Sheldon White

Lions Part Ways With Sheldon White

New Lions general manager Bob Quinn continues to make changes in Detroit’s front office, and the latest executive to leave the team is the one Quinn replaced in the GM role. According to Justin Rogers of MLive.com, the Lions have parted ways with longtime director of pro personnel Sheldon White, who served as the team’s interim GM following Martin Mayhew‘s mid-season dismissal.Sheldon White

White was one of several candidates to interview for the Lions’ permanent general manager position, but when the team ultimately decided on Quinn, White’s future in Detroit became uncertain. The new GM said nearly a month ago that he wasn’t sure whether or not White would be back with the team.

At the time, I noted that White had been with the franchise for nearly two decades, in several roles and under multiple regimes, meaning it would be a bit of a surprise if he went anywhere. While White joined the Lions as a scout in 1997, he has spent most of his tenure with the club as the director of pro personnel, having been promoted to that role under former GM Matt Millen in 2000.

It’s not clear yet whether White’s departure was solely Quinn’s decision, or whether the two sides came to a more mutual agreement. Either way though, it figures to be just a matter of time before a seasoned executive like White lands with another team — that may happen sometime after this year’s draft, with teams like the Eagles looking to make front office changes at that point.

As for the Lions, they hired Jaguars director of college scouting Kyle O’Brien last month to head their pro and college scouting departments, and added former Patriots director of player development Kevin Anderson last week, to head their football operations department. The team figure to make another front office hire at some point to help replace White.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Decision Yet On Lions HC Jim Caldwell

The Lions introduced new general manager Bob Quinn today at an afternoon press conference, but the team has yet to make a decision on head coach Jim Caldwell, who remains in limbo. While Quinn initially said during today’s presser that he met with Caldwell today, he later acknowledged that it was more of an introduction than a meeting — it only lasted about 30 seconds (Twitter links via Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).

Quinn doesn’t expect to meet again with Caldwell today, and doesn’t have a timetable for his decision on the head coach, but he’d like to make that call sooner rather than later (Twitter links via Birkett and Twentyman). Still, the former Patriots executive won’t rush the decision, and would like to get to know Caldwell. Quinn added today that he expects to meet with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson before announcing anything on Caldwell (Twitter link via Birkett).

As Quinn deliberates on Caldwell, we’ve got a few more items to pass along out of Detroit, so let’s dive in and round them up…

  • Although Quinn is going into his meeting with Caldwell with an open mind, he has other potential head coaching candidates at the ready, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. La Canfora (Twitter link) would be surprised if the Lions end up targeting Patriots coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia as Caldwell’s potential replacement, though Quinn did praise both Pats assistants today, suggesting they’re both ready and willing to become head coaches (Twitter link via Birkett).
  • Quinn not only got the general manager title in Detroit — he also was named executive VP and received a five-year contract, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. As Caplan observes, it’s an impressive package for a first-time GM.
  • Quinn will report directly to owner Martha Ford, tweets Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, the new GM said today that he’s not sure the old interim GM – Sheldon White – will be back with the club, per Twentyman (Twitter link). White has been with the franchise for nearly two decades, in several roles and under multiple regimes, so it would be a little surprising if he went anywhere.
  • Quinn will have “zero tolerance” when it comes to guns and domestic violence with his players, according to Birkett (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Lions, Colts, Broncos, J. Smith

Now that the Lions have hired Bob Quinn as their new general manager, Detroit coaches are wondering if they still have a job, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Obviously, there will be some turnover as a new regime takes over, but two Lions coaches told Birkett they have not been updated as to the status of their employment.

However, the club’s head coach, Jim Caldwell, might be one of the lucky ones, as a Patriots insider tells Mike O’Hara of Lions.com that Quinn is likely to retain Caldwell for 2016. Detroit’s upper management has been adamant that the new GM would get to decide Caldwell’s fate, and while we’ll have to wait for official word, at least one source thinks Caldwell will get to stay.

Meanwhile, while interim GM Sheldon White was thanked in a team statement, there’s been no indication as to whether he’ll revert back to his old position of director of player personnel, tweets Paula Pasche of the Oakland Press.

