Tagged in: general manager

Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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New York Giants fire coach Joe Judge after just two seasons

The New York Giants fired coach Joe Judge on Tuesday after his two losing seasons with the crew.

The move comes a day after general manager Dave Gettleman retired after four seasons on the job.

Judge, a first-time head coach, went 10-23 in his two years. He is the third consecutive Giants coach to be fired after two seasons or less, following Ben McAdoo (13-15) and Pat Shurmur (9-23), as the once-proud franchise stumbles through one of the worst 10-year stretches in its history.

The move comes after Judge was left dangling for most of the past two days. He operated Monday as if he would stay, holding a team meeting before speaking with ownership in the afternoon. But the Giants did not mention that Judge would return when they sent out a news release revealing Gettleman’s retirement.

Judge had more meetings scheduled with ownership on the direction of the team Tuesday. It was during one of those meetings that Judge was informed he would not return for a third season.

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Judge, 40, appeared safe until late in the season, when the Giants started spiraling out of control after losing quarterback Daniel Jones to injury. They couldn’t move the ball and scored more than 10 points once in those six games with Mike Glennon and then Jake Fromm, claimed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad, starting.

The Giants used three starting quarterbacks in a single season for the first time since 1992. That was in Ray Handley’s second season as head coach, and he too was fired after the season.

Giants ownership had wanted to keep Judge. Mara even gave Judge a vote of confidence earlier this campaign despite a slow start.

But an animated 11-minute ramble after a loss to the Chicago Bears two weeks ago rankled the organization, and running back-to-back quarterback sneaks from inside their own 5-yard line on second and third downs during Sunday’s 22-7 defeat to the Washington Football Team made Judge an easy target and the Giants a running joke.

The Giants were big spenders last offseason, and the expectation from ownership was that they would at least be playoff contenders.

But a slow start, 1-5 this season, doomed Judge. New York started 0-5 under him in 2020 and has missed the playoffs nine of the past 10 seasons.

Judge’s .303 winning percentage is third worst in Giants franchise history, just above Shurmur, the man he replaced.

The Giants were among the league leaders in games missed due to injury this season. All their key offensive players — Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, and wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney — missed at least two games.

Judge came to the Giants after eight seasons with the New England Patriots, mostly as the special-teams coordinator, and was highly recommended by Bill Belichick. Judge had previously worked under Nick Saban at Alabama.

New York lured Judge with a five-year contract. He was set to become the head coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, before this opportunity arose. Two years and four days later, he’s out.

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Chicago Bears fire coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace after 6-11 season

The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team concluded with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

He earned praise that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble disposition, but the Bears couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020, when the league’s expanded playoff field put them into the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited — Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft — never made the necessary improvement.

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Trubisky departed via free agency last spring, after the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts, and he finished the season ranked last in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears were 34-31 under Nagy in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been brewing since the end of November, when a local report emerged that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions. Nagy stated at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly deny the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only victory amid a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 through Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Nagy said that “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach and he thanked the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday evening and also thanked the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

With the help of former NFL executive Bill Polian leading their search committee, the Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it’s possible the team could even hire a coach before the GM.

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New York Mets announce Billy Eppler as new GM on 4-year contract

The New York Mets finally found a general manager, hiring Billy Eppler in a move revealed Thursday night following their long and ridiculed search.

Eppler was fired as GM of the Los Angeles Angels a little more than a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he landed the same position with the Mets after a recruiting process that became the butt of jokes while dragging on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended.

Eppler gets a four-year contract to become the 16th general manager in Mets history and their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 tumultuous months. He will be introduced by the team Friday via Zoom.

With an uncertain offseason already underway, his return to New York marks a major step toward restoring stability in the front-office structure under owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson.

“I’m so thankful to Steve and Sandy for what I consider an opportunity of a lifetime,” Eppler said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and will systematically begin to work towards our goal of building a perennial winner.”

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The 46-year-old Eppler was GM of the Angels from 2015 to 2020, overseeing five consecutive losing seasons.

