The Daily Briefing Friday, February 9, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

Having endured the wait to officially land a coach off a Super Bowl team, Bob Quinn blasts the rule that he can’t announce and formalize what the world already knows.  Or in the case of Indianapolis, thought it knew but for the duplicitous/vacillating Josh McDaniels.  Kyle Meinke of MLive.com:

 

When Lions GM Bob Quinn has something to say, he doesn’t mince words.

 

We saw it last year when he ripped the NFL for not inviting Joe Mixon to the combine. And we’re seeing it again this year as he rips the NFL for its antiquated rules on the hiring process.

 

“Stupid league rule,” Quinn told MLive. “It’s just ridiculous.”

 

The league allows teams to interview prospective coaches who qualify for the playoffs, but only during specific windows. Coaches on a bye can be interviewed the first week of the postseason, and those without a bye can be interviewed the second week. Coaches can also be re-interviewed during the bye week leading into the Super Bowl, which the Lions did with Matt Patricia.

 

At that point, they knew they had their man. But they couldn’t officially execute a deal until after the Super Bowl due to the league’s tampering rules. They couldn’t even talk about him. And that handcuffed their ability to begin assembling the new staff.

 

So even though everyone knew exactly what was going to happen, the Lions had no choice but to wait around for the Patriots’ season to conclude.  And in the meantime, their coaches were left in limbo. That makes everything difficult on everyone — and that’s when everything goes right. Which it doesn’t always.

 

“It has to (change),” Quinn said. “I hope they ask me about it, because I’ll stand up and tell them how hard it was on my end. And I mean, can you imagine being Chris Ballard?”

 

Ballard is the Colts GM who followed the NFL’s rules to hire Josh McDaniels as his next coach. They had agreed to a deal as well. But when the Patriots finally lost and McDaniels could put pen to paper, he backed out. Now the Colts have to turn to Plan B, except their Plan B coaches — Matt Nagy and Mike Vrabel — have already been hired by the Bears and Titans.

 

So now they’re basically beginning a new from scratch in the first week of February.

 

“The league had a proposal last March to change it, and it got tabled,” Quinn said. “This has got to change.”

 

Quinn can afford to be bold as he has a long term contract extension that puts him on the same clock as his coach Matt Patricia.  More from Kyle Meinke:

 

Bob Quinn’s future is officially tied to the fate of Matt Patricia.

 

The Detroit Lions announced Friday they’ve extended Quinn’s deal. They did not announce the terms, but did say it will put the general manager under contract for the same number of years as Patricia.

 

Team president Rod Wood declined to specify the length of Patricia’s deal. He just said it was “long term.” That probably means five years, or through 2022.

 

“The contract extension for Bob is most deserving as he continues to lead and improve our football team,” Wood said in a statement released through the team. “It is also important for our entire organization to ensure stability as we move forward with Matt as our new head coach working in partnership with Bob. Moreover, I greatly enjoy my relationship and partnership with Bob. We both look forward to a bright future for the Detroit Lions.”

 

Quinn was hired to replace Martin Mayhew in 2016. His teams have produced a pair of 9-7 records, Detroit’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1994-5. But they also haven’t won a playoff game or division title.

 

But those within and around the organization credit Quinn for helping the franchise draw closer those goals. In his two-plus years at the helm, the Lions have installed a new weight room, overhauled the nutrition program, hired a new strength coach, changed uniforms — and now, changed coaches, replacing Jim Caldwell with Patricia.

 

Now Patricia is bringing a bunch of his buddies from Syracuse and the old days in New England, including in important positions like offensive coordinator (Jeff Davidson) and quarterbacks coach (George Godsey). And he’ll have five years to make it happen with Quinn.

 

“Thank you to Mrs. Ford, her family, and Rod Wood for their continued support and belief in my ability to lead this football team,” Quinn said. “My goals and vision remain unchanged and I will continue to work diligently at improving this team and every facet of the football operation. Coach Patricia and I will always work in close concert on any and all football-related matters. That process is underway as our coaching and player personnel staffs are collectively preparing for the roster building phase of the offseason.”

