Shane Waldron

NFC West Notes: Fitzgerald, Stafford, Everett

When the Cardinals signed A.J. Green last month, all eyes turned to Larry Fitzgerald and his place on the team. Although the legendary receiver hasn’t made his intentions known just yet, it appears he’s headed in the direction of hanging up his cleats. “Execs anticipate” that Fitzgerald, who is unsigned for 2021, is going to retire, Mike Sando of The Athletic writes. This stops short of being a full-on report, but it certainly sounds like that’s the way things are trending.

With Green now in the fold alongside the returning DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, the Cardinals’ receiving room would be pretty crowded if Fitz wanted to give it one last go. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in 13 games for Arizona last year, racking up 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown. It was easily the lowest output of his decorated 17-year career. We should know more soon, but unfortunately it seems likely we’ve seen the Pittsburgh product play his final down.

Here’s more from around the NFC West on a quiet Sunday afternoon:

  • Matthew Stafford was banged up a lot during his last season with the Lions, and he just had a procedure to address one of those lingering injuries. The new Rams quarterback had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand last month, a source told Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Fortunately, Rodrigue reports it was just a simple cleanup and Stafford isn’t expected to miss any real practice time. Stafford said back in February that he had partially torn the UCL in his right thumb. Despite dealing with a slew of significant health issues, he didn’t miss a start last season.
  • The Seahawks signed away tight end Gerald Everett from the Rams in free agency, and it turns out a prior poaching played a large role in that. Seattle hired former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to be their new OC after firing Brian Schottenheimer, and Waldron played a role in delivering Everett. “Shane is a mastermind,” Everett said, via John Boyle of the team’s official site. “He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle… When Shane went to Seattle, obviously the idea was there, it lingered in my head.” Everett was a second-round pick of Los Angeles in 2017, and although he never put up huge numbers in Rams offenses that had a lot of mouths to feed, he flashed a lot of potential. “Yes, he was a factor in my decision to come to Seattle,” Everett said of Waldron. The Seahawks gave him a one-year, $7MM deal in March.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers are asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Watt, 49ers

Following a season in which the Seahawks failed to reach the NFC championship game for a sixth straight year, Russell Wilson set about communicating his goals for what he views as the second half of his career with his camp. Those goals center around returning the Seahawks to a Super Bowl-caliber team. Wilson then brought those to Pete Carroll, per Albert Breer of SI.com, who notes the perennial Pro Bowl passer communicated he wants more say regarding the direction of the team.

Wilson also mentioned to Carroll he would like the Seahawks to make a genuine investment in a high-end offensive lineman, Breer adds. The Seahawks did trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown in 2018, but he will turn 36 this year and is signed only through 2021. And they have not otherwise made big moves on their offensive front in recent years. Beyond guard Damien Lewis, the Seahawks could certainly use more help up front. One of Wilson’s goals — a new offensive philosophy — has come to pass, with Breer adding Wilson was “fully on board” with new OC Shane Waldron.

For what it’s worth, the 32-year-old quarterback does not expect to be traded. But he has, as you may have heard, revealed a destination list. And the Bears are taking that quite seriously. Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks have a few of their defensive contributors on track for free agency. One of those UFAs-to-be, Shaquill Griffin, is not certain he will return to Seattle. “I would love to be back in Seattle, but I know there’s a business aspect behind it,” Griffin said during an appearance on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football (via OregonLive.com). “But that organization knows I love it over there — the fans and coaches know how much I love Seattle. But at the end of the day, I know it’s strictly business.” This puts him in a similar position to K.J. Wright, who wants to stay but not on a hometown discount. The Seahawks have less than $5MM in cap space, so the franchise will need to create a bit more cap room going into free agency.
  • In order to preserve some cap space in a year in which the cap is expected to decline for only the second time ever, the Cardinals structured J.J. Watt‘s contract unusually. Watt’s two-year, $28MM deal ($31MM max value, via incentives) will only count $4.9MM on Arizona’s 2021 cap sheet, per OverTheCap. The Cards have tacked on three void years to prorate Watt’s signing bonus. Those years will void in 2023, creating $7.2MM in dead money, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry tweets. With the cap expected to go up again starting in 2022, it is not surprising to see the Cardinals opt to preserve cap space this year and worry about additional charges down the line. They still hold $12MM-plus in cap room; that sits in NFL’s top half.
  • Even though Trent Williams has expressed interest in staying in San Francisco, the 49ers are unlikely to keep the decorated left tackle off the market. Williams cannot be tagged. Were Williams to depart, the 49ers would have a major void up front. They should not be considered a destination for disgruntled Ravens tackle Orlando Brown, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic, who notes Brown’s 345-pound frame and mobility issues make him a poor fit for Kyle Shanahan‘s scheme (subscription required). The Ravens are listening to offers on Brown, who wants to play left tackle.

