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2018 Salary Cap Could Exceed $180MM?

The NFL’s salary cap has risen dramatically over the past five years, with the 2016-17 increase nearly doubling as the biggest since the cap was implemented.

In December, a report emerged indicating the 2018 cap would likely fall between $174.2MM and $178.1MM. It it ends up within that range would, that would not top the growth of this past year — when the cap vaulted from $155.27MM to $167MM — but it would still be in line with recent spikes.

But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears the cap may be set to move past the $180MM mark. That $13MM-plus increase would mean the highest climb in the cap era. Here’s what the salary cap has looked like over the past five years:

  • 2013: $123MM
  • 2014: $133MM
  • 2015: $143.28MM
  • 2016: $155.27MM
  • 2017: $167MM

In the years prior to 2013, the cap stagnated, with the 2009 salary ceiling of $123MM matching the 2013 cap number. But the expected growth will benefit the next group of free agents. Although Florio notes teams are ready to spend on the next crop of UFAs, he categorizes the upcoming class as not being particularly enticing. He adds the number of franchise-tagged performers could well rise.

Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, Bears, Bengals

After the Titans’ exciting victory over the Chiefs, one has to imagine that coach Mike Mularkey is off the hot seat. Still, there are a number of head coaching vacancies left around the league.

Here are the latest coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • Mike Munchak‘s interview with the Cardinals will take place on Sunday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • If hired by the BearsJohn DeFilippo would be be willing to retain Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, Peter Schrager of NFL Network (on Twitter) hears. The Bears want Fangio back, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) adds, but other teams and head coaching candidates are interested in bringing him on staff.
  • Linebackers coach Jim Haslett will remain on the Bengals‘ defensive staff, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). However, Jacob Burney (defensive line) will not be returning, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets.

Latest On Gary Kubiak’s New Role In Denver

Despite speculation that Gary Kubiak could return to the sidelines as an offensive coordinator, the long-time coach is now set to have more power in the Broncos front office, according to Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post. General manager John Elway confirmed on Tuesday that Kubiak will be a bigger part of the team’s decision making this offseason, though he did not give his former Super Bowl winning head coach a formal title yet.

Gary Kubiak (Vertical)

“You know, I keep getting asked that and I’m not sure what the title’s going to be,” Elway said. “I don’t even know what his title is now. I know what he’s going to be doing, so I haven’t worried about the title.”

Apart from the working title, Elway seemed to relay that Kubiak’s role would come more on the football evaluation and scouting side of the front office. He’ll reportedly be a big part in how the team will strategize their draft and free agent processes as well.

“He’s a guy who has a lot of knowledge of football — a very good evaluator, too,” Elway said. “So he’ll help us in that area.”

Kubiak was officially called a senior personnel advisor in 2017. He took the job a full six months after he stepped down as the team’s head coach. Kubiak was obviously a major part of the Broncos Super Bowl run two years ago, and it seemed like team president Joe Ellis was very excited to have him on board as a more formal part of the franchise’s decision making processes.

“I think it’s going to be fun for John and (Kubiak) and for us,” Ellis said of Kubiak’s expanded role. “He’ll add some expertise to the proceedings. I’m excited about it.”

 

 

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Giants Interview Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia

Apart from all the Patriots drama unfolding today, both of their coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, have completed their scheduled interviews with the Giants. The team announced that they had interviewed Patricia earlier in the day, but McDaniels had finished his conversation with the team this afternoon, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Palmer adds that the group who interviewed McDaniels consisted of team owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams.

Matt Patricia (vertical)

Patricia and McDaniels are now the second and third head coaching candidates to be interviewed by the organization. Current interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke to the Giants about their head coach vacancy on Wednesday. However, it should be noted that McDaniels is the first offensive head coach that has been interviewed in the team’s search. New York hasn’t flat out mentioned that they rather go in a certain direction, but there has been chatter that they want someone who has experience in the head coach role, which McDaniels certainly has from his time in Denver. Although, Patricia does not have head coaching experience and the team clearly still has interest in him, so that may not ultimately be a deciding factor.