 

Quinn has done a lot of good things with the roster, like drafting left tackle Taylor Decker in the first round last year. He’s amassed a bunch of talent on the offensive line, which he hopes will finally produce with new leadership this year, and he even picked up an All-Pro in Jamal Agnew in the fifth round of last year’s draft. Free-agent signings like Marvin Jones and T.J. Lang, who made the Pro Bowl, have strengthened the depth as well.

 

But he’s had some deficiencies as well. Notably, his moves on the offensive line have not produced better results in the passing game (47 sacks last year) or the running game (last in 2017). And the defensive line continues to struggle to produce a pass rush.

 

Still, there’s no question the organization is closer to competing now than when Quinn took over. And after watching him land his top target in the coaching search, the Lions had seen enough to reward him for his efforts.

 

 

 

MINNESOTA

The Vikings have raided the staff of the Super Bowl champs for their new OC.  Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

 

The Vikings’ new offensive coordinator is coming fresh off a Super Bowl parade.

 

According to an NFL source, the team is hiring Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who interviewed with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer in Philadelphia following the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade on Thursday.

 

DeFilippo, who was the Browns offensive coordinator under Mike Pettine in 2015, was the Eagles QB coach the past two seasons, where he worked with Carson Wentz during his first two years in the league and helped the North Dakota State product become an MVP candidate in 2017.

 

DeFilippo, 39, beat out Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, who was thought to be the team’s other leading candidate to replace Pat Shurmur. Stefanski, who has been with the Vikings since 2006, could now follow Shurmur to New York to become the Giants’ next offensive coordinator. If the Vikings allow Stefanski to leave, DeFilippo would likely need to find a quarterbacks coach — one of several significant decisions he would need to make at the position.

 

Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are set to become free agents next month, and Teddy Bridgewater could also hit the open market, if his time on the physically-unable-to-perform list does not prevent his 2017 contract from tolling. Spielman said last week the new offensive coordinator would play a major role in the team’s upcoming decision at the QB position.

 

“He’ll be heavily involved in that,” Spielman said. “But the way that we structure everything is that everyone has a part of that process in the decision, and myself, Coach Zimmer, our scouting department and all of our coaches. Any time we’re making major decisions, we have a systematic approach that I feel is very thorough to get through so that you can make the best decisions possible and this will be no different, whoever comes in.”

 

Like Zimmer and Spielman, DeFilippo grew up as the son of a coach, born in Youngstown, Ohio, while his father, Gene, was the offensive coordinator at Youngstown State.

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

Ann Gordon, the former newspaper editor turned p.r. V.P., is leaving the Eagles in the wake of their title.  She sounds happy, but with no new position announced or specific reason, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer implies it might not be voluntary:

 

Anne Gordon, senior vice president of marketing, media and communications for the Eagles, is leaving the team.

 

“I have had an incredible five and half seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles,” said Gordon, a former manager editor at the Inquirer.  “Ending with the Super Bowl championship made my time here all that much more amazing.”

 

Gordon, who joined the Eagles’ front office in November 2012, directed the team’s marketing and their media assets, including television programming and radio, digital, social media and print content. She also administered the Eagles’ public and community relations departments.

 

 

There were several notable changes during Gordon’s tenure. Dave Spadaro, who managed the Eagles’ web site for years, became exclusively an Insider. The team’s social media efforts grew significantly. And long-time media relations director Derek Boyko left to take an executive position with the Buffalo Bills.

 

The Eagles, who will conduct a search for Gordon’s replacement, declined to comment, citing their previous practice of not addressing most staff departures.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

The deal for QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO is done – and he is the highest paid player in NFL history after just seven starts.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

A franchise quarterback landed in the lap of the San Francisco 49ers. General manager John Lynch was not going to let him get away.

 

The 49ers announced Thursday they signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year contract extension. The deal is worth $137.5 million, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported, per a source informed of the decision. The deal is the largest in NFL history on an average-per-year basis.

