Steve Spagnuolo

East Notes: Patriots, Giants, Jets, Cowboys

Rob Gronkowski will miss out on more than $270K in salary and bonuses as a result of his one-week suspension, but the Patriots tight end could see his finances affected even further due to the ban, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com explains. Under the terms of a restructured contract signed earlier this year, Gronkowski can earn three separate tiers of incentives, all of which are tied to playtime and performance. The top tier — which includes a 90% playtime requirement as one stipulation — could now be nearly impossible to reach, as Gronkowski has played on 83.4% of New England’s offensive snaps thus far (and will obviously see that percentage decrease as a result of next week’s absence).

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

  • Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will remain “heavily involved” in the Giants‘ defensive scheme, but secondary coach David Merrit will also see an increased workload, Spagnuolo told reporters, including James Kratch of NJ.com (Twitter link). Spagnuolo, of course, is still New York’s defensive coordinator in addition to interim head coach following the firing of Ben McAdoo, but with gameday responsibilities now on the table, Spagnuolo will almost certainly require assistance. Merritt, for his part, is the Giants’ longest-tenured assistant, as he’s been with the club for 14 years.
  • Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has continued to have trouble with tardiness, and his one-quarter suspension on Sunday was indeed a result of missed meetings, reports Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Wilkerson, who signed a five-year, $86MM deal last summer, but he’s offered only middling production this season. In 12 games, Wilkerson has managed 2.5 sacks and graded as the NFL’s No. 55 interior defender among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. New York can create $11MM in cap space by releasing Wilkerson this offseason, and a team source said Wilkerson will be “gone,” per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
  • It’s no secret that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was against the NFL extending commissioner Roger Goodell, but now that a deal is officially signed, Jones doesn’t have many avenues to pursue, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Jones attempts to rip up the contract, Goodell would likely be entitled to a hefty buyout. But Jones could still pursue a legal strategy, especially if he believes the league’s owners were supposed to discuss Goodell’s contract before it became official, per Florio.

Latest On Giants’ Coach, GM Search

Ben McAdoo‘s stint in New York was short and ended without a championship, but he did make history in his own way. McAdoo was at the helm for just 28 regular-season games, giving him the lowest total by a Giants head coach since 1930 (as noted by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, via Twitter). In that season, Benny Friedman spent two games as a co-player-coach.

Starting today, the Giants are officially looking to fill vacancies at head coach and GM. Here’s the latest out of New York/New Jersey:

  • Giants owner John Mara says his “very strong preference” is to have a separate head coach and GM. However, he does not rule out a dual role if the right candidate emerges (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).
  • Mara says that both interim hires (GM Kevin Abrams and head coach Steve Spagnuolo) will be interviewed for the full-time jobs (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). Personally, I don’t think the odds are in Spagnuolo’s favor, even though he is well-regarded by the organization. After a disastrous 2017 season, it seems more likely that the Giants will opt for a reset when it comes to the next head coach.
  • Reese was not responsible for the firing of Tom Coughlin and subsequent hiring of McAdoo, Kinkhabwala tweets. When Coughlin was fired, Reese advocated for two candidates over McAdoo.
  • Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi has agreed to serve as a consultant in the GM search, Mara announced (Twitter link via team). The owner added that it is possible that a GM hire will be made before the season is through, noting that the team already has some names in mind (Twitter link via Kinkhabwala).
  • Mara says that McAdoo is the one who initially came up with the plan to bench Eli Manning (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson).

Giants Fire Ben McAdoo

Giants coach Ben McAdoo has been fired (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). His dismissal comes in the midst of a disappointing season, but also less than one year after leading his team to the playoffs. Ben McAdoo

[RELATED: Giants Fire GM Jerry Reese]

The Giants will install defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as the team’s interim head coach. Meanwhile, Giants’ assistant general manager Kevin Abrams will serve as the GM for the rest of the season, a person with knowledge of team’s moves tells Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Steve and I spoke after yesterday’s game in Oakland and agreed to talk again today,” said owner John Mara in a statement released by the team. “Ben, as a first time head coach, continued up until this morning to do everything in his power to give us a chance to win. I know the public perception of both these men is not positive, but within these walls, you could not ask for two better professionals.”

This marks Spagnuolo’s second stint as an NFL head coach. After making a name for himself as the Giants’ DC years ago, he went on to become the head coach of the Rams. Things didn’t go as planned in St. Louis, unfortunately, as his teams went a combined 10-38 in three seasons. While he remains highly respected in coaching circles, it’s fair to wonder if he is the right guy for the Giants’ top job given their defensive struggles this year.

Heading into the season, the Giants believed that they had the talent necessary to contend in the NFC East. Instead, a slew of injuries early in the year – including several in the wide receiver group – hurt them early in the year. The offense slumped without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, but the front office apparently feels that a lack of leadership was also to blame.

