NFL roundup: Lions hire Caldwell as head coach
Jim Caldwell is the new head coach of the Detroit Lions.
"On behalf on my entire family, I want to express how thrilled we are with the appointment of Jim Caldwell as our new head coach," Lions owner William Clay Ford said in a team release. "We believe Jim is the right man to lead our team and deliver a championship to our fans."
Caldwell, 58, was the head coach in Indianapolis from 2009-11, posting a 26-22 regular-season record. The Colts lost the Super Bowl to the New Orleans Saints at the end of his first season.
Prior to his interview with the Lions, Caldwell broke down every pass play by quarterback Matthew Stafford during the 2013 season. He reviewed film with Stafford during his interview with general manager Martin Mayhew and met with vice chairman Bill Ford, Jr., to lay out his plan for turning the abundantly talented Lions into a contender.
"I also want to commend (team president) Tom (Lewand) and Martin (Mayhew) on the thoroughness of the coaching search," Ford said. "We had a very specific plan and profile for our next head coach, and I am convinced that we found that man in Jim Caldwell."
Part of Caldwell's plan is likely bringing Baltimore secondary coach Teryl Austin with him to Detroit as defensive coordinator. They worked together with the Ravens and at Penn State.
Caldwell was hired as Ravens quarterbacks coach before the 2012 season, and he was promoted to offensive coordinator in December 2012. Under Caldwell's guidance, quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens went on a sizzling postseason run that resulted in a Super Bowl title.
This season, the Ravens' offense finished 29th in the NFL in total yards.
Caldwell has 26 career regular-season wins as an NFL coach, 24 of which came with Peyton Manning as his starting quarterback.
Caldwell was previously head coach at Wake Forest (1993-2000) and quarterbacks coach at Penn State (1986-1992).
--Ken Whisenhunt was introduced as head coach of the Tennessee Titans in Nashville at Saint Thomas Park.
"We had a good talk last Friday night and we hit it off," Whisenhunt said. "I feel very good about where we're going as an organization."
The Titans were 7-9 last season, competing for a playoff spot into December despite multiple injuries to starting quarterback Jake Locker.
"I really haven't had a chance to study that," Whisenhunt said of Locker's future with the franchise. "I liked Jake coming out (of Washington in 2011). One of the things I think we've done a good job of, the places I've been, is putting them in positions to be successful."
Locker has missed 14 games because of injuries since he was drafted as the quarterback of the future as a 2011 first-round pick. While Locker displayed some encouraging flashes of potential, he is entering the final season of his rookie deal without proving he can be a long-term solution.
"I really trust (general manager) Ruston Webster in his assessment of this team. Hopefully I'll get a chance to sit with him and talk with him. Everything I've heard about Jake as a student of the game is positive. All the players I've been a part of, that's been a big part of it.
"We'll be versatile offensively," Whisenhunt said. "We'll be versatile. A lot of it will depend on our personnel."
Whisenhunt replaces Mike Munchak, who split with the Titans after going 22-26 in three seasons as head coach.
Whisenhunt, 51, has 17 seasons of NFL coaching experience, including six years (2007-12) as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Whisenhunt has a 45-51 record, including a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII after a 12-win season in 2008.
--United States District Court Judge Anita Brody denied the initial settlement between the NFL and more than 4,500 retired players with concussion claims for a proposed $765 million.
The agreement reached on August 29 was submitted for approval in federal court in Philadelphia and Brody issued a court memorandum Tuesday saying the proposed settlement to injury litigation was denied.
"In light of my duty to protect the rights of all potential class members and the insufficiency of the current record, I will deny the Motion without prejudice," Brody said.
The primary issue is whether the settlement amount is insufficient. More evidence of specific financial payout plans and specific needs of players diagnosed with brain trauma in the future will be required by Brody.
The league did not admit fault when announcing the settlement in August. The amount players will receive will be "determined by the diagnosis," the league said at the time.
--Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham is not going anywhere if New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees can help it.
Graham, a free agent in the offseason, is one of a handful of key free agents, is expecting the franchise tag. The Saints used the same strategy to retain Brees before eventually signing him to a contract worth $100 million. His deal consumes $18.4 million and $26.4 million in cap space the next two seasons.
"Listen, I get compensated very well. I don't take that for granted for one second," Brees said. "But I play this game because I love this game, I love this locker room and I love the opportunity to win a championship."
The Saints are projected to be at least $12 million over the 2014 salary cap of $126.6 million.
Graham played almost half of his total snaps at wide receiver and could be primed to challenge the franchise free agent value. In the past, hybrid athletes such as Baltimore Ravens defensive end-outside linebacker Terrell Suggs were successful challenging the tag value.
Graham, who played with a serious foot injury late in the 2013 season and postseason, led the Saints with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2012, he caught 85 passes for 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
Brees, 35, just completed his third consecutive 5,000-yard passing season.
--A slow-moving coaching search by the Cleveland Browns is unlikely to shift gears until the front office sits down to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Gase is expected to interview with the Browns only after the Broncos are eliminated from the postseason.
Gase, 35, made the decision not to interview during the playoffs upon learning the Browns and Minnesota Vikings were interested in conducting interviews with him during Denver's bye week in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.
