Stump Mitchell

Browns Hire Todd Monken, Steve Wilks

The Browns’ coaching staff is officially set. On Monday, the Browns officially announced the hiring of Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator and Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator. In addition to those hires, the club appointed Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator, Stump Mitchell as the running backs coach/run game coordinator, James Campen as offensive line coach/associate head coach, and Ryan Lindley as quarterbacks coach.

Monken has a reputation for savvy play calling, even though Buccaneers’ offense was inconsistent in 2018. The Bucs didn’t consider him as a potential replacement for head coach Dirk Koetter, but other clubs were eager to talk with him. The Bengals, Packers, and Jets all interviewed him for their head coaching vacancies and several clubs showed keen interest in bringing him on as their new OC. Ultimately, Monken chose the Browns, who offer tremendous potential and a potential star quarterback in Baker Mayfield.

Wilks was one-and-done as the Cardinals’ head coach after the team limped to a 3-13 record. His defense did not perform up to par in Arizona, but he built a reputation for himself as a smart defensive mind in Carolina. In his six seasons with the Panthers (five as defensive backs coach, one as DC), the club finished with a top 10 defense five times.

Extra Points: Eric Reid, Browns, Coaches, Seahawks, Workouts

We have a new update on the Eric Reid situation. The Panthers safety has been griping for a while now about the NFL targeting him with incessant drug tests in retaliation for his collusion suit against the league, and the league and NFLPA issued a statement a few days ago saying there was no evidence to support his claims. Reid isn’t dropping the issue however, and his lawyers are rejecting the contents of the letter released by the league, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

“They claim that some of the dates the NFL used in its report are incorrect”, and “want access to all evidence, records, electronic messages and information sources used to determine the findings within the report”, La Canfora writes. It’s unclear what his potential next step is, but this probably isn’t the last we’ll hear of it. We also heard a few weeks ago that the Panthers were interested in bringing Reid back in 2019 and had already reached out to his agent about a new deal.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Freddie Kitchens’ inaugural staff in Cleveland is getting a new member. The Browns are hiring former Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN (Twitter link). While Anderson writes that “his official title has yet to be finalized”, she does note that he’ll coach the running backs. Mitchell is a longtime running backs coach in the league, who has also spent some time as the head coach of Morgan State and Southern University. Mitchell and Kitchens worked together on Bruce Arians’ staff in Arizona, so the move makes a lot of sense.
  • While the Raiders’ coaching staff isn’t undergoing any major changes for Jon Gruden’s second season, at least one assistant won’t be back in 2019. Assistant defensive line coach Marco Coleman is leaving the team to take a job at Georgia Tech, his alma mater, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link). Gruden’s first season was a disappointment, but there was no big shakeup in response.
  • Before signing kicker Sam Ficken yesterday, the Seahawks worked out a few other kickers. The team brought in Caleb Sturgis, Younghoe Koo, and Lirim Hajrullahua for workouts, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Koo was the Chargers’ kicker to open the 2017 season but was cut after a handful of games, while Sturgis was the Chargers’ kicker the first half of this season before being cut in favor of Michael Badgley. Hajrullahua has been in the CFL the last five years. Seattle’s interest in kickers suggests Sebastian Janikowski, who is a free agent this offseason, won’t be returning in 2019.
  • Speaking of workouts, the Colts brought in tight end Gabe Holmes for a tryout, Balzer tweets. Holmes was signed as an UDFA by the Raiders back in 2015, and has bounced around some bottom of the rosters and practice squads ever since. The Purdue product has spent time with the Raiders, Seahawks, Ravens, and Cardinals. Holmes appeared in eight games with Arizona this year, but was used mostly as a blocker and never caught a pass.

Coaching Notes: Kubiak, Jaguars, 49ers, Packers

Gary Kubiak will not be joining the Broncos, but he’d still be open to other coordinator openings. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the long-time coach “still has an interest in being an offensive coordinator.” Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic echoes the report (via Twitter), saying the Broncos wouldn’t stand in the way of the current executive pursuing another gig.

One team that could have interest in Kubiak is the Jaguars, according to Schefter. Jacksonville has been connected to Darrell Bevell and Todd Monken as they’ve searched for a replacement for Scott Milanovich.

It was believed that Kubiak would be hired as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator on Vic Fangio‘s new staff. However, talks apparently broke down between the two parties, with reports noting that they had “different ideas on staffing and offensive philosophies.”