 

Matthew Stafford previously held the high-water mark at $27 million per year. Garoppolo’s deal will average $27.5 million. That number likely will be topped by Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and others down the line.

 

Garoppolo’s scheduled news conference on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET will be carried live on NFL Network.

 

Garoppolo seems pretty happy about the development:

 

San Francisco acquired Garoppolo in October from the New England Patriots for a 2018 second-round pick. The quarterback was in the final year of his rookie deal. The new contract helps the Niners avoid using the franchise tag on Garoppolo.

 

After his arrival in San Francisco, Tom Brady’s former backup transformed a downtrodden, one-win team into a streaking goliath. The 49ers went 5-0 in Garoppolo’s starts, the longest active regular-season winning streak in the NFL. The former second-round pick has never lost an NFL start.

 

In just seven career starts, Garoppolo has displayed unequivocally he’s a franchise quarterback. Now he’ll be paid like one.

 

Down the stretch of the season, Jimmy G elevated every player on the 49ers’ roster. His pinpoint ball placement allowed previously third-fiddle receivers to morph into dangerous weapons. His quick trigger and ability to throw off his back foot aided a banged-up offensive line. His talent for moving the ball kept the 49ers’ porous defense off the field and in positive situations.

 

In his first three games starting for the 49ers, Garoppolo led just one three-and-out punt. San Francisco scored on a whopping 62 percent of Jimmy G’s drives this season — for perspective, the Patriots were second at 51 percent.

 

Since he entered the NFL in 2014, Garoppolo has completed 67.3 percent of his passes (4th-highest, min. 250 attempts) with an 8.3 yards per attempt average (first) and a 99.7 passer rating (fifth).

 

Garoppolo’s physical brilliance is matched by his mental acumen and leadership qualities demanded of a franchise quarterback.

 

Those questioning the small sample size or the lack of touchdowns (7 TDs, 5 INTs) are either not watching Garoppolo play or forgetting that the 49ers owned a dead-on-arrival offense before he entered the lineup. The 49ers scored 28.8 points per game under Garoppolo; they scored 17 points per tilt in games he did not start in 2017.

 

Garoppolo immediately morphed the 49ers into one of the most enjoyable teams to watch down the stretch. He had Niners players espousing comparisons to Tom Brady, and giddily talking about his “different aura.” More importantly, his arrival in San Francisco made playing hella more fun for his teammates.

 

Garoppolo’s leadership and talent caused the greatest coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick, to balk at getting rid of the quarterback before he absolutely had to make a move. As colleague Chris Wesseling eloquently detailed, Belichick envisioned Jimmy G as the perfect post-Brady quarterback. Only TB12 stiff-arming Father Time caused a ripple in that plan.

 

The Patriots’ loss became the 49ers’ gain — one that will alter the franchise’s future.

 

“When you find the right guy at that position, it’s really good for your franchise,” Lynch said last month from the Senior Bowl. “We believe we’ve found the right guy.”

 

The 49ers found their quarterback and gladly paid to keep him around.

 

Garoppolo sounds like he might have signed for less if you believe him when he says that the Niners had him at hello.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

It hasn’t quite hit Jimmy Garoppolo yet that he is the highest-paid player in NFL history based on highest per yer average on a long-term deal.

 

“I was talking to my brothers about it the last 24 hours flying here and everything,” Garoppolo said during a Friday press conference. “If you had asked me as a little kid if I thought this was a reality, probably not. But you always dream about being that NFL quarterback and everything. This is just taking another step in that direction I guess.”

 

The 49ers had the franchise tag they could have used on the quarterback in the absence of a long-term deal, but both sides wanted the outcome they got Thursday. Garoppolo, acquired by the 49ers from the Patriots at the trade deadline, is signed for the next five years.

 

“A lot of people kept saying, ‘It’s a difficult process; it’s complex,’” 49ers General Manager John Lynch said. “What I tried to do is keep pushing the button: Hey, he wants to be here; we want him here. Let’s get it done. Why wait?

 

“. . . A lot of people are going to have a lot of ideas on what could have happened. What I’m concerned about is he’s right here, and he’s signed for five years, and I love that. It took a lot of team work to get that done, and I’m really proud that we did.”

