Sean McDermott

AFC Notes: Bengals, Ross, Texans, O’Brien

Before he landed on IR, the Bengals spoke with first-round pick John Ross about the possibility of moving to cornerback, Mike Florio of PFT hears. It’s not clear how serious the Bengals were about a position change or why they were thinking about it in the first place. One source speculated that it was a move to help solidify the team’s depth at cornerback and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer hears the same thing. But, another suggested to Florio that the proposed switch had to do with Ross’ overall toughness.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Head coach Bill O’Brien said he wants to be back with the Texans next season. “I enjoy being the head coach of the Houston Texans,” O’Brien said (Twitter link via Sarah Barshop of “I expect to be here, but those decisions are not made by me.” Since taking over in Houston in 2014, O’Brien’s teams have gone a combined 31-30, including three straight 9-7 seasons and two AFC South titles.
  • O’Brien said he expects T.J. Yates to start for the Texans on Sunday against the Jaguars (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of Tom Savage was left shaking on the field after a big hit in this weekend’s loss to the Niners. He was later brought back on to the field for a series, raising questions about the league’s concussion protocol.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson said he doesn’t get the feeling at all that new GM John Dorsey wants to hire his own coach (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). Although the team has pledged to bring Jackson back for the 2018 season, a report over the weekend indicated that Dorsey is not sold on him.
  • Head coach Sean McDermott says that Tyrod Taylor will be the Bills‘ starting quarterback this week, provided that his knee is healthy enough (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of Meanwhile, backup Nathan Peterman is in the concussion protocol. The Bills finished out Sunday’s game with Joe Webb under center, so it will be at least a couple of days before they get some clarity on who their starting QB will be against Miami.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Rosen, Darnold, McDermott, Bills QB’s, Kizer, Broncos Offense

The Dolphins dropped their fourth game in a row when the Bucs broke away in the fourth quarter of today’s contest, which has James Walker of saying that the team will start have to turn their attention to 2018. While Walker does note that the coaches and players will say that they’re still in the wild card hunt, the reality is that the team is showing no signs of making a run during the remaining weeks of the regular season. It’s a sobering thought for second-year head coach Adam Gase, who led Miami to a playoff birth during his first season as the Dolphins leader.

In addition to the defeat, the team also lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler to a concussion during today’s game. Cutler has already missed time earlier in the season, but the Dolphins continue to have an identity problem at the position, according to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald. Although Matt Moore was effective in relief of Cutler in Week 11, the team did not signal what they intend to do at the quarterback position a week from now.

Gase told Beasley after the game that, “I want to get to tomorrow first, see how [Cutler is] feeling.” These situations usually get more light shed on them as the practice week goes on, however the Dolphins find themselves stuck in an unassuming gray area of the league with two veteran signal callers that can’t be relied on to deliver in the future. Miami still has Ryan Tannehill signed to a long-term deal when he fully recovers from his season-ending knee injury, but he hasn’t truly grabbed the reigns of the franchise since the team took the quarterback in the first round back in 2012.

  • Another team definitely looking ahead in regards to the QB position is the Jets, who had their general manager Mike Maccagnan, vice president of personnel Brian Heimerdinger and area scout Brian Shields on hand for the USC-UCLA game on Saturday to watch two of the best 2018 NFL Draft QB prospects in Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold square off, reports Rich Cimini of Cimini notes the interesting behavior of Maccagnan in particular, who he saw writing a “copious” amount of notes and decided to watch the game from behind the sidelines instead of in the press box, where most of the NFL scouts were sitting. The Jets are likely to cast a wide net in their search for their next franchise signal, but it would seem that the front office has a significant amount of interest in two of the best college quarterbacks in the country.
  • The Bills have produced themselves a tremendous QB controversy when they shockingly decided to bench starter Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman. However, after Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of today’s loss at the hands of the Chargers, head coach Sean McDermott is confident and says that he is not second guessing his decision, according to Mike Rodak of The head coach didn’t reveal his intentions for who will start next week, even though Taylor did finish out the game today. The coach just said, “I’m going to evaluate.” when asked about his QB questions in his postgame media session, reports Vic Carruci of the Buffalo News (Twitter link).
  • On the other hand, Browns head coach Hue Jackson committed to his rookie signal caller for the rest of the season after today’s game, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Jackson has turned to both Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler throughout the season, but he seemed very set on DeShone Kizer after his team suffered their 10th straight loss of the 2017 season. “Where we are right now, I need to continue to see him,” said Jackson. “Let’s let him play. Let’s let him play this thing out. As long as he’s healthy, let’s keep putting him out there. I want to walk away from this season knowing exactly what DeShone Kizer is top to bottom. He deserves that. I know this is all tough for him. Week in and week out, it’s the consistency he has to keep chasing. He just has to keep working at it.” While seeing how Kizer reacts to this adversity seems like the franchise’s main priority, they’re quickly running out of chances to not fall into the same breadth as the 2008 Lions, who were the first team in league history to go 0-16 in a season.
  • The Broncos suffered their sixth straight loss at the hands of the Bengals after starting out 3-1 to start the season. The team has shifted to backup Brock Osweiler and could be looking to implement second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch at some point in the remaining six weeks of the season. However, apart from the QB problems, the team is apparently dealing with pushback from players regarding their current offensive scheme, according to Ian Rapoport of Sources tell the reporter that players are starting to show frustration with the way the offense is running. The team does have two very good receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but there are a ton of holes throughout the unit that schemes won’t hide. We’ll see how first-year head coach Vance Joseph reacts to the losing streak, but it’s turning out that this is a lost season for the Super Bowl 50 champions.