The appeal, of course, is that Gase -- in concert with quarterback Peyton Manning -- helped the Broncos finish the season with a league-record 606 points and a passing offense that was statistically the most productive in NFL history.
It is not known if Gase will also interview with the Vikings, whose vacancy remains but reports indicate the team has three finalists -- including one "mystery" candidate. That third party could be Gase. Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordiantor Todd Bowles are reportedly coming back for second interviews.
Meanwhile a second coordinator has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Browns' job.
Last week, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels withdrew his name.
This week, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has withdrawn from the Cleveland job, according to Fox Sports.
--In a refreshing break from the 24/7/365 chatter about quarterbacks, the Professional Football Writers of America selected Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy as NFL's 2013 Rookie of the Year.
The PFWA named San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen as Offensive Rookie of the Year and Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso as Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In an interesting turn following the celebrated glut of rookie quarterbacks in 2012 -- a class that produced at least nine quarterbacks who already started at least one game -- the PFWA's No. 1 quarterback on the All-Rookie team is Mike Glennon, who moved into the starting job almost by default during chaos in Tampa Bay and, following a theme, earned his All-Rookie by default more than any dramatic heroics.
And, in yet another reason why it is interesting that Ken Whisenhunt's signed as head coach with Tennessee instead of Detroit, the Lions led all teams with three All-Rookie selections -- defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah, punter Sam Martin and guard Larry Warford. Carolina, St. Louis, Miami and San Diego each had two players on the squad. In all, 21 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored.
--Bob McNair is foremost the owner of the Houston Texans, the franchise that holds the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after ending last season with 14 consecutive losses.
But McNair is also a proud alumnus of the University of South Carolina, and he paid pretty close attention to junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 2 overall prospect eligible for the May draft according to NFLDraftScout.com.
So while the Texans deliberate for the next four months how to invest the top pick in the draft -- a process that involves general manager Rick Smith and new head coach Bill O'Brien -- the owner let it be known he appreciates Clowney's rare athleticism.
"He's one of these players who's a once-in-every-10 years kind of physical specimen that comes along," McNair said, before comparing Clowney to the team's last No. 1 pick in 2006. "Mario Williams was that way. I think Clowney is actually a better athlete than Mario."
--The San Diego Chargers have re-signed defensive coordinator John Pagano, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported .
The news comes one day after the Tennessee Titans hired former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to become their next head coach.
Pagano, whose previous contract expired after this season, had drawn interest from the Titans as well, according to ESPN.
Pagano, 46, is the brother of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
Pagano has worked on the Chargers' coaching staff since 2002 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.
Pagano oversaw a defense this season that was instrumental in getting the Chargers to the postseason. After upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC wild-card round, San Diego was eliminated by the Denver Broncos in Sunday's divisional playoff game.
--Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, who suffered a concussion in Saturday's playoff win, won't know until at least Wednesday on his playing status for this week, coach Pete Carroll said.
Harvin must go through the NFL's mandatory concussion protocol.
Harvin suffered a concussion late in the first half of Saturday's 23-15 NFC divisional playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.
"We (are) fortunate that we got the extra day," Carroll said Monday on his 710 ESPN Seattle radio show. "That really helps in these kinds of situations. We'll just see how he does. We won't know until Wednesday or Thursday until after all the tests are run."
The Seahawks will host the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.
Harvin tried to make a leaping catch in the end zone late in the first half Saturday before falling backward and hitting his head on the turf.
Harvin had major hip surgery on Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum and was playing in only his second game of the season and his first since Nov. 17 against Minnesota.
--The Oakland Raiders have re-signed defensive coordinator Jason Tarver on the day his contract expired, the team announced Tuesday.
The Raiders ranked 22nd in total defense this past season after finishing 18th the season before in his first two years on the job.
The Raiders had confirmed Dennis Allen's return as head coach last week.
The return of Tarver and Allen suggests the Raiders think the current staff has earned another year.
The Raiders did a two-year contract extension for assistant head coach-offensive line coach Tony Sparano after the season.
--The Denver Broncos have signed free agent cornerback Marquice Cole, who was on and off the New England roster this season, the team announced Tuesday as it prepares to face the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
The Broncos also signed practice squad tackle Vinston Painter to their active roster and placed cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive end Derek Wolfe on injured reserve.
Cole (5-10, 195 pounds) is a fifth-year player who has seen action in 64 regular-season games with the New York Jets (2009-11) and New England (2012-13), totaling 36 tackles, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries in addition to 51 special-teams stops.
--The New York Giants have hired former Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo as their new offensive coordinator, the team announced Tuesday.
The Miami Dolphins and Giants interviewed McAdoo for their top offensive job. He also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their head coaching opening.
McAdoo served as Green Bay's quarterbacks coach the past two years, working with one of the league's best in three-time Pro Bowler and 2011 MVP Aaron Rodgers.
The Giants interviewed McAdoo on Monday for the job vacated by the retirement of longtime offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
McAdoo was the fourth candidate to interview for the job according to ESPN.com, joining former Giants assistant Mike Sullivan, former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and former Houston Texans quarterbacks coach and UCLA coach Karl Dorrell.
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