 

Garoppolo played coy during the regular season, even as he won all five of his starts, about whether he wanted to sign a long-term deal with the 49ers. But Garoppolo said he never had any doubt about his future and where he wanted to spend his career.

 

Once he arrived in San Francisco, Garoppolo said he was sold on Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers.

 

“I wasn’t careful [about his choice of words]; I knew I wanted to be here,” said Garoppolo, whose deal is worth $137.5 million. “I knew it was just a matter of getting everything figured out. We did that fairly quickly this offseason. I’m excited about it and thankful that it got done so fast. It’s an exciting time right now.”

 

Garoppolo now is guaranteed $48.7 mil of the $137.5.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com breaks down the deal:

 

The numbers are out regarding the Jimmy Garoppolo. They appear below, along with a full analysis of the terms and the deal.

 

1. $7 million signing bonus.

 

On a five-year deal, the low bonus results in a cap charge of only $1.4 million per year.

 

2. $28 million fully-guaranteed roster bonus.

 

For a cap-rich team like the 49ers, this device gives Garoppolo a bunch of money at signing, and chews up all of the cap space immediately, with no proration.

 

3. 2018 base salary of $6.2 million, fully guaranteed at signing.

 

The first-year salary in any long-term deal is almost always guaranteed as a practical matter; who’s going to cut the guy the same year they signed him?

 

4. 2019 base salary of $17.2 million guaranteed for injury at signing, $7.5 million of which is fully guaranteed at signing.

 

While the breakdown from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com isn’t entirely clear on this point, it appears that the full guarantee vests on April 1, a late (relatively speaking) deadline. The 49ers used the same device in the Colin Kaepernick deal, giving them an extended chance to make a decision about whether to continue the deal.

 

5. 2020 base salary of $23.8 million, $15.7 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing.

 

Injury guarantees often are meaningless, but in the event of a serious injury, it’s essentially a free insurance policy. The 2020 injury guarantee apparently becomes a full guarantee on April 1, giving the 49ers some flexibility in determining whether to keep him.

 

6. 2021 base salary of $24.1 million and 2022 base salary of $24.2 million.

 

These are non-guaranteed amounts and, essentially, club options for the final two years of the deal.

 

7. Workout bonuses of $600,000 for 2018 through 2022. (Total value: $3.2 million.)

 

Garoppolo undoubtedly will meet the annual participation threshold and earn these amounts every year.

 

8. Per-game roster bonuses of $800,000 for 2018 through 2022. (Total value: $3.2 million.)

 

While many assume that per-game roster bonuses are money in the bank, an injury can be costly, as Aaron Rodgers learned in 2017. For Garoppolo, every game includes $50,000 that he receives only if he suits up.

 

9. Further injury guarantee of $7.5 million.

 

The breakdown from Schefter explains that a $7.5 million injury guarantee applied if Garoppolo “makes it to NFC Championship game or is first- or second-team All Pro.” It’s unclear whether this applies only to the 2021 season or other years of the deal, and there’s no mention of the year(s) in which the incentive applies.

 

10. The cash flow is $46.2 million through 2018, $61.2 million through 2019, $86.4 million through 2020, $111.9 million through 2021, and $137.5 million through 2022.

 

Schefter claims that the $61.2 million through two years represents a $10 million bump over what Garoppolo would have made under the franchise tag through 2019. That’s accurate only if the 49ers would have used the non-exclusive tag; if they would have applied the exclusive version of the tag (cutting off another team’s ability to sign him away in exchange for two first-round picks), the gap would have been more like $5 million.

 

Schefter also says that, after three seasons, Garoppolo “walks away” with $86.4 million. While he’ll indeed make that much over three years (roughly $4 million less than three years of the non-exclusive tag and more than $10 million less than three years of the exclusive tag), Garoppolo won’t be walking away. The 49ers will still hold his rights for two years and $48.3 million — an average of $24.15 million per year. By then, the market for franchise quarterbacks should be well north of $30 million.