Last week, McAdoo was slammed by fans when Geno Smith was installed as the starter for Sunday’s game over Eli Manning. The decision to give Smith a shot over the franchise hero was not exclusively McAdoo’s, but it seems that he is being made to be the fall guy. Smith had his moments against Oakland, but ownership has decided to clean house after watching the Giants fall to 2-10 on the year.

McAdoo first made a name for himself nationally as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach in Green Bay. In 2014, he joined Tom Coughlin‘s staff as the offensive coordinator for the Giants. Two years later, the Giants pushed Coughlin out and installed McAdoo as the head coach. At the time, the Giants felt that they were choosing the coach best suited to guide Manning. That wasn’t the case in hindsight, but other teams had serious interest in hiring McAdoo, including the rival Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Peterson, Jets, Sloter

Saints running back Adrian Peterson downplayed his frustration with playing time following his team’s season-opening loss to the Vikings. Despite video clips showing the veteran yelling at head coach Sean Payton, Peterson was clear that the entire situation was blown out of proportion.

“It was definitely overdramatized,” Peterson told Joel Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate. “Of course, with the heat of the game, me being back in Minnesota and things like that, just catching that look – that intense look on my face, like I had – I actually got some laughs out of some of the memes that were made.”

Peterson finished the contest having played only nine snaps, and his 18 rushing yards was his lowest total since the 2015 season. While he acknowledged some frustrations with his lack of use, he believes the situation will inevitably sort itself out.

“I didn’t sign up for nine snaps, though, but unfortunately that’s the way the game played out,” Peterson said. “In my mind, personally, I knew it was gonna take some adjusting. You know, me and Mark [Ingram] played in the last preseason game, AK [Alvin Kamara] didn’t even play that game. So with all three of us being out there, I knew it would take a game or so to kind of get adjusted.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia lead Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko’s list of the top-10 head coaching candidates. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is third on the list, while Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo round out the top-five.
  • When asked if Jets ownership would still trust general manager Mike Maccagnan to draft a quarterback, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini acknowledges that it’d be “unconventional” to let the executive go after only three seasons. However, the writer also notes that Maccagnan still needs to be evaluated for his ability to draft signal-callers, especially after the selection of Christian Hackenberg. Ultimately, Cimini is willing to give the general manager until the end of the season, as there’s still time for Hackenberg (and teammate Bryce Petty) to show improvements. However, if the quarterbacks aren’t developing, then there’s some obvious cause for concern.
  • The Vikings promoted Kyle Sloter to their active roster earlier today, but Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press observes (via Twitter) that the quarterback won’t be earning a huge pay raise. Sloter was already making more than your standard practice squad player, so his salary will “only” be boosted from $20K per week to a bit more than $27K per week.

Giants Sign DC Steve Spagnuolo To New Deal

The Giants have re-signed defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, whose contract had expired after the Super Bowl, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. The new deal is for two years, reports Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, meaning Spagnuolo is now signed through 2018.Steve Spagnuolo

[RELATED: JPP Targeting Olivier Vernon Money]

In the second season of his second stint with New York, Spagnuolo led a defense that ranked second only to Denver in DVOA. The unit, buoyed by additions such as Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Eli Apple, ranked 10th in the league in yards allowed and second in points allowed.

Spagnuolo, 57, had a previous run as the Giants’ DC from 2007-08, during which time the club earned a Super Bowl victory. Since that time, Spagnuolo has spent time with the Rams (as head coach), Saints, and Ravens before working his way back to New York.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Randle, Bills, Dolphins, Giants

Receiver Rueben Randle says he turned down longer deals than the modest one-year offer he accepted from the Eagles last week, according to Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “There were [other teams interested],” the 24-year-old said. “I just felt like it was a better opportunity for me here to showcase my talents on a one-year deal, to go out and prove myself.” Along with Jordan Matthews, Randle is one of the Eagles’ two most accomplished wideouts. Not surprisingly, then, he expects to start. “I feel confident that I will be [a starter]. That’s for me to go out there and prove,” he said.

