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During the first two days in which teams could use the franchise tag, only one NFL team so far has enacted the one-year tender, as the Miami Dolphins tagged wide receiver Jarvis Landry for the 2018 season.

The two-week window to place a franchise or transition tag on players that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents closes at 4 p.m. ET on March 6. As the Vikings work through the unique set of circumstances they have at quarterback, with three potential starters set to hit free agency in less than three weeks, the first important decision has to do with the potential use of the franchise tag.

Case Keenum isn’t considered the most likely of candidates across the NFL to receive a franchise tag, but as the Vikings decide whom they want to be their quarterback in 2018, the options start with the player who led them to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC title game. He could end up being the best fit.

Minnesota has used the franchise tag only twice since it was introduced in 1993: once on tight end Jim Kleinsasser in 2003 and again on linebacker Chad Greenway in 2011. The Vikings have never placed the designation on a quarterback.

After Keenum’s career year, his modest $2 million contract from 2017 is expected to increase exponentially, but do the Vikings view him as someone worth $20 million or more to run the offense next season?

The franchise-tag window closes six days before teams can enter into negotiations with other teams’ free agents, on March 12. If the Vikings place the tag on Keenum between now and March 6, that could end the conversation about going after Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

But will it?

Here’s a look at the options the Vikings have as they pertain to Keenum and the franchise tag.

Exclusive franchise tag: This option would immediately take Keenum off the market and lock him into a deal with the Vikings. Minnesota would have to pay Keenum the average of the top five salaries at his position, which is around $23 million for one year, with either the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag. The binding nature of the exclusive option, however, makes its projected use appear rather unlikely.

Non-exclusive franchise tag: If the Vikings go this route, Keenum and his agent would be able to negotiate with other teams and try to find a long-term deal. The Vikings would get the first opportunity to match any offer sheet the quarterback receives, and if Keenum and the Vikings decide to part ways, Minnesota would get two first-round picks. Franchising Keenum would allow the Vikings to see if the journeyman quarterback can replicate the success he had in 2017 without having to lock him in to a long-term deal. If Minnesota goes this route for Keenum (whose salary would be a $23 million cap hit in 2018), it could also help the team in an attempt bring back Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford and keep the current core of QBs together. The situation could set up a quarterback competition in training camp and would ensure that the Vikings, who are built to win now rather than later, will have options as they try to make another Super Bowl run.

Transition tag: The cheapest of the three tags would give Keenum the average of the top-10 salaries at his position, which would be around $21 million. The QB can test the market, and if he finds another team willing to fork over big money and a long-term deal, Minnesota again has the first right of refusal or can match his offer sheet. If the Vikings don’t, they don’t get a compensatory pick. Either way, with any of the three tags, the Vikings and Keenum would have until July 16 to work out a multiyear contract.

Tag and trade: The Vikings could choose to utilize the franchise tag on Keenum even if they have the intention of trading him in the near future. If Keenum ends up leaving in free agency without a franchise tag, the highest compensation the Vikings would receive is a third-round pick. They’d also have to sacrifice a 2019 compensatory pick if this happens. The seldom-used tag-and-trade tactic has been thrown out as a possibility with Cousins, despite the challenges it would yield by putting a franchise tag on him for a third straight year.

Other options: Minnesota could end up not going the route of tagging Keenum and could instead opt to work out a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent. The Vikings could also let him test the market after March 14 and decide if any offer sheets he gets are worth trying to match without a franchise tag. The Vikings could also let him walk in free agency, which seems like a risky move unless the Vikings are confident they can land Cousins or another free agent QB they have in mind, or believe Bridgewater or Bradford, despite their knee issues, is their best option for a Super Bowl run in 2018.

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Source — Matt Patricia returning to New England Patriots to assist Bill Belichick’s staff



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matt Patricia, who was fired as Detroit Lions head coach in November before the completion of his third year on the job, is returning to the New England Patriots‘ coaching staff in 2021, a source confirmed.

Patricia had been an assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff from 2004 to 2017 before landing the Lions job. In Detroit, he posted a 13-29-1 record, with one of those victories coming over Belichick’s Patriots early in his first season.

It was a turbulent tenure in Detroit for Patricia, and a return to New England — where he is expected to assist Belichick’s staff in a variety of roles — provides him a safe and familiar haven in which to continue his coaching career in the NFL.

Patricia, 46, had most recently served as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017, and in his absence, Belichick hasn’t given that title to another coach. But Belichick referenced this past season that his son Steve, the outside linebackers coach, was calling the defense.

Also, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has a significant role. Mayo, 34, is considered a coach on the rise, as evidenced by his recent interview with the Philadelphia Eagles for their head-coaching opening that went to Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni.

Patricia’s return mirrors, in part, what came in 2014, when Belichick hired Michael Lombardi — his former director of player personnel with the Cleveland Browns (1991-95) — as an assistant to the head coach.

The familiarity that Lombardi had with Belichick, and the team’s overall system, made his transition into the organization rather seamless.

The Boston Globe first reported Patricia’s return.

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Houston Texans interview QB Josh McCown, Jim Caldwell for head coach opening



HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have interviewed quarterback Josh McCown and former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell for their head coach opening, the team announced on Friday.