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Speaking of the Broncos, offensive line coach Sean Kugler interviewed with the Vikings and is set to meet with the Cardinals, reports Mike Klis of 9News (via Twitter). Klis notes that there’s some optimism that he’d ultimately be hired for the Cardinals gig. Kugler’s tenure in Denver could be over, as the team is reportedly eyeing Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak for the position.
  • The 49ers denied the Packers and head Matt LaFleur permission to interview his brother, wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur, according to Schefter (on Twitter). San Francisco also denied the Browns and Vikings requests to interview the younger LaFleur.
  • The Browns are set to interview Packers run game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen today, reports ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (via Twitter). Green Bay’s longest-tenured assistant coach has been with the organization since 2007, and he was promoted to position of run-game coordinator prior to this season. Campen is under contract for next season, so it’s a bit surprising that Green Bay didn’t deny the Browns’ request to interview the coach.
  • Some assorted coaching hirings and firings: running backs coach Stump Mitchell is returning to the Cardinals (via Alex Marvez of SiriusXM on Twitter), the Packers have fired passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. (via Schefter on Twitter), and the Buccaneers have hired University of Arizona offensive line coach Joe Gilbert for the same position (via TampaBay.com’s Rick Stroud on Twitter).

Coaching Rumors: Jets, Gase, Cardinals, Lions

The Jets likely preferred Baylor’s Matt Rhule to Adam Gase, but as previously reported, things fell apart when Rhule refused to allow the Jets to pick his staff for him. The Jets especially wanted to choose his offensive coordinator and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears the Jets floated Todd Monken to him as an option.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Cardinals asked, but were denied, permission to interview 49ers run game coordinator Mike McDaniel for their offensive coordinator position, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets. McDaniel is tight with head coach Kyle Shanahan and the team was not prepared to lose him, especially to a divisional rival.
  • “It appears” that Steve Sarkisian and Nathaniel Hackett are in the mix for the Lions‘ offensive coordinator vacancy, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM tweets. The Lions have been looking for a new OC ever since Jan. 1 when they announced that Jim Bob Cooter‘s contract would not be renewed.
  • Sarkisian has also spoken with the Cardinals about their OC job, Marvez tweets. Sarkisian has been on the market since Dec. 31 when he was fired by Atlanta.
  • Both the Cardinals and Browns have sought permission to interview Jets running backs coach Stump Mitchell, a source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The position(s) he’ll be discussing with those teams are unclear, however.

Coaching/FO Notes: Browns, Garcia, 49ers

The Browns have interviewed Jeff Garcia for their vacant quarterbacks coach position, tweets Tony Grossi of ESPN.com. Cleveland is aiming to replace Pep Hamilton, who served as QBs coach in addition to acting as associate head coach, after he joined the University of Michigan staff. Garcia, 46, enjoyed a long NFL career as a signal-caller that included a stint with the Browns (2004). His only professional coaching experience, however, came with the Montreal Alouettes in 2014 and the Rams in 2015.

Here’s more from the NFL’s hiring cycle:

  • Former Lions general manager Martin Mayhew could land in John Lynch‘s new 49ers front office, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Mayhew, who served as Detroit’s GM 2008-15, served as the Giants’ director of football operations/special projects last year. Schrager also confirmed that ex-Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik is still a candidate to head to San Francisco, despite the club’s hiring of Lynch and VP of player personnel Adam Peters.
  • The Jets announced today that they’ve hired Stump Mitchell as their new running backs coach. Mitchell will reunite with New York head coach Todd Bowles, as both men previously worked under Bruce Arians in Arizona. Mitchell had been with the Cardinals since 2013, but the club opted last week not to renew his contract. Gang Green has now filled out most of its offensive staff under new coordinator John Morton, but still needs to hire a QBs coach.
  • The Panthers are expected to promote assistant defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller to secondary coach, reports Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. Fuller’s promotion would be the final link in a chain of events that involved former Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott taking the Buffalo head coaching position, followed by Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks‘ promotion to DC. Fuller has worked for Carolina since 2013.

Extra Points: Jags, 49ers, Cousins, Bucs, Cards

The Jaguars announced that they’ve hired former CFL head coach Scott Milanovich as their new quarterbacks coach. Milanovich, who played in the NFL with the Buccaneers from 1996-99, has been coaching in Canada since 2003. After serving in a variety of offensive roles for the Montreal Alouettes from 2007-11, Milanovich took over the Toronto Argonauts in 2012, winning the Grey Cup in his first season as head coach and posting a 43-47 record overall.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Soon-to-be 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan tried to trade for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins while he was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator in 2014, and also favored Cousins over Robert Griffin III when the trio was in Washington, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. With Shanahan likely headed to San Francisco, he could theoretically pursue Cousins if the price is right (and Washington is willing to let him go).
  • Although the Buccaneers have started dialogue with a good deal of their pending free agents, general manger Jason Licht is clearly targeting a few key players for re-signing, as Scott Reynolds of PewterReport.com and Roy Cummings of FloridaFootballInsiders.com detail in separate articles. Defensive end William Gholston and running back Jacquizz Rodgers appear to be “priorities” for Tampa Bay, while the club also wants to keep quarterback Ryan Griffin given that fellow backup QB Mike Glennon is expected to leave via free agency.
  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was the driving force behind his club’s refusal to allow quarterbacks coach John DeFillipo interview for the Jets’ offensive coordinator vacancy, and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Lurie did so in order to keep Philadelphia’s staff together for the benefit of Carson Wentz. Additionally, Lurie is reportedly willing to spend what cap space the Eagles have this offseason in order to secure more offensive weapons for his second-year quarterback.
  • The Cardinals did not renew the contract of running back coach Stump Mitchell, meaning it was the club’s choice to part ways, tweets Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Mitchell, who joined Arizona in 2013, is now free to pursue other opportunities, as Mitchell’s agent last year told PFR’s Zach Links he was open to doing.

