Travelle Wharton

Redskins Announce 16 Coaching Hires

New Redskins head coach Ron Rivera had already brought in new coordinators on both sides of the ball (Scott Turner on offense, Jack Del Rio on defense), and he’s now filled out the rest of his staff. Rivera and Washington announced the following 16 hires earlier today:

  • Pete Hoener, tight ends
  • Jim Hostler, wide receivers
  • Randy Jordan, running backs
  • John Matsko, offensive line
  • Drew Terrell, assistant wide receivers
  • Travelle Wharton, assistant offensive line
  • Ken Zampese, quarterbacks
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs
  • Sam Mills III, defensive line
  • Richard Rodgers, assistant defensive backs
  • Steve Russ, linebackers
  • Brent Vieselmeyer, assistant defensive backs
  • Luke Del Rio, offensive quality control
  • Ben Jacobs, assistant special teams
  • Vincent Rivera, defensive quality control
  • Todd Storm, offensive quality control

Both Hostler and Zampese have both previously served as offensive coordinators. Hostler was the 49ers’ OC for a single season in 2007 under head coach Mike Nolan, but was fired after only one year at the helm. Zampese, meanwhile, was the Bengals’ offensive playcaller in 2016 and part of 2017 before being let go. He’s since coached for the Browns, the AAF’s Atlanta Legends, and the University of Florida.

Unsurprisingly, a number of new Redskins coached worked under Rivera in Carolina, including Hoener, Hostler, Matsko, Terrell, Wharton, Mills, Rodgers, and Russ.

Extra Points: Fitzgerald, Talib, Titans, Jets

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has yet to make his intentions for the 2018 season public knowledge, but signs are point toward the future Hall of Famer returning for his 15th NFL campaign.

New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he has talked with Fitzgerald and that the receiver is “excited,” reports ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. Fitzgerald reportedly told the new offensive coordinator is verbiage was similar to previous coaches Bruce Arians and Ken Whisenhunt.

Kurt Warner also said that he gets the sense that Fitzgerald is leaning toward returning, the Hall of Fame quarterback said on 98.7 Arizona Sports radio“Last couple of times I’ve talked, I really feel like he wants to come back and play this season and he’s more committed to it. But that was before all the changes that took place.But I get the feeling that he is going to come back.”

Fitzgerald hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in recent years. After moving to the slot in 2015, the perennial Pro Bowl selection has cleared 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each season and has cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Though he is leaning toward returning, his status is sure to be decided by what the Cardinals do to fill the vacancy at quarterback left by the retirement of Carson Palmer. With plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, the team making a run at Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins for a quick fix would make plenty of sense.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of Cousins, the soon-to-be free agent is expected to receive plenty of interest from the Jets. On Monday, former head coach Mike Shanahan praised Cousins as a special player, the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta writes. This portends to the Jets, as new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was groomed under Shanahan in Denver. Shanahan said: “I think Kirk Cousins could be successful in any offense that he ran. Those quarterbacks are hard to find.”
  • The Broncos, according to reports, have recently placed cornerback Aqib Talib on the trade block. ABC 7 in Denver’s Troy Renck looked at a few possible destinations for the veteran cornerback, listing the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys. Talib is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Bills center Eric Wood put his retirement on hold and remains on the Bills roster due to the team’s salary cap restrictions, ESPN’s Mike Rodak reports (Twitter link). When he is eventually moved to the retired list, Wood will receive $4.8 MM in injury guaranteed salary for 2018, while keeping the $4.3M in signing bonus paid, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
  • The Titans have hired Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore for the same position, ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets. He also notes the team interviewed former Raiders running backs coach Bernie Parmalee last week.
  • The Panthers will hire Travelle Wharton as an assistant offensive line coach, ESPN’s David Newton hears. Wharton previously spent two stints with the Panthers as an offensive lineman.

Travelle Wharton To Retire

Veteran offensive lineman Travelle Wharton will officially announce his retirement this week, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Wharton isn’t currently on an NFL roster, after becoming a free agent in March, but he has spent nearly the entirety of his career with the Panthers.

Wharton, 33, entered the league in 2004 as a third-round pick, and immediately became a fixture on Carolina’s offensive line. Over the course of his 10-year career, he appeared in 115 games for the club, starting 111, primarily at left guard or left tackle. Wharton becomes the second veteran Panthers lineman to retire this offseason, and is expected to join longtime teammate Jordan Gross as a regular guest on Gross’ weekly TV show on the Panthers’ new channel, according to Person.

Having played his college ball at South Carolina, Wharton was keen on remaining in the Carolina area if he continued his career, though he had been mulling retirement for most of the offseason. Based on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), the veteran ranked fifth among guards in 2013, including third among left guards, so he won’t be easily replaced for the Panthers, who will have multiple new starters protecting Cam Newton this season.

