Zach Strief

Extra Points: Saints, Strief, Patriots, Flores

Saints right tackle Zach Strief is considering retirement, as Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes.

The reality is that we all love some part of this game and there’s a part of that that’s just in us,” Strief said. “So it makes it very difficult always when that happens, when that time comes. And like I said, I think take some time, really make that decision away from football and make it with your family. When it is time, I will have no regrets. I know that when I decide that this has gone on so much longer and so much better than I ever could have imagined.”

Strief still feels like he can play at a high level and believes that his 2016 campaign was among his best. However, 2017 was a trying year for him after he suffered major knee injuries in the fall. If Strief walks away this offseason, the Saints will have to prioritize the RT position in the spring.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • If Arizona ultimately hires Patriots‘ linebackers coach Brian Flores head coach, New England would become the first NFL team to lose three assistant coaches to head coaching jobs in the same offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. It is expected that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will become the Colts’ next head coach while defensive coordinator Matt Patricia appears to be headed for the Lions. Flores’ odds of getting the Cardinals’ top job improved on Wednesday morning when Mike Munchak declined to return for a second interview.
  • Former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could be a candidate for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach position, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Matt Nagy and Bevell have a common link in that they both have history with Brad Childress. Nagy is close with Childress and Bevell served as Childress’ offensive coordinator in Minnesota.
  • The Texans have parted ways with Jason Lowrey as their director of football operations, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Lowrey was close with former GM Rick Smith and new GM Brian Gaine likely has someone else in mind for the position.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Bears, Lions, Saints

The 49ers considered Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft before deciding to trade the pick to the Bears, who ended up selecting the North Carolina product, coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco.

“I really liked Mitchell. He was really the only guy I flew out and saw. I spent some time with Mitchell and got to work him out. I spent a few hours watching tape with him,” Shanahan said.

“But that wasn’t something we were going to do with our pick. We felt like we had to go a lot of other different directions. Our goal was to add picks and get as many players as possible, and we are happy with what we did.”

Instead of taking the quarterback, San Francisco traded back one spot with Chicago and picked up the team’s first-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2017, and the team’s third-round pick in 2018. Interesting to note, that third-round pick was traded to the Saints, who tabbed breakout running back and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara.

Shanahan will get to see Trubisky up close on Sunday when the Niners travel to take on the Bears.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Sticking with the Bears and 49ers theme; Shanahan also said he was interested in hiring Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. A well-respected and longtime NFL coach, Fangio could be a candidate to replace John Fox in Chicago, should the coach be let go in the coming weeks. “I think Vic definitely deserves to be [a head coach]. He’s one of the coaches I’ve respected the most, just from going against him,” Shanahan said.
  • Though Fangio is an option, the Bears are likely to invest in an offensive coach to groom Trubisky, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Leading the list, of course, is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel, who always seems to be atop everyone’s wish list.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell should be safe if the team finishes 10-6, even if the team misses the playoffs writes ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He added that he expects Caldwell will return as head coach as of right now, but that could change in the coming weeks. Caldwell has managed two winning campaigns in his first three seasons in Detroit, or the same amount the Lions produced in the 14 years prior to his arrival.
  • The Saints will not use their remaining IR-to-return spot, writes Joel A. Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. The hope was that tackle Zach Strief would be an option to return, but that shelved after he underwent to repair his ACL and MCL two weeks ago. No other players on IR have a time table that would allow them to return.

Saints Won’t Bring Zach Strief Off IR

A trouble spot at the beginning of the season, the Saints’ tackle situation has stabilized as they made their way into the NFC playoff race. But they won’t have an insurance policy that was once possible.

Zach Strief will not come off IR this season, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports. The veteran right tackle has been out since early October due to ACL and MCL injuries, and Triplett reports those maladies required surgery earlier this month.

Upon placing Strief on IR with what was then called an MCL sprain, the Saints hoped he would be able to return this season. But the 34-year-old blocker now has an uncertain future after a 12-year run in New Orleans.

While Strief and Drew Brees are the longest-tenured players on the roster, Strief has another year on his contract — unlike Brees. But the veteran tackle has taken a year-to-year approach with his career.

Coming off a serious injury and having seen first-rounder Ryan Ramczyk commandeer his position, Strief could see his tenure with the team conclude. However, the former seventh-round pick does have a team-friendly deal ($1.1MM base, $5.1MM cap figure).

Ramczyk and Terron Armstead are now entrenched as New Orleans’ tackles, although Armstead — who missed time with a labrum injury this season — is now dealing with thigh and shoulder ailments. Strief took over the Saints’ right tackle job in 2011 and has 98 career starts, including playoffs, during his 12-year run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Place Zach Strief On IR

The Saints have placed offensive tackle Zach Strief on injured reserve, a source tells ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Strief suffered an MCL sprain earlier this year but the team was hoping to avoid IR. Zach Strief (vertical)

By placing Strief on IR, the Saints will have to keep him out of action for a minimum of eight weeks. The good news is that offensive line coach Dan Roushar says Strief may be a candidate to return later in the season (Twitter link via Joel A. Erickson of The Advocate).

