Tagged in: job

Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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New York Giants fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

The New York Giants have fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after he had less than two years on the job, the team revealed Tuesday.

The move comes as a result of continuing offensive struggles for the Giants (3-7) and follows their 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

“We made a decision to move on from Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants,” coach Joe Judge said.

“Look, I have a lot of respect for Jason as a person, as a coach. He’s been a tremendous asset for me as a young head coach. He’s helped our development here. He’s built very strong relationships in the building with the players, along with other support staff members. He’s done a good job putting the team first. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for everything he’s done for us.”

Judge stated this “is not a snap decision” after Monday night, acknowledging, “I don’t think there’s ever an ideal time to make a change like this in a season.” The Giants are on a short week after playing on Monday night. They were coming off a bye.

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Judge said the Giants will use a collaborative in-house effort to fill Garrett’s role.

A source told ESPN that Freddie Kitchens is expected to be involved in the playcalling. Judge declined to name a playcaller publicly and implied that he could perhaps be involved.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

Garrett’s offense scored the fewest touchdowns of any team since the begining of last season. The Giants hired him in January 2020 after he had a long stint as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

It had been seven years since Garrett had called plays before returning to New York. He never hit his stride with the Giants, despite a strong relationship with quarterback Daniel Jones.

The sudden midseason ending was “certainly disappointing,” Garrett said in a statement in which he also expressed his gratitude to the Mara and Tisch families.

“One of the things that motivated me to accept this position was the opportunity to help rebuild the Giants into a contending team,” he added. “We knew there would be many challenges. My expectations for our offense were much greater than what our results have been, and I accept full responsibility for that.”

The Giants have averaged 18.9 points per game this campaign, ranking 25th in the NFL on offense. In 2020, Garrett’s first season, the Giants were 31st in the NFL at 17.5 points per game.

The Giants on Monday finished with 215 total yards — the second-lowest total of the 26-game Judge era — and just 66 rushing yards. The 15 first downs was a season low, and only one of the Giants’ 54 offensive plays vs. the Bucs gained more than 16 yards.

The Giants have scored 30 points only once in the 26 games since Garrett joined the team. Even that came with the help of a defensive touchdown.

Garrett, 55, joined the Giants in 2020 after nine-plus seasons as the Cowboys’ head coach. He didn’t call plays from 2012 to 2019, but he did lead Dallas to an 85-67 record.

The former Giants quarterback (2000-03) was always a curious hire, as he didn’t have any previous experience working with Judge. The lack of aggressiveness and offensive innovation had been obvious from the start of Garrett’s tenure.

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Pittsburgh Steelers undergo special teams makeover, release punter Jordan Berry, long snapper Kameron Canaday

The Pittsburgh Steelers are ushering in a new era in the team’s kicking unit. While kicker Chris Boswell’s job is safe, he’ll have a new supporting cast for the 2021 season.

The Steelers released punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday, league sources confirmed to ESPN. With their departures, rookie seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III is the presumed punter and Christian Kuntz, who played FCS football at nearby Duquesne University, is the team’s long snapper.

Berry first joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has been the team’s primary punter for the better part of six seasons.

He was briefly released last year when the team brought on former Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt for a month, but Berry re-signed with the team in October and reclaimed punting duties.

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He averaged 44.4 yards per punt in his career, including a career best 45.8 last season. He went toe-to-toe with Harvin, a Georgia Tech product and 2020 Ray Guy winner, throughout training camp and the preseason.

“It really has been competitive,” special teams coordinator Danny Smith said during training camp. “It really has. It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition.”

Harvin impressed from the jump, averaging 46 yards per punt over his three preseason appearances.

Berry rose to the occasion and averaged 43.9 yards per punt in two preseason matches, but the team opted to go with their draft pick.

At long snapper, Kuntz, a Pittsburgh area native, won the job over four-year long snapper Canaday after spending part of the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

He also spent the 2019 training camp with the Steelers before being waived during final cuts. He’s been on rosters and in camps with teams since 2017 and had a stint in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades, earning praise for his versatility of being a linebacker and long snapper.

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Cubs’ Trevor Williams Out Indefinitely After Emergency Appendectomy

Cubs hurler Trevor Williams will be out indefinitely after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, per Jared Wyllus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Williams was initially slated to start Monday’s game versus the Padres. It’s looking like Keegan Thompson will step in for a spot start.

The 26-year-old made his first career start in the second game of a doubleheader against the vaunted Dodgers back on May the 4th, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Thompson has yet to surrender an earned run in his young career with 15 scoreless innings over his first nine appearances.

He’s done a tremendous job of keeping the ball on the ground so far with a 58.3 percent groundball rate, though that’s not a tendency he displayed as a minor leaguer.

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Despite a rash of injuries, the Cubs won 12 of 16 heading into the series with San Diego.

Williams, Jason Heyward, Jake Marisnick, Nico Hoerner, Matt Duffy, Alec Mills and Justin Steele have gone on the IL since May 10.

