Receiver Mecole Hardman caught the touchdown to win Super Bowl LVIII after returning to the Chiefs from the Jets in a midseason trade.
Hardman is now once again approaching free agency. He noted this week that he’s essentially in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to potentially being with Kansas City in 2024, as the club goes for three straight titles.
“Right now you’re just hearing talk and seeing what’s going on, people’s ideas,” Hardman said in an interview with NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano. “And you’ll probably get a better idea as the week goes on. But whenever free agency starts, you’ll know. But we’ll see if they want me back. If not, might be somewhere else. So, we’ll see.”
Siciliano then joked that Hardman could go back to the Jets, which Hardman responded to with a chuckle.
“No,” Hardman said, “I won’t go back to the Jets.”
Hardman appeared in five games for New York and made just one catch for 6 yards. In six regular-season games for Kansas City, he had 14 receptions for 118 yards. In the postseason, Hardman had five receptions for 62 yards with his one critical touchdown to end the year.
Dolphins center Connor Williams’ 2023 season came to an early end due to a torn ACL and the injury will play a role in his approach to free agency as well.
Williams moved from guard to center after he signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins in 2022 and the move worked out well for him and the team. His success at the new spot had him in good position as he moved toward the open market this offseason and that would typically make him a strong candidate to land a new deal in Miami or elsewhere in the early hours of free agency.
During a Friday appearance on The Joe Rose Show, Williams’ agent Drew Rosenhaus said he doesn’t expect things to move quite as quickly thanks to the injury.
“I do think that we’re going to be very methodical and take our time relative to the contract,” Rosenhaus said, via Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald. “A lot of it may be predicated on how Connor is feeling physically. He may not be a player that signs at the very start of free agency. He may take more time based on how he’s feeling physically. Connor’s situation has a degree of uncertainty that’s going to be tied to how he’s feeling. And really, we’ll just take it one day at a time once we get into the offseason. But I’m not sure that that is one that’ll be resolved as quickly as some of the other players that we represent.”
The injury came at an inopportune time for Williams, but his play the last couple of seasons and the hope for a full recovery should still serve him well when it’s time to talk about a new deal for the 2024 season. Just how well is one of many questions that will start to be answered next month.
After leading the Buccaneers to the divisional round of the playoffs last season, quarterback Baker Mayfield has begun negotiating with the team to remain in Tampa Bay.
Mayfield, who was playing on a one-year contract in 2023, is slated to hit unrestricted free agency in March unless the Buccaneers sign him to a long-term contract or franchise him. The Buccaneers’ franchise tag appears more likely to go to cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr., which would mean they need to get a deal with Mayfield done before free agency opens on March 13 or risk another team signing him away.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Bucs and Mayfield have had preliminary talks about a new contract, and General Manager Jason Licht is expected to meet with Mayfield’s agent, Tom Mills, next week at the Scouting Combine.
Both the team and Mayfield have indicated that they’d like to get a deal done to stay together. That makes sense, as Mayfield played well for the Buccaneers in their first year post-Tom Brady, and the Bucs provided a stable home for Mayfield in 2023 after he bounced from Cleveland to Carolina to Los Angeles in 2022.
Has Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel gone from a deep freeze in Kansas City to a hot seat in Miami? That question was posed by a viewer for Thursday’s #PFTPM, along with the question of G.M. Chris Grier is in danger, too.
These are fair questions to ask, because most coaches and General Managers are only one disastrous season away from being replaced. The tougher question is whether a season that is good but not great can spark change.
The reality for the Dolphins is the same that it is for every team, except the Packers. One person ultimately makes the big decisions. In Miami, that one person is Stephen Ross.
Ross turns 84 in May. As Jets owner Leon Hess said in 1995, in surprisingly firing Pete Carroll after one year and hiring Rich Kotite, “I’m 80 years old and I want results now.” (Kotite went 4-27 before resigning just before the 1996 regular-season finale.)
Ross has gotten a couple of playoff appearances from McDaniel, but no playoff wins. During the time Ross has owned the team, the Dolphins have never won a playoff game.