More from around the league…

  • Though the Colts retained some level of stability by keeping both GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, the club’s roster figures to see an overhaul, per Mike Chappell of CBS4, who singles out Andre Johnson and Trent Cole as players who are likely to be cut this offseason.
  • By being selected second-team All-Pro instead of first-team, Broncos corner Chris Harris missed out on an extra $500K, according to Mike Klis of 9News. First-team recognition would have bumped up Harris’ 2016 salary from $6.9MM to $7.4MM.
  • Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith‘s surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL “went about as well as it possibly could have,” a source tells Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated. Smith was expected to a be top-10 selection in this year’s draft, but that stock will obviously be affected by this major injury.
  • Had Hue Jackson been offered the opportunity to return as Raiders head coach for a second season in 2012, he planned to make a change at defensive coordinator. His No. 1 choice? Jack Del Rio, who is now ironically Oakland’s head coach himself. “I had him locked in and everything,” Jackson told Mike Silver of NFL.com. “I think we would have worked really well together.”

Lions Rumors: GM Search, Polian, Megatron

The latest from Detroit:

  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press identifies Texans executive Brian Gaine and Jaguars exec Chris Polian as two names to watch for the Lions’ general manager job, along with interim GM Sheldon White. Gaine has been mentioned as a candidate for a promotion in Houston as well.
  • The Lions are scheduling a GM interview with Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Kirchner interviewed with the Jets last year.
  • Calvin Johnson faces some uncertainty this offseason with the Lions, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein writes. Johnson will have a $24MM cap hit with a $15.95MM cash value in 2016 and the team could save $11.1MM on the cap by letting him go.
  • The Lions have requested to interview Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay for their GM job, but he decided to stay put, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). McClay said he recently re-did his contract in Dallas and didn’t want to leave, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • Vikings exec George Paton will be declining GM interviews, as well, Birkett tweets. The Lions haven’t formally requested an interview, but he is well respected and seemed like a probable candidate for the job.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Coaching/GM Notes: Pagano, Browns, Fins, Cowboys, Lions

The latest news on various teams’ coaching and front office situations as Black Monday approaches:

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay will meet with Chuck Pagano on Monday to discuss the head coach’s future, writes Mike Wells of ESPN.com. After helping lead the Colts to playoff berths in his first three years with the team, Pagano’s club missed out this season during an injury-riddled, tumultuous campaign, going 8-8. As a result, the Colts are expected to let go of Pagano, whose contract is up, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).
  • With Ray Farmer out as the Browns’ general manager, the franchise might turn its football operations over to executive vice president/general counsel Sashi Brown, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reports (Twitter link).
  • Adam Gase, Jim Mora Jr., Mike Shanahan, Teryl Austin, Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter and Doug Marrone are all currently connected to the Dolphins’ head coaching job, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Not surprisingly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed Sunday that Jason Garrett will return in 2016 for his seventh season as the team’s head coach. “Let me be real clear: There’s no thought of replacing Jason. At all,” Jones said, according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Jones acknowledged that Garrett’s staff could change, though, as four assistant coaches’ contracts expire (Twitter link via Williams). Whether those changes happen will be up to Garrett, who Jones says is “the ultimate-decision maker” when it comes to the coaching staff (Twitter link via Fox Sports’ Matt Mosley).
  • Lions president Rod Wood says the club’s search for a new general manager will begin in earnest Monday, tweets Tim Twentyman of the team’s website. Interim GM Sheldon White will be among those interviewed, according to Wood (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press), and Greg Gabriel of NFPost.com reports the Lions will also talk to Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams (via Twitter). Another Giants executive, Marc Ross, could also get a look, tweets Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo.

Ernie Accorsi To Consult On Lions’ GM Search

The Lions have selected former NFL general manager Ernie Accorsi to help guide them through the process of finding a new GM of their own, the team announced today in a press release. Accorsi, who previously served as the general manager of the Colts, Browns, Giants, will act as a consultant for Detroit as the team attempts to identify a permanent GM to replace Martin Mayhew.