 

For a guy who didn’t get a big-money rookie deal and who has started only seven games, it makes sense to cash in. Still, he could have ultimately done better by forcing two or three years of the tag, especially since 2021 and 2022 would have been the first two years of a market-value contract, not the below-market back end of a five-year deal.

 

That said, it’s easier for a player who already has banked millions to take that risk. For Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, the safe move arguable was to take the large bird in the hand in lieu of the slightly larger bird in the bush. This dynamic actually makes the willingness of Kirk Cousins to play tag in two straight years even more impressive, given that he entered the league as a fourth-round pick. Two years and $44 million later, he’ll either hit the market unfettered or make $34.47 million if Washington is dumb enough to tag him again.

 

 

SEATTLE

CB RICHARD SHERMAN will be representing himself.  Brady Henderson of ESPN.com on his plans:

 

Cornerback Richard Sherman says he expects to be back with the Seattle Seahawks next season and revealed that he has been serving as his own agent for at least a year.

 

Sherman is coming off surgery to repair a torn Achilles and is entering the final year of his contract, which includes a non-guaranteed $11 million base salary for 2018. Those factors, combined with Sherman’s age — he turns 30 in March — and how the Seahawks openly shopped him in trade talks last offseason, has led to some speculation that Seattle might move on.

 

“Not in my mind,” he said Thursday when asked if he questions whether he’ll be with Seattle in 2018. “We’re going to try to get everything back on track, get healthy and try to get back after it. Hopefully everybody heals up the way they’re supposed to. I hope Kam [Chancellor] can play and it works out however it needs to for him. But obviously, [the roster is] going to look different either way.”

 

Chancellor suffered a season-ending and career-threatening neck injury in the same Nov. 9 game in which Sherman ruptured his right Achilles. That injury ended Sherman’s season and snapped his streak of 105 consecutive games played to begin his career. Their absences were felt as the Seahawks went 3-4 over their final seven games — with three of those losses coming by a combined 11 points — and finished 9-7 to miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

 

Sherman had Achilles surgery shortly after the injury and has an upcoming cleanup procedure to remove bone spurs on the same part of his other foot. He said he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from Achilles surgery.

 

“It feels great, man,” he said. “It feels a lot better than when it happened.”

 

Sherman spoke with reporters from the MTR Western Sports Star of the Year Awards in Seattle, where he was one of the presenters — his first time speaking to the public since immediately after that November game. He was walking without a boot on his foot and had also ditched the knee scooter that he was still using when the season ended.

 

Sherman expects to begin running around mid-April or early May.

 

“I could probably be fully ready to go in minicamp, but they won’t let me do anything,” he said. “So I’ll probably have to be out there running and training … but they won’t let me practice until training camp.”

 

Sherman’s surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He opted for what coach Pete Carroll described as a more aggressive procedure that entails a smaller incision.

 

“It’s supposed to heal quicker and have a smaller chance of ever rupturing it again,” Sherman said. “It’s Dr. Anderson’s technique that he perfected, so we went for it. It feels great, but we’ll see how it holds up when I’m running and everything.”

 

Asked about the team firing defensive coordinator Kris Richard, Sherman said it came as a surprise, though he understands it’s part of the business. Richard had been Sherman’s position coach and helped groom his fellow members of the Legion of Boom secondary before he was promoted to DC after the 2014 season. The Seahawks fired Richard along with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, offensive line coach Tom Cable and other assistants in what has been the most significant shakeup of their coaching staff under Carroll.

 

“It was kind of odd, but I guess time for a change,” Sherman said of Richard’s firing. “They made the change on the offensive side, defensive side.”

 

Richard has since been hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive passing game coordinator.

 

“I spoke to him throughout the whole process,” Sherman said. “We had a very open dialogue about the offers he was getting. Thank goodness he had a ton of respect around the league and had a number of offers. He picked the one that he thought would suit him best, and I was happy for him.”

 

Sherman revealed that he’s serving as his own agent when asked about how he’s entering the final year of his deal. The Seahawks have tended to wait until players are at that stage of their contracts before extending them, which would make Sherman eligible for a new deal under that M.O.

