Trevor Lawrence

Pats’ McDaniels Not Getting Interview Requests?

In an article for NBC Sports, Mike Florio divulged that a source with knowledge of the situation informed him that Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hasn’t received requests to be interviewed by any of the eight teams currently looking for a new head coach. This development has surprised the Patriots, but they expect the situation to change soon. 

McDaniels is a long time Patriots’ staffer, first joining the organization in 2001 as a personnel assistant. After a year, McDaniels worked with the team as a defensive assistant for two years before switching to the offensive side of the coaching staff. After one season as the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach, McDaniels was promoted to offensive coordinator, developing the Patriots’ offense into the juggernaut that broke several NFL records in the 2007 season. His coaching success led to much speculation that he could be a top candidate for head coaching jobs, but he pulled his name out of the ring before the Patriots even finished their playoff run.

When McDaniels was able to lead a Patriots team quarterbacked by Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record, following a season-ending injury to Tom Brady in Week 1 of the 2008 season, the Broncos saw fit to name McDaniels as their new head coach for the 2009 NFL season. McDaniels’s tenure in Denver started with a six-game win-streak before losing eight of the next ten games to finish the season 8-8. After a 3-9 start to the 2010 season, and multiple controversies from his handling of difficult players, Denver decided they’d seen enough and fired McDaniels after Week 13. McDaniels spent a year as the offensive coordinator of the Rams, under Steve Spagnuolo, before returning to New England following Spagnuolo’s firing.

McDaniels has stayed in Foxborough ever since. He’s continued to draw head coaching interest here and there, even accepting the head coach position for the Indianapolis Colts in February of 2018 before backing out of his commitment on the same day to stay in New England, prompting his long-time agent, Bob LaMonte, to sever ties with McDaniels.

McDaniels’s handling and development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones has led to some speculation that one of the two teams that have both 1) a head coaching vacancy and 2) a young quarterback might show immediate interest in the 45-year old coordinator. Can Bill Polian overlook his lack of a good relationship with McDaniels and advise that the Bears bring him in to mentor Justin Fields? Will McDaniels decide that he can handle working for Trent Baalke and agree to take Trevor Lawrence under his wing? Keep track of McDaniels and other candidates in our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Coaching Notes: Jags, Culley, Nagy

Things have not gone well for the Jaguars this year. Urban Meyer failed to make it through his first year as an NFL head coach, No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has the second-worst QB rating among qualified passers, and the club has mustered just two wins against 11 losses. The good news, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, is that the Jacksonville head coaching job is considered a desirable one, and many candidates who are expected to be hot commodities in the upcoming coaching cycle are anxious to secure an interview with owner Shad Khan.

That is largely because of Lawrence, who is still considered a generational talent despite his rookie struggles. Former Eagles HC Doug Pederson is reportedly interested in the post, and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Bills OC Brian Daboll might also be attractive options for Khan given their recent work with young signal-callers. One way or another, Khan should not have any difficulty luring a top candidate to Duval, though he obviously needs to get this hire right.

Here are several other coaching-related items:

  • Jaguars interim HC Darrell Bevell will have a chance to have the interim tag removed and interview for the permanent head coaching gig. He does have Lawrence’s support, but his candidacy will depend on how the team’s offense performs down the stretch. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects Ravens DC Don Martindale — the architect of the Jags’ Joe Cullen-led defense — to be in the mix as well (Twitter link).
  • We recently heard that the Texans are expected to retain head coach David Culley for 2022, but GM Nick Caserio is at least considering his options, per La Canfora. Culley, a 66-year-old coach who had spent his entire career as an assistant, was the most surprising hire of the 2021 cycle, but as Houston was (and is) in the midst of a complete rebuild, the club was perhaps looking for more of a caretaker than anything else. Caserio is rumored to have his eye on one unnamed candidate for the next phase of the rebuild, and it’s not difficult to connect the dots to McDaniels. The Houston HC job may not attract many in-demand candidates for 2022, which means that Culley could get one more year at the helm. However, if McDaniels does not land his own head coaching post in the coming months, he and Caserio could reunite in Texas in 2023.
  • No surprises here, but La Canfora, in the same Culley piece linked above, says many assistants on Bears HC Matt Nagy‘s staff are operating under the assumption that they will need to find new employment at season’s end. It has been assumed that Nagy will be terminated after the season is over, though La Canfora leaves open the possibility that Nagy could get his walking papers before then so that Chicago can get a head start on the interview process.

Urban Meyer’s Thoughts On Firing

NFL.com recently conducted an exclusive interview with former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer was fired by Jacksonville shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

The interview covered many of the unflattering headlines that have colored the coach’s tenure in Duval, but started with an apology. Meyer apologized to the City of Jacksonville and painted the picture of a successful football future for the City, including a full stadium and a new facility promised by Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan.

