Todd Bowles

AFC Notes: A. Smith, Orr, Watson, Landry

It was former Chiefs GM John Dorsey who ultimately pulled the trigger on the team’s draft-day trade that allowed Kansas City to climb all the way up to the No. 10 overall spot and draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But now that Dorsey is out and Brett Veach is in, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says it is fair to question what the new hire means for incumbent signal-caller Alex Smith.

But according to Miller, not much will change with respect to the team’s approach to Smith. After all, Veach has been with the Chiefs for the past four years, so it’s not as if he’s coming to Kansas City with a fresh take on the situation. Plus, Miller’s league sources all said effectively the same thing: “nothing changes in Kansas City while Andy Reid is the head coach.” As such, you can still expect the team to move on from Smith after the 2017 season — and save $17MM in the process — as long as Mahomes appears ready to assume control.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
  • Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
  • Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant recently said he took issue with the way Ben Roethlisberger spoke about him to the media earlier this summer, when Big Ben said Bryant would need to “win back everybody’s trust.” That might sound pretty rich for a player who managed to get himself suspended for the entire 2016 campaign, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com nonetheless believes that it is important for Bryant and Roethlisberger to have the sit-down that Bryant proposed. Although such meetings are often unbeneficial formalities, Fowler says Bryant, whose position in the league is fairly tenuous at this point, needs to feel like the catalyst he can be and not become a source of criticism.
  • The Dolphins‘ best bet may be to simply let Jarvis Landry play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and put the franchise tag on him in 2018, as Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders opines. After all, Landry is set to make less than $1MM this year, so even the projected $17MM tag in 2018 would allow Miami to keep Landry for at least two more seasons at about $8.5MM per year, which is well below the $14MM per year he would likely get with a new contract. Although that approach could create some discord between player and team, it does make short-term financial sense.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.

Jets Notes: Bowles, Martin, Skrine, UDFAs

Some fringe NFL players have difficulties finding a job after their NFL career has seemingly come to an end. However, Jets placekicker Ross Martin seems to have it all figured out. The former undrafted free agent out of Duke already has a job lined up at IBM if/when his football opportunities have dried up.

“Throughout my senior year, my first and foremost passion was to make it to the NFL, but I also wanted to have a contingency plan,” Martin told Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com. “I did a couple interviews with a couple different firms and ended up getting the offer from IBM with a start date in October last year. I went the whole course with the Jets through the preseason and everything. I got cut and started working for IBM in October of last year all the way up through April.”

Martin is hoping for a different outcome this time around. The 23-year-old is competing with Chandler Catanzaro in what special teams coordinator Brant Boyer described as a “wide open kicking competition.”

Let’s check out some more notes out of the Jets organization…

  • In the unlikely event that Jets coach Todd Bowles loses his job, Darryl Slater of NJ.com believes that general manager Mike Maccagnan should have a major say in hiring the team’s replacement. Bowles and Maccagnan were hired together before the 2015 season, and it’s clear that owner Woody Johnson is still running the show. However, considering the organization’s wish to rebuild next season, it seems unlikely that the team wouldn’t consider bringing Bowles back for the 2018 campaign.
  • Looking at holdovers from last season’s team, Slater makes it clear that Jets veteran running back Matt Forte will not get cut. Considering Lorenzo Mauldin‘s legal issues, the writer can envision the team moving on from the linebacker. The writer also points to cornerback Buster Skrine, who he assumes will be gone next offseason, anyway. Cutting the veteran defensive back would create nearly $6MM in cap space, which the Jets could carry over into next offseason.
  • Among all of the Jets’ undrafted free agents, Connor Hughes of NJ.com believes offensive lineman Chris Bordelon has the best chance of making the 53-man roster. While the Jets starting offensive line is seemingly set, the Nicholls State product could catch on as a reserve. The writer also lists wideouts K.D. Cannon and Gabe Marks, fullback Anthony Firkser, cornerback Xavier Coleman, and linebacker Connor Harris as potential candidates to make the team.
  • In case you missed it, free agent linebacker Zach Orr is set to meet with the Jets today.

Extra Points: Jets, Kap, OBJ, Megatron

The Jets moved on from linebacker David Harris and wide receiver Eric Decker solely for financial reasons, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Jets owner Woody Johnson, realizing that the team wasn’t going to compete this year even with Harris and Decker, decided it would make more sense to save $13.75MM than spend it on the two veterans. Committing to a rebuild is a commendable approach, writes Mehta, though he questions the way the Jets handled the Harris situation. Jets bigwigs assured Harris back in March that he’d return to the team for an 11th year, but they then approached him about a pay cut 72 hours before releasing him, per Mehta. Johnson’s desire to save money drove that decision, and Harris is now looking for work at a time when free agency has died down. Harris’ agents complained Tuesday that the Jets didn’t just release the defender over the winter, as doing so probably would’ve led to a stronger market for his services.