 

“I’m sure we’ll have some communication,” he said. “I’m representing myself. The whole agent thing is really overrated at this point. So any conversations we have, we’ll do that, but the cap situation is already kind of weird, so we’ll see what happens.”

 

He was asked if he thinks his injury might lessen the chances of getting a new deal before the season.

 

“Honestly, I’m not sure on their side of things,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything in my mind. If we have the talks, we do. If we don’t, then it is what it is. I plan on playing five, six more years, whether it’s here or somewhere else. Business is business.”

 

Sherman was previously represented by Ben Dogra of CAA and then Relativity Sports. Sherman didn’t retain Dogra after his license was temporarily revoked by the NFL Players Association in January 2016.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

A changing of the guard on the Chiefs defense as a pair of longtime stalwarts are soon to be sent packing per Adam Teicher of ESPN.com:

 

The Chiefs will move on from linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali

 

Johnson and Hali, the Chiefs’ first-round draft picks in 2005 and 2006, are franchise icons and among Kansas City’s most popular players. But the team appears to have found Johnson’s eventual replacement last year in Reggie Ragland, while Hali looked like a player at the end of his career last season. —

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com on RB JOE MIXON becoming the main ground threat in Cincinnati:

 

There’s been a passing of the torch in Cincinnati.

 

Jeremy Hill’s goodbye tweet in January was a clear sign the running back is on the way out as he heads into free agency for the first time. Joe Mixon, who will head into his second season, will probably carry the load.

 

Considering that Hill only carried the ball 37 times for 116 yards in 2017, will that much really change in 2018? It certainly could.

 

There were a number of reasons the Bengals got off to a bad start and never recovered as they ended the season last in yards per game. One was Ken Zampese’s offense; he was never able to replicate what his predecessor Hue Jackson did, and a disastrous start led to his ousting just two weeks into the season.

 

The Bengals’ offensive line was another — the unit struggled without Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. A rash of injuries didn’t help. Only two linemen (Clint Boling and Russell Bodine), played all 16 games, and the other positions were somewhat of a revolving door all year.

 

It didn’t help that the Bengals lacked consistency early in the season. They tried to juggle three running backs between Hill, Mixon and Giovani Bernard. The insistence on putting Hill in the game for only the first series of each half didn’t make sense. For Mixon’s development to really take off, he needed to get the bulk of the carries without Hill around.

 

The question now is, can Mixon improve enough to be the lead running back?

 

The Bengals probably won’t — and shouldn’t — shy away from the two-back system with Bernard, who was woefully underused early in the season. The Bengals have the ability to get creative with the pass-catching ability between the two backs, which didn’t work nearly as well when they were trying to spread the ball between three players.

 

Mixon certainly had his share of rookie mistakes, and at times he averaged less than 3 yards per carry. He also frustrated Bengals coach Marvin Lewis when he publicly said he should have gotten more carries in the first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mixon was averaging 6.86 yards per carry in the first half of the game, but the Bengals went away from the run in the second and he finished with only seven carries. Lewis said later that Mixon should show more maturity.

 

Even with 2017’s speed bumps, it’s clear that Mixon, who will turn 22 next season, has shown he has the potential to take great strides next season. With a full year under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals might able to get off to a more stable start.

 

If the Bengals can figure out how to use Mixon and Bernard effectively from the start, they could have a formidable tandem in the run game.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

INDIANAPOLIS

Mike Reiss and Mike Wells of ESPN.com chronicle the timeline of the betrayal of the Colts by Josh McDaniels:

 

The chatter began on Super Bowl Sunday.

 

As the Philadelphia Eagles were upsetting the New England Patriots on the field, social media was alive with speculation on the future of Josh McDaniels. The Patriots offensive coordinator had agreed to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after a second meeting in Massachusetts during the Super Bowl bye week.

 

Was McDaniels wavering in his decision?

