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Tag:Green Bay Packers
Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Fisher, Murphy, Whiz now on Competition Committee

The NFL denied Harrison's appeal of his one-game suspension(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The NFL's Competition Commitee is responsible for studying "all aspects of the game and recommends rules and policy changes to NFL clubs." And on Tuesday, Roger Goodell and the NFL announced that Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Packers CEO Mark Murphy and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt were added to the Competition Committee.

Fisher served on the committee from 2002-2010 before taking a year off after the end of his run with the Titans. During that time, he was co-chair of the committee along with current chairman, Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons.

Whisenhunt has previously served as a member of the Coaches Subcommittee, which makes recommendations to the Competition Committee. Murphy played for the Washington Redskins for eight years, reaching two Super Bowls and being named to the Pro Bowl in 1983.

The three additions for 2012 join McKay, Stephen Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, John Mara of the New York Giants, Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens and Rick Smith of the Houston Texans on the committee.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:59 am
 

What players will get franchise tagged in 2012?

Brees reportedly won't be happy if he gets tagged. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday February 20, NFL teams can begin to apply the franchise tag to players. They can do so up until March 5 at 4 p.m. ET. For those that don't know, the franchise tag is a method of keeping players from hitting the open market. Previously, the franchise-tag number was generated by averaging the top-five salaries at a position to determine a number for that position.

This year, the franchise tag value will be a percentage of the overall salary cap figure for the previous five years. As such, NFL.com (the league's official website, making the figures trustworthy, one would hope) the following figures, plus figures from last year that we've included:

Position 2012 Franchise Tag Value*
2011 Franchise Tag Value
Quarterback
$14.4 million $16.1 million
Running Back
$7.7 million $9.6 million
Wide Receiver
$9.4 million $11.4 million
Tight End
$5.4 million $7.3 million
Offensive Line
$9.4 million $10.1 million
Defensive End
$10.6 million $13 million
Defensive Tackle
$7.9 million $12.5 million
Linebacker
$8.8 million $10.1 million
Cornerback
$10.6 million $13.5 million
Safety
$6.2 million $8.8 million

*The only instances this doesn't apply: when a player already made more than the franchise-tag value, or when a player receives the franchise tag for the second-straight year, in which case tagging said player would cost 120 percent of their previous base salary.

Aside from the asterisked exception above, it's clearly much more cost effective to utilize the franchise tag on a player in 2012 than it was in 2011. Wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston might not be tag candidates at $11.4 million. At $9.4 million, they certainly are.


With all of that in mind, let's look at some possible franchise-tag candidates, in order of likelihood to be tagged.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, Marques Colston or Carl Nicks

The Saints are all but guaranteed to use their franchise tag. Brees is a free agent and there is a zero percent chance that they let him walk into free agency. This is an absolute zero; losing Brees would not only be a disaster for the franchise in terms of winning, it would result in riots on Bourbon Street.

Various reports have emerged about where Brees and the Saints stand. (His agent, Tom Condon, is involved in a small contract situation surrounding Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.) As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last week, "the road could be rockier than initially thought" when getting Brees a new deal.

If the Saints can't get a deal done by the tag deadline, they will use the tag on Brees and sort out a deal later. If they can negotiate a deal with Brees before then, either Colston or Nicks will likely get tagged. My money's on Nicks, who could be a steal at less than $10 million given his age and his performance on the interior line the last two years.
DeSean might finally catch that money. (Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson

Reports are already rolling in that Jackson will be tagged and that the team will seek to trade him once they place the tag on Jackson. Philly better be comfortable rolling with D-Jax if they can't find a suitor, though, because the wide receiver is a good bet to swoop in and sign his tender quickly. The $9.4 million represents more than triple what Jackson's made in his entire career thus far, and you can bet he'd like to see some guaranteed money.