Bills’ Taiwan Jones Done For Season

Taiwan Jones‘ season is over. Bills coach Sean McDermott informed reporters on Friday morning that the running back and key special teamer is going on injured reserve with a broken arm. Taiwan Jones (vertical)

Jones, 29, joined up with the Bills this summer after he was released by the Raiders. He didn’t come with a lengthy offensive resume, but he did have lots of experience in the third facet of the game. Last year, he was seventh among Raiders players in special teams snaps, and he’s not far removed from leading the AFC in kick return yards (829) in 2015.

This year, Jones appeared in all eight games as a special teamer. He returned two kicks for a total of 50 yards and had one reception on offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Address Trades Of Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby

The Bills made deals with the Rams and Eagles on Friday and secured two additional draft picks. They now have six selections in the first three rounds next year. However, in trading away their top cornerback and wide receiver, Bills brass are aware they have to sell these deals to fans and players.

Sean McDermott commented about how these trades could be perceived as weakening this year’s team — and hindering the chances of breaking major American sports’ longest playoff drought — in order to build for the future in the eyes of some fans.

I get it. I absolutely get it. That’s why I didn’t sleep last night because these are tough decisions,” McDermott said, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “I’m a part of that. When I signed my name to that dotted line, I became a part of that 17-year time period. I’m invested. I feel what (the fans) feel.”

New GM Brandon Beane said he was not actively aiming to trade Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby. Beane added these trades came together around the same time, inducing the back-to-back announcements.

These aren’t easy decisions. I laid both trades out for Terry Pegula and Sean McDermott last night. This was absolutely a ‘we’ decision,” Beane said. “… People forget that we just signed (Anquan) Boldin. This isn’t a throw-in-the-towel move. You don’t know me if you think I’m throwing in the towel.”

Convincing veterans these were the right moves weighed on Beane’s mind. That process has already begun. An AFC GM, however, approves of the haul the Bills got for Watkins and Darby. The exec texted Graham that second- and third-round 2018 picks for players the Bills didn’t ultimately view as cornerstones was a good return. This follows the draft-weekend deal that allowed the Chiefs to move up to No. 10 and select Patrick Mahomes, dropping the Bills 18 spots in Round 1. Of course, Beane wasn’t yet on board when that occurred.

Well, it’s hard,” Beane said of selling the move to the locker room. “They don’t necessarily know Jordan (Matthews) or E.J. (Gaines) So hopefully they’ll reserve judgment until those guys get in and strap the pads on and jump in with them. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

Speaking of Boldin, the veteran wide receiver said Friday he would have joined the Bills with or without Watkins. Boldin signed a one-year contract late last month. The Rams now have Watkins on a one-year deal since the Bills didn’t pick up the former No. 4 overall pick’s fifth-year option.

Back for a third season as the starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor toed the company line as well after the Bills have now fully revamped his receiving corps.

I have faith in our management, have faith in coach McDermott that they made a decision based on the betterment of this team,” Taylor said, via Graham.

Graham notes Kyle Williams needed to be convinced to return for a 12th season. The defensive tackle said his experience with NFL transactions makes this easier. As does the fact Matthews and Gaines are on the way.

You could view it one way from my perspective if we got a pick (in 2018), two more two years from now,” Williams said. “We’re actually getting guys that are coming back to play those positions.”