 

As Eagles coach Doug Pederson answered questions in his postgame news conference, McDaniels’ agent, Bob LaMonte, was asked about his client’s future, according to a source. LaMonte was shocked there was even a question. “He’s going to Indy,” he said, unequivocally.

 

Meanwhile, the Colts were dealing with tragedy with the death of linebacker Edwin Jackson, who along with Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe was struck and killed on the side of the road by a drunken driver early Sunday morning.

 

“Sunday was a hard day,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. “I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. My mind was around Edwin Jackson and his family, Jeffrey Monroe and his family, that’s where my mind was. … I don’t deal with [the rumors] world. I deal with what’s going on internally, where we’re going, what our internal perception is, making sure our fans understand where we’re coming from. All the rumors — everybody has got an opinion or a take. Some are true, some are not.”

 

Ballard insisted he had no indication McDaniels might be wavering.

 

Monday into Tuesday morning

On Monday, McDaniels returned from Super Bowl LII with the Patriots with a sense of finality. One of the last things on his agenda was to meet with owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft and coach Bill Belichick. Up to this point, they hadn’t discussed anything regarding McDaniels’ future.

 

McDaniels began exit interviews with the Pats on Monday but seemed focused on his new beginning Tuesday morning when Ballard checked in with his coach-in-waiting. The two talked on the phone, making sure everything was on track for McDaniels’ arrival in Indianapolis. They went over the agenda for a planned Wednesday news conference and the plane the Colts were sending to pick up McDaniels. McDaniels told Ballard he had his suit picked out and was ready to go.

 

Around 11 a.m. ET, after Ballard’s call with McDaniels, the Colts tweeted the news that he would be their new coach, with a news conference set for 3:30 p.m. ET Wednesday.

 

Tuesday afternoon, things shift

By Tuesday afternoon, Robert and Jonathan Kraft, as well as Belichick, met with McDaniels again and made an aggressive pitch. McDaniels’ conversation with Belichick had particular influence, a source said. Belichick wasn’t trying to talk McDaniels out of going, but he knew his offensive coordinator was having second thoughts.

 

Belichick offered to include McDaniels on more of the inner workings of the organization, from roster construction to financial/salary-cap related considerations. That was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. Ownership also endorsed it as a way to extend Belichick’s influence on the organization in future years, although no assurances were given to McDaniels that he would succeed Belichick. McDaniels, who a source confirmed got a significant raise, has privately said in the past that he did not want to be the coach who succeeds Belichick. Although he since may have changed his mind, McDaniels knows Belichick, after five Super Bowl victories, will be a hard act to follow.

 

Beyond financial and professional stability, McDaniels also was thinking of his family. He wanted a long-term commitment from the Patriots so his four children, ages 12 to 3, would be able to attend the same schools over the next several years. The transient life of a coach doesn’t always make that possible.

 

After hours of meetings on Tuesday, McDaniels was swayed by the Patriots’ pitch. He called Ballard, who was in a draft meeting at Colts headquarters, at 7:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and told him he had changed his mind and was “going in a different direction.”

 

“He called and said he had bad news for me,” Ballard said. “I said, ‘I just need a yes or no answer. Are you in or out?’ We went around for a minute and he said he’s out and I said. ‘OK, we’re going to move forward. I wish you the best of luck.’”

 

Ballard said he did not try to persuade McDaniels because he wanted his new coach to be “all-in.” The five-minute conversation ended, and Ballard told Colts owner Jim Irsay and then the public. A news release was sent out at 8:34 p.m. ET confirming McDaniels would not be the next Colts coach.

 

Ballard was “pissed and angry because he was completely blindsided by the whole thing because the process was at the finish line,” according to a source. Ballard’s focus shifted from the initial shock of McDaniels’ call to going back to his pool of candidates he had worked on compiling to find a coach who’s “all-in on the vision” of the franchise.

 

Ballard took the blame for scheduling a news conference without a signed deal.

 

“I thought a lot about that but I was very confident,” he said. “That’s on me; that’s not on the organization. That’s on me. I was very confident that a deal was in place and that we were going to be moving forward and having a press conference [Wednesday]. That’s on me.”