Worst case, of course, is that Philly ends up giving its top playmaker one more "contract year" at turning in a big performance before hitting free agency. $9.4 million is a lot to pay for a wideout, but it's better than a) doling out a big contract to someone new and/or a malcontent, or b) letting Jackson walk for nothing in return.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte

The rumors of Forte getting tagged began long ago as the Bears said they simply won't let him get to free agency. And they can't: Mike Tice replaced Mike Martz, but that could mean Chicago becoming more dependent on Forte's skills as a rusher and pass-catcher.

Forte said he's OK with the franchise tag provided it leads to further contract negotiations. Those appear to be more successful this time around, without Jerry Angelo on the other side of the table. But if Forte struggles early in his return from injury (an MCL sprain) things could get dicey.

Regardless, he's a steal at $7.7 million in 2012.

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice

Another no-brainer for the team here: Rice is one of the most dynamic backs in football and accounted for a large chunk of the Ravens offense. Rice's league-leading 2,068 yards from scrimmage accounted for 38.2 percent of the Ravens 5,419 yards, to be exact.

Rice lead the team in rushing ... and receptions. The Ravens need him and it's unfathomable that they'd let Rice walk. He probably won't be happy about playing for $7.7 million in 2012 and it seems obvious that Ozzie Newsome would like to lock down a guy who's averaged just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the three years he's been a starter for the team.
Will Welker's drop hurt his value? (Getty Images)

New England Patriots: Wes Welker

Welker's taken a lot of grief for his now-infamous drop in the Super Bowl. But just because the guy missed one catch doesn't mean we should forget what he's done for the past five years in New England: Welker averaged 111 catches and 1,221 yards per season since arriving from Miami.

Here's where it gets interesting though: Welker will be 31 when 2012 begins. He's considered a "slot" receiver. But he reportedly wants to be paid like an "elite" receiver. (It's, uh, kind of hard to blame him.) Lots of people think Welker wouldn't be as successful without the Patriots system, but how successful would the Patriots be without Welker?

In other words, we might be headed to an old-fashioned standoff, where the Pats use the franchise tag on Welker (it's all but certain they will, mainly to avoid him landing with an AFC East rival), and Welker refusing to play. Our Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard's speculated as much previously, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Welker sit out the first few weeks if the Pats aren't willing to give him a long-term deal.

Washington Redskins: Fred Davis

Davis had a big year in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards in just 12 games (with Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing him the ball). He missed four games when he was suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. But that actually works in Washington's favor here, since they can commit just $5.5 million to Davis without any fear of long-term blowback.

Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson

I spoke with Johnson at the Super Bowl and he said he'd be amenable to playing under the franchise tag in 2012. And it's hard to imagine Buffalo letting one of the more talented and underrated receivers in the game simply walk away. Johnson, depending on the market, could be one of the top wide receivers available.

Given the nature of Buffalo's weapons on offense, $9.4 million isn't all that steep for someone who's produced as steadily as Johnson has over the past two seasons. He took a small step back in receptions, yardage and touchdowns in 2011, but part of that can be attributed to the injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Bills late-season swoon.

And if he's willing to ditch the penalty-inflicting celebrations? He's worth it.

Bowe's a fan favorite in KC -- for good reason.(Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Carr

This is quite the conundrum for KC: does new coach Romeo Crennel, recently promoted from defensive coordinator, push to keep the 25-year-old defensive back, or does he sit back while the franchise lets Carr walk and hangs onto it's top wideout?

Bowe quietly put together another monster season in 2011, catching nine more balls than he did in 2010 and only three yards less. Granted, he found the end zone 10 times less this past season, but chalk that up to the Chiefs stupid-easy schedule against the pass in 2010. Oh yeah, and because he was catching balls from Tyler Palko for a quarter of the season.

Bowe's a better value at his franchise cost ($1 million less) I suppose, but Carr will be harder to retain in free agency, because of the nature of cornerbacks on the open market.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes or Curtis Lofton

The Falcons, not so quietly, have a ton of guys up for free agency this year. Grimes, Lofton, defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann and center Todd McLure lead the list. One of Grimes or Lofton surely will get the franchise tag.