“You want to cry uncle sometimes,” manager David Ross said with a chuckle. “But it is what we’re dealing with and guys have done a nice job of coming up and helping us win ballgames.”

As for Williams, the situation might seem more dire than it is, given the “indefinite” designation of his injury status. Likely, this is simply a matter of wait-and-see, assuming there were no further complications to the surgery.

They will need to replace his production in the meantime. Williams hasn’t exactly been a revelation since joining the rotation from the Pirates – 5.36 ERA/4.76 FIP while averaging less than five innings per start – but if nothing else, he’s striking out batters at a career-best rate of 24.9 percent. He’s also walking more batters than usual with a 10.2 percent walk rate.

To his credit, Williams has permitted two or less earned runs in seven of his ten starts, and he’s coming off his best outing of the year, a six-inning, one-earned-run effort against his former club in Pittsburgh.

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Andy Dalton says Chicago Bears told him starting quarterback job is his

The Chicago Bears apparently won’t have a quarterback competition. That job goes to Andy Dalton.

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB stated he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said Thursday. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dalton agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $10 million deal. He can earn an additional $3 million in bonuses.

Dalton’s arrival is a big letdown for fans hoping the Bears would swing a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. He is aware the reception he is getting is about as warm as a Chicago winter.

“Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m coming in from the outside,” Dalton said. “A lot of people don’t know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I’m here. That’s all I’m worried about and so, I’m here now.

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“Hopefully everybody gets a chance to see who I am as a player, as a person, see what we’re gonna be able to do with this organization. I’m excited about the opportunity. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m not worried about any of that.”

Dalton said he was in “constant contact with everybody” as the Bears tried to obtain Wilson from the Seahawks.

He was thrilled when it became clear there would be no trade, because he wanted to come to Chicago.

“When it wasn’t happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case,” he said. “I knew everything that was going on.”

Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.

He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and in 2014 and 2016. He set several Bengals passing records, but in more recent years, the offensive line deteriorated. So did the cast around him. His results suffered, too, and the Bengals released him in late April after drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.

Dalton then signed with Dallas as a backup in early May. He wound up playing in 11 games and made nine starts with Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.

The Cowboys concluded 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

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Chicago Bears hire former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as senior assistant

Mike Pettine did not have far to go to find his next job. The Chicago Bears hired the former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator as a senior defensive assistant Wednesday.

Pettine spent the past three years running the Packers’ defense but was not kept after he let his contract expire following the 2020 season.

The Packers ranked ninth in total defense last season under Pettine, but a defensive breakdown at the end of the first half in the NFC Championship Game on what coach Matt LaFleur called “a flat-out miscommunication” between him and Pettine on what the call should have been on Tom Brady’s 39-yard touchdown pass with one second left in the second quarter ultimately led to LaFleur’s decision to move on from Pettine.

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The Packers hired Joe Barry to substitute Pettine.

Pettine, 54, never signed a contract extension that was offered to him after last season, meaning he was in the final year of his deal, a source told ESPN after the season, making it a cleaner split.

Most coordinators and position coaches always have two years on their deals with the Packers, but Pettine preferred to go into the last year of his contract and see how things played out.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that Bears coach Matt Nagy was leaning toward hiring a senior defensive assistant to aid new coordinator Sean Desai. In Pettine, the Bears not only will have an experienced defensive coordinator but also a former head coach (Pettine coached the Browns in 2014-15).

The Bears promoted Desai, who had been their safeties coach, to replace Chuck Pagano, who retired after the season.

The Bears on Wednesday also promoted Mike Snyder from offensive quality control coach to offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach and moved Henry Burris from Bill Walsh Coaching Fellow to offensive quality control coach.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Bruce Arians won’t retire even with Super Bowl win

Even if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win it all in Super Bowl LV, coach Bruce Arians stated there is no way he will consider retirement, despite already having retired once, after the 2017 season with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Hell no. I’m going for two,” Arians told 95.3 WDAE on Wednesday morning. “There’s no doubt. If the Glazers will have me back, I’ll be back.”

Arians has a five-year contract, but when he took the Buccaneers job during the 2019 offseason, many close to the 68-year-old coach questioned whether he would make it through the duration of his deal. Some had suggested he would coach three years before retiring for good.

But son Jake Arians told ESPN, “He’s having the time of his life.” Bruce Arians has dealt with several health issues over the past 15 years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, had skin cancer cells removed from his nose in 2013, and has been rushed to the hospital — in August 2016 thinking he had a kidney stone and in November 2016 with chest pains.

He was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a type of cancer affecting the kidneys, and had to have part of his kidney removed in 2017.

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But being able to delegate more has lowered his stress levels. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has handled playcalling duties during Arians’ entire time in Tampa Bay, whereas Arians called plays himself in Arizona. He continues to get checkups and has had a clean bill of health.

He still has his sense of humor, which helps too.