The team went 332-376 (.469) under three managers, with a rotating cast of supporting players around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

Unable to provide enough pitching, an aggressive Eppler did land some big fish for Los Angeles with the help of owner Arte Moreno’s checkbook. He lured two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to the Angels and signed free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon to a $245 million, seven-year contract. Trout got a $426.5 million, 12-year deal.

“Billy has the experience, character and respect of the baseball community that will allow him to attract the players and front office talent to lead the Mets forward,” Cohen stated. “He is a leader who has worked in two of baseball’s biggest markets and his talents and personality will move us closer to my goal of sustained success.”

Although the Angels didn’t win much under Eppler, he boosted a previously barren farm system with several prospects now making an impact on the big league level, including All-Star slugger Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell and Reid Detmers.

“One of the most honest people I’ve met in this industry. Great talent evaluator,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Eppler at the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. “I’m certain he’s going to land firmly on his feet.”

Two months ago, Eppler joined WME Sports as part of their baseball representation.

“Over the past two decades, Billy has been a scout and an assistant GM,” Alderon said. “He’s also more than familiar with the New York market. This uniquely qualifies him to lead our efforts going forward. He’s smart, he hustles and has a keen eye for identifying talent. He’s going to make us better. I am really pleased that we have someone of his caliber leading the Mets.”

Eppler graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with a finance degree and worked in scouting and player development for the Colorado Rockies from 2000 to 2004. After that he joined the New York Yankees and became a rising star in their front office.

He was director of professional scouting from 2006 to 2011 and an assistant GM under Brian Cashman from 2012 to 2014.

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Coach Mike Budenholzer signs 3-year extension with Milwaukee Bucks

After leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years, coach Mike Budenholzer has signed a multiyear contract extension with the team.

The deal, revealed Tuesday night, is for three years, sources told ESPN.

Budenholzer — who was entering the final year of his deal — now ties himself to the Bucks through the 2024-25 season. His extension punctuates three seasons that include a trip to the Eastern Conference finals and the championship victory over the Phoenix Suns in July.

“The appreciation I have for being a part of the Bucks organization is hard to express,” Budenholzer said in a statement. “The players make the success happen on and off the court.

We have the best players and to them I am grateful. They’ve grown and we’ve grown together during the last three campaigns.

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“We all can’t wait to get back to work and face the great challenge of competing again for an NBA Championship. … Let’s keep getting better and building great teams and doing great work on and off the court.”

A two-time NBA coach of the year, Budenholzer is 31-17 in the playoffs as Bucks coach, including the 2021 NBA title and trips to the conference finals and semifinals.

He’s 172-65 as Bucks coach in the regular season.

“Bud is a great coach and a fantastic partner to work with every day as we build a team that consistently competes for championships,” said Bucks general manager Jon Horst.

“We’re extremely grateful for the leadership Bud provides and we look forward to building on the success we’ve had over the last three years and congratulate Bud on this well-deserved extension.”

Before arriving in Milwaukee in 2018, Budenholzer led the Hawks to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in Atlanta. He had a 213-197 record with the Hawks.

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Julio Jones, asked about future with Atlanta Falcons, says ‘I’m outta there’

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stated Monday he is planning on leaving the franchise during an interview on FS1.

“I’m outta there,” Jones said when reached by telephone by Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

Jones had been the subject of trade talks recently after general manager Terry Fontenot said the team would be taking calls about the former All-Pro receiver last month.

Jones, 32, demanded a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks.

The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told Schefter.

When Jones was asked by Sharpe where he would like to go play, he said he would like to play for a winner.

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“Right now I wanna win,” Jones said.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this campaign, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

Jones has played 10 seasons with the Falcons, who selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft, leading the NFL in receiving twice (1,871 yards in 2015 and 1,677 yards in 2018) and three times in yards per game (2015, 2016 and 2018).

He made seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2015 and 2016.