Extra Points: Steelers, Wharton, Sproles

Earlier tonight, Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com went into enemy territory to size up the Steelers‘ receiving corps. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley swears that this the deepest group of receivers he’s ever had the privilege of coaching, but it’s certainly lacking star power outside of Antonio Brown. Earlier tonight, we looked at the Steelers’ offseason, including their lack of change when it comes to wide receivers. Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • With starting left guard Amini Silatolu looking healthy and optimism around rookie Trai Turner, the Panthers felt comfortable with not re-signing former starter Travelle Wharton, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Wharton, meanwhile, has hinted that he plans to retire.
  • You can call Eagles offseason pickup Darren Sproles a tailback or an all-purpose back, but don’t go calling him a receiver. “Yeah, that’s crazy,” the offensive weapon told reporters, including Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “Half the time I get my catches out of the backfield.” Sproles, entering his 10th season, has 378 career receptions for 3,381 yards and 27 career receiving touchdowns. He has more career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns than either Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles’ two starting receivers.
  • The NFL announced that a revised settlement in the concussion lawsuit with former players has been reached. The funds will not be capped, meaning that once the compensation program is established funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition.
  • The NFLPA announced via press release that an arbitrator has upheld discipline on three contract advisors, including Martin Magid for bad business dealings with former client Elvis Dumervil.

NFC Notes: Williams, Lynch, Panthers, Orton

Kevin Williams signed with the Seahawks earlier today but he tells Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that he turned down similar offers from the Vikings and other clubs.

“I’m not going to say they didn’t really want to, but things weren’t working out in our best interests,” Williams said. “I enjoyed my time there (in Minnesota), so I’m going to try my luck out in Seattle. … At first it was like (the Vikings said), ‘Were not going to have any money.’ But they came back (recently) in the picture.”

In addition to Seattle, Williams also visited with the Giants and Patriots, who also offered him similar deals. In 2013, Williams ranked as the 27th-best defensive tackle in the NFL among 69 qualified players at the position, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required). He logged 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and an interception. Here’s more out of the NFC…

  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap explains why right now is the best time for Marshawn Lynch to seek a new contract from the Seahawks. Quarterback Russell Wilson figures to see a major pay bump in 2015 and wide receiver Percy Harvin is earning $13MM a year. There probably won’t be room to take care of Lynch next year or, worse, they could release him and go with their younger tailbacks. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald (on Twitter) doesn’t think retirement is a wise threat for Lynch since Seattle can go after $3MM in prorated money for 2014 and ’15.
  • Free agent offensive lineman Travelle Wharton appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio today and discussed his current situation, admitting that he’s still on the fence about retirement. The longtime Panthers OL intends to make a decision and let teams know soon, and is staying in shape in the meantime. If he does return, Wharton would like to join a contending club (all Twitter links).
  • Cowboys coach Jason Garrett expects to speak with quarterback Kyle Orton soon, writes Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. The 31-year-old has skipped the team’s voluntary offseason program and would have to repay the club $3MM of his $5MM signing bonus if he retires.

South Notes: Saints, Titans, Texans, Wharton

Chris Broadwater, a member of Louisiana’s House of Representatives and the sponsor of a piece of legislation which would have reduced compensatory benefits for Saints players injured during the offseason, has pulled his support for the bill, writes Emily Lane of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The announcement comes mere hours before several Saints players were planning to show up at Louisiana State Capitol to express their opposition.

While the development is good news for the NFLPA, Broadwater still hopes that the Saints and the players are able to reach an agreement on workers compensation benefits on their own. As Lane explains, the legislation aimed to “calculate workers’ compensation benefits for professional athletes based only on weekly earnings at the time of the injury, rather than based on average weekly earnings over the entire year.” However, the Saints have indicated they’re willing to compromise on the matter, and discussions are already underway about a solution.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Veteran Titans tackle Michael Roos said today that he’s “here for one more year” in Tennessee, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter link). That quote makes it sound like an extension isn’t on the horizon for Roos, which perhaps isn’t surprising considering the club signed Michael Oher to a four-year deal in free agency and selected Taylor Lewan 11th overall in the draft.
  • Also at Titans OTAs, Jake Locker said that he spoke to management before the draft and was assured that the club wouldn’t draft a quarterback early (Twitter link via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com). In a follow-up tweet, ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan notes that the Titans looked at Zach Mettenberger in the fourth round, so perhaps that’s the earliest point that a signal-caller was considered. Tennessee ultimately landed Mettenberger in the sixth round.
  • As expected, Texans wideout Andre Johnson missed the club’s first OTAs today, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Travelle Wharton, a longtime Panthers offensive lineman who is currently a free agent, continues to sound as if he’s leaning toward retirement, says Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, passing along quotes from Wharton’s appearance on a Panthers.com podcast.

NFC Notes: Wharton, Rudolph, Lions, Bowman

Let’s check in on a few afternoon items from around the NFC….

