Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Chargers run game coordinator Jay Rodgers against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons announce additional coaching staff moves

The Atlanta Falcons, who hired former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as head coach last week, announced multiple appointments to their coaching staff Wednesday.

The team named Jay Rodgers as defensive line coach and Steve Scarnecchia as chief of staff, coaching operations.

The Falcons will retain the following coaches: Dwayne Ledford as run game coordinator/offensive line coach, T.J. Yates as quarterbacks coach, assistant head coach/defense Jerry Gray, senior defensive assistant Dave Huxtable, running backs coach Michael Pitre, director of coaching operations Sarah Hogan and coaching operations assistant Donavan Ellison.

Rodgers worked for the Los Angeles Chargers the past three seasons. He was outside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator in 2021 and defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator from 2022-23.

Scarnecchia returns to the Falcons after spending the past three seasons with the New York Jets as the chief of staff for coach Robert Saleh.

Prior to his time with the Jets, Scarnecchia was assistant to the head coach for Atlanta for six seasons.

The Falcons hired new lead assistants earlier in the week, bringing on former Rams assistant Jimmy Lake as defensive coordinator and former Rams quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Zac Robinson to be the offensive coordinator.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; A Washington Commanders helmet on the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders have NFL’s final head coaching vacancy

The only vacancy sign still flashing “open” during the current NFL coaching cycle is in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Commanders are the last team that still needs to hire a head coach after the Seattle Seahawks reportedly hired Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald on Wednesday.

The Commanders parted ways with Ron Rivera after a 4-13 season in 2023.

The reported finalists in Washington are Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Ravens associate head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver.

Macdonald also met with the Commanders before replacing Pete Carroll in Seattle.

Two other candidates — Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik — decided to remain in their current roles.

The Commanders had second interviews with Weaver on Monday and with Quinn and Glenn on Tuesday.

Glenn, 51, has been Detroit’s defensive coordinator since 2021 after coaching defensive backs with the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) and New Orleans Saints (2016-20). He was a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback during a 15-year NFL playing career (1994-2008).

Quinn, 53, was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2015-20, compiling a 43-42 record before being fired after an 0-5 start in 2020. His Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. He completed his third season as the DC in Dallas in 2023.

Weaver, 43, joined the Ravens’ coaching staff in 2021. He was the Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator in 2020 and has also coached defensive lines for the Texans, Browns, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets since 2012.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens  defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Seahawks hiring Mike Macdonald as head coach

The Seattle Seahawks are hiring Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald as their head coach, ESPN and NFL Network reported Wednesday.

The Seahawks will go from having the oldest head coach in the NFL, with Pete Carroll at 72, to the youngest in the league with Macdonald, 36.

NFL Network reported Macdonald will receive a six-year deal.

Macdonald helped the Ravens earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC in 2023, with his defense finishing first in scoring defense (16.5 points per game) and sixth in the NFL in total defense (301.4 yards per game).

Baltimore’s season ended on Sunday with a 17-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Macdonald has massive shoes to fill in Carroll, whose 14-year tenure ended after a 9-8 season in 2023. Carroll is the winningest coach in franchise history (137-89-1) and guided the Seahawks to their only championship in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle finished 25th in scoring defense (23.6 points per game) and 30th in total defense (371.4 yards per game) while missing the playoffs in 2023.

Macdonald also interviewed this winter with the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Commanders.

He just completed his second season as the defensive coordinator for the Ravens. He held the same position at the University of Michigan in 2021 following seven seasons on the Ravens’ coaching staff (2014-20).

–Field Level Media

Jim Harbaugh is leaving Michigan to become head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Report: Chargers paying Jim Harbaugh $16M per year

The Los Angeles Chargers are paying new coach Jim Harbaugh a salary of $16 million per season, Pro Football Talk reported.

Previous reports said the former Michigan coach agreed to a five-year deal last week, putting the total value at $80 million if it is fully guaranteed.

If the report is accurate, Harbaugh would be the second highest-paid coach in the NFL behind only Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos at a reported $18 million per season. Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams ranks third at a reported $14 million.

Harbaugh’s brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, reportedly earned a salary of $12 million in 2023.

Jim Harbaugh, 60, returns to the NFL after leading the Wolverines to a national championship. He was 44-19-1 over four seasons as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14, leading them to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season.

The Chargers, who finished 5-12 this season, fired head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco in December after a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Staley spent three seasons with Los Angeles, finishing with a 24-24 mark.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) talks with teammates prior to their game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins reportedly names price: $90 million

Approaching his 36th birthday while rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon, Kirk Cousins said he’s willing to take a little less to return to the Minnesota Vikings.

According to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Cousins would eschew free agency and stick with the Vikings the next two seasons if they meet his asking price of $90 million through 2025.

While it could seem a sticker-shock ask, Cousins was No. 15 in average salary at $35 million on his existing contract with the Vikings. If he nets another guaranteed contract and the cap hit for 2024 comes in at $45 million, he would be the eighth in the league between Josh Allen (Bills, $47.1 million cap number in ’24) and Derek Carr (Saints, $35.7 million).

Cap gymnastics make it feasible to reduce Cousins’ cap figure to a more palatable number for next season. But the Vikings also have critical contracts to negotiate with wide receiver Justin Jefferson and edge rusher Danielle Hunter, among others.

Cousins said he would focus in free agency mostly on “structure,” and not salary when his contract automatically voids in March.

“Everything that isn’t the dollars,” Cousins said when asked to elaborate on his definition of structure. “That stuff you also work through.”

Among teams potentially in the market for a quarterback this offseason, Cousins’ previous team, the Washington Commanders are projected to have the most cap space at nearly $77 million. New England has space — projected at nearly $66 million — but the Patriots are expected to closely consider top available quarterbacks in the draft with the No. 3 overall pick.