More from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin seemingly tweeted Friday that he was done with the team and then insisted it’s not an April Fools’ joke, as Ron Clements of the Sporting News writes. The Bills haven’t released Goodwin. Instead, he plans to dedicate his time and training to the upcoming Olympics, per Clements. Goodwin, twice an NCAA long jump champion at Texas, was part of the 2012 Olympics as a long jumper for the U.S. team. Since the Bills chose Goodwin in the third round of the 2012 draft, he has appeared in just 24 of 48 regular-season games and amassed 20 receptions and three touchdowns. Goodwin, 25, has one year and $675K left on his contract.
  • In other Bills news, team brass dined with six Ohio State prospects on Thursday, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Quarterback Cardale Jones, outside linebacker Darron Lee, cornerback Eli Apple, defensive end Adolphus Washington, offensive tackle Taylor Decker, and free safety Vonn Bell all met with a Buffalo contingent.
  • The Dolphins announced that cornerback Greg Toler‘s visit with the team has concluded, as Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald tweets. Presumably, there is no agreement between the two sides – at least, not yet.
  • Toler might not be the only free agent corner on the Dolphins’ radar, writes the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, who says the team hasn’t closed the door on signing either Leon Hall or Antonio Cromartie. Hall – a Bengal since his career started in 2007 – has a connection to new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who was Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach the previous two seasons. Cromartie’s first stint with the Jets began via trade back in 2010, when Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was Gang Green’s general manager.
  • Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo admits that he’s “disappointed” he wasn’t elevated to head coach, as Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News writes. “I’m not going to lie to you,” Spagnuolo said. “I was disappointed I wasn’t the guy . . . but I’m not giving up on my dream of being a head coach…But I like [Ben McAdoo] a lot. It was two-fold. It didn’t happen, so it was a disappointment. But it’s always nice to be wanted.”

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Eagles Had Interest In Steve Spagnuolo

With Tom Coughlin resigned as the Giants’ head coach, it created some uncertainty about Steve Spagnuolo‘s future with the team. The incumbent defensive coordinator interviewed for New York’s head coaching job, but it was Ben McAdoo, the former offensive coordinator, who ended up landing the job instead.Steve Spagnuolo

[RELATED: Eagles hire Doug Pederson as head coach]

Despite not receiving a promotion like McAdoo, it doesn’t appear that Spagnuolo is going anywhere. Several Giants beat reporters, including Paul Schwartz of the New York Post and Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (Twitter links) that Spagnuolo is expected to remain the team’s defensive coordinator.

Still, it’s not as if Spagnuolo is staying put due to a lack of opportunities elsewhere. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the Eagles explored the idea of bringing the Giants’ defensive coordinator to Philadelphia as Doug Pederson‘s defensive coordinator. Anthony Gargano of 97.5 The Fantatic (Twitter link) said this morning that the Eagles actually requested permission to talk to Spagnuolo, but were denied by New York.

Assuming Gargano’s report is accurate, it doesn’t come as a real surprise. Coughlin interviewed with the Eagles for their head coaching job, but withdrew from that process at least in part because he was unlikely to have the freedom to bring his old Giants assistants with him. If the Giants wouldn’t let Spagnuolo join Coughlin in Philadelphia, they weren’t likely to let him join Pederson there. Of course, it’s not clear if Spagnuolo even reciprocated the Eagles’ interest.

As our coordinator tracker shows, Jim Schwartz and Mike Pettine have been mentioned as potential defensive coordinator candidates in Philadelphia. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles appear to be closing in on a deal to make Frank Reich their offensive coordinator, while the Giants are expected to promote Mike Sullivan to their OC role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Expected To Hire Frank Reich As OC

MONDAY, 12:22pm: Reich is expected to join Pederson’s staff in Philadelphia, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapoport clarifies (via Twitter) that the former Chargers offensive coordinator is expected to hold the same position with the Eagles.

SUNDAY, 1:49pm: Now that his club has been eliminated from the postseason, Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson is expected to introduced as the Eagles’ new head coach at a press conference early this week. But he’s already at work filling out a coaching staff, and his first choice for offensive coordinator is former Chargers OC Frank Reich, reports Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News.Frank Reich (Vertical)

[RELATED: Eagles to hire Doug Pederson as head coach]

Reich, recently fired after three seasons leading San Diego’s offense, interviewed for the same position on Adam Gase‘s Dolphins staff, but Miami ultimately chose Clyde Christensen as their new offensive coordinator. Reich wouldn’t have called plays in Miami (Gase will do that), and it’s unclear if he would handle that responsibility in Philadelphia — or if Pederson himself will take on that role.

Pederson is also interested in bringing a fellow Chiefs staffer with him, as Hayes reports that Brad Childress is on the Eagles’ radar. It’s unknown in what capacity Childress would serve — he’s currently labeled as Kansas City’s spread game coordinator — but he has a history with both the Eagles and Pederson. Childress worked with the Eagles from 1999-2005, and his time in Philadelphia overlapped with that of Pederson’s (who was an active player) in 1999.

Incumbent Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur reportedly isn’t out the picture quite yet, as Hayes indicates that Pederson isn’t averse to keeping Shurmur on staff, perhaps even in his same role. Shurmur, of course, interviewed for the head coaching position in Philadelphia, and is respected due to his work with quarterback Sam Bradford in 2015.