For the same reason as listed with the Chiefs, Grimes makes the most sense -- he'll simply be harder to retain in free agency. Lofton would be $2 million cheaper but Grimes is more important to the Falcons defense. A logical move might be to feel out contract negotiations with both players (provided the Falcons want to keep both of them anyway), work out an extension with one as quickly as possible, franchise the other defender and look to cut a deal with them down the road.
It's hard to put a price on Avril's pass rush. (Getty Images)

Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril

Avril's made no bones about the possibility of being franchised, and isn't happy with the notion. But the franchise tag actually doesn't exist simply to keep a guy around for another year without paying him big money. It's to keep a guy around while you work out a long-term contract.

That's what Avril, who will turn 26 in April, wants, and it should be what the Lions want too, given their dependence on a strong pass rush on the defensive end of things. At $10.6 million he would provide nice value. Provided he played the whole season anyway.

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Mathis

Chuck Pagano's a defensive guy, and even though he's coming into a rebuilding project, it's hard to see he and general manager Ryan Grigson passing on a shot to keep a talented pass-rusher like Mathis around for one more year at a reasonable rate.

Mathis probably said it himself over the weekend on Twitter when he noted that "The #TAG is an honor but personally if i was tagged now id feel they didnt want me but just have not found my replacement yet." Prepare to be honored sir.

Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer

According to one report out of Texas, the Cowboys are at least considering franchising Spencer. The logic isn't that the outside linebacker, drafted 26th overall in 2007, is a monster and worth $8.8 million next year. He's not.

But Spencer might be worth holding onto if the Cowboys don't believe they can fill that spot with a reliable enough player through free agency and don't want to force themselves into selecting an outside linebacker early in the draft and forcing him to play.

Giving Spencer that sort of cash at least provides a safety net for Rob Ryan's defense.

Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley

Finley's case is a fascinating one. At $5.5 million, the tight end is a no-doubt-about-it franchise tag choice. But what about at $9.4 million? I ask because Finley's reportedly ready to argue that he's actually more of a wide receiver than a tight end, based on the number of snaps he takes from a wide receiver position. (He may want to remove the words "best tight ends in the league" from his website then.)

The Packers don't seem ready to give Finley a long-term deal yet, but they're also not willing to let him go. That tune could change if Finley's awarded the same price as a wide receiver in arbitration.
Wallace's RFA status is a concern. (Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Wallace

Wallace is actually on a restricted free agent, but as Wilson pointed out on Tuesday's podcast, there's been a lot of discussion in Steelers-land about the possibility of using the full-blown franchise tag on Wallace regardless of his status.

Here's some hypothetical logic: the Steelers use the non-exclusive tag on Wallace, the Patriots, with two first-round picks in the coming draft, negotiate a deal with Wallace and force the Steelers to match said deal or take one of the picks from the Pats. The pick isn't that high and Wallace is a stud, so Pittsburgh, who wants to lock down Wallace anyway, would be letting the Pats (or whomever) negotiate for them.

Lest you think this is silly, look no further than a guy we already talked about: Welker. The Patriots obtained him via trade, but only after the Dolphins used the restricted tag on Welker. After they did, the Pats negotiated with Welker to work in a provision in his contract that would include a monster bonus if he played X games in the state of Florida (AKA "a poison pill"). The Dolphins caved and simply dealt Welker to the Pats instead of trying to play chicken.

The downside is that the Steelers would be forced to paying $7 million extra in 2012 for their No. 1 wideout. The upside is not getting poison-pilled by an AFC rival who'll then hijack the Steelers for the deep threat they need. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Bush

The idea of paying Bush more than Darren McFadden's been bandied about, and it makes sense given Run-DMC's injury history. It doesn't make sense when you consider that new GM Reggie McKenzie would suddenly have a ton of money committed to two running backs. But here's an idea: tag Bush, trade McFadden and then give Bush a new contract. You keep him off the market, you recoup some of those Carson Palmer draft picks and you keep the back best suited for Greg Knapp's zone-rushing attack.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 10:37 pm
 

Favre: Retirement 'went a lot smoother' this time

Favre actually sounding retired is worth celebrating. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

When the Patriots Hail Mary landed incomplete on Sunday night, the NFL finished its first Brett Favre-free season in 20 years. Sure there were rumors about his return when the inevitable quarterback injuries surfaced, but it seems like the Old Gunslinger's finally hung up his boots.