“I’m not going to try to sell myself, if you will. I kind of like to let people make their own decisions, because I do think the league needs quarterbacks, and if you’re trying to talk yourself out of a quarterback, then I can’t help you much,” Cousins said last month. “The Achilles is going to heal. And it’s on track, and I’m a pocket passer and there’s a lot of time before next season. For a lot of reasons, it doesn’t concern me, but if I can’t convince other people of that, then that’s OK.”

Cousins will be 36 before playing his next regular-season snap. A fourth-round pick in 2012, he was tied for the NFL lead with 18 touchdown passes when he suffered the Achilles injury eight weeks into the 2023 season.

Jefferson is owed $19.7 million on his fifth-year option, the last year of his rookie contract, and is a lock to become the fifth active wide receiver with a contract over $100 million. Raiders star Davante Adams is the NFL’s highest-paid receiver with a $140 million total contract value, but Dolphins All-Pro Tyreek Hill leads in average annual value at $30 million (Adams stands at $28M per, Rams’ Cooper Kupp averages $26.7M, and A.J. Brown draws $25M per year from the Eagles).

Hunter set a career-high with 16.5 sacks in 2023 after relenting on plans to sit out in a contract standoff.

–Field Level Media

Jan 13, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) breaks the tackle of Houston Texans linebacker Christian Harris (48) as he scores a touchdown in a 2024 AFC wild card game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Report: RB Kareem Hunt recovering from adductor surgery

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt is recovering from sports hernia surgery, ESPN reported.

The surgery was to repair a ruptured adductor that apparently plagued him much of the 2023 season.

Hunt, 28, becomes a free agent in March and has indicated he would like to return to Cleveland, where he grew up.

On the season, he appeared in 15 games with two starts, re-signed after starter Nick Chubb went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. He rushed 135 times for 411 yards with nine touchdowns and also caught 15 passes for 84 yards.

He added two touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving — in the Browns’ 45-14 loss to the Houston Texans in the AFC wild-card game.

In 91 career games (38 starts) with the Kansas City Chiefs (2017-18) and Browns, Hunt has gained 6,326 yards from scrimmage with 57 scores.

Hunt earned his lone Pro Bowl selection in his rookie season when he led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards.

–Field Level Media

Jan 13, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik before a 2024 AFC wild card game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: OC Bobby Slowik, QB coach Jerrod Johnson stay with Texans

Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson are both staying with the Houston Texans, multiple reports said Tuesday.

Teams had been attempting to snag Johnson as their new offensive coordinator, but he has told teams that he plans to return to Houston to continue working with head coach DeMeco Ryans, quarterback C.J. Stroud and Slowik.

Slowik, meanwhile, recently struck a new deal with the Texans, Sports Illustrated and ESPN reported. That contract includes a pay raise, keeping Slowik in Houston after he too had drawn interest from multiple teams across the league.

Earlier Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had announced that they completed an interview with Johnson for their offensive coordinator position. The New Orleans Saints were also reportedly in on Johnson.

The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks were among the teams that were interested in Slowik. Atlanta hired Raheem Morris for its head-coaching position and the Panthers went with Dave Canales.

Houston is coming off a 10-7 season, finishing atop the AFC South to secure a playoff berth for the first time since the 2019 campaign. The Texans blew by the Cleveland Browns 45-14 in the wild-card round before falling 34-10 to the Baltimore Ravens.

–Field Level Media

Oct 12, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; A general view of fireworks exploding prior to a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas to play 2024 home games at Chiefs, SKC venues

Kansas football will relocate from Lawrence, Kan., to the Kansas City metropolitan area for the 2024 season.

The Jayhawks will be unable to play on campus as David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium undergoes a massive renovation, so their first two home games will be played at Children’s Mercy Park — the home of MLS club Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas’ four Big 12 home games will be played at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium, across the state line in Missouri.

“This is an exciting move for our team as these are two well respected and exciting venues to watch a sporting event,” Kansas head coach Lance Leipold said in a statement. “I’m confident our fans will be able to create a ‘home field’ that our players will be energized to play in.”

The Kansas City area is roughly 40 miles east of the university’s Lawrence campus.

Kansas will face FCS member Lindenwood on Aug. 29 and UNLV on Sept. 14 at Children’s Mercy Park. The home games at Arrowhead will feature TCU on Sept. 28, Houston on Oct. 19, Iowa State on Nov. 9 and Colorado on Nov. 23.

The Big 12 stuck with a nine-game conference schedule for the 2024 season despite expanding to 16 teams.

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (M) celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy while speaking with CBS broadcaster Jim Nance during the trophy presentation after the Chiefs' game against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Conference championships score ratings record for NFL

The NFL playoffs averaged 38.5 million viewers (TV and digital), making it the most-watched postseason per records dating back to 1988, the league announced Tuesday.

The league tracked viewership for the wild card, divisional and conference championship rounds, but did not note the possible impact on ratings by music superstar Taylor Swift’s attendance at Kansas City playoff games in support of her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

The league said that more than half of Americans using television in NFL windows were watching NFL games, with a 53.3 percent share for the full playoffs the highest on record.

The 38.5 million average is a 9 percent increase from last season. The wild-card round averaged 31.2 million (up 8 percent), divisional round averaged a record 40.0 million (7 percent increase) and the AFC and NFC championship games averaged a record 56.1 million (up 11 percent).

“Our record-breaking viewership is driven by the incredible play on the field that only the NFL postseason can deliver and presented by the best media partners in the business,” Hans Schroeder, executive vice president of media distribution with the NFL, said in a news release.

The AFC champion Chiefs play the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, shown on CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon and Univision, and on mobile with NFL+.

–Field Level Media