Mike Florio updates the NFL head coaching position up for grabs and says the job market is heating up. Is Ray Horton the best of the bunch for Arizona? Where do the Browns go now that Chip Kelly is returning to Oregon? Who will be the surprise hiring or firing of the off-season?
PFT Live: Coaching carousel heats up
The Jaguars had two seventh-round picks last month and used them both on cornerbacks,
McCray led the Southern Conference in interceptions in each of the last two seasons at Appalachian State and earned second-team All-America honors in the Football Championship Subdivision last season. Whether those ballhawking skills will translate into significant playing time on defense as a rookie is something to be determined during camp, but it’s pretty clear that the Jags want to overhaul their secondary.
The team signed Marcus Trufant and Alan Ball before drafting two safeties and cornerback Dwayne Gratz to go with the two seventh-round corners, leaving plenty of spots on their depth chart up for grabs between now and the start of the regular season.
The 49ers suffered a major blow during OTAs, as wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered what could be a season-ending injury.
According to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, Crabtree tore his Achilles during a workout Tuesday, and will need surgery to repair the injury.
The 25-year-old Crabtree emerged as a threat last year, with 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns, and an impressive postseason.
Without him, the 49ers offense doesn’t look nearly as potent.
The Giants were pretty sure that wide receiver Victor Cruz wasn’t going to join the team at Wednesday’s organized team activity, but they expected Hakeem Nicks to be there even though he wasn’t slated to go 100 percent as protection against the knee injuries that limited him last season.
Nicks was a no-show, though, and that left Giants coach Tom Coughlin both unaware of the reason for Nicks’ absence and unhappy about it.
“I don’t know,” Coughlin said when asked where Nicks was on Wednesday. “He should be here.”
Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News spoke to Nicks at a charity event in Manhattan on Tuesday night, where Nicks said his knee felt “as good as it has in a while” and talked about stepping into a leadership role for the team this season. How those two things fit into his absence on Wednesday are unclear.
The workouts are voluntary so the team can’t take any punitive measures against Nicks, who is entering the final year of his contract at the same time that the Giants are trying to strike a long-term deal with Cruz.
The Jets rookie quarterback said Tuesday he hired the firm headed by rap mogul Jay-Z. Agent Kim Miale, who represents two inactive players who have never played an NFL game, will handle his contract negotiations.
Smith said the presence of Jay-Z played “not that big of a role,” in his decision, and he’ll have to pardon us since exactly no one in the world believes that.
“I think it’s just his agency,” Smith said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “When you talk about being in New York from a standpoint of what they can do in the city, the connections that they have, I think it’s a good move. My mother and my family were comfortable with it. I’m comfortable with it. . . .
“I’m just going to move on from there. It’s not going to be a big deal and just remain humble and keep focusing on football.”
It would seem that he might have gone with one of the agents who has actually negotiated an NFL contract if that was his goal, but that didn’t happen.
Smith insisted, as he’s had to since being ripped throughout the pre- and post-draft process, that his image was “not that important to me honestly.”
“The only thing that’s important to be is the image that is perceived around this locker room, the guy that I am to my teammates, to my coaches and the work that I put in on the football field,” Smith said. “I’m all about football. I’m all about getting better and that’s the one thing that I’m focused on: Better myself daily and prepare myself to be there when the time comes. . . .
“I don’t worry about the outside world’s perception. I’m comfortable with who I am, strong in my faith. I know that this isn’t because of an image thing or trying to market myself. It’s just being comfortable with the guys who’s going to represent me. That’s ultimately why I made that decision.”
The move is going to cause howling within the agent community, considering the appearance that Jay Z is effectively his own runner. Then again, the agent community howls a lot anyway.
Quinton Patton, the 49ers draft pick who got so excited when he was drafted that he bought his own plane ticket and showed up in San Francisco before he was allowed to under league rules, is officially under contract.
The 49ers have announced that Patton, one of their two fourth-round picks, has signed his four-year rookie contract.
In two seasons at Louisiana Tech, Patton started all 25 games at wide receiver and was first-team All-WAC in both seasons. He caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in his two college seasons.
The 49ers have also announced that they claimed long snapper Kyle Nelson off waivers from the Chargers and waived punter Anthony Santella.
Demps, 27, played his first two NFL seasons (2008, 2009) under now-Chiefs coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia. Demps has played the last three seasons with Houston, and he comes off his most productive campaign, notching 35 tackles and defending five passes in 12 games for the Texans.
Demps figures to vie for a reserve role behind Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry at safety. Moreover, he can contribute on special teams. The Texans credited Demps with nine special teams tackles (six solo) in the 2012 regular season.