And his remarks on a radio interview with 1340 the Fan in Lubbock indicate he's done with the game, as Favre said that even though he started to miss the game once the Super Bowl came around, he was content being retired.

"It went a lot smoother than the previous three or four years," Favre said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com "At the end of last season, I’d said in year’s past that I knew. I really knew this time. I got beat up a little bit physically, but I still felt like I could still do it, but I just felt like it was time. In my situation, unlike some players who retire because they have no choice, either teams don’t want them or injuries have caused them to retire and they just can’t do it.

"For me, I really had never thought I would give out mentally before I gave out physically, but I think that was the case. Mentally, I was just burned out."

So was everyone else -- the constant flip-flopping of Favre in and out of the game wore on everyone.

Favre also added that for the first time, watching the regular season, he "didn't miss it a bit." Obviously, watching people compete for a Super Bowl is a little more difficult to watch for someone as competitive to Favre than is the regular season.

It'll be interesting to see how the next few years for Favre play out. His retirement/de-tirement decisions certainly hurt his legacy in the short term. Once he's removed from the game for several years, there will still be some backlash at No. 4, but we're willing to bet that most people begin to remember all the great stuff he did on the field (and there was a lot of great stuff he did) rather than the last few years that featured so much drama.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:10 am
 

Matt Flynn to Miami still would be a risk

Flynn

By Josh Katzowitz

People can’t seem to help but get excited about Packers and soon-to-be free agent quarterback Matt Flynn. Although he’s only started two career games in four seasons, all spent backing up Aaron Rodgers, his time on the field has been productive. Hell, it’s been record-setting, like when he set franchise marks with 480 passing yards and six touchdowns in Green Bay’s Week 17 win vs. the Lions.

Since that performance, the Redskins and Dolphins reportedly have had interest in obtaining his services, and though Miami could very well go after Peyton Manning if the Colts cut him loose, receiver Brandon Marshall reached out to Flynn about making the move to south Florida.

"Obviously, Matt [Moore] had a great year," Marshall said at the Pro Bowl. "You don't want to take anything away from Matt, but I think we really [should] bring in somebody who can compete and make the team better."

That person, in Marshall’s mind, could be Flynn, but there are two things to remember before Miami fans welcome Flynn with a ticker-tape parade in South Beach.

In like Matt Flynn
1) Flynn has taken significant snaps only twice in the past two years. Sure, he performed well in both cases -- he nearly beat the Patriots in 2010 -- but it’s still only two games. That isn’t much of a sample size.

2) Current Dolphins starter Matt Moore had a solid year, taking over for Chad Henne as Miami’s quarterback. Yes, Flynn probably has a more exciting name, though certainly not a better resume, and he has more upside than Moore. But Moore has proven he’s a solid quarterback in the league. We can’t say that yet about Flynn.

But here’s why the Flynn-to-Miami rumblings make sense. New coach Joe Philbin is coming off a strong reign as the Packers offensive coordinator, and though most of us don’t know how Flynn performs on a daily basis at practice, you can be sure Philbin knows exactly what Flynn can do. And if Philbin wants Flynn, how could anybody argue that?

“With Matt Flynn, know what he can’t do, and make sure you build the offense around things he can do,” Lombardi told Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. “Obviously, Joe Philbin knows him.”

Still, that doesn’t mean Flynn isn’t a risk. After all, remember the $63 million contract the Cardinals bestowed on Kevin Kolb last offseason, even though Kolb only had a limited resume? How well did that work out for Arizona?