Q&A With Bills’ McDermott, Beane

The Bills are in the midst of a 17-season playoff drought, but the new regime is hopeful that things will be turning around fast. New head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane have some history together thanks to their time with the Panthers and the duo is ready to change the culture in Buffalo. During a conference call with Peter King of The MMQB, both men discussed their shared past and the future of the franchise. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Is Buffalo’s quarterback of the future on the roster now?

McDermott: He is, in Tyrod Taylor. And then when you look at the competition we have behind him. We’ve drafted Nathan Peterman, we’ve added T.J. Yates, and then Cardale Jones in the draft a year ago. I’m not sure there is a team out there that has the depth that we do at the quarterback position. So we feel good about that. We’re anxious to see how Tyrod develops in his third year as a starter in a new system, a system that he has some familiarity with in terms of [new Buffalo offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison’s system in Baltimore a few years back with Gary KubiakTyrod Taylor (vertical)

Beane: We have open competition everywhere. Obviously it is a quarterback league, but with Tyrod … He has some tools, his speed, he is tough to game-plan for. He has some strengths and he is still a young starter in this league. It is going to be a competition for every position, to let them fight it out and earn the right to start on this team.

[RELATED: Bills Name Joe Schoen Assistant GM]

How do you both feel about being tied at the hip?

Beane: That was part of the attraction of the job. There were a lot of attractions, but I don’t have to get to know the guy I am going to be working side by side with personally, away from the office. I already know that. I have that box checked. I know that this guy is going to have my back, and he knows I am going to have his back. And that’s a huge thing in this business. We know how important it is to trust each other. It’s so funny when people ask, Who’s got control? Who has the 53-man roster? Honestly, we don’t care about it. We are going to make decisions together and we are going to talk about everything that affects the roster, the staff, and that is what’s exciting. You don’t get that everywhere. You read about dysfunction in various organizations, and that is part of the reason I am here. I did not want to leave Carolina for something I was unsure of. This seemed like as sure a thing as there can be in the NFL, to partner up with Sean.

McDermott: Sometimes you get a chance and you have to take it. I wanted him to know that there is a soft landing on this side because of his familiarity with me. If we are tied at the hip, there is no one I would rather be tied at the hip with than Brandon.

Why should a Bills fan believe in you both?

Beane: We have to keep the same mindset we’ve had our whole career. Keep our head down, work on ourselves, learn our strengths, learn our weaknesses, and then obviously know our division. And then one of the first things you want to do for success is win your division. We feel bad for the city of Buffalo. These fans have had to endure a 17-year deal, but we’re focused on being part of the solution with the whole organization to get it right.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brandon Beane To Control Bills’ Roster?

Will new Bills GM Brandon Beane have final say over the roster? The team’s public answer could differ from the day-to-day reality.

Coach Sean McDermott, who effectively was in charge of this year’s draft, will cede control of the 53-man roster to Beane, according to Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). Bills owner and CEO Terry Pegula will communicate this to the public on Friday, but McDermott will retain final say over the 53-man roster, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (Twitter links) hears. This is similar to the Chiefs’ model in which GM John Dorsey has a say in the roster, but everything must get the green light from coach Andy Reid.

Right now, we have conflicting reports from two highly-trusted reporters, so it remains to be seen how things will truly be divvied up between the two men. This offseason, McDermott wrestled control of operations away from former GM Doug Whaley and effectively pushed him out of Buffalo. After seizing that kind of power early on in his tenure, some believed that McDermott would continue to call the shots in the front office. Soon, we should have a better idea of how things will shake out in Western New York.

During our search for a new general manager, Brandon stood out to Kim [Pegula] and I as he embodies the type of leader and type of person we want in our organization,” Terry Pegula said in a statement earlier this week. “Brandon has excelled in a variety of roles for a Panthers team that has consistently competed at a high-level in this league. We feel his vast understanding and experience in many facets of football operations will be invaluable to our club moving forward.”

Before hiring Beane, the Bills also considered Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown, and Texans director of player personnel Brian Gaine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Bills’ Front Office Shakeup

The Bills deciding to trade out of their No. 10 slot, when the Chiefs surrendered their 2018 first-rounder to headline a package that netted them Patrick Mahomes, indicated Doug Whaley was not going to be around much longer, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Buffalo moving down 17 spots — a move the Bills were believed to be pushing for prior to the draft — signaled a long-term plan more than one designed to help an embattled GM’s team win now. (However, Chiefs GM John Dorsey told B.J. Kissel of — Twitter link — Whaley was involved in talks that originated early this week.)