Nothing prevents Ross from deciding to make a change, if 2024 ends with another failure to win in the postseason, or to get there. It’s his decision, just like it’s his decision to not give the fans what they want when it comes to the team’s uniforms.
He’s in charge. And he’s prone to getting big ideas when it comes to potentially upgrading the team. Two years ago, he wanted to hire Sean Payton and trade for Tom Brady. (Ross was later suspended and the Dolphins lost a first-round pick for blatantly tampering with both Payton and Brady.)
If the Dolphins don’t deliver in 2024, only Ross knows what he’ll do. But he’ll be closing in on another birthday when the next season ends. And he might decide, “I’m about to be 85 years old and I want results now.”
Especially with coaches like Carroll, Bill Belichick, and Mike Vrabel available.
So are McDaniel and Grier on the hot seat? Only one person truly knows. Based on how 2024 goes, the rest of us will find out.
The Eagles have made a lot of changes to their coaching staff since crashing out of the playoffs and they announced the full list of coaches who will be working under head coach Nick Sirianni on Friday.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore are the highest-profile additions to the staff and the team has a number of other new faces on the defensive side of the ball. They have also hired passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Christian Parker, senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, cornerbacks coach Roy Anderson, safeties coach Joe Kasper, and inside linebackers coach Bobby King.
Defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Jeremiah Washburn returns from last years staff while assistant linebackers/defensive quality control coach Ronell Williams and defensive quality control coach Tyler Scudder have new titles.
After hiring Moore, the Eagles also hired quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier and offensive assistant Kyle Valero. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Jemal Singleton, associate head coach/passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo, run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, tight ends coach Jason Michael, wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, and offensive quality control coach Eric Dickerson remain in the same positions. T.J. Paganetti is now the run game specialist and assistant offensive line coach.
Special teams coordinator Michael Clay, assistant special teams coordinator Joe Pannunzio, and head coach quality control Tyler Yelk round out the staff.
Robbie Gould is going back to Chicago.
Not as a player, but as a coach. Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Gould has become the head coach at Rolling Meadows High School. He had his first meeting with players on Friday morning.
Gould retired in December. He kicked for the Bears from 2005 to 2015.
Raiders (for now) quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attended Rolling Meadows.
Rolling Meadows went 2-7 in 2023.
Gould, 41, spent 18 years in the NFL, scoring 1,961 points with the Bears, Giants, and 49ers. He’s tenth on the NFL’s all-time scoring list.
The Saints’ annual parade of contract restructures continues with their quarterback.
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, New Orleans is converting a portion of Carr’s $30 million base salary to a signing bonus. That is expected to provide about $23 million in cap savings for the club.
The Saints signed Carr to a four-year deal just over a year ago on March 6 following his release from the Raiders on Feb. 14.
In 17 games, Carr completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 3,878 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions for the Saints in 2023. He led the club to a 9-8 record.
The 2023 Eagles went from 10-1 to 11-6 and one and done. As it was all falling apart, it seemed as if there was a compelling story as to why it happened, one that might never see the light of day — at least not for a while.
This week, Craig Carton of FS1 has claimed that he knows what happened, without disclosing what he knows. And it has prompted a mini-media scuffle between Carton and Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Jeff Kotuby of BarrettSportsMedia.com has the details, and the clip of Carton’s original explanation.
“It is a problem that would splinter any group of men — any group of men,” Carton said on the air. “It is a real significant problem and it cannot be fixed. . . . I’m not gonna tell you more than that. I know what the problem was. I know they’re trying to fix it. I don’t think it can be fixed. So it will be very interesting to see if a high-profile player is no longer with the Eagles.”
Carton obviously knows (or thinks he knows) more than he said. His co-hosts clearly know what he knows (or thinks he knows). Watching the clip, it seems likely if not obvious that they goaded him into talking about it — and that they then tried to coax him to go the rest of the way with it. He didn’t, for now.
Enter Schefter. Appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, the topic of Carton’s claim came up. Said Schefter, via Kotuby: “I texted someone in the organization yesterday, and the text I got back was, ‘None of that ‘S’ happened.’”
