Wade Harman

Coaching Notes: Packers, Bucs, Broncos

Despite Pat Fitzgerald emphatically proclaiming he was staying at Northwestern following Monday night’s Holiday Bowl win, the Packers are still going to make an attempt to interview him, Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. The Packers were expected to reach out with an interview request, with GM Brian Gutekunst expressing great admiration for the Northwestern coach and Packers president Mark Murphy having hired Fitzgerald when he was at Northwestern, but nothing has transpired yet. The 13-year Wildcats leader said Northwestern was “not going anywhere” and Chicago was “home forever.” Mike McCarthy made more than $8MM last season, according to Silverstein and Owczarski, who suspect the Packers may have to offer at least that — despite Fitzgerald having never coached in the NFL — to entice the 44-year-old college coach. The Packers have thus far requested interviews with Josh McDaniels, Mike Munchak, Dan Campbell, Matt LaFleur and Brian Flores.

Here is the latest from the coaching front on New Year’s Day:

  • The Buccaneers will have a chance to interview Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. The parties will meet Thursday for a head coach meeting, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Thus far on the coaching carousel, Edwards — the Vikings’ DC for the past five seasons and formerly the Bills’ and Redskins’ DC — has only been connected to Tampa Bay’s vacancy.
  • Gary Kubiak may well be returning to the sideline, in a non-HC capacity. Kubiak stepped down from his role as the Broncos‘ head coach after the 2016 season, citing health concerns, but John Elway said his longtime friend may end up as part of Denver’s 2019 offensive staff. “We’ll see. We’re still in that process,” Elway said. “We still have a lot of things to go over before that, but I think it could be where it is, it could be on the offensive side [as a coach]. We’ll see what that role may be, but Gary will be around.” Kubiak has worked in the Broncos’ front office the past two years. Denver is expected to interview Vic Fangio, Flores and Chuck Pagano (while also set to meet with Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor and Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak). Going defense for a second straight hire would point to Kubiak being in line to take over as offensive coordinator.
  • Dan Quinn‘s Falcons staff continues to undergo changes. The Falcons have parted ways with tight ends coach Wade Harman, multiple sources tell Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Harman had served in this role for four seasons and had been with the Falcons for five, operating as Atlanta’s offensive line coach in 2014.
  • The Bills‘ offensive line coach and run-game coordinator the past two years, Juan Castillo received his walking papers on Tuesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. Castillo has worked on both sides of the ball, serving as the Eagles’ DC from 2011-12 before shifting back to offense in his roles since.
  • Despite going 4-12, the 49ers will not shake up their staff. Robert Saleh will stay on as San Francisco’s DC, doing so after his unit set NFL records for fewest interceptions (two) in a season and takeaways (seven) in a season. Kyle Shanahan said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) his entire staff will be back in 2019.

South Notes: Falcons, Colts, Saints, Texans

In addition to announcing Dan Quinn as their new head coach today, the Falcons confirmed several other members of their coaching staff, via a team release. As previously reported, Kyle Shanahan will serve as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, while Richard Smith will be the defensive coordinator and Raheem Morris will hold the title of assistant head coach and defensive passing game coordinator.

Other members of Quinn’s staff include Bobby Turner (RBs coach), Mike LaFleur (offensive assistant), Keith Armstrong (ST coordinator), Bryan Cox (DL coach), Wade Harman (TEs coach), Terry Robiskie (WRs coach), and Eric Sutulovich (assistant ST coach).

Here’s more on the Falcons and a few other teams from the NFC South and AFC South:

  • Perhaps more interesting than any of the Falcons‘ assistant coach announcements was the revelation that Quinn will indeed have control of the 53-man roster, as had been speculated (Twitter link via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution). As Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets, GM Thomas Dimitroff still has final say over the draft and free agency, so it’s a setup similar to the one in Seattle.
  • Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will get paid, but Stephen Holder of the Indy Star doesn’t necessarily see it happening this offseason. When Luck does get that fat contract, likely worth $20-$25MM annually, it won’t leave the Colts completely thin across the board as the team has been anticipating this for quite some time. The Colts currently rank in the bottom half of the league in current spending, giving them significant flexibility both this year and in years to come.
  • Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune writes that the Saints will still have to do some serious financial maneuvering this offseason beyond turning roster bonuses into signing bonuses. That maneuvering, while keeping the Saints “legal” for the start of the new league year on March 10, would leave no room for signing new players or improving the roster. Many have said that the Saints will be impeded by their big spending, but Woodbery notes that they have found themselves in this spot before. Last offseason, they didn’t find themselves with a lot of breathing room, but they still found a way to sign safety Jairus Byrd to a large multi-year deal.
  • The Texans have hired Mike Devlin (OL coach), Pat O’Hara (offensive assistant), and Paul Pasqualoni (DL coach), and promoted Anthony Pleasant to a defensive assistant role, the team announced today in a press release.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Sunday Roundup: Morris, Harman, Graham