In other roster moves, the Chiefs signed undrafted free agent safety Malcolm Bronson and waived rookie cornerback Justin Glenn and first-year cornerback James Rogers.
Brian Urlacher has a surprising choice for the greatest play of his career.
Moments after he made his retirement official, Urlacher appeared on the Dan Patrick Show and was asked to name the play he’d like to be remembered for. Urlacher didn’t choose a play when he made a key tackle, or had a sack, or intercepted a pass or forced a fumble. He chose a play on which he threw a couple of blocks.
“The play didn’t even really involve me,” Urlacher said. “In 2005 we were playing San Fran at Soldier Field, it was like 40 mile an hour wind, they kicked a field goal from 50 yards and missed. Nathan Vasher caught it eight yards deep in the end zone and brought it out, and I blocked one guy in front of him, then I kept running beside him and blocked another guy, I think it was just an effort play. That was one of my favorite plays.”
The video confirms that Urlacher did show great hustle on the play: He threw his first block inside the Bears’ own 20-yard line, then turned upfield alongside Vasher and even ran past Vahser to throw a block and clear the path toward the end zone.
Urlacher said he knew it was time to shut down his career because his body was telling him to shut it down, and he also said that while he was disappointed that his departure from the Bears played out the way it did this offseason, he has no hard feelings.
“I still have a ton of respect for the Bears,” Urlacher said. “It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I played 13 years for one of the best franchises in NFL history. I’m very proud of that.”
Urlacher deserves to be proud of the way he played the game.
The Dolphins spent the offseason insulating second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with weapons.
And a first look in OTAs at a four-wide package had him thinking big things were possible.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins lined up with wide receivers Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller on the field together Tuesday, a potentially potent group.
So yes, that’s an upgrade.
“Yeah you know we’re still learning, but I’m excited about what I see from those guys,” Tannehill said. “They’re all getting a grasp on the offense and we’re starting to get a lot of reps with each other, so [we’re going to] continue to work that to get better.
Rainy conditions made it hard for the group to show their speed, and it’s still early in the installation process, so it’s hard to know how much of the package the Dolphins intend to use.
But unlike last year, they have multiple options in the passing game, which takes away that excuse if Tannehill doesn’t continue to improve.
We’ve seen the designs for the new Vikings stadium and we’ve heard about the new routes that the state is exploring to finance its construction, so we thought it would be a good time to talk to someone from the team about how things are progressing.
That’s just what will happen on Wednesday’s PFT Live. Mike Florio will talk to Vikings president Mark Wilf about how things are progressing with the team’s new digs. They’ll touch on self-cleaning rooves and cigarette taxes among other topics having to do with the construction of a stadium that the Wilfs spent a lot of time trying to get built in recent years.
Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area will also be on hand to talk about the Raiders signing Charles Woodson for a return engagement. Woodson made his call on Tuesday night, but we’ll see if Gutierrez has gleaned any information about how the team plans to use their 1998 first-round pick in his second stint with the team.
You can watch it all live at noon ET.
Urlacher sent out a tweet on Wednesday saying that it was an honor to play his entire career with the Bears and including a link to a longer statement announcing that he has decided to retire from professional football.
“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher wrote. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of yo everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”
The decision might have been different had Urlacher found a more robust market for his services as a free agent this offseason, but there was barely any market to speak of for the eight-time Pro Bowler. So he’ll ride off into the sunset after a very successful career that is likely to land him a yellow blazer as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point down the line.
The Panthers doubled up on defensive tackles to open the draft, and now they’ve gotten half of them under contract.
The team just announced they had signed second-rounder Kawann Short, the 44th overall pick.
“We are very pleased to have Kawann under contract,” Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said. “We felt he was the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft, and we are excited about what he can bring to our defensive front.”
A penetrator to go with first-rounder Star Lotulelei, Short has a chance to get plenty of snaps even with the retention of free agent Dwan Edwards. A four-year starter at Purdue, Short had 19.5 sacks and blocked a school-record eight kicks.
And while it’s just on paper at the moment, the additions this offseason give them a chance to have a solid and deep defensive front, which they’ll need to help mask the deficiencies in the back.
Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn’s second NFL season didn’t go the way he would have liked as a torn ACL ended his year after just three games.
Clayborn used his time away from the field to concentrate on both rehabbing his knee and adding muscle to his upper body, something that has earned him praise from coach Greg Schiano. Schiano said that Clayborn looks like a different person as a result of his work and that his work “is really going to pay benefits” when he gets back on the field. Clayborn’s knee is sound enough to get clearance for all activities, but Schiano said that the team will be taking it slowly with the defensive end this spring.
