Tagged in: GM

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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Sacramento Kings fire Luke Walton, name Alvin Gentry interim coach

The Sacramento Kings promoted associate head coach Alvin Gentry to interim head coach after firing coach Luke Walton on Sunday, the team revealed.

“After a thorough evaluation of the season thus far, I decided to make a change to the head coach position,” Kings general manager Monte McNair said in a statement.

“I want to thank Luke for his efforts and contributions to our team.” The Kings have lost seven of eight matches and dropped to 6-11 on season — leaving them 12th in the Western Conference.

Several recent losses came versus struggling teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Gentry will be taking over his sixth NBA team. He will get a pay raise and already was under contract for the 2022-2023 season on his assistant coaching contract, sources said. The Kings are discussing possible benchmarks of success for Gentry the rest of the season that could serve as possible parameters on keeping the job on a longer-term basis than the rest of this year, sources said.

Still, this is an interim coaching job and the struggling Kings could be opening another coaching search process in the offseason.

Walton was 68-93 in two-plus seasons as Kings coach.

The Kings have been one of the league’s worst defensive teams under Walton, ranking 26th in defensive efficiency this season and last in 2020-21.

This season, Sacramento also ranks 26th in defensive rebounding percentage, 29th in paint points per game allowed and last in second-chance points per game allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Sacramento has the longest active playoff drought in the NBA (since 2006). In those 15 years, they have had 10 head coaches; Walton’s interim replacement will be the 11th since Rick Adelman led the Kings to their last playoff berth.

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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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Chicago White Sox considering Craig Kimbrel trade after picking up reliever’s option

The Chicago White Sox are open to moving reliever Craig Kimbrel days after picking up his $16 million contract option for 2022.

“We view him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stated Tuesday on Day 1 of the GM meetings in Southern California. “We’re not alone in that opinion.

“What we have to figure out is if it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”

Kimbrel, 33, stands ninth all-time with 372 career saves but was asked to pitch in the eighth inning for the White Sox after he was acquired in a midseason trade with the crosstown Cubs.

The move backfired as Kimbrel’s ERA ballooned from 0.49 with the Cubs to 5.09 with the White Sox.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year so perhaps there’s a better use of his skills than how we were doing it,” Hahn said. “So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

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The White Sox had an all-star closer in Liam Hendriks when they gave up injured second baseman Nick Madrigal along with reliever Codi Heuer to get Kimbrel at the end of July. At the time, Kimbrel said he had no problem pitching in the eighth inning and blamed his struggles on mechanical issues.

Hahn said Kimbrel continues to express the desire to do what’s best for the team.

However, his return to the White Sox is in doubt and he’s more than likely to pitch back in the ninth inning for another team in 2022.

“He’s as good as gone,” one rival executive said Tuesday.

Hahn admitted Kimbrel’s performance wasn’t great but said he doesn’t regret the decision to trade for him. White Sox brass decided he was the best reliever on the market, and they went out and got him.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to have an exact answer why he didn’t work out over those eight weeks but certainly if we’re going to include him in our plans for the future we have to find a way to maximize his abilities,” he said.

“It’s easy to look at the results and work your way backwards for an explanation and say, ‘Well the role wasn’t what he was used to, so it must be the role.’ He approached it the same way he would approach closing opportunities.”

If, by chance, the White Sox don’t move him, Hahn is confident the White Sox will get a team-first player in whatever role they put him in. “I’ve had multiple conversations with him since the season ended,” Hahn said. “He wants to win.”

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Buffalo Bills restructure contract of WR Stefon Diggs

The Buffalo Bills converted more than $11.7 million of wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ base salary into a signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates, saving the team roughly $8 million of salary-cap space.

Diggs was scheduled to make roughly $12.7 million in base salary in 2021; that figure is now down to $990,000. Buffalo, meanwhile, now has $11,084,995 in cap space, per Spotrac.

The timing of Diggs’ restructured deal comes as teams can take on less dead cap money after a June 1 trade or release — and will create some curiosity as multiple players, including Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz and Atlanta’s Julio Jones, are expected to be moved from their current teams.