Asked what he would have said if general manager Jason Licht had told him prior to his joining the team in 2019 that the Buccaneers would be in the Super Bowl in two years and would have Tom Brady as their quarterback, Arians said, “What are you smoking or drinking? And get me some.”

Arians did, however, express disappointment about Leftwich not getting any head-coaching interviews. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles and had some preliminary discussions with the Detroit Lions, though both sides decided it was best to cancel the interview.

“That really pissed me off, I’ll be honest with ya,” Arians said of Leftwich not getting interviews. “The job he’s done — he coaches quarterbacks, he calls plays, he’s everything everybody says they’re looking for — I was really hoping he’d get his first few interviews and maybe get a job out of it. But I can’t speak to what the owners think and who they listen to sometimes. But it’s just a matter of time before he gets his.”

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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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Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson given no assurance he’ll finish season

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he has received no assurances from the front office that he will keep his job for the remainder of the season, but is “not going there mentally” when it comes to his job security.

“Listen, I’ve been around this league a long time, 25 years I believe as a player and a coach, and we’re always based on and evaluated on our performance,” he stated.

“Right now, that’s obviously not my concern as far as that decision goes. That’s out of my hands. But what’s in my hands and in my control is getting the team prepared and ready for Green Bay this weekend.”

The Eagles are in the midst of a three-game slide that has dropped them to 3-7-1 on the season and into third place in the historically bad NFC East.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has regressed dramatically in Year 5 and the offense has tied a season low in points with 17 in each of the last three weeks.

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Pederson said that temporarily giving up playcalling is “on the table” — the first time he’s been open to the idea publicly — but suggested a modification there wasn’t imminent.

With facilities across the NFL closed Tuesday, Pederson did his day-after news conference from his home office.

In the background was a towering bookshelf lined with awards and memorabilia.

Dominating the scene just off to his right was a replica of the Lombardi Trophy — a not-so-subtle reminder of the unparalleled heights he helped lift this franchise to a short time ago.

It was with that backdrop that Pederson faced questions regarding his job security for the first time.

He has guided the Eagles to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, starting with their Super Bowl run in 2017, but the offense has grown stagnant over the last two years. That has not gone unnoticed by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who skipped their Week 11 game at the Cleveland Browns in part out of frustration, sources told ESPN.

With the team reeling, there are some on the inside who believe that Pederson needs to lead Philadelphia to a division title in 2020 to keep his job.

“Our relationship is good. We communicate a lot throughout the week,” Pederson said of Lurie. “We have our typical weekly meeting and cover a lot of ground.

“But that relationship is good. Listen, some of these questions might be for Mr. Lurie obviously, but my job is to prepare the team and get ready for Green Bay.”

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New York Giants fire offensive line coach Marc Colombo

The New York Giants fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo following a nasty verbal confrontation with head coach Joe Judge, sources told ESPN, and have substituted him with longtime NFL assistant Dave DeGuglielmo.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” Judge said in a statement released by the team Wednesday.

When Colombo was told of a plan by Judge to hire DeGuglielmo as a consultant on Tuesday night, it did not go down well.

Colombo did not agree with the move and felt that he was being undermined, a source told ESPN, due to DeGuglielmo’s background as an offensive line coach. Another source added that the hands-on Judge wanted to bring in “one of his guys” to capture more control at a position that is not his expertise. Although there was plenty of name-calling, Colombo and Judge did not get into a fistfight, as one report indicated. A Giants spokesperson stated the report of a physical altercation is “absolutely false in every way.”

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The move to fire Colombo was a surprise considering that the Giants’ offensive line has shown improvement in recent weeks. The Giants have rushed for more than 150 yards in each of their past three matches.

Colombo was hired by Judge this offseason to work under Colombo’s former boss Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator. Colombo was previously line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

But Judge has been more involved in recent weeks in working with the Giants’ offensive line.

DeGuglielmo was an assistant offensive line coach/quality control with the Giants from 2004 to ’08. He also worked with Judge in New England when he coached the Patriots’ offensive line in 2014 and ’15.

Judge interviewed DeGuglielmo for the offensive line coach job earlier this year.

Colombo, 42, played 10 years in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

He worked as an assistant with the Cowboys for each of the previous four campaigns.

Among Colombo’s top jobs has been to work with the Giants’ young offensive linemen. Three of their first five picks in this year’s draft were offensive linemen, including No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas. Fifth-round pick Shane Lemieux was recently inserted into the starting lineup, and third-round selection Matt Peart has been rotated in.

But Thomas struggled early, and his sloppy technique became a topic of conversation. “We sat down, had conversations with Andrew, talked about taking [his technique] from the practice field to the game. That is what he’s done lately,” Colombo said last week.

“He has a new air of confidence. The past couple weeks he has played really well. His timing has been better. His pass sets have been better. His run blocking has been better. We just have to keep growing. I’ve noticed a more confident Andrew the past few weeks.”

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