Russell Wilson Had Input On OC Hire, Wasn’t Happy With Earlier Candidates

Russell Wilson raised a lot of eyebrows with his comments on The Dan Patrick Show earlier where he said he didn’t like getting hit as often as he has been, and that he’d like to be more involved in personnel decisions. There was also a sourced report that Wilson has grown frustrated with the Seahawks’ inability to build an offensive line around him.

While Wilson certainly didn’t do anything to tamp down the recent speculation on Patrick’s show, it does sound like he had the input he’s seeking on at least one big recent decision. Wilson was “involved in the hire” of Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video link). Interestingly, it sounds like Wilson may not have initially been happy with the search, which was known to be wide-ranging.

Rapoport says there were “some choices kind of midway through he wasn’t pleased with,” which will be fun to speculate about. It’s impossible to say for sure who Wilson was concerned about, but there were some controversial big names thrown out in the initial search after the firing of Brian Schottenheimer.

Polarizing figures like Adam Gase reportedly spoke with Seattle brass about the OC opening. In the end though, it sounds like Wilson got his guy in the former Sean McVay protege. That would seem to indicate the Seahawks are intent on keeping Wilson content, and have no intention of going the Texans/Deshaun Watson route of freezing out.

Of course, Rapsheet points out that all this comes against the backdrop of the recent report that teams had inquired about trading for Wilson. While he emphasizes those trade advances were rebuffed by Seattle, Rapoport also adds that it’s “noteworthy” that teams “thought there might be something there, that maybe they could get him.” We’ll continue to monitor the situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks To Hire Shane Waldron

The Seahawks are set to hire Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). Waldron has worked for Sean McVay since 2016 — now, he’ll get to run his own offense and face his former mentor twice per year.

The Seahawks opened up their OC job with the firing of Brian Schottenheimer earlier this year. Waldron has never called plays before, but McVay has spoken highly of his acumen and leadership abilities.

He’s a phenomenal coach,” McVay said in 2018 (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). “He’s a great communicator. He’s got a rare ability to authentically and genuinely connect with not only coaches but the players and be able to correct in a manner that doesn’t make guys’ guards come up. It’s all about problem-solving and doing it together.”

Former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn , Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey, and Raiders running backs coach Kirby Wilson were also considered along the way. Ultimately, Pete Carroll went with Waldron, who becomes the latest Rams coach or exec to leave L.A. Brandon StaleyJoe BarryBrad Holmes, Ray Agnew, and Aubrey Pleasant have all made their exits in recent weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Seahawks, Titans, Dolphins

We’ve got another couple of names to pass along for Seattle’s wide-ranging offensive coordinator search. The Seahawks want to interview Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and have already spoken with Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. They’ve been linked to what seems like every offensive coach in the league now, including Adam Gase and other big names. Dorsey was a backup quarterback in the league for a handful of years, and the 39-year-old was the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach from 2013-17.

He joined the Bills last season. Waldron is another young guy who has coached under Rams coach Sean McVay since 2016 since they were both with Washington. He started as McVay’s tight ends coach in Los Angeles before getting promoted to quarterbacks coach and pass-game coordinator. The Seahawks don’t appear to be honing in on anything in particular, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll hire.

Here are more coaching notes from around the league:

  • The Texans are the only team still with a head coach opening, but they aren’t letting one key assistant go out the door yet. They recently blocked offensive coordinator Tim Kelly from interviewing for OC openings with two other teams, and those interested teams were the Titans and Lions, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Since it would be a lateral move and he’s still under contract, Houston can block those requests. As Breer points out, there has been buzz that Deshaun Watson likes Kelly, and the team could be looking to keep him in order to curry favor with their disgruntled starting quarterback. Detroit has since filled their vacancy with former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
  • Speaking of the Titans’ opening, Tennessee will be interviewing Pep Hamilton for the job in the next few days, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Hamilton was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach this past year, and did a great job helping with the development of Justin Herbert, so he’s been drawing a lot of interest for OC jobs. He was talked about as a candidate in Miami, and is one of the finalists in Pittsburgh as well. The Titans of course are looking to replace Arthur Smith, now the head coach in Atlanta. Hamilton coordinated the Colts’ offense from 2013-15, and had a lot of success with Andrew Luck.
  • The Dolphins are still looking for their OC, but they have made a different key hire on offense. The team has parted ways with quarterbacks coach Robby Brown and replaced him with former NFL passer Charlie Frye, they announced in a tweet. It’s the first NFL coaching gig for Frye, who was Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. It’s interesting that they’d hire the QBs coach before the OC. A third-round pick of the Browns back in 2005, Frye also played with the Seahawks and Raiders until 2009.

