  • If the cannot re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) expects the Jets to inquire about Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer. As Rapoport notes, the Jets already traded for one Texans QB in Fitzpatrick last year. Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter) notes that the Jets talked to Hoyer last year, but they preferred Fitzpatrick to him.
  • Hoyer is expected to exit the Texans‘ roster “sooner than later,” a source tells Mike Florio of PFT.
  • The Jets have yet to “put their cards on the table” with regards to their talks for Kaepernick, a source tells Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Before making a move for Kaepernick, the Jets could be waiting to see if they can first get a new deal done with Fitzpatrick.
  • Quarterback Scott Tolzien will visit with the Colts today, Tom Silverstein of the Journal-Sentinel tweets. The Bears are also showing interest in the Packers free agent.

Minor Moves: Sunday

We’ll keep track of any minor moves that are made over the course of the day right here:

  • The Vikings have come to terms on a one-year deal with long snapper Cullen Loeffler, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • The Packers have agreed to a one-year, $1.35MM pact with reserve quarterback Scott Tolzien, according to Packer Report (Twitter link). Tolzien has been with Green Bay since 2013. Fellow backup QB Matt Flynn is also a free agent.
  • The Seahawks and TE Anthony McCoy have agreed to a one-year deal, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

NFC Notes: Rams, Sam, Packers, Washington

It has been a little over a month since Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his plan to build a new NFL stadium in Los Angeles, and it’s inching a little closer to becoming a reality, writes David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to Hunn, developers have begun to clear land and lay water lines at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, and the stadium still looks like a go, regardless of whether an NFL team like the Rams is lined up to play in it.

“If you have the most modern, the most beautiful NFL stadium in the world, you’re not going to have any problem populating it,” Inglewood mayor James T. Butts said. “If the NFL wants to migrate here, we would welcome it. But that’s not what this is about. This is ‘Field of Dreams’ stuff. Build it and they will come.”

Here are a few more Monday notes from around the NFC:

  • Former Rams seventh-rounder Michael Sam has applied for one of approximately 100 spots in the NFL’s inaugural veteran combine later this month, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. While the former Missouri standout is hoping that leads to an NFL contract offer, Pelissero says Sam has a one-year contract offer from the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes on the table as a fallback option. The 25-year-old spent some time on the Cowboys‘ practice squad last season, but wasn’t active for any regular season games.
  • Veteran 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari will be leaving San Francisco to join the Packers, reports Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. While it’s not immediately clear what Solari’s role will be in Green Bay, his hiring appears to be part of a larger shake-up to the team’s offensive staff, as we heard yesterday.
  • The Packers will have to make a decision at quarterback this offseason, with backup signal-callers Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn both eligible for free agency. As Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com writes, the team’s coaching staff likes Tolzien’s potential, but Flynn gives the club a “security-blanket feel.” For his part, Aaron Rodgers would like to see both backups re-signed.
  • Free agency may offer more problems than solutions for Washington, but the team may still need to dip into the open market to find stopgap options for certain positions, writes Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com.
  • Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer takes a look at some key issues facing the Panthers this winter, including a possible long-term deal for Cam Newton, finding a solution at left tackle, and adding immediate contributors in the draft.