As for two of Johnson’s highest-ranking employees, general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, they should be in line to return in 2018 if the rebuilding club’s young players progress this year, writes Mehta. But Brian Costello of the New York Post passes along somewhat different information, relaying that Maccagnan will probably stay on but that “Bowles is viewed as a goner by nearly everyone.” Talent-wise, the deck is stacked against Bowles as he enters his third season with the Jets and the penultimate year of his contract. “They have the worst roster in the league and it’s not close,” one executive told Costello. Harris’ release added another hole to the roster, and his exit hit Bowles “hard,” according to Costello.

  • Colin Kaepernick‘s inability to find a job as a backup quarterback continues to be a popular topic, and one of his friends, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, weighed in on the matter after Seattle signed Austin Davis instead of Kaepernick. “The organizations, they’re going to be giving the younger guys the first and second look. They know what Colin can do,” Baldwin told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “They know he’s a starter in this league. They’re going to give every opportunity for the young guys to compete, show their talents, and then whatever falls he’ll get his opportunities once all this dust settles.” While many believe Kaepernick is unemployed largely because the then-49er refused to stand for the national anthem last season, Baldwin doesn’t see that as a significant factor. “To some degree, but I think that’s really minor,” Baldwin said. “There are 32 teams out there. Not all of them really care about that. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll have a job here rather quickly.”
  • With one report suggesting that Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t attended OTAs because he wants a raise, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends that it would likely take a multiyear deal with at least $30MM guaranteed to lock him up. Meanwhile, Steve Serby of the New York Post proposes a six-year, $103.5MM contract – including $47.5MM guaranteed – that would make Beckham the game’s highest-paid wideout.
  • Contrary to a prior report, Calvin Johnson did not repay the Lions $320K of his $3.2MM signing bonus when he retired in March 2016. The former receiver actually forked over a much larger sum, at least $1MM, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.

East Notes: Peterson, Sherman, Jets

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says that the Patriots‘ apparently had at least some interest in free agent RB Adrian Peterson, or they wouldn’t have put him through various tests and drills during his recent visit with the club (some have speculated that head coach Bill Belichick merely brought Peterson in as a favor for someone, like an agent or mutual friend). The Patriots have a take-it-or-leave-it proposal on the table for LeGarrette Blount, and if Blount does not return, the club could turn back to Peterson or could shift its attention to a draft class deep at the running back position.

Now let’s take a look at more East-related rumors:

  • In the same piece, Reiss confirms a report from several days ago indicating that the Patriots are not expected to trade for Richard Sherman. Our Zach Links suggests that could be a sign that Malcolm Butler is staying in New England.
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com believes that the Eagles are likely to nab a cornerback with their first selection (No. 14 overall) in this month’s draft. However, he also notes that Florida State running back Dalvin Cook would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia’s offense, and that the Eagles should consider trading back up into the first round should Cook still be on the board in the latter stages of Day 1.
  • Eagles DT Beau Allen suffered a chest injury on Thursday and will have surgery. He is expected to miss four to six months.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com believes the only way Jets GM Mike Maccagnan loses his job after 2017 is if the club is “truly horrific.” Meanwhile, Slater believes head coach Todd Bowles could make it to 2018 if he can coax at least six wins out of Gang Green, but if he produces anything less, he will likely get the ax, even if Maccagnan sticks around.
  • The Giants are in desperate need of a quality offensive tackle, and Paul Schwartz of the New York Post says the team will certainly select Alabama OT Cam Robinson if he is still available when the Giants are on the clock in the first round. Otherwise, Schwartz suggests New York could wait until the second round and hope Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton or Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp (who projects as more of a guard in the NFL) is still on the board.

Jets Hire Saints’ John Morton As OC

The Jets officially announced that they are hiring former Saints wide receivers coach John Morton as their new offensive coordinator. He’ll take over the post vacated by veteran coach Chan Gailey.

Morton and former Texans OC George Godsey were the two finalists for this position, and although Godsey offered OC experience, Morton was coming off a banner year coaching New Orleans’ receivers. The Saints led the NFL in total offense and generated constant production from their wideouts, including UDFA Willie Snead and rookie Michael Thomas.