Well, no S, Adam. No one with the team is going to say, “Carton is absolutely right.” They’re trying to fix it. Part of fixing it is concealing it. So, no, sending a text to whoever gives you a five-minute head’s up about the team’s next official transaction is going to get anything other than a denial. Moreover, that person is going to be very happy if you push to the world the team’s official position on the situation, thereby keeping the Philly branch of the BREAKING NEWS FROM ADAM SCHEFTER pipeline flowing, just as free agency is approaching.
Regardless of whether Carton is right, Schefter’s claim hardly proves Carton wrong. As Carton himself told Erich Richter of the New York Post.
“Considering I never said what the situation was, what exactly are the Eagles denying?” Carton said. “I don’t know what the Eagles are denying. Just because the team is denying something and saying it didn’t happen, we should believe them?
“The fact that this has become such a big deal is comical. When Adam called Howie Roseman, what story did he ask him about in relation to what I said? I was very specific not to reveal what I know to be true. So again, what is ‘total S’ and what is being denied?”
We still don’t know. But something happened both to cause the Eagles to lose all but one of their games after starting 10-1 and to do so with a lackluster overall demeanor and a constant sense of frustration and thinly-veiled internal acrimony. Surely, it’s something more than Big Dom not being around to babysit Nick Sirianni during games.
Beyond the question of what Carton knows (or thinks he knows) is the question of whether it can be fixed. And then the question becomes, if the team decides it can’t be fixed, which “high-profile player is no longer with the Eagles,” if any.
Back in 2017, Matt LaFleur was the Rams offensive coordinator and worked with then-backup quarterback Sean Mannion.
Mannion, a third-round pick in the 2015 draft, also served as a backup quarterback for the Vikings and Seahawks before calling it a career after 2023.
Now, Mannion will work with LaFleur again as an offensive assistant for the Packers. But Mannion was nearly going to work with another former member of that same Rams staff, Shane Waldron, in Chicago. Mannion had spent time alongside Waldron in Seattle, too.
On Thursday, LaFleur explained that he spoke to Mannion via Zoom during the NFC Championship Game about the presentation Mannion was set to give the Bears for his interview. LaFleur was struck enough by what Mannion had to say that he wanted to interview the former QB himself.
“I’m surprised that they let him out of the building,” LaFleur said, via Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “But they tried to get him. I guess we had more to offer, but we’re lucky to have him. I really do think this guy’s gonna have a bright future for us and certainly in the coaching profession.”
Mannion, 31, will primarily work with quarterbacks for the Packers in 2024. He appeared in 14 career games with three starts from 2015-2023.
There was a point when it was hard to imagine any Division I football head coach voluntarily leaving their job to become an assistant with another team, but we’ve seen it happen multiple times this offseason.
Most of the coaches, including Chip Kelly, remained at the college level in their new job, but Jeff Hafley made the move from Boston College to become the Packers defensive coordinator. The emergence of things like the transfer portal, conference realignment and NIL in the college football world have been cited as reasons why those coaches have decided to step away from jobs that used to be considered at or near the top of the profession.
During a press conference on Thursday, Hafley called Green Bay “the mecca of the football world” while discussing his decision to make the change. He also cited some of the aforementioned college developments as something that altered his vision of his former job.
“When I got the BC job, COVID hit,” Hafley said, via Steve Megaree of the Associated Press. “I got to know my team over Zoom. We had masks on in practice and that was way different than anything I’d never experienced. Then the next year the transfer portal came in, which was like, all right, now I have to recruit players, but I also have to keep the guys that are on my team from leaving. There’s no contracts, so you recruit a guy and develop a guy, and all of a sudden he can leave. And then came paying players, NIL, so it was a storm basically, since I got the head job, of things that kept getting thrown at you. But you do the best you can and you adapt. Certainly college football has changed and I do think that — I’m not going to get on a soapbox here today — but what I will say is I that do think there needs some things to change. It’s still a great game and there’s still great coaches, but it changed a lot since I started that job.”
Hafley won’t have to deal with recruiting, NIL or anything other than improving the Packers defense during the 2024 season. If he pulls that off, he might be able to position himself for a return to head coaching work in the NFL at some point in the future.