Strief suffered his injury during the team’s season opener and that was a bad blow considering that fellow starting tackle Terron Armstead was also injured to start the year. The Saints have managed to go 2-2 even with their banged up offensive line, but it remains to be seen if they can keep things afloat going forward.

In 2016, the 34-year-old played more than 97% of the Saints’ offensive snaps and posted perhaps the best campaign of his career. He graded as the No. 12 overall tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, which gave him excellent marks in the run and pass game.

The Saints are on bye in Week 5 before facing the Lions in Week 6.

Extra Points: Steelers, Tuitt, Saints

Here’s a look around the NFL:

  • Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt has a chance to play this week against Minnesota, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com). Tuitt has been classified as week-to-week with his bicep injury.
  • In light of the Zach Strief injury news, Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter) notes that likely replacement Senio Kelemete can earn $200K by playing in 50% of the team’s snaps and up to $600K at 70%. The Saints will be without the tackle for at least a few weeks.
  • Texans guard Jeff Allen is expected to miss at least one game with an ankle injury, Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets. Allen, one of Houston’s starting guards, is in year two of a four-year, $28MM pact. He appeared in 14 games last season, all starts.
  • Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is working out for the Texans this week, a source tells ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). The former Pittsburgh receiver could round out a banged up unit that is missing both Bruce Ellington (concussion) and Will Fuller (collarbone).
  • The Chiefs gave running back Akeem Hunt an upgraded practice squad contract, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. He’ll now make $36K per week, which comes out to $615K for the year. Hunt signed on with KC’s taxi squad on Sept. 5 and it sounds like the Chiefs weren’t the only team interested in his services.

Saints RT Zach Strief Suffers MCL Sprain

Saints tackle Zach Strief suffered an MCL sprain during Monday night’s game against the Vikings and is expected to miss a few weeks, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a bad break for the 0-1 Saints who are already without left tackle Terron ArmsteadZach Strief (Vertical)

[RELATED: Saints Release Jon Dorenbos]

When Strief exited the game, he was replaced by reserve Senio Kelemete. Unless the Saints add a tackle in the coming days, they’ll probably head into their Week 2 contest with Kelemete and rookie Ryan Ramczyk starting at left tackle. That’s not the O-Line you want against the Patriots, even though their pass rush is shaky.

Last year, the 33-year-old Strief played more than 97% of the Saints’ offensive snaps and posted perhaps the best campaign of his career. He graded as the No. 12 overall tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, which gave him excellent marks in the run and pass game.

Strief, a 12-year veteran, has not missed significant time since the 2012 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints OT Zach Strief Restructures Contract

The Saints have restructured the contract of offensive tackle Zach Strief, according to Nick Underhill of the Advocate (all Twitter links).Zach Strief (Vertical)

Originally scheduled to earn a base salary of $1MM in 2017, Strief will now bring in a $1.7MM base salary next season, per Underhill. Meanwhile, Strief’s per-game active roster bonuses will increase from $1.4 to $1.7MM. While none of those figures are guaranteed, the moves do lift Strief’s cap charge by $1MM to $6.1MM.

The Saints appear to be simply rewarding Strief for a solid 2016 season, as the reworking of his contract doesn’t contain any financial incentives for the club. Last year, the 33-year-old Strief played more than 97% of the Saints’ offensive snaps and posted perhaps the best campaign of his career. Strief graded as the No. 12 overall tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, which gave him excellent marks in the run and pass game.

Currently, Strief is signed through the 2018 season. The Saints, for their part, seem to have found a ready-made long-term replacement for Strief by selecting Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the final pick of the first round in last month’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Rhodes, Saints, 49ers

Free agent cornerback K’Waun Williams will take his visit with the Vikings next Tuesday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Williams, 25, had meetings with the Lions and Jets earlier this week, and is expected to convene with the Dolphins and 49ers at some point, as well. After starting 10 total games during his first two years in the NFL, Williams was sidelined for all of 2016 thanks to an ankle injury.

Here’s more from Minnesota and the rest of the NFC:

  • The Vikings have are expected to hire former Purdue and Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell as their new wide receivers coach, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Hazell, who was fired only six games into the Boilermakers’ 2016 campaign, has a career NCAA record of 25-43. Internal offensive assistant Drew Petzing was also thought to be a candidate for the position, but instead it’s Hazell who will replace George Stewart, who left for Los Angeles.
  • While they’ll face decisions on unrestricted free agents Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings are also expected to begin negotiating a contract extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Thanks to his fifth-year option, Rhodes is signed through the 2017 season, during which he’ll earn $8.026MM. A long-term deal could nearly double his salary, as Josh Norman currently leads all cornerbacks with a $15MM annual figure.
  • The Saints are likely to select an offensive tackle early in the draft, perhaps as early as Round 1, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Although Drew Brees‘ blindside is locked down by Terron Armstead, right tackle Zach Strief is now 33 years old and entering the twilight of his career. Strief is due a $1.5MM roster bonus later this spring, and New Orleans is expected to pay that figure if Strief definitely decides to continue his career, per Triplett. As such, the Saints likely won’t target a tackle in the free agent market, and the draft looks like a better avenue to find a new lineman.
  • The 49ers are hiring Daniel Bullocks as their assistant secondary coach, per Marvez (Twitter link). Bullocks worked in the same role for Jacksonville last season, and previously coached in the collegiate ranks.