He became one of the faces of the Falcons, starting 134 of the 135 matches he played in and making 848 catches for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. He’s the Falcons’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and second to Roddy White in receiving touchdowns (63).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine games due to injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75% was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons did make one receiver move Monday, signing receiver Tajae Sharpe. The 26-year-old spent four seasons in Tennessee with Arthur Smith, now the Falcons’ head coach, from 2016 to 2019, where he caught 92 passes for 1,167 yards and eight touchdowns. He spent 2020 with Minnesota, where he played in four games with no catches.

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Quinton Dunbar, Detroit Lions reach 1-year deal

Veteran defensive back Quinton Dunbar is signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, his agency, Elite Loyalty Sports, revealed Monday.

Dunbar joins the Lions after an injury-plagued season with the Seattle Seahawks, who added him last March only to see him play in six games — all starts — because of a knee problem that required season-ending surgery.

Dunbar, 28, finished 2020 with one interception and five passes defended.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes had said the secondary was an area of focus for his team, which also signed free-agent cornerback Corn Elder last week.

“The corner position — and I can say it with more than just the corner position — is a position that we’ll continue to address now throughout the entire process, up until the draft and even after the draft, if need be,” Holmes told reporters last week, according to The Detroit News.

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“But it’s definitely a position that is not gonna be overlooked or ignored. It is a young group that we have now. I really like the group that we have, in terms of the youth and the upside. … But that is a position that we’ll continue to look to address now and through the draft.”

The Seahawks acquired Dunbar for a fifth-round pick in a March trade with the Washington Football Team.

He missed most of the offseason program and the start of training camp while dealing with armed robbery charges that were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Dunbar made 25 starts over five seasons with Washington, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2015. He started his NFL career as a wide receiver, then was converted to cornerback as a rookie. He has 10 career interceptions and a sack in his six seasons.

Washington signed Dunbar to a three-year, $10.5 million contract after the 2017 season. The Seahawks inherited the final year of that deal, which paid Dunbar roughly $3.34 million in 2020.

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Detroit Lions dealing Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff

In the world of sports, a blockbuster trade can strike at any time and that’s precisely what happened when the Detroit Lions agreed to deal franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three future NFL draft picks, as confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

After the dust settled, the Rams sent Goff, their 2021 third-round pick, their 2022 first-round pick and their 2023 first-round pick to the Lions for Stafford. 

It didn’t take long for first-year Lions general manager Brad Holmes to make a big splash. Holmes came to Detroit from Los Angeles where he was the director of college scouting with the Rams from 2013-2020 — so it’s safe to say he an excellent idea about what the Lions will be getting in return with Goff as their new quarterback.

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This trade also brings a significant financial impact from a salary cap standpoint.

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Rams will inherit the two years, $43 million remaining on Matthew Stafford’s contract.

The Lions will inherit four years, $106.6M remaining on Jared Goff’s contract. The Rams will carry a $22.2M dead cap hit in 2021 after trading Goff and the Lions will carry a $17.8 million dead cap hit in 2021.

Earlier this week, Rams general manager Les Snead did not provide a public vote of confidence for Goff when asked multiple times about the quarterback’s future with the Rams.

“Moving on from Jared Goff, that’s … the money we’ve invested in him, that’s not easy to overcome,” said Snead, who added later that “anything can be done” in a cap-based system.

The Lions will face the Rams next season at SoFi Stadium.

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Denver Broncos reach deal with Minnesota Vikings’ George Paton to be general manager

John Elway and the Denver Broncos wanted George Paton to be the team’s new general manager so much, Paton was given a longer deal than Elway ever had in the same job.

Paton, who has spent the past 13 years with the Minnesota Vikings, has agreed to a six-year deal to be the Broncos’ general manager, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Broncos informed Paton’s hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms.

Paton had spent most of Tuesday in Denver for what was a second interview for him with team officials, and had returned to Minnesota Tuesday night.