It also creates more breathing room for the Bills, who have yet to sign first-round pick Greg Rousseau or third-round pick Spencer Brown.

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There’s also the matter of an upcoming extension for quarterback Josh Allen, who concluded as the league’s MVP runner-up in 2020.

Bills GM Brandon Beane has publicly expressed interest in signing Allen long term — interest Allen has reciprocated over the past year.

Beane said a deal likely won’t be done until this summer at the earliest but didn’t rule out negotiations extending into next offseason. Either way, Spotrac estimates Allen’s market value at $42.2 million per year, which would make him the second-highest-paid player in the league

Diggs, the NFL’s leader in receptions and receiving yards last season, is not the only Bills player to rework his contract this offseason. Buffalo has also agreed to restructures or pay cuts with Mitch Morse, Vernon Butler and Mario Addison.

Last season with the Buffalo Bills, Stefon Diggs had 1,525 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season. He also had 311 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the postseason.

This is the reasoning as to why some big names will get traded or drafted at this time of the calendar year. The teams that make trades for players will have large salaries, and won’t have a negative effect on their cap space.

The Buffalo Bills have been very vocal about their plans to sign quarterback Josh Allen to a long-term extension. Most specifically, to do it by the summer, before or during training camp. The Bills could also be one of the many teams interested in players like Julio Jones and Zach Ertz.

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Jacksonville Jaguars expected to sign Tim Tebow as TE

It looks as if Tim Tebow is finally going to be playing for his hometown team. Just not as a quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign Tebow, 33, to a one-year deal later this week or next week to play tight end, a position he never played in high school, college or his previous three-year NFL career, a source confirmed to ESPN. A deal has not been agreed upon at this time.

Once he signs, he will be reunited with Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who coached Tebow at Florida and won a pair of national championships with the Gators.

Word leaked on the first day of the 2021 NFL draft that Tebow had worked out for the Jaguars as a tight end. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke confirmed the workout but stated the team wouldn’t worry about whether it would sign Tebow until after the draft.

The Jaguars already have five tight ends on their roster: 

Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell, Ben Ellefson and Tyler Davis. Manhertz, who was signed in free agency, is a blocker who has 12 catches in 70 career games.

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O’Shaughnessy has 88 catches in six seasons with Kansas City and Jacksonville. Ellefson has one career catch, and Davis played in eight matches last season after the Jaguars selected him in the sixth round. Farrell was the team’s fifth-round pick this year.

Tebow hasn’t played football since the 2015 NFL preseason and has spent the past six years working as a broadcaster on the SEC Network and working on his professional baseball career.

Tebow was adamant about remaining a quarterback during his three seasons with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles but apparently has had a change of heart now that Meyer is running the Jaguars franchise.

Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and starred at Nease High School before signing with Meyer and Florida in December 2005. Chris Leak was the starting quarterback in 2006, but Tebow got plenty of action as a short-yardage specialist and threw 33 passes to help the Gators earn the national championship.

Tebow became the starter in 2007, and he threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns to become the first sophomore to collect the Heisman Trophy. He led the Gators to the 2008 national championship, and UF went undefeated in the regular season in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the SEC championship game.

Tebow finished at UF as the SEC’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (57), touchdown responsibility (145) and passer efficiency (170.8).

He still holds the first two records but has since been passed by Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones in the last category.

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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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Detroit Lions fire head coach Matt Patricia, general manager Bob Quinn

The Detroit Lions have fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the team revealed Saturday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the Lions’ interim coach, per an informed source.

Patricia’s firing comes two days after the Lions suffered a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day, which put the team’s record at 4-7.

Patricia was asked about his job security in the immediate aftermath of the loss. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard work and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp stated during a Zoom call presser Saturday afternoon.

“They’re both very fine men, and we wish them nothing but the best in the rest of their careers. Obviously, this season has not gone the way we expected. We want to take the rest of this year to assess every aspect of our football operation, find the best individuals to lead and coach our team.”

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Ahead of the 2020 season, Lions ownership made it clear to Patricia and Quinn that the team needed to be playoff contenders this campaign. After losing four of their last five after Week 12, ownership materialized the writing on the wall.