“Adrian is doing well in his recovery,” Schiano said, via the team’s website. “We are going to keep him out of team periods right now, just for safety. Could he do it? Yeah, he could do it but there’s no reason to right now. Maybe as we get into June, we’ll give him some, when I visit with [Head Trainer] Todd [Toriscelli] on some on that. I like where he is and what he’s doing.”
With Michael Bennett in Seattle and no surefire improvements to the pass rush made in free agency or the draft, the Bucs are relying on Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers to provide the lion’s share of pressure on the quarterback this season. That makes a cautious approach now all the more sensible as a limited schedule in May is far easier to swallow than a limited one in September.
The Broncos offered Charles Woodson a chance to contend for a Super Bowl.
The Raiders offered Charles Woodson a chance to, well, probably not.
But the difference in the offers apparently wasn’t that large in terms of dollars.
Acording to a report by Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Denver’s one-year deal with “reachable incentives” was worth $3.7 million.
The Raiders brought the veteran defensive back home with a deal that included a base value of $1.8 million and was reportedly worth a “maximum” of $4.3 million.
Now, without seeing a copy of the Broncos’ proposal, it’s hard to know how “reachable” those incentives actually were, or whether they were less attainable than the ones the Raiders offered.
And unless someone in the Broncos offices just feels spurned by a division rival and wants to shame them, we probably never will.
But the move obviously shocked some Broncos.
“There’s no freaking way he’d want to go to Oakland,” cornerback Champ Bailey told 102.3 FM Tuesday.
Looks like the Broncos let another one get behind their secondary, which is part of the reason they wanted Woodson in the first place.
The 2012 NFL coach of the year may be in for the coaching challenge of his life.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who has inherited a Cardinals team that would be wise to petition for relocation back to the NFC East, isn’t happy with the performance of his offense during offseason workouts.
‘We’re just not picking it up fast enough,” Arians said Tuesday, via the Associated Press. ”We’re still not picking it up the way I’d like to — at all positions.”
Arians had specific criticism for the men charged with running routes and catching passes.
”I don’t like mistakes,” Arians said. “I really don’t like mental mistakes, especially if you made the same mistake last week. That should be corrected and in the books by now, and our receivers are not getting that done.”
Running back Ryan Williams applauds Arians’ tell-it-like-it-is style.
“Everybody’s accountable, that’s the No. 1 thing,” Williams said. ”It’s a respect thing. We used to have egotistical guys who felt like they couldn’t be touched and be able to do whatever they wanted to. So having guys like coach Bruce is able to nip that ASAP and we’re able to have a good, quality practice and sometimes that wasn’t able to happen because some guys were just doing whatever they wanted to do.”
Unfortunately, Williams didn’t name any of the “egotistical guys” who used to be on the team. It’s possible that he was talking about one or more former quarterbacks on the roster.
”I see [Carson Palmer] sometimes on the sideline, coaching the receivers and talking to the offensive line,” defensive lineman Darnell Dockett said. ”What a big difference from that position last year. Right now I think he’s more respected and a lot of guys are willing to go that extra yard for him. He’s a tough quarterback and he’s going to hang in there for us.”
Even without mistakes and with better quarterback play, the Cardinals have their work cut out for them in the NFC West. Not long ago the weakest NFL division by a wide margin, it’s now clearly the best.
New Eagles coach Chip Kelly has said he can adjust his style and run a different system in the NFL than he ran at Oregon. Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski says he’ll have to.
Jaworski, who analyzes film in his work with ESPN, said on 97.5 The Fanatic that Kelly, who has no NFL experience at all, is much more likely to adjust his offense to the realities of the NFL than to revolutionize the NFL by bringing his spread offense to the next level.
“It’s going to be interesting to see if this style of offense projects to the NFL,” Jaworski said, via Phillymag.com. “I’m going to say no.”
Jaworski says there are fundamental differences between the way Oregon could exploit weaker defenses in college and the way an NFL defense would attack an offense like Kelly’s.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, it worked in college,’” he said. “But then I looked at a game like Stanford. Stanford, a good defensive football team, shut them down. I hope it works. I like the innovation, but I think it’s going to be very difficult. The NFL is a different league with fast players that have all week to prepare for you. At the collegiate level, you have 20 hours to prepare for that Oregon offense. Take out three hours of game time. You’ve got 17 hours in the course of a week to practice and prepare for that style of offense. It kills you in college. But in the NFL, these guys work 17 hours a day. A day, not a week – 17 hours a day getting ready, so there’s no secrets.”
Kelly’s system will certainly be different in the NFL than it was at Oregon. The question is how different. If Jaworski is right, it will need to be very different.