“I don’t think it’s risky to go get him. I think it’s risky to give him $60 million, or give him $20 million over two years like Kevin Kolb,” Lombardi told the Post. “I think there’s a lot of chance for failure there.”

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:15 pm
 

LeSean McCoy admits he didn't try at the Pro Bowl

By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- LeSean McCoy had a heck of a season in 2011, rushing for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns. It netted him the FedEx Ground Player of the Year on Wednesday at the Super Bowl. And it also landed him a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

While there, McCoy was on the NFC team that Aaron Rodgers believes should be "embarrassed" by a lack of effort. Actually, he was "one of those guys" that didn't try, and said so himself on Wednesday.

"Yeah? I'm one of those guys," McCoy said when asked about Rodgers comments. "You walk around every practice and the guys before the games on other teams are like 'take your time' because we're going on a very slow pace, very easy.

"And you get out there and you see guys half-doing it and you do the same thing."

It's not like this should be too big a surprise: the quality of the game is directly related to the intensity of the effort when it comes to the Pro Bowl, and that's exactly why it was a sloppy boring game that drew criticism from everyone remotely involved in the process. (That the game still managed to pull big ratings should tell you exactly how popular the NFL is.)

With all the complaints from fans and the media -- and some players -- it wouldn't be surprising to find out that McCoy's comments didn't sit well with the league, even if he is just talking about an All-Star Game.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:50 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 6:46 pm
 

Dolphins hire Mike Sherman as OC

Sherman's reportedly set to become the Dolphins OC. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Mike Sherman missed out on the Buccaneers job when Tampa hired Greg Schiano of Rutgers, and his consolation prize will be the offensive coordinator position with the Miami Dolphins.

The team officially announced Friday evening that Sherman would take over Miami's offense and that Miami had hired Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle to fill the defensive coordinator position.

“I’m excited that Mike Sherman and Kevin Coyle have decided to accept the positions of offensive and defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, respectively,” said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in a statement.“They are exactly what I am looking for in terms of leadership, character, and teaching ability. They are both very passionate about the game of football and the players they coach, and that enthusiasm is evident in the meetings rooms and on the field. They are excellent family men and I’m thrilled they are joining the Dolphins’ football family. I can’t wait to get started to work with them.”

Latest Coaching News, Rumors

Sherman and Philbin have a long history together, as Sherman originally hired Philbin with the Packers. Sherman was the head coach in Green Bay from 2000-05, and posted a 57-39 record during that time.

He was also offensive coordinator with the Seahawks in 1999 and the Texans in 2007. Sherman's only had two team (1999 Seahawks; 2005 Packers) finish lower than 15th in total offensive yardage and only one team (2005 Packers) finish lower than 12th in points per game in the NFL.

Coyle's been with the Bengals for 11 years. Most recently, he's coaxed some excellent seasons out of Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph, and it warrants noting his work with Pacman Jones as well. The Bengals were ninth in passing yards allowed in 2011 and fourth in net yards allowed per attempt last season as well.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Coaching carousel winners and losers

Flynn is one of the big winners from the coaching carousel. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The NFL coaching carousel has come to a close with the Buccaneers and Colts the final two teams across the finish line, hiring coaches on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers from a hectic offseason. Because if we're not firing out knee-jerk reactions, what's the point?

Winners

Matt Flynn: Flynn was already going to get real paid this offseason. But new Fins coach Joe Philbin was his freaking quarterbacks coach. Yeah, the rumor is the Dolphins like Peyton Manning better than Flynn. (Also a rumor: I like steak better than tofu.) But Flynn knows Philbin's system and he certainly has to be more inclined to sign his ridiculously overpriced free-agent contract with a team employing his old coach and his old system right? Even if he's not, he could end up in a bidding war between Stephen Ross and Dan Snyder. That's like a sandwich made of $100 Bills.