Patricia amassed a 13-29-1 record in his two-plus seasons as Lions head coach.

Patricia was hired by the Lions in 2018 after serving as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator for six years.

Patricia succeeded Jim Caldwell, who was fired by the Lions after four seasons as coach. Caldwell had three winning seasons during his time in Detroit and made the playoffs twice. Since Patricia’s hiring, the Lions rank in the bottom 10 in scoring, total and pass defense, and they are tied for fewest takeaways (43) in the NFL since 2018.

The Lions’ .314 triumph percentage during Patricia’s tenure ranked 27th in the NFL. Patricia has the worst career win percentage by any coach whose teams averaged 21-plus points per match in the Super Bowl era (minimum 40 games coached).

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Vikings GM Rick Spielman agree to multi year extension

The Vikings have locked up Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer for the next four campaigns.

The team informed Monday the General Manager’s multiyear contract extension is done. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that Spielman’s extension runs concurrent with that of coach Mike Zimmer, who signed his multiyear year two weeks ago.

That means both are signed through the 2023 season.

“It’s great,” Zimmer said Monday on a conference call, via Tomasson. “Rick’s done a phenomenal job with me here, and I think it’s a good team. I think . . . ownership, the coaching staff, the management, I think all that stuff is really good, and it’s been really good for all of us.”

Spielman and Zimmer both were entering the final year of their contracts. “Wanted to start off by thanking the Wilf family,” Spielman said in conference call. “My family and I have been blessed for 15 years to be a part of this organization and very excited about the future and what lies ahead for us.”

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Spielman became the Vikings’ General Manager in 2012, six years after arriving in Minnesota as vice president of player personnel.

The team has made the postseason four of his eight seasons as G.M. and reached the NFC Championship Game in the 2017 season.

Minnesota ranks ninth in the NFL with a .570 winning percentage (72-54-2) during that eight-season span.

“We appreciate Rick’s work ethic, diligence and commitment to the Vikings,” Vikings owner/chairman Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “We continue to have the utmost confidence in him as we work to assemble championship-caliber teams to reach our ultimate goal of winning a world championship.”

During the 2020 NFL draft, Spielman turned 12 picks into a seven-round NFL-record 15 selections with two additional picks gained for the 2021 NFL draft through trades. The Vikings’ 2020 class is the largest since the NFL condensed its annual draft to seven rounds in 1994.

It also marked Minnesota’s first 15-member class since 1985, tying for the largest overall draft class since 1976, when the team added 17 players over 17 rounds.

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Knicks sign one year GM Scott Perry

Leon Rose, the new president of the New York Knicks, isn’t ready to show general manager Scott Perry the door just yet. Newsday reported on Wednesday that the Knicks have kept Perry on a one-year contract.

The Knicks confirmed Perry’s new contract with a statement from Rose.

“Scott is a well-respected basketball executive who I have known for more than 20 years, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him as we look to build a winning team in New York,” Rose stated, via Newsday. Rose was named Knicks president in March after Steve Mills was released in February.

In normal, non-coronavirus times, this move would be seen as classic Knicks. Instead of cleaning house, something that is badly overdue in the executive ranks, the Knicks are retaining the old GM who continued the team’s slide into irrelevance and embarrassment.

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Retaining Perry is still a classic Knicks move, but there’s more to consider right now.

The NBA is at a total standstill due to COVID-19, and there’s no telling when — or if — the league will resume play this campaign. The draft is still scheduled for June 25, but teams have reportedly been calling for commissioner Adam Silver to push it back so it can coincide with the official end of the season (whenever that will be).

Everything that’s happening with the NBA is unprecedented and weird, and bringing in a brand new general manager amid so much doubt is like digging a hole with a shovel when there’s a backhoe sitting in your driveway. It would unnecessarily increase the degree of difficulty, and at the worst possible time.

Perry is on a one-year contract, so Rose hasn’t committed the Knicks to multiple years of Perry if things don’t work out in the next year. Perry now has an opportunity to turn things around with a new president, a chance he may not have had if the NBA wasn’t forced to suspend the season.

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