“We are most pleased that Ernie Accorsi will serve as consultant for our GM search,” new Lions president Rod Wood said in a statement. “Ernie’s reputation is impeccable. Not only did he succeed as a general manager in the NFL, but his work as a consultant with teams like Chicago and Carolina is well documented.”

Less than a year ago, Accorsi acted as a consultant when the Bears were looking to replace former GM Phil Emery, eventually helping to identify Saints executive Ryan Pace as the man for the job. As Wood notes, Accorsi also took part in the Panthers’ search for a GM, which saw the team land on Dave Gettleman.

Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network (via Twitter), Wood said today that Accorsi has pledged exclusivity to the Lions during this winter’s hiring cycle, meaning he won’t be consulting for any other teams that may have a position open up in the front office in the coming weeks or months.

Wood reiterated today that interim general manager Sheldon White remains a candidate for the permanent job in Detroit. When asked if the coach and the GM could end up being the same person, Wood said that’s not the team’s plan at the moment (Twitter links via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).

NFC Notes: Rams, Hardy, Lions

Rams wideout Tavon Austin will be returning to his hometown of Baltimore to take on the Ravens this weekend. The former West Virginia University standout is happy playing in St. Louis, but he did tell Joe Lyons of STLToday.com that the Ravens did check up on him during the 2013 draft.

“They were definitely staying in touch,’’ the receiver said. “I had a great meeting with them. The GM (Ozzie Newsome) is an awesome guy. I thought they were going to pull the trigger, but Coach Fisher did. I’m proud he did and I’m happy to be a Ram.’’

Let’s check out some other assorted notes from around the NFC…

  • The Cowboys have shown that they’re willing to deal with all of Greg Hardy‘s on and off the field issues, leading Jon Machota of DallasNews.com to predict that the defensive end will play in Dallas next season. The 27-year-old appears to like the organization, and the writer believes Hardy would willingly return, assuming Dallas offers him close to what he wants.
  • Following news that Lions interim general manager Sheldon White would be a candidate for the full-time gig, the executive acknowledged that his team needs to win if he wants to keep the job. “Obviously if we don’t then, I won’t be a candidate,” White told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “But if we win these games and we find ways to get better and improve our roster, maybe I will be.”
  • New Lions president Rod Wood is confident that his team isn’t far away from contention, and with that mindset, Birkett believes quarterback Matthew Stafford could be sticking around. However, Wood did acknowledge that the decision would be up to the general manager. “I’m going to leave that to the general manager, but they’re great players,” Wood said, adding, “Matthew is my quarterback on my fantasy team if that means anything.”

Lions President Talks GM, Caldwell, Roles

New Lions president Rod Wood spoke to reporters at a press conference today, reiterating that he doesn’t have a football background and indicating at one point, “I would probably say that I’m not qualified to run any other NFL team, but I think I’m qualified to run this one,” according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). The assertion, which sounds alarming on the surface, makes some sense when taking into account Wood’s connection to the Ford family, and his understanding of ownership’s wishes and goals, tweets Birkett.

Still, for an executive whose hiring has been scrutinized and questioned based on his lack of football experience, Wood perhaps should have chosen his words a little more carefully. While that quote may get most of the attention, the new team president had plenty more to say, so let’s round up some highlights….

  • According to Wood, the new general manager will be in charge of the Lions’ salary cap, and there will be a clear line of demarcation in responsibilities in the front office (Twitter links via Birkett). It will be “incredibly rare” for Wood to have input on any football personnel decisions — it will likely only happen if a signing or acquisition requires a significant financial investment.
  • The Lions’ advisory board, which consists of Wood and various members of the Ford family, doesn’t have a ton of football experience, as the new president acknowledged today. Wood suggested the Lions will employ an advisor for their GM search to help identify the right candidate (Twitter link via Birkett).
  • According to Wood, the team will use “every resource available to us” in its search for a general manager, and interim GM Sheldon White will be a candidate (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Identifying a candidate with “a history of successful roster building” will be a priority, tweets Birkett.
  • The new general manager will be the one to make the call on Jim Caldwell‘s future with the club, per Birkett (Twitter link). That doesn’t bode particularly well for Caldwell, since new GMs often prefer to bring in their own head coaches.
  • Wood admitted that he was involved in discussions on whether or not to fire former GM Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand (Twitter link via Birkett). While it would be unfair to accuse Wood of any ulterior motives, it seems to me like a conflict of interest for the team to solicit his opinion on whether to fire someone he ultimately replaced.
  • Selling the team isn’t an option for the Fords in the near future, according to Wood, who declined to comment on a succession plan for ownership (Twitter link via Birkett).