Meyer talked a bit about something that he didn’t have a ton of experience with previously: losing. Meyer commented, “Losing eats away at your soul. Once you start losing, it’s hard on everybody.” This was perhaps most clear during what would be Meyer’s last post-game handshake of the 2021 NFL season, in which it seemed he couldn’t be bothered to even look at his former assistant, Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel, after a convincing 20-0 loss. Meyer commented on that moment, claiming that he and Vrabel are really close and saying, “that had nothing to do with [Vrabel]…I can’t take losing. I try to accept it, it just eats away at my soul.” 

On many of the recent headlines that were thought to have contributed to his early exit, Meyer argued that they just weren’t true. Meyer said that a reported incident during which team captain Marvin Jones left the facility due to Meyer’s public and private criticism was not accurately portrayed. He also completely denied that he delivered a message to his assistant coaches that he is a winner and they are losers. Meyer also disputed that a preseason altercation occurred wherein he kicked former Jaguars’ kicker Josh Lambo while Lambo was stretching. Meyer was quoted saying, “It was like, ‘Wait a minute, where is this coming from?’ I’ve certainly made a few mistakes but those weren’t right.”

Meyer was asked about another highly criticized decision he made of benching James Robinson for an extended period of time against the Rams. The second-year running back is widely thought to be the best player on the struggling Jaguars. Meyer shrugged the decision off as a miscommunication. “We discussed it as a staff,” said Meyer. “When you see someone lose the ball or even see them be loose with the ball, get them out of the game, get their mind right, and then get them back in. When he fumbled, I said, ‘Take him out.’ We took him out and then we had lack of communication about when to put him back in.”

The other young star on Meyer’s former team is number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Meyer was complimentary of the 22 year old quarterback, commiserating with the tough situation he was put into. Meyer noted the franchise’s 15-game losing streak and injuries to key contributors on offense as obstacles Lawrence had to face. He ended the discussion on Lawrence saying, “There is zero doubt Trevor is going to be a great NFL quarterback.”

Questions were delivered on if there is an ongoing discussion with Jacksonville about the remaining money owed on his contract and on if Khan made the right move. Meyer declined to comment on both questions.

When asked what comes next for Meyer, he replied, “To be determined.” As of now, he has not heard from anyone in the football world about potential coaching opportunities. One can’t help but to think of where Meyer was a year ago, when he claimed he was living “the perfect life:” working at FOX with no plans to coach in the future.

Jaguars To Start Trevor Lawrence In Week 1

Despite being placed in an unexpected competition for the Jaguars’ starting quarterback job, Trevor Lawrence prevailed and will start in Week 1. Urban Meyer announced Wednesday the No. 1 overall pick will start over Gardner Minshew.

Meyer has consistently praised Minshew this summer and refused to install the No. 1 overall pick as his official starter for several weeks during training camp, but the Jags had started Lawrence in both preseason games. He will take the field with Jacksonville’s first-string offense in the team’s final preseason tilt and do so against Houston next month. Meyer informed passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer of his decision Wednesday morning.

The Jags lost 15 straight games last season and obtained the No. 1 pick. Mark Brunell‘s contributions notwithstanding, Lawrence is easily the highest-profile quarterback in franchise history. The 6-foot-6 rookie took over Clemson’s starting job early in his true-freshman season three years ago, supplanting incumbent Kelly Bryant, and led the Tigers to the 2018 national championship. Lawrence had been essentially penciled in as the 2021 No. 1 pick since that point, making this Jaguars quarterback competition slightly unusual.

Minshew and C.J. Beathard reside on Jacksonville’s roster, giving the team some experience behind the rookie first-stringer. Although Minshew ranked 27th in Total QBR last season, he does have a career 37-11 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. It will be interesting to see how the Jags proceed with Minshew, who has two seasons left on his rookie contract. The former sixth-round pick came up in trade rumors earlier this year, but Meyer was quick to shoot those down.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Urban Meyer Not Committing To Trevor Lawrence As Jaguars’ Week 1 Starter

Even as the Jaguars suggested in June they would hold a quarterback competition, such a plan seemed difficult to believe. The Jags drafted Trevor Lawrence, the most celebrated QB prospect since at least Andrew Luck, and went through three starters last season.

Jacksonville securing the No. 1 overall pick undoubtedly influenced Urban Meyer to make the jump to the NFL. Two months later, however, the first-year Jags HC is sticking to his guns on refusing to turn the keys over to Lawrence. Meyer did not say if either Lawrence or Gardner Minshew would start in Jacksonville’s preseason opener Saturday in Cleveland.

Regarding the chance Lawrence does not start in Week 1, Meyer said, “I think we’ll answer that as we get closer.” It would be stunning if the top quarterback investment in Jaguars history does not take over from the jump, but Minshew has won Meyer over during camp.