Saints Restructure Dannell Ellerbe’s Contract

8:36am: According to Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Saints have made the following adjustments to Ellerbe’s contract for 2016:

  • Reduced base salary from $4.1MM to $1.7MM (fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson)
  • Reduced roster bonus from $1MM to $750K (guaranteed for skill and injury, per Wilson)
  • Reduced workout bonus from $100K to $50K
  • Added $700K in playing-time incentives

Taking into account Ellerbe’s $700K in prorated bonus money, it looks like New Orleans trimmed the linebacker’s cap hit for 2016 from $5.9MM to $3.2MM, as Wilson tweets. That number would increase if Ellerbe earns some of his incentives, but for now, it looks like those won’t count against the cap.

Ellerbe’s 2017 year will now feature the same contract terms as 2016, but that year could be voided if he plays 80% of the Saints’ defensive snaps this year, says Yates.

11:32am: The Saints won’t release linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but have restructured his contract to reduce his 2016 cap hit, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. The details of Ellerbe’s reworked deal aren’t yet known, but the veteran linebacker almost certainly agreed to a pay cut as part of the move.Dannell Ellerbe

[RELATED: Saints cut Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber]

Ellerbe, who was acquired by New Orleans last March in the trade that sent Kenny Stills to the Dolphins, was limited to six games in his first season as a Saint due to nagging toe and hip injuries. The team apparently saw enough in those games to want him back for 2016, however, so Ellerbe didn’t meet the same fate as fellow linebackers David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, who became cap casualties earlier this week.

Ellerbe had been set to count for $5.9MM against the cap in 2016, including a $4.1MM base salary. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com details, that salary was initially guaranteed for injury only, but would have become fully guaranteed today if the Saints had kept the 30-year-old on their roster without adjusting his contract.

Here are a few more Saints-related notes for Wednesday:

  • Referring to the last time the Saints and Drew Brees negotiated a contract as a point of reference, Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune says the quarterback will be a tough adversary this offseason, if and when the club enters contract talks with him.
  • In a separate Times-Picayune piece, Woodbery explores what a new (and potentially final) contract for Brees might look like, writing that it’s “hard to imagine Brees’ camp seeking anything lower than $20MM a year.” The fact that the veteran QB currently counts for $30MM against the 2016 cap gives him leverage, since a 2017 franchise tag would be unpalatable for the Saints.
  • In a piece focusing on the three NFL teams with the worst salary cap situations, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com discusses the Saints, referring to Brees’ $30MM cap charge as “the elephant in the room.” Corry suggests New Orleans ought to restructure Cameron Jordan‘s contract, and adds that it may be time for the club to part ways with longtime Saints Marques Colston and Zach Strief.

Extra Points: Colts, Browns, B. Kelly, Bears

We learned earlier today that the Colts are not expected to retain head coach Chuck Pagano, and Bob Kravitz of WTHR provides details on at least one reason why — the contentious relationship between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. The entire article is well worth a read, as sources tell Kravitz that Grigson has repeatedly overstepped his responsibilities as GM and interfered with the coaching staff, whether by forcing Pagano to play Trent Richardson and Josh Cribbs, or forcing the hire of ex-offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

Here’s more from around the league…

  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson hasn’t had any talks with the club since Week 1, he tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), and though he’s open to returning, he’s also interested in reaching the open market. Meanwhile, fellow free-agent-to-be Mitchell Schwartz also says he’d like to re-sign with Cleveland, but allowed that business is business (Twitter link via Nate Ullrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has long been rumored as a future NFL coach, but he doesn’t sound all that eager to make the leap, writes James Kratch of NJ.com. As Kelly expresses, he has full autonomy at Notre Dame, where he essentially acts as owner, general manager, and coach. Unless a club was willing to hand him full roster and personnel control, Kelly doesn’t seem to have an incentive to jump to the professional ranks.
  • If Adam Gase is able to land a head coaching opportunity, the Bears will be in need of a new offensive coordinator, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune believes John Fox will have plenty of options. Ken Whisenhunt, whom Fox nearly hired in Denver, Pat Shurmur, and Mike McCoy (if fired by the Chargers) could all be on the table for Chicago.
  • Offensive tackle Zach Strief wants to retire a Saint, and he doesn’t plan on moving to another team if New Orleans lets him go. “I will come back here until they tell me to stop coming,” Strief told Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. Strief is set count $4.6MM against the club’s cap next season, and Terrell believes New Orleans would ask the veteran to restructure his deal to stick around.