Rams Promote Shane Waldron, Jedd Fisch

After losing former quarterbacks Zac Taylor (who was formally announced as the Bengals’ new head coach last week), the Rams are re-shuffling their offensive staff. Shane Waldron will be promoted from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach while retaining his title as Los Angeles’ passing game coordinator, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter links). Meanwhile, senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch will be named assistant coordinator/offense.

How much these changes will actually affect the day-to-day — and game-to-game — operations for the Rams’ offense is unclear. Head coach Sean McVay will continue to call offensive plays, and Los Angeles still hasn’t formally replaced former offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur since he left for Tennessee following the 2017 season.

But the moves are considered steps-up. As Breer notes in indicating Waldron will keep his passing game coordinator title, Waldron is merely shifting his position of focus — he’ll be as involved in the Rams’ offense as he ever was, if not more so. Waldron, who has also spent NFL time with the Patriots and Redskins, interviewed for Cincinnati’s head coaching vacancy earlier this year but lost out to his ex-coworker Taylor.

Fisch, meanwhile, now has a title that sounds the closest to “offensive coordinator” of anyone on the Rams’ staff. The Jaguars’ OC from 2013-14, Fisch joined Los Angeles in 2018 and serves as the club’s clock management specialist. He interviewed for the head coaching job at Temple University earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Wilson, Foles, Newton, Rams

We heard in early January that the Seahawks would begin contract negotiations with star QB Russell Wilson “soon,” but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the two sides have yet to have a single contract discussion. Wilson is under club control through the 2019 season and is set to earn $17MM next year, and he has previously stated he would be willing to play out the final year of his deal and perhaps go year-to-year under the franchise tag. But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times observes, the fact that Wilson and the Seahawks have not talked contract yet does not mean much (Twitter link). He says the team will get through other team-building matters first and then start exploring extensions, just as it did when it came time to explore a new deal with Wilson in 2015.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • We know that the Eagles want to trade Nick Foles, and yesterday we explored (again) how such a trade is likely to come about. While player and club would like to work “in concert” in determining Foles’ next team, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP) says the Eagles are going to try to keep Foles out of the NFC East — the Redskins and Giants could be in the market — and would prefer to deal him to an AFC team. Meanwhile, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic believes it only make sense for the Eagles to franchise Foles if they already have a trade in place, and that the recent chatter concerning the franchise tag is merely a bluff at this point.
  • Schefter confirms a report from earlier this week that Panthers QB Cam Newton, who underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week, is expected to be ready in time for training camp and certainly will be good to go when the regular season rolls around.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the Rams, who signed running back C.J. Anderson in December, “absolutely” want to re-sign Anderson this offseason. That makes sense considering how good Anderson has been in his brief tenure with the club, and considering Todd Gurley‘s history of knee problems. Anderson, though, could be in line for a bigger role or salary than what Los Angeles is prepared to give. Anderson is expected to get plenty of work in tonight’s Super Bowl.
  • Rams QB coach Zac Taylor will be formally announced as the Bengals’ next head coach tomorrow, and Rapoport tweets that LA may move senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch to QB coach. The club could also give current TE coach/passing game coordinator Shane Waldron the passing game coordinator title without requiring him to coach a position and bring in Wes Phillips to coach the tight ends.
  • As expected, the Buccaneers will transition to a 3-4, one-gap defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine looks at how the Bucs could deploy their current personnel to mirror Wade Phillips‘ success in transitioning two 4-3 defenses to 3-4 schemes.