Ryan Grigson
: The new Colts general manager still has a long road ahead, and needs to draft well to really get Indy's latest rebuild rolling. But he's got an owner who's setting him up well: his first two decisions (firing Jim Caldwell, hiring Chuck Pagano) mean that the Colts simply need to hire a competent offensive coordinator to groom their No. 1 overall pick and let their defensive-minded coach get to work on installing his scheme. Sound familiar? It should.

Norv Turner: Turner was certainly on the old hot seat when the season ended and somehow he still has a job. It might be loyalty. It might be Philip Rivers' influence. Or it might just be a miracle. Whatever, Turner was a lock to get fired and somehow stuck around San Diego for at least another year.

Steve Spagnuolo: Spags got canned from the Rams job but landed squarely on his feet when he got the Saints defensive coordinator job. They'll contend for Super Bowls over the next few years and as Wilson pointed out, Drew Brees is secretly his best weapon. It's an ideal spot to reload and wait for another head-coaching gig.

Jeff Fisher: Fisher got the quarterback he wants, the personnel power he wants and a big old pile of money when he chose the Rams over the Dolphins.

Jay Cutler: Mike Martz retired and took his seven-step drops behind a shoddy offensive line and no pretense of having a running game with him.

Atlanta Falcons: No offense to Mike Mularkey and Brian VanGorder (as well as his superb mustache) but the ATL just got a major assistant upgrade. Ryan maxed out under Mularkey, and Dirk Koetter loves to go vertical -- having Julio Jones and Roddy White make that an easier task than whoever was catching balls with the Jaguars. And Mike Nolan, quite simply, has a fantastic defensive track record.

Cam Newton/Andy Dalton: The two biggest rookie surprises lucked out big time this offseason as their respective offensive coordinators, Rob Chudzinski and Jay Gruden, didn't move on to theoretically greener pastures. Now Newton and Dalton will each get a full offseason to prepare and should look even better in their second year.

Losers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Even if Greg Schiano is "the guy," and there's a significant number of people who think he is not, they bungled this search. (For the record, I kind of like the Schiano hire, but it's risky.) They fired Raheem Morris quickly but were the last team to get a new coach in place. They whiffed -- publicly -- on Chip Kelly. They interviewed a bunch of old dudes -- Brad Childress, Mike Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer -- who now probably feel used. An unimpressive effort all around and indicative of how attractive this job is.

Rob Ryan: Think of all the people who got interviews this offseason. Everyone got an interview. Except Rex's twin brother. Think running his mouth and losing twice to the Giants because his secondary couldn't defend anyone ended up hurting his chances to get a head coaching job? It absolutely did.

Mike Zimmer: Also a dude who can't catch a break. Or interview well? Whatever, Zimmer finally got some heat for coaching jobs (it's been long enough) and couldn't seal the deal on anything. Hopefully he'll get more looks but this has a "flyover" feel to it in terms of how much interest other teams will have in Zimmer going forward.

Brian Schottenheimer: Schottey Jr. might have landed with the Rams, but he'll likely be under heavy scrutiny from fans and could see a short leash, depending on how Fisher's feeling. The worst part is a year ago, he was a hot name for a head-coaching job and instead the Jets ran him off while managing to air out some of their respective greivances with the rest of the dirty laundry.

Mike Sherman: Sherman was the leader in the clubhouse for the Bucs job ... or so we thought. Now he's reportedly headed to run Miami's offense. That could vault him back up to a head-coaching gig, but considering he found out about his firing from Texas A&M at a recruit's house (!), landing an NFL job just a few months later would've been a major coup.

Peyton Manning: Bill Polian's out, Jim Caldwell's out and the Colts seem hell bent on cleaning house. The logical next move appears to be shipping Manning out of town as well.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:23 pm
 

Dolphins hire Joe Philbin as new head coach

Former Green Bay OC Joe Philbin is Miami's new head coach. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Dolphins have hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as their head coach, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman has confirmed through a team source. Philbin, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Todd Bowles, the Dolphins secondary coach who served as the interim head coach after Tony Sparano was fired in Week 14, were thought to be the favorites.

