Amidst more discussion of potential hires for the Falcons head coach, Pro Football Talk has thrown a new name into the fire: Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The website reports that league sources have indicated that the Falcons are currently exploring the possibility of pursuing Shanahan.
Because Shanahan is currently under contract with the Broncos, the Falcons might be liable to compensate the team. Shanahan is on the verge of finishing his thirteenth season with the Broncos. He has compiled a 137-90 regular season record and 8-5 in the playoffs, including 2 Super Bowl victories in 1997 and 1998 over the Falcons. He also coached for a little more than a year with the then Los Angeles Raiders in the late 1980s. He compiled a 8-12 record before being dismissed partway in the 1989 season.
Pro Football Talk also reports that the Falcons may hire Bill Kuharich as their general manager, replacing current GM and president Rich McKay. Kuharich currently is the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs. Kuharich served as GM for the New Orleans Saints prior to joining the Chiefs in 2000. Kuharich was in charge of the team’s personnel department during the infamous 1999 draft day trade in which the Saints parted ways with their entire draft class in order to move up to draft running back Ricky Williams.
Also on the coaching search front, the AJC reports that the 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary has expressed interest in becoming the Falcons next head coach. Singletary indicated to the paper that he feels he’s ready to be an NFL coach right now. There has been no contact between the Falcons and Singletary as of yet, but he has thus far emerged as an early favorite.
DeAngelo Hall has called into question his future with the team per an AP report. Hall indicates that he does not want to be part of a losing team next season, implicitly saying that he may demand a trade if he and the new coach do not mesh well.
Hall had his share of run-ins with Bobby Petrino during his time with the Falcons, and was one of the more outspoken critics of Petrino upon his departure. Hall even indicated a week ago to the AJC that with Petrino gone, he would be much more open to stay with the Falcons. Hall’s contract is set to expire following the 2008 season, and he’s been outspoken about his desire to receive a large contract in the past. It was rumored that Hall asked to be traded this past October, but those rumors were later dispelled.
Hall’s most recent “outburst” could be linked over his displeasure at the team targetting Bill Parcells to take over football operations. In the AP report, Hall’s statements imply that he would prefer a coach much more akin to former Falcons head coach Jim Mora in being much more approachable than Petrino was, and Parcells is said to be.
Not to be deterred from the rebuffs of Bill Cowher and Bill Parcells Falcons owner Arthur Blank has turned to another big name option in Marty Schottenheimer per a report by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Acee’s report cites league sources indicating the Falcons have made overtures at the former San Diego Chargers head coach. The report also indicates that the Falcons may target current Chargers Assistant GM Buddy Nix as their replacement for Rich McKay in that role in Atlanta.
Current Chargers GM A.J. Smith indicated in the report that he has heard nothing on the Nix front, but is aware of Schottenheimer rumors. Smith indicated that Nix and Schottenheimer got along in their shared time in San Diego. Smith and Schottenheimer had a well-documented feud which eventually led to Schottenheimer’s dismissal from the club a year ago after a 14-2 season with the Chargers.
“I believe a Buddy Nix-Marty Schottenheimer team in Atlanta would be a perfect fit. …Buddy got along well with Coach Schottenheimer. They socialized together, went out to dinner, golfed together, sat together on the plane, talked football all the time.”
– A.J. Smith
Schottenheimer has 21 years of NFL head coaching experience, compiling an overall regular season record of 200-126-1 with four different teams. He also has compiled a 5-13 record in the postseason. His longest tenure came with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989 to 1998 where he compiled a 101-58-1 record, and made playoff appearances in 7 out of 10 years with the team. His most recent experience was five years with the San Diego Chargers beginning in 2002. His record in San Diego was 47-33, but was unable to win a playoff game in two appearances. Schottenheimer is one of six coaches to achieve 200 career regular season victories, but observers have always been critical of his less than stellar postseason achievements.
Nix joined the Chargers in 2001 along with Smith and John Butler, all of whom had spent several years with the Buffalo Bills. Nix joined the Bills in 1993 as an area scout. He joined the Chargers as Director of Player Personnel, but was promoted to Assistant GM after the death of John Butler, who served as GM prior to his death. He coached for 9 seasons at UT-Chattanooga prior to joining the Bills, where he compiled a 44-54-1 record and is tied for the second winningest-coach in school history.
The coaching rumor mill has already begun only within a few days of Bobby Petrino’s resignation. Both Pro Football Talk.com and NFL.com’s Adam Schefter have reported that current 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary will be a top candidate to take over the gig after the season.
Singletary was among several candidates that was slated to be interviewed for the head coaching position last January. Although the Falcons ultimately chose to hire Petrino before Singletary could sit for an interview.