Albert Breer of notes the Bills’ chaotic front office situation goes back to 2014, when Terry and Kim Pegula took over and were surprised when Doug Marrone exercised an opt-out option that garnered him $4MM and left the Bills without a coach despite having completed a rare over-.500 season in 2014. The current Jaguars HC’s 9-7 campaign, aided the Patriots resting starters in Week 17 of that season, represents the most the Bills wins since 2004.

La Canfora notes Whaley has not gotten along especially well with any of his coaches, describing less-than-ideal relationships with both Marrone and Rex Ryan, and the one with Sean McDermott did not take off. Bill Polian declined to join the Bills in January of 2015, and La Canfora notes that decision kept Whaley in charge and helped lead to Marrone bolting on his contract.

Now running the show in Buffalo, McDermott was not happy the Patriots plucked Stephon Gilmore in free agency, La Canfora writes. The RFA decisions on Chris Hogan and Mike Gillislee did not help, either. The CBS-based reporter notes some of Pegula’s confidants advised him to fire Whaley years ago. The Bills signed Whaley to an extension last year, however.

A source categorized the Bills’ draft room this weekend as “one of the weirdest three days,” per Breer, due to the fact a leadership component wasn’t entirely present. McDermott, though, was the one who was providing the final say, Breer reports. The first-year HC was given autonomy to remove prospects from the draft board as well. Pegula said today Whaley put together the draft and the organization decided to fire him after the three-day event, Mike Rodak of relays.

Scouts were upset with Ryan’s program last year, Breer notes, adding that Bills coaches felt some of Whaley’s draft decisions — be it the trade-up for Sammy Watkins or selection of injury-risk Shaq Lawson — didn’t fit the schemes they were using. As for Watkins, it’s possible the Bills made his injury situation worse. Breer reports that the wideout’s foot injury was too severe for him to complete walkthroughs, but no one put a stop to his comeback attempt, and the pain worsened as he pushed through it to lead to a two-month shutdown. Watkins returned for the final six games but only cleared 80 receiving yards twice, albeit on a run-centric team. Already rumored to be set to decline Watkins’ fifth-year option, the Bills are probably more likely to go in that direction now that Whaley is gone, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets.

Further complicating things with McDermott: Anthony Lynn was Whaley’s first HC choice, according to Breer, and ownership went with the former Panthers DC — with whom Whaley did not have much of a relationship — while letting Lynn proceed to the Chargers’ job. Tyrod Taylor‘s return on an adjusted deal also went against Whaley’s wishes and was more in line with new OC Rick Dennison‘s. The latter was the Broncos’ OC when the team pursued Taylor in 2015.

As far as the selection of the next GM, the Pegulas might not lean on team president Russ Brandon too much, with Terry Pegula saying today the owners would ask Brandon questions if they believed they need to (Twitter link via Breer). Former Eagles president and Browns CEO Joe Banner understandably expects the new GM to be someone with close ties to McDermott, the longtime exec told Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane could well become a candidate.

Changes Coming To Bills’ Front Office?

It sounds as though this week’s NFL draft could be the last hurrah for several members of the Bills’ front office. It’s possible, in fact, that the Bills will clean out their entire scouting staff after the draft, a league source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

“We are all getting fired next week,” said one of the Bills’ scouts.

In responding to Florio’s report, the Bills didn’t deny that changes could be on the horizon.

“Right now, our focus is on the preparation for this week’s draft. Like every year, evaluations of our player personnel staff take place following the draft. And this year will be no different,” stated the team.

Doug Whaley

Firings in Buffalo may go above the scouting staff, as general manager Doug Whaley is seemingly losing clout while rookie head coach Sean McDermott‘s voice gains prominence. McDermott has essentially taken over for Whaley as the Bills’ spokesman on important football matters, notes the Associated Press, which reports that the former Panthers defensive coordinator is going to “have a significant say” in the team’s draft process.

The Bills haven’t allowed Whaley to speak to reporters since the Senior Bowl in January, per Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, which is reminiscent of the gag order the Redskins placed on GM Scot McCloughan before firing him earlier this year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bills were to give Whaley the ax sometime between after the draft and the end of next season, tweets the Buffalo News’ Tim Graham, who adds that McDermott would choose the Bills’ next GM (Twitter link).

This isn’t the first time Whaley has come up as a potential chopping block victim recently, but last month, owner Terry Pegula refuted the notion that he’s on the outs. McDermott, meanwhile, expects him and Whaley to continue working together going forward, telling the AP that the GM is still running the 53-man roster and will have plenty of say during the draft.