He’s earned my respect. I love that guy,” Meyer said, via NFL.com. “He’s a warrior, competitor. He’s a fighter. I told him that. I just got great respect for Minshew. He brings it every day, every day.”

This praise may not translate to the former sixth-round afterthought keeping Lawrence out of the lineup, but it is rather interesting this remains a question. Meyer said following the Jags’ minicamp Lawrence was not ready to take over yet but acknowledged the prized prospect certainly could prove himself worthy in camp. Although Minshew was benched last season, as the Jags’ losing streak brought Lawrence into the equation, he raised his completion percentage by six points and finished the year at 66%. This came with a similar yards-per-attempt figure (6.9) compared to his rookie-year number (7.0). Minshew has a 37-11 career TD-INT ratio.

Even if Lawrence takes over as planned, Minshew would profile as one of the NFL’s better backups. The Washington State alum came up in trade rumors earlier this offseason, with the Jags signing C.J. Beathard. But Meyer shot down the notion Minshew was available. And the third-year passer has remained a factor in the Jaguars’ decision-making into training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Sign No. 1 Pick Trevor Lawrence

This year’s top rookie prospect is now under contract. The Jaguars and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence agreed to terms on his rookie deal Monday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The customary four-year deal, with the Year 5 option, will be worth $36.8MM and come with a $24.8MM signing bonus. The deal is fully guaranteed. The 21-year-old quarterback passed his physical and will collect his signing bonus within the next 15 days, Pelissero adds (on Twitter).

Lawrence will collect roster bonuses from 2022-24, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, who adds these payouts will be due three days after the start of the Jaguars’ training camp (Twitter link). The prized rookie will collect these bonuses even if he begins any of these camps on the Jags’ non-football injury list. Given this bonus structure, it will be interesting to see the full breakdown of this deal. The contract also includes no offset language.

It took a full-on Jaguars freefall to obtain the rights to Lawrence, who starred at Clemson for most of the past three seasons. Jacksonville lost 15 straight games en route to landing the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history. Lawrence’s status played a key role in leading Urban Meyer to accept the Jags’ offer to become their head coach.

The 6-foot-6 passer had been penciled into the 2021 No. 1 overall draft slot for years, dating back to his 2018 emergence as a super prospect. Lawrence led Clemson to a national title as a true freshman, taking over for veteran Kelly Bryant midway through the season. Lawrence finished with a 34-2 record as the Tigers’ starter. In his final season in South Carolina, Lawrence threw for 3,153 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. And, with 69.2% of his passes completed, he finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, despite losing time to a positive COVID-19 test.

The Jags have taken the first-round route with a few quarterbacks during their history. Following trade acquisition Mark Brunell‘s successful run in the franchise’s early years, the Jags were unable to turn their first-round QBs — Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles — into long-term answers. Lawrence, however, enters the NFL with considerably more hype than the other three Round 1 QBs in Jags history.

Gardner Minshew took the bulk of the Jags’ snaps over the past two years, though the team used a few arms in its rough 2020 season. Minshew remains on the roster, despite offseason trade rumors. While Meyer has floated the idea of a quarterback competition, it would be shocking if Lawrence did not open the season as Jacksonville’s quarterback.

Ex-Clemson teammate Travis Etienne will join Lawrence in Jacksonville. Etienne and Jags second-round picks Tyson Campbell and Walker Little remain unsigned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Unsigned First-Round Rookies

After the Falcons inked first-round tight end Kyle Pitts to his rookie deal earlier today, there are eight first-round rookies who remain unsigned:

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson)
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB (BYU)
3) San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT (Northwestern)
14) New York Jets (from Vikings): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL (USC)
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB (Alabama)
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)
26) Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)

This isn’t a huge cause for concern, as first-round contracts are pretty standard and by-the-book. However, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has an explanation for why at least a handful of these players still haven’t put pen to paper. According to the reporter (via Twitter), there are still some “wrinkles to work out” for the notable quarterback deals. This sentiment would presumably apply to each of the top-three picks, and it could even be referring to Patriots first-round quarterback Mac Jones.

There’s a number of minor details that agents could be pushing for, including signing bonus terms or any other contract language that goes beyond the standard, boilerplate options. On the other side, teams could be pushing for some type of offset language, meaning the organization would get some financial flexibility if the player for some reason doesn’t finish their rookie contract with the team.

When it comes to the quarterbacks, most of the agents are probably waiting to see how Lawrence’s deal unfolds in Jacksonville. Alternatively, if Bill Belichick and the Patriots (somehow) give in to any demands from Jones camp, you can bet the top-three QBs would argue for similar benefits. While there are a number of reasons why the other, non-QB players have yet to sign, one could guess that the two offensive lineman may be pushing for similar terms (Vera-Tucker could also simply be waiting for his teammate to sign their contract). Etienne is in a unique position as one of only two first-round running backs (or, like Vera-Tucker, he could be waiting for his teammate), while Newsome recently fired his agent.