Meanwhile, the Giants are far from done speaking with prospective candidates. They have also requested to interview Jim Schwartz (Eagles DC), Pat Shurmur (Vikings OC), Steve Wilks (Panthers DC) and Eric Studesville (former Broncos assistant HC).

 

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New York Notes: Kearse, Claiborne, Pugh

The Jets entered Week 17 without much to play for, but the team’s players still had plenty to gain. One such player was Jermaine Kearse, who earned an extra $550,000 in incentives in the team’s loss to New England, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports.

With his fifth and final catch of the day, Kearse brought his season total to 65 grabs which earned him an extra $300,000. He finished the season 810 receiving yards, helping him garner another $250,000. That’s not a bad haul for the veteran receiver, who was signed to a $2.2 MM base salary in 2017.

Kearse enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017, posting career highs in receptions, yards and tying his personal best with five touchdowns. He will be back with the Jets in 2018 for the final year on his contract, which he is set to earn $5 MM in base salary.

Here is more from around New York:

  • Cornerback Morris Claiborne is hoping to return to the Jets in 2018, Cimini writes. The free agent said, “Why leave and pick up (and go) somewhere else if you’ve got everything here?” A first-round pick in 2012, Claiborne has just five interceptions during his six NFL seasons split between the Jets and Cowboys. After signing a one-year deal for $2.5MM in the offseason, Claiborne started all 15 games he played in.
  • Giants center Weston Richburg said he has been medically cleared from a concussion for about a month, Dan Duggan of NJ Advanced Media writes. Richburg said he wanted to return to the field but was unable to due to being placed on injured reserve. He suffered the concussion in Week 4 and missed the next three games before being placed on IR. Richburg is set to be a free agent in 2018.
  • Also a free agent in 2018, Giants guard Justin Pugh hopes it works out and he can return to the team, ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan writes. Pugh suffered a season-ending back injury in December but it is expected to be healed in a month without surgery.

 

Coaching News: Packers, Cowboys, Giants

Earlier in the day, the Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They continued to clean house on the defensive side of the ball later in the day, letting go of inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports.

McCurley joined the Packers in 2006 as an intern but quickly moved his way up the ladder. For the last four years, he served as assistant linebackers coach and helped oversee the transition to young linebackers like Blake Martinez. An NFL coach since 1995, Trgovac had been with the Packers since 2009 following an extended stay as the defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Here is more from around the league on the coaching front:

  • The Broncos fired outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac on Monday, reports NBC 9 in Denver’s Mike Klis (Twitter link). Klis cites the lack of a pass rush following the departure of DeMarcus Ware as grounds for the dismissal. Shane Ray provided just one sack on the opposite side of Von Miller. The team also let go of defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn.
  • New Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told the team’s assistant coaches they are free to look for other jobs without the Giants blocking the search, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). Among the names expected to draw interest from other teams includes interim head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson is expected to be let go, sources tell the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Marvez notes that more changes to the team’s offensive coaching staff are expected to come, one of which could be wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, who is reported to not being returning to Dallas by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Dooley denied the report, saying he has yet to meet with head coach Jason Garrett, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. The coaches have been with the team since 2007 and 2013, respectively.
  • After firing head coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions continued to overhaul its coaching staff by letting go of assistant head coach and offensive line coach Ron Prince, the team announced. Prince had been with the team since 2014.

Lions Notes: Caldwell, Lang, Ansah

Following Detroit’s 35-11 win over division rival Green Bay, head coach Jim Caldwell addressed reporters and said he does not know what the future holds, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports (Twitter link).

Despite posting a 9-7 record, the Lions were eliminated from the playoffs following a loss to Cincinnati in Week 16. By missing the postseason, sources told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport that the team was expected to let go of Caldwell at season’s end.

Hot-seat rumors have swirled around Caldwell for months and an answer to those rumors is likely to come in the next few days. In September, Detroit gave Caldwell a contract extension but the terms of the deal were not revealed until December, when NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported the deal ran through 2018.