Elway had promised to find the “best candidate, the best person” for the job. The Broncos also interviewed New Orleans Saints assistant general manager Terry Fontenot, Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, the New England Patriots’ Dave Ziegler and the Broncos’ director of college scouting Brian Stark.

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“Early in this process, it became clear why George has been such a coveted GM candidate for so many years. He is a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations,” Elway said in a statement.

“With his experience in all aspects of the job — the college and pro sides, salary cap, trades, working with the head coach and bringing the staff together — George is more than ready to succeed in this role. George has waited and worked for the right opportunity, which shows that he is smart and serious about winning. We’re thrilled to name George Paton as general manager of the Denver Broncos.”

Paton and Fontenot, who did his interview virtually because the Saints are still in the playoffs, were each interviewed a second time Tuesday.

Elway, who has been the Broncos’ top football decision-maker since 2011, announced Jan. 4 he was stepping away from the day-to-day personal operations but would stay as president of football operations at least through the final year of his current contract.

Elway also said he didn’t think the team’s current ownership battle between Pat Bowlen’s children would affect the Broncos’ ability to secure what he believed would be a top candidate. Paton’s six-year deal would likely bridge any potential change in the team’s ownership in the coming years.

Paton has control over the team’s roster, free agency and the draft. The Broncos have missed the playoffs in five consecutive campaigns since the Super Bowl 50 victory and finished this past season 5-11.

The team faces contract option decisions on linebacker Von Miller and Kareem Jackson, and Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons is scheduled to be among the team’s unrestricted free agents. A decision about the plan at quarterback also is among the front-burner issues for the Broncos.

The team has one of the youngest rosters in the league and enough salary-cap room to participate in the open market. Paton is widely considered among the top talent evaluators on the Vikings’ personnel staff, and his exit leaves Minnesota with a big void in the front office. Ryan Monnens, the current director of pro scouting, could be in line to replace Paton this offseason.

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Giants expected to retain GM Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have decided to keep Dave Gettleman in place as their general manager for a fourth season.

The Post reports substantiated several other reports that have suggested the same.

After another losing season, which dropped the Giants’ record to an abysmal 15-33 during Gettleman’s tenure, there were rumors that Giants brass was thinking of letting him go or re-assigning him to an advisory role within the organization.

However, ownership thinks the team showed enough progress in Gettleman’s third-year and are headed in the right direction.

While Gettleman received well-deserved heat for hiring previous failed head coach in Pat Shurmur, he also played a large role in the hiring of head coach Joe Judge, who showed promise as a leader in his rookie year.

Personnel wise, the Giants’ roster still has a lot of holes to fill, but the signings of James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Logan Ryan and Graham Gano were home run additions.

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Gettleman’s investment in Leonard Williams also paid dividends as Williams had a career season with 11.5 sacks, 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 30 quarterback hits.

Despite continuous displeasure from their fan base regarding Gettleman’s time as GM, Giants ownership felt they had seen enough in 2020 to keep the current regime in place.

Although the team went 6-10, they were in contention for the NFC East until the final evening of the regular season due to poor competition within the division.

And while ownership said they wanted to be playing meaningful games in December, being a product of a poor divisional race likely did not play a factor in bringing Gettleman back. This decision came from the improvement of the team as the season progressed and the culture that the coaching staff built on the field and in the locker room.

Judge also publicly thumped for Gettleman, telling reporters recently that he’s thoroughly enjoyed working with the GM.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dave the entire year,” said Judge. “We’ve done a lot of good things together. I really enjoyed the process of free agency and the draft. Obviously, we went through training camp, and there was a lot of logistical work we had to do in this particular spring and summer in terms of getting the setups ready for when the team came back.

“I think everyone is doing a good job right now in terms of understanding where we want to go and pushing in the right direction. There’s been some great coordination and communication with Dave [Gettleman] and everyone in personnel in terms of the kinds of players that fit into our systems.”

Co-owner John Mara and Gettleman will speak to the media on either Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the decision. Gettleman will turn 70-years-old in February.

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