The teams and the players will want the contracts settled prior to training camp in late-July, but that still leaves a few weeks for negotiating.

Urban Meyer On Trevor Lawrence, Tim Tebow

This year may bring the most closely followed Jaguars training camp ever, with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence coming to town and quarterback-turned-tight end Tim Tebow vying for a roster spot. Urban Meyer‘s role as a first-time NFL coach will be scrutinized as well.

The new Jacksonville HC addressed these topics recently. Lawrence is expected to be the Jaguars’ Week 1 starter, but the Jags interestingly pumped the brakes on this expected ascension recently. Meyer confirmed his franchise-QB hopeful is not quite there yet.

He’s not ready yet, but he doesn’t have to be ready yet,” Meyer said during an interview with USA Today’s Mackenzie Salmon (h/t 247sports.com). “We got a long training camp coming up. He’s probably advanced maybe a little quicker than we would’ve thought, which was a positive.

One thing that we worked on, when we made a decision that Trevor was going to be our No. 1 pick, we went from the evaluation stage to the preparation stage. And that means that I want to see. I can’t remember the exact date, but we started installing the playbook with him well before the draft. So you can see the retention. He’s got a really good work ethic and he’s progressed very well.”

Replacing Kelly Bryant as a true freshman at Clemson, Lawrence rocketed onto the NFL radar by leading the Tigers to the 2018 national championship. Lawrence was viewed as the likely 2021 top pick for years. The Jags securing that selection helped lead Meyer to Jacksonville, so it would certainly be stunning if Gardner Minshew or C.J. Beathard started in Week 1.

Despite Tebow not having played in a regular-season game since 2012, the former Heisman winner and playoff QB starter will go to camp with the Jags. Meyer said earlier this month Tebow has done a “decent job” since joining the Jaguars. Last month, 46% of PFR readers said Tebow would make Jacksonville’s 53-man roster, while another 25% said the ex-Broncos QB1 and Mets farmhand would land on the practice squad.

The last thing you just said is the tough part – there’s 53. And that’s new to me,” Meyer said, via Salmon (video link). “That’s the reality of the NFL – that you have 90 players. So to me he’s one of 90. What’s the difference between him and the other 40 guys trying to make the team? To me it’s all the same. This is their livelihood. This is a job. This is a way to make a living and the reality is a good percentage of your roster is going to get cut or transitioned out of here which to me, that’s completely new.”

The Jags signed Chris Manhertz, a Panther in 2020, and drafted Ohio State’s Luke Farrell in Round 5. Veteran James O’Shaughnessy remains on the team as well. Tebow, 2020 sixth-round pick Tyler Davis and 2020 UDFA Ben Ellefson round out the Jags’ tight end contingent. The Jags potentially planning wildcat-type looks for Tebow may give him an edge, but teams keeping more than four tight ends on an active roster is fairly rare.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ten First-Round Picks Remain Unsigned

This year, NFL teams have been quick to tackle their rookie paperwork. Still, there are a decent number of unsigned draft picks remaining, including ten of this year’s first-rounders: 

In a sense, this is a sign that things are back to normal in football following the pandemic. For example, by June 12th of 2019, 22 first-round picks had put pen to paper, with 222 rookies inked on the whole. However, around this time last year, there were just two first-round picks officially in the fold – Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

Offset language and similar minutia could be holding these ten deals up, but there’s no reason to panic. In all likelihood, these rookie contracts will be squared away before the start of training camp this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Hold QB Competition

Trevor Lawrence is the Jaguars’ quarterback of the future, but that doesn’t mean he’s their starter of the present. On Wednesday, Jags passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer stressed that the team has yet to name its QB1. 

It’s still too early to say how this thing’s going to play out,” Schottenheimer said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco).

Gardner Minshew was the Jaguars’ rookie sensation not too long ago and he’s still on the roster as Lawrence’s expected QB2. At the same time, there’s been months of trade speculation around him. In 2019, Minshew set franchise records in yards (3,271) and touchdowns (21) for rookie QBs. Last year, he flip-flopped with Mike Glennon amidst the Jags’ 15-game losing streak. All in all, he was 1-7 in his starts with 2,259 yards and 16 touchdowns against five interceptions. Needless to say, it was assumed that the No. 1 overall pick would start immediately.

For his part, Lawrence says he’s still getting to know the playbook. So, presumably, he’s okay with competing for his spot alongside Minshew and the rest of the camp QBs, including Tim Tebow.

I want to just master the offense,” Lawrence said. “I want to have complete control, know everything and be comfortable. You can’t really play free and play really well if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s the goal, to master the offense by the time training camp comes around so in training camp we can focus everything forward on being the best team we can come August 14 and then going on into the regular season as well.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.