“I don’t make any excuses,” Caldwell said. “It’s just not the way I live my life. So we go out, we do what we do and we’ll make an assessment from there. The real assessment is wins and losses. That’s the key. I think there are things that I’ve done, but I’m not done yet. So you know, we’ll see.”

Here’s more from the Lions:

  • Guard T.J. Lang is not expected to require surgery for a foot injury that has lingered throughout the season, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reports (Twitter link). Lang missed the team’s Week 16 loss to Cincinnati, which eliminated the Lions from the playoffs. The right guard is signed through the 2019 season.
  • Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is “pretty confident” he can return to his 2015 form, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Over the last two season, Birkett notes the pass-rushing lineman has spent 25 of a possible 32 weeks on the injury report. Ansah told Birkett, “I’ve been dealing with a lot all year long … There is good days and bad days regardless of how healthy you are.” After recording 14.5 sacks during his breakout 2015 campaign, Ansah has managed just 11 in the two seasons since.

Texans GM Taking Leave Of Absence

Following Houston’s 22-13 loss vs. the Colts, Texans general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith announced he was taking an extended leave of absence to care for his wife, Tiffany, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Sarah Barshop reported. Rick Smith (Vertical)

In a statement, Smith said, “I am eternally grateful to the McNair family for their unwavering support during this trying time. This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field. I remain committed to our quest to bring a championship to the city of Houston, yet my family needs me now and they are my priority.”

Smith has served as Houston’s general manager since 2006, when owner Bob McNair hired him as the youngest GM in the league at the age of 36. During his tenure with the team, Smith has constructed a team that claimed four AFC South division titles in a six-year span (2011-16). In his second season on the job, Smith helped the Texans to their first non-losing season in franchise history. He has only finished below .500 four times in 12 seasons.

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Could Cowboys Shop CB Orlando Scandrick?

During the 2017 NFL Draft the Cowboys were in trade talks to send CB Orlando Scandrick to the Saints for S Kenny Vaccaro, a source told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas confirmed the trade talks and believes the veteran cornerback will not be with the team next season. Orlando Scandrick

Scandrick is unlikely suit up for the team’s finale vs. Philadelphia after missing the team’s previous three games with fractured bones in his back and with the Cowboys eliminated from playoff contention. In his absence, the team has relied on rookie cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and second-year CB Anthony Brown. Those results have been favorable and could make the 10-year veteran expendable.

Though signed through the 2019 season, Scandrick, as Hill notes, is in a favorable contract that will pay the 30-year-old cornerback $3 MM in 2018 and $4 MM in 2019. The team could again target Vaccaro, who was placed on IR earlier this month with a wrist injury, though it is not known if the Saints will be willing to part with the former first-round pick who played a role in helping New Orleans dramatically improve its defense in 2018.

Though known in the past as one of the league’s top slot cornerbacks, Scandrick has endured a down year. Entering Week 17, Scandrick has not registered an interception and has just three passes defensed on the season. Pro Football Focus ranked the veteran as the No. 113 cornerback heading into the season finale.

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NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/27/17

Here are today’s practice squad transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Signed: CB Jonathan Moxey

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: OT Josh James

Chicago Bears

  • Signed: OL D.J. Tialavea

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed: WR K.D. Cannon

Denver Broncos

  • Signed: WR Jordan Leslie

Detroit Lions

  • Signed: QB Alex Torgersen

Houston Texans

  • Released: OL Dorian Johnson
  • Signed: OL Erik Austell

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: RB Jalen Simmons
  • Released: OL Andrew Wylie

New York Giants

  • Placed on IR: LB B.J. Goodson
  • Signed: DL Kristjan Sokoli
  • Signed: WR Canaan Severin

New York Jets

  • Signed: DL Francis Kallon

Oakland Raiders

  • Signed: CB Darius Hillary

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Signed: WR Rashard Davis
  • Released: C Jon Toth

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: WR Jake Lampman