 

McDaniels has been looking for the perfect head-coaching situation after his first stint with the Denver Broncos went sideways quickly. The Broncos wanted McDaniels to bring the Patriots’ winning ways with him to the Rocky Mountains when they hired him in 2009. What they got instead was their very own videotaping scandal to go with losing and personnel blunders. McDaniels was fired less than halfway through his four-year, $8 million deal with an 11-17 record.

 

He has been working his way back ever since, keeping an Excel file on his laptop titled “lessonslearned.xls.” McDaniels has in recent years turned down opportunities to pursue available head-coaching jobs in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

 

One source said: “He’s always just insisted that everything be right, or he wasn’t going to leave.” It’s unclear what it was about the Colts’ job that McDaniels ultimately decided wasn’t perfect, but he reached a point where he believed he was better off staying in New England.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald is caught promulgating Fake News.  A gleeful Kevin Lynch of MassLive.com explains the work of a prankster:

 

On Thursday night, Ron Borges of The Boston Herald broke a story that Tom Brady was prepared to sit out of the Patriots’ organized team activities this offseason if he did not receive a contract with up-front money similar to what Jimmy Garoppolo will earn with the 49ers.

 

Several media members, citing a source, initially refuted the story. Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston was told the report was “off the reservation.”

 

Now, The Herald has pulled the story altogether.

 

As explained on WEEI, Borges fell for a prank.

 

A caller who identified himself as “Nick from Boston” said Friday morning that Borges’ phone number was available on the internet, so he texted Borges pretending to be Don Yee, Tom Brady’s agent.

 

The caller sent his text conversation to WEEI’s Kirk and Callahan, who published it on Twitter:

 

While The Herald has pulled the story off of their website, it’s a little too late for them to correct the Friday papers, which went out with Borges’ column promoted on the back page.

 

This from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

More than a decade ago, Ron Borges left the Boston Globe due to allegations of plagiarism. Eleven years later, he could be on the verge of leaving the Boston Herald for a different manifestation of laziness.

 

Borges allowed himself to be duped by someone pretending to be agent Don Yee. The guy who pretended to be Don Yee found Borges’ phone number on Twitter. Borges tweeted his phone number (possibly accidentally) a year or so ago.

 

(Pro tip for anyone in the media: If you accidentally put your phone number on Twitter, get a new phone number. If you don’t get a new phone number, be suspicious of any calls or texts from someone who doesn’t already have a spot in your contacts.)

 

The similarities between the fake texts Borges received and the article he wrote reveal a stunning lack of natural curiosity. Tom Brady supposedly will skip organized team activities if he doesn’t get a new contract. Why isn’t he simply threatening to retire? Brady wants “up-front money” similar to the contract signed by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. What does that mean? Signing bonus? Full guarantee at signing? Something else?

 

People in the business rarely if ever use the term “up-front money.” Even though that may not have been a strong clue that something fishy was happening, it should have at least prompted Borges to ask, “What specifically do you mean by that?”

 

The fact that the Herald so quickly expunged the story suggests that Borges rushed it to publication with Fake Don Yee as the only source, and that Borges used the term “sources” to make it seem more credible. (Actually, plenty of people in sports media use “sources” when they actually have only one source, sources say.) If any of it were credible, the story would still be alive.

 

The next question is whether Borges’ career will be dead. The plagiarism situation from 2007 arguably should have been enough to kill it, especially since he had been using his “material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report” disclaimer as a license to use other people’s work without attribution for years. Will strike two (strike three, if you include the time he physically assaulted a boxing writer wearing a neck brace and a cane) be the end for Borges at the Herald?

 

Will this keep him from finding other work in sports media? Will it prompt the Pro Football Hall of Fame to strip Borges of his vote? Will it cause the Associated Press to take away his spot as one of the 50 voters on postseason awards?

 

Those are all decisions for others to make. The only decision that we can make is to never rely on anything Ron Borges writes or says, ever again. While his career may indeed continue, it’s officially dead to us. Anyone who relies on him in the future does so at their own risk.