Lions Interim GM On Outlook, Stafford, Johnson

Lions interim general manager Sheldon White made his first public comments yesterday since the team let go of former GM Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand. The executive was at the podium to discuss the team’s acquisition of defensive lineman C.J. Wilson, but he predictably ended up answering questions regarding his job and the organization.

We’ve compiled some of the notable quotes below, all via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press and Chris Wesseling of NFL.com

On his main priority as general manager:

“We have to win. Will I be a candidate (for the GM job full-time)? I can give you the best way to be a candidate is to win games. Obviously, if we don’t, then I won’t be a candidate. But if we win these games and we find ways to get better and improve our roster, maybe I will be.”

On his “interim tag,” and how he’s envisioning the future:

“I love the clarity that Mrs. Ford told me. She told me she’s hiring me as the interim general manager, but the reality of it is, this isn’t a Supreme Court justice appointment. The only person with a lifetime appointment in this building is our owner, and so the way I look at everybody, we’re all interim general managers, we’re interim coaches, we’re interim players. Eventually, it’ll be over, and we’ll be telling stories.”

On acquiring players for the rest of the season:

“There’s somebody out there, and we’ll see them. And it may be our team or some other team, but there’s some player out there that can help us win, help a team win, and they’re going to before the end of the year. It’s our job to grind it and find those guys. Are they on the street? Are they on practice squads? Are they in our building already and we just need to give them an opportunity to play?”

On the future of two of his team’s biggest stars: Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford:

“Those guys are awesome. They’re awesome. The things that I have to do on my end, in my opinion those guys are ultra-talented. I have to continue to surround them and continue to build our roster and you’ll see all the talents that those guys have. And they are unbelievable.”

NFC North Notes: Wallace, Lions, Megatron

Mike Wallace knows that his hefty contract could make this a one-and-done season with the Vikings, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Wallace is making $9.9MM this year and due to earn $11.5MM in 2016, but next year’s salary is not guaranteed. Meanwhile, Minnesota is pretty stacked at wide receiver, a stable that includes rookie Stefon Diggs.

I’m not stupid. I’m a pretty smart guy. I understand everything,” Wallace said. “When you go to look at that, that’s a lot of money to leave out there that you want to get, but you have to make plays to get those numbers up. We’ll see.

So far, Wallace has just 27 receptions for 296 yards. At that pace, his 54 catches would be fewest since his rookie year, and 592 yards would be a career-low. Diggs, meanwhile, has 28 catches for 461 yards despite being inactive for the first three of Minnesota’s eight games.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Lions interim GM Sheldon White was non-committal when asked about the futures of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Stafford, 27, has struggled for most of the season and the Lions can get out from his deal this offseason with just an $11MM cap hit. Johnson, 30, is one of the most talented receivers in the game, but at his age he’s likely not worth the ~$16MM salary he’s due to make next year, a rate that comes with a whopping $24MM cap hit.
  • Contrary to published reports, two people familiar with the situation told Larry Lage of The Associated Press that the Lions have not hired a firm to assist them with their search for new executives.
  • In a separate piece, Birkett wonders if ex-Lions GM Martin Mayhew could get another chance to be a GM elsewhere. For what it’s worth, former Lions senior personnel executive Shack Harris feels that Mayhew should get another shot.
  • Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Packers tried out several defensive players today, including cornerbacks Donald Celiscar and Joel Ross, linebacker Derrick Mathews, and defensive end B.J. McBryde.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.