Morton’s past with Sean Payton, willingness to use the West Coast offense, and plans to fully utilize the tight end position caught Todd Bowles‘ attention, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Jets tight ends under Gailey produced historically unproductive numbers with just 26 receptions combined during his tenure. Meanwhile, Bowles is expected to be more involved with the offense in 2017 than he was in the previous two seasons.

At one point, the Jets were potentially leaning toward Godsey, having done “extensive homework” on the former Texans assistant. The Jets also considered eventual Broncos OC Mike McCoy and interviewed current McCoy staffer Eric Studesville before the Denver running backs coach withdrew from consideration. The Eagles put the kibosh on a Jets meeting with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as well.

Morton served as OC at USC from 2009-11, but has no prior play-calling experience in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Pryor, Draft, Coaching Staff

Darryl Slater and Connor Hughes of NJ.com wonder if the Jets could decide to trade former first-round pick Calvin Pryor this offseason. The 24-year-old just completed his third NFL season, but the safety has yet to establish himself as a “huge difference maker.” The Jets will eventually have to decide whether they want to pick up the player’s fifth-year option, and the organization could ultimately decide to put that responsibility on another team.

The two writers suggest a trade with the Seahawks that would send Pryor to Seattle and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to New York. The 2016 first-round pick played in six games (six starts) for the Seahawks this past season.

Slater and Hughes touch on a number of additional topics in their latest column. We’ve compiled some of the notable tidbits below…

  • The Jets “love” Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson. The 6-2, 253-pound defender had a monster season in 2016, compiling 61 tackles and 8.5 sacks. If Anderson drops to the second round, Slater and Hughes believe the Jets could zero in on him. The organization is also “doing their homework” on the tight end class.
  • The duo notes that the Jets’ two biggest needs are at quarterback and the offensive line. Unfortunately, the organization isn’t going to find elite talent from those positions in this year’s draft. While North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky would be an intriguing option, Slater and Hughes are doubtful that the player will fall to the Jets’ sixth-overall pick.
  • Todd Bowles has started to fill out his staff, but he still has a vacancy at defensive line coach. Slater and Hughes suggest that Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner could be an option, especially since the two coaches worked together in Arizona for two years. While Bowles is a big fan of Buckner, it’s unlikely that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians would just let him go.
  • The Jets were originally hoping to promote quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo to offensive coordinator following Chan Gailey‘s inevitable retirement. However, the Jets offense struggled mightily this past season, and the organization decided to look elsewhere to fill the vacancy. Slater and Hughes note that the Jets are still fans of Patullo, but they didn’t feel comfortable making him their offensive coordinator.

AFC Notes: Cousins, Jets, Steelers, Bengals

The Jets’ decision to hire Todd Bowles as their head coach instead of Dan Quinn in 2015 may have cost them a chance to acquire then-backup quarterback Kirk Cousins from the Redskins, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Quinn’s offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Kyle Shanahan, would have come with him to New York but would not have wanted to work with Geno Smith, sources told Mehta. Shanahan would have pushed to acquire Cousins, whom he knew from their time together in Washington in 2012. A big Cousins fan, Shanahan was reportedly “integral” in the Redskins’ drafting of the ex-Michigan State signal-caller. Along with Shanahan, Quinn would have brought former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik with him to work in the Jets’ front office. Dominik is close with Redskins president Bruce Allen, and their friendship could have further helped lead the way to a Cousins trade, writes Mehta.

As we ponder what could have been, here’s more from New York and a few other AFC cities:

  • While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is considering retirement, it will be a surprise if the 13th-year man doesn’t return in 2017, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In the seemingly likely event Roethlisberger does come back for his age-35 season, the Steelers should still give serious thought to using a high-round pick on a potential successor, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
  • The Jets’ previously reported interest in Saints wide receivers coach John Morton has already led to an interview. The two sides met Tuesday, and Morton remains in the running for the job, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
  • It appeared the NFL had lifted running back Karlos Williams‘ 10-game suspension when the Steelers brought him back on a reserve/futures deal Monday, but that’s not the case. Williams still has one game remaining on the substance abuse-related ban the league handed him in November, tweets Fowler. He’ll be eligible to take the field again in Week 2 of next season.
  • The belief is that the Bengals are talking to pending free agent kicker Randy Bullock about a new contract, writes Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. Re-signing Bullock wouldn’t stop the Bengals from searching for other options at the position, notes Hobson. The 27-year-old Bullock didn’t join the Bengals until mid-December, when they claimed him off waivers from division-rival Pittsburgh after releasing Mike Nugent. Bullock, who was a member of three teams in 2016 (the Giants were the other), connected on 5 of 6 field goal tries and all six extra points in three games with Cincinnati.
  • The Broncos made a minor change to their Vance Joseph-led staff Tuesday, promoting special teams quality control coach Chris Gould to assistant special teams coach. They’re also set to retain Klint Kubiak, the son of previous Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, as their offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Jets To Retain Todd Bowles, Mike Maccagnan