  • The Panthers‘ offseason offensive line exodus may not be done yet. Veteran free agent guard Travelle Wharton suggests to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) that he’s leaning toward retirement, though he hasn’t made a final decision yet. Over the last few weeks, Jordan Gross and Geoff Hangartner have also decided to retire, leaving the Panthers with some holes in their line.
  • We heard last month that locking up Kyle Rudolph long-term is a “big priority” for the Vikings, and it sounds like the tight end is fully on board with the idea too. “I want to stay here,” Rudolph told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “Hopefully, [an extension] is something we can get done this offseason.”
  • With less than $2MM in cap space remaining even before today’s deal with Dan Orlovsky, the Lions may have to restructure multiple contracts in order to fill out their roster, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
  • According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago (via Twitter), Zackary Bowman‘s new minimum-salary contract with the Giants includes a $65K signing bonus.

FA Rumors: Jets, Boothe, Melton, Wharton

The two New York teams appear to be the top contenders for free agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but Rich Cimini of ESPN New York gets the sense that the Jets may be losing hope on the DRC front (Twitter link). That’s not to say the Giants should start printing Rodgers-Cromartie jerseys quite yet, since the Browns are rumored to be lurking as well, but it looks like the G-Men might have the upper hand on their AFC rivals.

Here’s more on a few free agents still on the market:

  • The Jets continue to talk to offensive lineman Willie Colon in the hopes of working out a deal to bring him back to New York, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. The club has also shown interest in free agent receiver Jacoby Ford, says Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter).
  • The free agent swap meet between the Raiders and Giants continues, as offensive lineman Kevin Boothe is in Oakland to visit the Raiders today, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers will visit the Bengals tomorrow, tweets Garafolo.
  • The Vikings remain in contact with free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. Melton is visiting the Cowboys today.
  • While the Dolphins have made preliminary inquiries on free agent offensive lineman Ryan Harris, the team has yet to set up a visit with the ex-Texan, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
  • Free agent guard Travelle Wharton has no plans to retire at this point, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Wharton has spent nearly his entire NFL career with the Panthers, who have seen Jordan Gross and Geoff Hangartner retire so far this offseason.
  • Free agent cornerback Mike Jenkins is visiting the Buccaneers today, a source tells Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).

Panthers Notes: Draft, Free Agency, Wharton

It’s been a busy week for the Panthers. They put the franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy, they saw longtime stalwart at offensive tackle Jordan Gross retire, and there are now reports that Steve Smith is distrustful of GM Dave Gettleman. Naturally, Panthers fans have a lot of questions, and David Newton of ESPN.com addresses some of the most pertinent ones in a recent mailbag:

  • Newton clears up some confusion regarding the team’s cap space. Despite earlier reports that the team was $28MM under the cap prior to franchising Hardy, Newton notes that the number was actually closer to $24MM. However, even if the Panthers cannot work out a long-term deal with Hardy, his $12.5MM cap hit will still give them enough room to retain some of their own free agents–like safety Mike Mitchell–and to pursue mid- to low-level free agents from other clubs.
  • Newton believes Carolina will target an offensive tackle either in free agency or the draft–or perhaps both–but if they pursue a free agent, it will not be a high-priced one. And if the Panthers do, in fact, sign a tackle in free agency, that would make it much more likely that they would address their other top offensive priority–wide receiver–with their first round pick (No. 28 overall).
  • Nonetheless, Newton notes that if the Panthers have to choose between wideout and offensive tackle with their first pick, they will likely go with the tackle, as the class of wide receivers in this year’s draft is very deep.
  • Finally, Newton does not believe Travelle Wharton will be back with the club in 2014. He observes that Wharton was brought in last season because of injuries to younger players who are expected to be healthy this season, and he adds that cap issues will also play a part in precluding his return.

NFC Notes: Wharton, Panthers, Lions, Saints

The Panthers have already lost one starting lineman to retirement this week, when longtime left tackle Jordan Gross called it a career. Now, left guard Travelle Wharton tells Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer that he’s not 100% sure about his future either. However, it sounds like if he keeps playing, the free agent lineman wants to do so in Carolina.

“I love it here in Charlotte. This is where we want to live,” Wharton said. “If there’s going to be a next year, we have to sit down and talk about it.”

Here’s more on the Panthers and a couple other NFC teams:

  • Steve Smith‘s age (35 in May) and contract ($9MM in dead money, three years remaining) make him a tricky case for the Panthers, as Jason Fitzgerald explores in his latest piece at OverTheCap.com. Fitzgerald thinks it makes sense for the two sides to continue their relationship, but makes some suggestions for how to make the veteran receiver’s contract more tenable for the club.
  • When the Lions inked Matthew Stafford to his long-term contract extension last summer, the team agreed to defer the payment of $17.5MM of his $27.5MM signing bonus. That bill has come due, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who says the team will pay Stafford the remainder of the bonus this Friday. Glover Quin, Reggie Bush, and Jason Jones will also receive deferred bonus money within the next few weeks, but the lump-sum payments won’t alter the team’s cap outlook.
  • Running back Mikel Leshoure expressed a desire for a bigger role, either in Detroit or elsewhere, and it looks like he may receive that opportunity with the Lions, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com.
  • Add linebacker and special teams player Ramon Humber to the growing list of pending Saints free agents who have had early discussions with the club about a new deal, writes Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Advocate.