“We are thrilled to have Joe Philbin join the Miami Dolphins as our head coach,” owner Stephen Ross said in a statment released by the team. “Joe has all the attributes that we were looking for when we started this process. (General) Jeff Ireland and I felt Joe was the right choice to bring the Dolphins back to the success we enjoyed in the past. I know I join our fans in welcoming him as the newest member of the Dolphin family.”

Miami settled on Philbin after Jeff Fisher accepted St. Louis' offer last week (and the $7 million-a-year salary that came with it). The organization is expected to hold a press conference after Philbin signs his contract in the coming days. Details of the deal aren't known but the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero writes that it's for no less than four years.

Philbin becomes the 10th coach in Dolphins history and the seventh in eight years. He takes over a team that started the 2011 season with seven straight losses before winning six of their last nine games. Miami missed the playoffs for the ninth time in the past decade. It has been 19 years since they reached the AFC championship game, 27 years since they reached the Super Bowl and 38 years since they won an NFL title.

"You don't replace people like Joe," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein.  I'm going to miss him personally a whole lot, forget as a professional. ... He brings a lot to the table..His resume speaks for itself. But the No. 1 thing is ... he's an excellent communicator."

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley added via Twitter: "A huge congratulations to Joe Philbin. No one deserves it more than this guy. The Pack will miss him!"

Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt tweeted: "Worked five years with Joe Philbin. Calm, cerebral, humble and a skilled offensive mind. His style will resonate with players."

When Ross began the job search he said that he would like to give the franchise much-needed stability by hiring "a young Don Shula." Instead he chose the 50-year-old Philbin, who has 28 years of coaching experience, including 19 years in college.

“I want to thank Steve Ross and Jeff Ireland for giving me the opportunity to become the head coach of one of the premier franchises in professional sports,” he said. “I also want to thank the Green Bay Packers for all the support the organization has given me during my time there.

"The Dolphins have a strong nucleus to build around, and working with everyone in the organization, I know that together we will return the team to its winning tradition," he continued. "I have seen how much the fans in South Florida care about the Dolphins, and that passion is one reason why I’m really excited to be here. I’m looking forward to their support, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Miami's offense ranked 20th last season, according to Football Outsiders (20th pass, 27th rush). Owner Stephen Ross wanted to bring in an offensive-minded head coach and Philbin is certainly that. He served as the Packers' coordinator from the 2007-2011 seasons, which includes the entire Aaron Rodgers era.

Assistants becoming first-time NFL head coaches have had mixed results in recent years. The group includes the Ravens' John Harbaugh, the Saints' Sean Payton and the Steelers' Mike Tomlin, but also three coaches recently fired: Jim Caldwell by the Colts, Todd Haley by the Chiefs and Steve Spagnuolo by the Rams.

Before joining the Packers, Philbin was Iowa's offensive line coach for four years. The former small-college tight end has been an offensive coordinator at Harvard, Northeastern and Allegheny College.

Philbin will now begin assembling a staff. Bowles might remain as a replacement for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who took the same job this week with the Atlanta Falcons.

Freeman writes that Rodgers' backup and soon-to-be free agent Matt Flynn could be an option in South Beach. (Chad Henne, the Dolphins' former second-round pick, suffered a shoulder injury during the '11 season and was placed on injured reserve. He'll be a free agent this spring and isn't expected back.)

"A source close to Flynn told me that Flynn would 'love to the challenge of being a starter' but emphasized he's loyal to the Packers," said Freeman Friday evening. "But if you had to wager don't put a lot of cash on Flynn staying in Green Bay."

Flynn, who completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions in Week 17, could be one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in free agency in the coming months if the Packers don't chose to re-sign him. We've already drawn the Kevin Kolb comparisions, and the Redskins have been mentioned as possible suitors. Now we can add the Dolphins to that list.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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