“Doug has great familiarity with the players because he’s been looking at these players for a long time, so I’m trusting Doug on that,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, it’s a decision that Doug and I will make together.”

The Bills are set to pick 10th overall in the first round, the result of a 7-9 campaign in 2016. In Whaley’s four seasons as the GM, Buffalo has gone 30-34 and extended its league-worst playoff drought to 17 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Watson, 49ers, Texans

Here’s a rundown of the latest NFL Draft news:

  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is visiting the 49ers on Monday and Tuesday before meeting with the Cardinals on Wednesday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). The Niners, of course, own the No. 2 overall pick and the Cards are at No. 13.
  • The Bills worked out UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky on Sunday, a source tells Mike Garafolo of (on Twitter). Owner Terry Pegula was there, along with head coach Sean McDermott. In our mock draft from last week, Dallas Robinson has the Bills passing on Trubisky in order to take a wide receiver.
  • The Texans worked out Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson on Friday before flying to the 49ers over the weekend. Next up is a Panthers workout on Tuesday (Twitter link via Rapoport). Carolina has already met with Robinson, so this could be a sign of serious interest. The Panthers own the No. 8 overall pick.
  • Safety Jamal Adams, who had a strong showing at LSU’s Pro Day, is visiting the Panthers today (Monday), Rapoport tweets. Rapoport wonders aloud whether he’ll be available at No. 8.
  • Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman has workouts for Steelers, Bills, Chiefs, and Patriots, according to a source who spoke with Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

AFC Notes: Broncos, Lynch, Bills, Blount

Tony Romo now being out of the picture for the Broncos turns them back to their incumbents, whom the franchise has praised this offseason. Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch now will have a full-fledged competition for Denver’s starting job, and despite the first-round investment the Broncos made in Lynch, he may have an uphill battle edge going into the team’s offseason workouts. Siemian indeed has the upper hand going into the Broncos’ first Vance Joseph-led program, James Palmer of notes.

Joseph himself told Palmer that “players want to play for” Siemian and “they want to win for him.” The Broncos’ staff believes Siemian “played at a higher level than many assume” last season, per Palmer. Conversely, Joseph identified leadership and grasp of Denver’s offense as areas Lynch needs to improve upon.

Mike McCoy did well to tailor previous Broncos offenses to the strengths of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow before incorporating much of Peyton Manning‘s Colts concepts into the 2012 Broncos’ playbook. Albert Breer of writes that observing whether or not McCoy can tailor an offense to Lynch’s strengths will be worth monitoring this offseason. Earlier this year, Lynch looked like the player the team wanted to win the job. Lynch being a first-round pick might mean that’s still the case, but Siemian looks to have a big backer in Joseph just as he did in Gary Kubiak.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions.

  • Under the terms of the Seahawks extension Marshawn Lynch signed in 2015, he’s set to make around $9MM this year. While the Raiders refused to outbid the Vikings for Latavius Murray on an offer far less than that, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the Bay Area native would mean more to this Raiders team than just as a running back. Although only one back (Le’Veon Bell) is set to take up more than $7MM of his team’s cap this year, Florio points out that Lynch could do well for a wounded Raiders Oakland-area fanbase that just saw the franchise agree to move (again) only to say it’s going to play the next two years in Oakland. Lynch’s productivity history, the Raiders’ lack of a proven every-down back on their roster and the ball-carrier’s Bay Area popularity give Lynch leverage in Florio’s mind. Of course, this running back draft class is believed to be quite deep, which could negate some of Lynch’s leverage.
  • Lynch would be a good fit behind the Raiders’ power-based run game, Bucky Brooks of observes. He’d allow the aforementioned complementary backs — Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington — to serve in similar roles that they did last year, with Brooks noting Lynch’s presence would help stop defenses from shifting too much attention to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
  • The Patriots have an offer out to LeGarrette Blount, but Mike Reiss of notes the bulldozing running back is probably looking for the team to increase the guaranteed money in said offer. While Blount has continued to circle back to the Patriots in recent years, Reiss believes this is a take-it-or-leave-it proposal due to the deep running back class.
  • The Bills are going to feature an easier-to-comprehend defense under Sean McDermott, according to Breer. “You can see the schemes are simple, and intended to help the players play fast,” a Bills veteran informed the reporter. Rex Ryan‘s defenses were not known for their simplicity. Buffalo ranked 19th in total defense in each of the past two years.