West Rumors: Raiders, Chargers, Broncos

The 49ers aren’t the only club with interest in former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, as the Raiders also want to speak to the ex-Indy exec about a front office role, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Oakland is rebuilding its front office after firing general manager Reggie McKenzie and top lieutenant Joey Clinkscales. Grigson would join a front office that now includes first-time GM — and former NFL Network analyst — Mike Mayock, who was hired earlier this week. The 46-year-old Grigson was fired by the Colts in 2016 after a tumultuous five-year term as GM, and has since worked with the Browns and Seahawks’ front offices.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Two of Sean McVay‘s top assistants will take their interviews with the Bengals on Friday. Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and pass game coordinator/tight ends coach Shane Waldron will meet with Cincinnati ownership tomorrow, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Nearly every candidate in which the Bengals have expressed interest thus far have come from the offensive side of the ball, with the only exception being former Broncos head coach (and ex-Cincy defensive backs coach) Vance Joseph. The Bengals were turned down by Josh McDaniels, but they’ve also asked to meet with Bucs OC Todd Monken and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, among others. Bieniemy’s interview with the Bengals — originally scheduled for Friday — will now take place on Saturday, tweets Pelissero.
  • After being designated for return from injured reserve and participating in seven-on-seven drills at the end of December, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry took first-team snaps in practice this week, Los Angeles announced. However, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn still declined to commit to Henry playing against the Ravens in the first round of the NFL postseason, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com tweets. If Henry does play, he’ll be on a “pitch count,” meaning fellow tight ends Antonio Gates and Virgil Green will still see time. Henry tore his ACL in May, but Los Angeles held out hope he’d be available if the club made it to the playoffs.
  • Rams center John Sullivan collected a $1MM bonus by being active for at least 15 games and Los Angeles ranking as a top-five scoring offense and making the playoffs, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Sullivan, 33, actually started all 16 games for the Rams in 2018, and has started 31 contests since joining the club last offseason. LA’s line was elite in 2018, finishing No. 1 in adjusted line yards and No. 6 in adjusted sack rate, but Sullivan graded as just the NFL’s No. 32 center, per Pro Football Focus. The Rams hold a 2019 option on Sullivan which would pay him $1.75MM in base salary in addition to a $2.5MM roster bonus.
  • Currently being run by a trust headed by team president Joe Ellis, the Broncos are in need of a permanent owner. That’s likely to eventually be Pat Bowlen‘s youngest daughter, Brittany Bowlen, tweets James Palmer of ESPN.com, who notes Brittany will join the organization “at some point.” Bowlen, 28, could potentially take over in 2021 after a new collective bargaining agreement is put into place, speculates Mike Klis of 9News.
  • 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson suffered a torn MCL on Sunday, according to a team announcement. That’s relatively good news since the longtime starter was carted off of the field, leading to fears that he had suffered a torn ACL. Tomlinson will not need surgery, so he should be good to go for offseason activities. Tomlinson is under contract with San Francisco through 2021 thanks to the three-year, $18MM extension he signed last summer.

Latest On Bengals’ Coaching Search

The first Bengals coaching search since 2003 looked to be centered around members of two organizations — the Bengals and Rams.

While Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor received an interview request, so did Los Angeles’ passing-game coordinator, Shane Waldron, Sean McVay said Monday. Waldron, 39, also serves as the Rams’ tight ends coach.

Cincinnati will also interview two of its own. OC Bill Lazor and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will interview for Marvin Lewis’ old job on Tuesday, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Mike Brown went outside the organization when he hired Lewis 15 years ago, but this is known as one of the more continuity-based franchises in the NFL. Still, it would be interesting to see a Lewis lieutenant get the job. Former Bengals DBs coach Vance Joseph, fired by the Broncos this morning, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Lazor became the Bengals’ full-time OC this season. Simmons has spent the entire Lewis era on the Bengals’ staff, coaching Cincinnati’s special teams units for the past 16 seasons. Though special teams coaches rarely commandeer HC jobs, Simmons is believed to have a good shot at this job, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Rams Won’t Hire OC To Replace Matt LaFleur

After losing offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to the Titans earlier today, the Rams don’t intend to hire another OC, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Instead, Los Angeles announced that it has named offensive line coach Aaron Kromer the club’s new run game coordinator, while tight ends coach Shane Waldron will become the Rams’ pass game coordinator.Sean McVay (Featured)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL Coordinator Tracker]

While the Rams’ offensive staff has undergone an overhaul this offseason, head coach Sean McVay is still in place to call plays for a unit that ranked sixth in offensive DVOA a year ago. But there have been changes: former quarterbacks coach Greg Olson became the Raiders’ offensive coordinator, so Los Angeles promoted assistant wide receivers coach Zac Taylor to fill the void. The Rams also added former UCLA play-caller Jedd Fisch as a senior offensive assistant.

Although Kromer and Waldron won’t be calling plays for the Rams, they will presumably help assemble the club’s weekly gameplan. Kromer has coordinated an offense before — the Bears from 2013-14 — but has spent the majority of his career as an offensive line coach, while Waldron previously served as an offensive assistant with the Redskins, where he worked under McVay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.