Extra Points: Steelers, Seahawks, Ravens, Jets

The NFL is “looking into” whether the Steelers violated its policy in not listing running back Le’Veon Bell on their injury reports in recent weeks, including before last Sunday’s AFC championship game, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Bell departed the title game early because of a groin injury, and he then revealed after the Steelers’ 36-17 loss to New England that it had had been a problem for weeks. At no point did the Steelers disclose the ailment, though, which is why the league is investigating the matter.

Of course, the league is also scrutinizing the Seahawks for a similar issue involving cornerback Richard Sherman. That could lead to the loss of a second-round pick for Seattle, whose general manager, John Schneider, told SiriusXM on Thursday that the club “didn’t do anything malicious at all” (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times).

Sherman, meanwhile, believes “it would be odd, out of the norm” for the Seahawks to receive punishment, and he doesn’t expect the league to discipline the Steelers. “Le’Veon said he’s got a groin (issue) for weeks, they’re going to get a warning,” he told Conor Orr of NFL.com. “Andrew (Luck) played with cracked ribs for a whole year (back in 2015). You see what I’m saying?”

More from around the league:

  • While the possibility of the Ravens cutting wide receiver Mike Wallace this offseason in order to save $5.75MM has come up, he remains in the team’s plans, relays Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Thanks to Steve Smith‘s retirement and Kamar Aiken‘s forthcoming departure, Wallace is easily the most accomplished receiver the Ravens have under contract for next season. In 2016, his age-30 campaign, Wallace finished in the top two among Ravens in receptions (72; first), yards (1,017; first), targets (117; second), yards per catch (14.1; second) and touchdowns (four; second). He’s also still one of the league’s fastest wideouts, as Brown details.
  • The Jets have hired Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene to coach their OLBs, tweets Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Greene, who’s third all-time in sacks (160), last coached the Packers’ OLBs from 2009-13.
  • Former NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich is taking over as the Cardinals’ QBs coach, according to Marvez (Twitter link). He’ll displace Freddie Kitchens, who will become the team’s running backs coach. That role previously belonged to Stump Mitchell, who was in a contract year and elected not to come back for 2017. Leftwich’s introduction to coaching came last year as an intern with the Cards.

Cardinals RB Coach Stump Mitchell In Contract Year

David Johnson has made a name for himself as one of the very best running backs in the NFL today. Less well known is Cardinals running backs coach Stump Mitchell, the man who is responsible for developing Johnson into an elite offensive weapon. Pro Football Rumors has learned that Mitchell is now in the final year of his contract and he is aiming to take on a larger role next season. 

Mitchell hopes to remain with the Cardinals, agent Burton Rocks tells PFR, but Rocks also believes that he is capable of a higher title. Rocks says he could conceivably pitch Mitchell as an associate head coach, offensive coordinator, and even head coaching candidate this offseason. It’s also possible that Mitchell could entertain D-I head coaching job offers if the right one comes along.

Mitchell, of course, has deep ties to the Cardinals after spending his entire nine-year career with the organization. The 57-year-old holds the franchise record in all-purpose yards and is second all-time in rushing yards. Now, he has Johnson on track to eventually leapfrog him in the history books. There’s no sign of a staff shakeup in Arizona, but the Cardinals could theoretically promote Mitchell without displacing another coach. For example, Tom Moore holds the title of assistant head coach on offense, but the soon-to-be 78-year-old could choose to return to a less demanding consulting role.

Before joining up with the Cardinals in 2013, Mitchell was the longtime running backs coach of the Seahawks and also spent two seasons as the Redskins’ running backs coach/associate head coach. He also has college head coaching experience with Morgan State and Southern University. In addition to David Johnson, Chris Johnson, and Andre Ellington, Mitchell’s running back resume also includes the likes of Ricky Waters, Ahman Green, Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis, and Mike Sellers.

As Johnson terrorizes opposing defenses, the timing could not be better for Mitchell to reach free agency. If the Cardinals’ ground game continues to produce, the veteran coach could have an opportunity to climb the NFL coaching ladder in the New Year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.