The Jets have officially announced that head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will return for the 2017 season.Mike Maccagnan/Todd Bowles (Vertical)

[RELATED: New York Jets Depth Chart]

Both decision-makers were largely expected to be retained for the 2017 campaign, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com recently reported that Bowles and Maccagnan would receive “mulligans” from ownership. Clearly, the 2016 season didn’t go as planned — instead of building upon a solid 2015, New York regressed to a 5-11 record, last in the AFC East. The Jets ranked dead last in DVOA heading into Week 17, and were porous on both sides of the ball, placing 31st in offense and 26th on defense.

The Jets figure to be active this offseason in terms of clearing cap space — currently, the club projects to be nearly $5MM over the cap in 2017, meaning Maccagnan and staff will need to release several veterans in order to be in compliance. Meanwhile, New York’s coaching staff could also undergo changes, and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is expected to be the first coach fired.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Panthers, Bears, 49ers, Jets

After going 15-1 and losing the Super Bowl last season, the Panthers have taken a huge step back in 2016. The team enters the final week of the season with a 6-9 record, and both the offense and the defense rank towards the bottom half of the league in several team stats.

Despite the struggles, coach Ron Rivera indicated that he isn’t anticipating any changes to his coaching staff…as long as it’s his decision.

“Remember, it’s the same group that was 15-1, same group that led the league in scoring,” Rivera told Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “And in the last five years, we’ve had a top-10 defense. So as I look it and break things down, yeah, there’s some things that we have to work on and change. You guys heard me talk about evolving. We have to.”

As Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Rivera hasn’t stuck to similar promises in the past. For instance, the team relieved special teams coach Richard Rodgers of his duties following the 2014 campaign. Gantt believes that offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey could find themselves on the hot seat.

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

  • Things haven’t gone as planned during John Fox‘s second season with the Bears. The team is looking to avoid their worst 16-game record in franchise history, and blame will naturally lie on the head coach. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes that chairman George McCaskey will likely wait until the end of the season to make any decisions on his coaching staff’s fate. Campbell notes that the organization waited until the 2014 offseason to fire general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
  • Eric Branch of SFGate.com wonders if head coach Chip Kelly‘s unwillingness to adjust his fast-paced gameplan could ultimately lead to his demise with the 49ers. As the writer notes, the coach wasn’t necessarily put in a position to succeed with a lack of talent on the roster. However, Campbell believes the coach’s devotion to his gameplan could come up during offseason discussions with CEO Jed York and a new general manager (assuming Trent Baalke is fired). For what it’s worth, Kelly hasn’t indicated that he’s willing to change his ways. “I think we always look at everything on a weekly basis trying to see how we can improve,” Kelly said following his team’s overtime loss to the Jets in early December. “You look at the game yesterday: It’s about making one more play than the other team. It’s not like we’re getting taken to the woodshed and don’t have an opportunity to compete and play.”
  • Jets head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan are expected to receive a “mulligan” from owner Woody Johnson for the team’s subpar performance this season, writes ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. The writer acknowledges that it’s been a tough year for the organization, but he also notes that it’d be a knee-jerk reaction to fire the tandem after only two seasons.

Jets To Retain Todd Bowles

In Buffalo, Rex Ryan was not given a third season to right the ship. Apparently, they’re a little more patient in New Jersey. Todd Bowles will be brought back for the 2017 season, a well-placed source tells Gary Myers of the New York Daily NewsTodd Bowles

[RELATED: Jets Place Bryce Petty On IR]

This has been an ugly season for the Jets in all facets of the game, including defense where Bowles is said to be a guru. Fans have been calling for Bowles’ head for the last couple of months, but it sounds like the Jets will instead focus on personnel changes and possibly changes on the coaching staff.

This spring, GM Mike Maccagnan will have to figure out the team’s future at quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick failed miserably in 2016. Fitzpatrick is a goner, Geno Smith is likely done in New York, Bryce Petty is an unknown quantity, and rookie Christian Hackenberg is too green to even take the field in this Sunday’s meaningless contest. That will be one of many holes to also address while the front office is hampered by some ill-advised deals, including Darrelle Revis‘ bloated contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.