Singletary is in his third season on the 49ers staff. He was elevated to assistant head coach prior to the 2006 season after one season as linebackers coach. Prior to joining the 49ers, he served as linebackers coach with the Baltimore Ravens for two seasons. Singletary was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998 after an outstanding twelve-year career as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Monday Night Countdown that the Falcons plan to meet with free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich and possibly work him out as soon as Tuesday. Leftwich was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of prseasason after having been the starter since the second half of the 2003 season. Leftwich was the Jaguars No. 1 draft choice that year. But he has battled injuries, his weight, and inconsistency over the past three-plus seasons. He’s missed a total of 17 games in the past three seasons. He had entered the summer as the Jaguars starter, but was demoted in favor of David Garrard.
For his career, Leftwich has completed 789 of 1344 attempts (58.7%) for 9042 yards, 51 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions.
If the Falcons choose to sign Leftwich, it may end the stint of Joey Harrington as the Falcons starter.
The Falcons claimed defensive tackle Remi Ayodele off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys. Ayodele is a first-year player out of Oklahoma, that originally entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2006 with the New England Patriots. He spent two weeks on the Cowboys practice squad last November and spent this past spring with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europa.
The Falcons had an open roster spot due to the trading of Allen Rossum to the Pittsburgh Steelers. ESPN’s John Clayton reports that it was in exchange for a conditional seventh round choice in 2008.
Much speculation has been that the open roster spot would be used on a quarterback. Clayton reports that the Falcons have shown only moderate interest in free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich, recently released from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Clayton also reports that the Falcons could have targetted Tampa Bay Bucs passer Chris Simms had he been released yesterday. The team certainly can still add a third quarterback, it would now just require them to release a player on the roster.
Although it’s still unknown if the knee injury that D.J. Shockley suffered on Friday night’s preseason win over the Buffalo Bills will sideline him for the entire season, the AJC’s Steve Wyche reports that there may have been preliminary discussion about the Falcons acquiring another quarterback before the start of the regular season.
Shockley’s initial prognosis indicated a sprained left knee, but an MRI taken on Saturday (the results of which have not been revealed) and a Sunday consultation with team trainers and doctors will determine his future.
Wyche reports that the Falcons have had preliminary trade talks with the Philadelphia Eagles in potentially acquiring veteran Kelly Holcomb. Holcomb was a backup in Buffalo the past few years before being traded to Philadelphia this past off-season. He has been the subject of rampant trade rumors this summer due to a glut of quarterbacks in Philly.
Previous rumors proposed that the Falcons could potentially be interested in Washington Redskins backup Mark Brunell and former Denver Broncos Jake Plummer, both of whom have previously worked with head coach Bobby Petrino. Although an injury to Redskins starter Jason Campbell might end any talk of Brunell being moved. Coincidentally, Campbell suffered a sprained left knee in the Redskins preseason contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night.
Pro Football Talk reports that the Falcons have yet to initiate trade talks with the Detroit Lions about trading up to the No. 2 pick. The possibility of this trade has been speculated throughout the off-season, but has increased this past week with other reports. However, this latest report from Pro Football Talk certainly conflicts with a report from last week indicating the were already in discussions with the Lions about a trade.
Falcons GM Rich McKay has publicly aknowledged the connection between Johnson and the Falcons, but also stressed trading up is an unlikelihood, mainly due to the cost in draft picks.
However, it certainly should be noted that the comments and information McKay is willing to divulge to the media cannot be considered reliable. NFL teams try to create as much misinformation as possible to disguise their draft intentions at this time of year.
SI.com’s Don Banks reports that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has commanded GM Rich McKay to go after highly coveted receiver Calvin Johnson.
Johnson is considered the premier talent in this year’s draft, but is expected to be taken within the first two picks either by the Oakland Raiders or Detroit Lions. Johnson, a local product out of Georgia Tech, makes sense for the Falcons due to their issues in the passing game the past few years and that he would be an instant hit with the fan base according to Banks.
Banks speculates that the Falcons could send their top three selections to the Lions in exchange for their No. 2 overall selection if Johnson is available.
Banks also reports that the Falcons could be interested in trading up to the No. 6 selection with the Washington Redskins, in order to acquire Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, if trade plans to acquire Johnson fall through.
Banks lists the Falcons targets as Johnson first, then Peterson, followed by LSU safety LaRon Landry, Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown, and Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson.
Pro Football Talk indicates from an unnamed source that the Falcons are among a few teams actively in talks with the Detroit Lions above potentially swapping picks at the top of the draft. The Lions hold the No. 2 overall pick, while the Falcons hold the No. 8 pick.
The report says that the Lions are interested in moving down in the draft, and would like to get a deal done before draft day on April 28. Also reported is that the Lions could potentially select a player and then subsequently trade him away. The report indicated the most likely player would be Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Based on the widely distributed generic trade value chart, in order to properly compensate the Lions for the No. 2 overall pick the Falcons would need to include their first, both seconds, and their third round picks.
Rumored interest between the Falcons and Johnson has been speculated on and reported on throughout the off-season. But the sincerity of that interest is unknown at this time.