Let’s take a look at some links from around the league as the Seahawks and Patriots prepare to head off to Arizona:

  • We learned earlier today that the Falcons, who will name Dan Quinn as their next head coach on February 2, will also hire Washington defensive backs coach Raheem Morris for an assistant-defensive coordinator hybrid position. NBC4’s Dianna Marie Russini tweets that Morris will not be the team’s defensive coordinator and that he will serve as an assistant of some kind.
  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com adds that Wade Harman, the Falcons’ assistant offensive line coach in 2014, will be named as the team’s next tight ends coach. Harman served as the Ravens‘ tight ends coach for 15 years before coming to Atlanta in 2014.
  • Washington has 12 players eligible for unrestricted free agency, and Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com offers his thoughts as to which of those players the team should re-sign.
  • LeGarrette Blount has fallen out of favor with both collegiate and professional organizations in his football career, but Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald writes that Blount’s second stint with the Patriots has proven that his true home is in New England.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wonders if the Buccaneers’ hiring of Mike Bajakian as their quarterbacks coach signals that they have already decided to draft Marcus Mariota with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Volin points out that Bajakian’s spread-option attack is much better suited to Mariota’s skillset than Jameis Winston‘s.
  • Marc Sessler of NFL.com writes that Saints tight end Jimmy Graham will use tonight’s Pro Bowl as a gauge to determine whether he should undergo offseason shoulder surgery.
  • Mike Klis of the Denver Post says the Broncos have reached a crossroads, and he believes the team will have more questions with Peyton Manning than without.
  • Surprise Pro Bowler Justin Forsett reaffirmed this week that he wants to remain with the Ravens, writes Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The journeyman veteran is tired of bouncing around the league and would like to establish a long-term relationship with the team that gave him the best chance to finally enjoy a breakout season.

Coach Updates: Eagles, Raiders, Bucs, Fewell

We’ve already seen one club make a defensive coordinator hire today, as the 49ers promoted Eric Mangini from tight ends coach to DC. Let’s take a look at some position coach hires and news from around the league…

  • The Eagles are expected to add Boston College offensive coordinator Ryan Day as their quarterbacks coach, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). Day, who’s been at BC for nine years, will replace Bill Musgrave, who left to take the Raiders’ OC position. Day has a history with Eagles HC Chip Kelly, as Day played under and coached with Kelly at New Hampshire.
  • The Raiders have also found a new QB coach, as they are set to hire Bills quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, per Caplan (on Twitter). Downing also interviewed for roles with the Browns and Buccaneers, according to Caplan.
  • Not to be outdone, the Buccaneers have become the third team to hire a new QBs coach, as they’ve brought in Mike Bajakian to fill their vacancy, reports Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune (Twitter link). Bajakian, previously the offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, worked under Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith with the Bears. The Bucs have also added ex-Falcons assistant Andrew Weidinger as an offensive quality control coach, writes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Ex-Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has an interview lined up with the 49ers, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 (via Twitter). San Francisco just hired Mangini, so Fewell is presumably a candidate for the Niners’ DB coach job, as Cam Inman of the Mercury News tweets.
  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com expects (Twitter link) that Falcons assistant offensive line coach Wade Harman will remain on staff as the tight ends coach; as McClure notes, Harman held that same role in Baltimore from 1998-2013.
  • Former 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell has accepted the same position with the Bears, but as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes, Donatell might have missed out on other opportunities in the past. In each of the last two offseasons, San Francisco blocked Donatell from accepting interview requests from the Buccaneers and the Saints, per Maiocco.