On the defensive side of the ball, Pederson’s top target for coordinator is Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo, per Hayes. That could prove difficult, as all indications have been that the Giants and new head coach Ben McAdoo plan to keep Spagnuolo on as coordinator.

Pederson, who has no head coaching experience himself and has only been an NFL assistant since 2009, is clearly targeting coaches who do have experience at the top. Between them, Childress, Shurmur, and Spagnuolo offer 10 years of HC experience, which would be valuable to a first-time head coach.

Coach Rumors: Giants, Tabor, M. Smith, Haslett

Ben McAdoo didn’t announce any decisions on his coaching staff during his introductory press conference this morning, but the new Giants head coach alluded to players improving in their second season in a defensive scheme, suggesting Steve Spagnuolo will be back.

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Spagnuolo will, in fact, return as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. A source tell Marvez (Twitter link) that the Giants will also keep secondary coach David Merritt on McAdoo’s staff.

As for McAdoo, Giants owner John Mara said today that the club had initially scheduled a second interview for him on Thursday of this week. However, when the Giants got wind of the Eagles’ strong interest in McAdoo, they pushed that second interview up a day to Wednesday, and ultimately promoted him to head coach (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News).

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NFL:

  • Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been retained by new head coach Hue Jackson, the team announced today in a press release. Tabor has been in his current role since 2011, working under Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, and now Jackson.
  • The Browns are also expected to add Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson to their staff as a running game coordinator, if Minnesota approves the move, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a “hot name” as a defensive coordinator and has several options, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). We’ll see if Smith, who interviewed for a pair of head coaching jobs, has interest in returning in 2016 as an assistant.
  • Jim Haslett will be named the Bengals‘ new linebackers coach, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (via Twitter). Haslett, who served as a consultant for Penn State in 2015, was replaced by Joe Barry as Washington’s defensive coordinator a year ago.
  • Saints offensive line coach Bret Ingalls, offensive assistant Kyle DeVan, and secondary coach Wesley McGriff are leaving the team, with the latter two landing college jobs, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune tweets that Dan Roushar will likely move from tight ends coach to offensive line coach to accommodate new addition Dan Campbell.

Giants Hire Ben McAdoo As Head Coach

FRIDAY, 10:26am: McAdoo received a four-year contract along with his promotion, tweets Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. The Giants’ new head coach was officially introduced at a Friday morning press conference.

THURSDAY, 2:05pm: The Giants have officially hired McAdoo as their new head coach, the team announced today in a press release.

“Ben is an outstanding young coach who has great experience and has done a good job as our offensive coordinator these past two years,” John Mara said in a statement.Jerry [Reese] and I interviewed six impressive candidates, and when we were through with that process, we had another conversation with Ben, as did Steve and Jon Tisch. We were all impressed with his energy, his enthusiasm, his vision and his desire.”

McAdoo is reportedly prepared to promote quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan to be his new offensive coordinator.

WEDNESDAY, 7:22pm: The Giants are closing in on a deal to hire offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo as their next head coach, a source tells Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, meanwhile, appears likely to serve as his offensive coordinator on the revamped Giants staff (link). Ben McAdoo

McAdoo, who was hired as the Giants’ offensive coordinator in 2014, has helped Eli Manning enjoy perhaps the most productive two-year stretch of his NFL career. Although the club has posted a 6-10 record in consecutive seasons, Manning has thrived, averaging 4,423 yards and about 33 touchdowns per season over the last two years, to go along with a 92.9 rating. The Giants finished in the top eight in the NFL in terms of both yards per game (372.3) and points per game (26.3) in 2015.

Manning was vocal in his support of McAdoo and told a New York radio station earlier this month that he felt that McAdoo reminded him a lot of predecessor Tom Coughlin. Manning’s endorsement alone did not get McAdoo the job, but there’s little doubt that it was a major help.

Prior to hiring McAdoo, the Giants interviewed a wide range of candidates, as shown in the 2016 PFR NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker. The Giants also interviewed Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, their own DC Steve Spagnuolo, ex-Bills head coach Doug Marrone, and ex-Falcons head coach Mike Smith. As for right now, the plan is for Spagnuolo to remain on staff as the team’s defensive coordinator, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets.

Apparently, the Eagles were dangerously close to swooping in and stealing McAdoo away from New York. Two NFL sources tell Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter) that the Eagles were set to hire McAdoo. One has to imagine that lit a fire under the Giants and pushed them to turn away from their other candidates.

The Dolphins were 1-3 and lost back-to-back games by a combined score of 68-28 when Philbin was axed in October. Philbin is generally regarded as one of the kinder coaches in the game, but his agreeable demeanor did not save his job in Miami as the team entered the season with very high hopes for 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.