Houston signed McCown to a two-year contract on Nov. 4 from the Philadelphia Eagles‘ practice squad, with him joining Deshaun Watson and AJ McCarron on the active roster.

The Texans also announced they have “continued discussions” about the vacancy with Caldwell.

Caldwell, 66, most recently was hired as an assistant head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2019 but had to leave the team ahead of the season to address health issues and was not retained for the following season. He went 36-30, including playoffs, as head coach of the Lions (2014-17) and 28-24 as head coach of the Colts (2009-11).

McCown, 41, retired in 2019 after 17 years in the NFL and took a job as a high school quarterbacks coach in Charlotte, North Carolina, where his sons played. He continued to coach after coming out of retirement and signing with the Eagles later in 2019.

McCown played three games that season, including the wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks after Carson Wentz left in the first quarter with a concussion.

When McCown signed with the Texans, he was asked whether he hoped to coach in the future.

“I believe so,” McCown said in November. “If you’d asked me that 10 years ago, I would’ve said no way, that’s not what I want to do at this level. My dream coming out of college had I not been able to play in the NFL was to coach high school football here in Texas. I really thought that was going to be my path. But the longer I’ve been in this game and been around these guys, I see real value in being able to be a part of an organization and compete at the highest level. …

“Yeah, one of these days, whenever that happens, whenever I finally take the cleats off, I definitely see that in the future.”

The team announced earlier in the week that it had interviewed Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Ravens assistant head coach David Culley.

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Five takeaways from new Lions head coach Dan Campbell’s opening presser – Detroit Lions Blog



ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Dan Campbell’s epic press conference to open his tenure with the Detroit Lions lasted over an hour and went to places no one could have expected, from a spit-take about Don Muhlbach’s longevity with the franchise to references to ‘The Big Lebowski’ and biting kneecaps.

But beneath the humor and the one-liners and the bluster of Campbell’s very memorable debut in Detroit, there were many bits of real information the 44-year-old head coach was willing to share about the franchise, where he sees it going and what the future could be.

So while many will see the intensity and the passion — both of those are clearly real and unquestionably could be helpful to galvanize a locker room that sorely needs it after Matt Patricia’s three poor years with the club — Campbell did offer up some of what this team might look like.

1.The Matthew Stafford question remains an open one: Both general manager Brad Holmes and Campbell praised Stafford this week, but both also essentially gave versions of ‘we’re looking at the whole roster,’ when asked about their future plans about the quarterback or the No. 7 overall pick this spring.

“We’ve had discussions but here’s what I’d say about Matthew,” Campbell said. “He’s a stud. He’s one of the toughest quarterbacks you’ll ever see. Extremely talented. I know he’s a team guy and I know he wants to win. So I’ll leave it at that. That’s what I do know.”

Holmes essentially said the same thing Tuesday — and then said he had to look at the roster. Campbell did acknowledge “there’s a million avenues that you could go with the quarterback talk,” before saying it’s too early to get into it.

But unlike past years and past regime changes, it feels clear like there at least will be a conversation about Stafford’s long-term viability with the Lions. And based on the way Stafford spoke at the end of the season, those are probably conversations he would have opinions about as well.

Campbell did acknowledge the NFL “is a passing league right now,” and that a strong quarterback boosts the odds of success. No matter what, Stafford’s situation will be one to watch.

2.So what’s Campbell’s style? There’s no question about his passion. You got that from him about 14 seconds into his presser. But how he handles the offense and the defense — and the hires he makes there — are going to be critical.

Aaron Glenn, the former Jets cornerback and New Orleans secondary coach, is coming over as the defensive coordinator. That’s one hire down — and a potential good one at that. Glenn is viewed very highly around the NFL and has potential as a future head coach. Offensive coordinator and the majority of position coaches should come together in the next few weeks but this is his style:

“We’re going to run a system that puts our best on your worst,” Campbell said. “That’s what we’re going to do because that’s what we did in New Orleans. We’re going to find a way to put our guys in one-one-one matchups, whether it’s run or pass. If you’re telling me that our left tackle is better than their right end, and we can run outside zone all day — we’re going to run outside zone, as long as we cut off the back side. Why not? If we can exploit a weakness, we’re going to do it.”

Every coach is going to try to do something like that, but Campbell acknowledged the flexibility he wants his coordinators to work within. Specifically, Campbell said “I’m not a system guy,” but rather he’s going to trust his coordinators to run their systems and put players in the best position to be successful and play to their strengths.

3. The goal is harmony: That at least is what it sounds like between Holmes and Campbell — although time will be the true arbiter here of how successful Detroit’s attempt at a collaborative approach for making 53-man roster decisions is going to truly work.

Campbell acknowledged he and Holmes won’t always agree — the two haven’t delved deep into the current roster yet, let alone the future — but they’ll have similar visions. That much was clear to Campbell. And Holmes told Campbell his goal is to make sure he gets him the players he’s searching for.

“That’s exactly what this is about — the collaboration. So as a head coach everything has been about, ‘Coach, what do you need? What do you need? How can I help you,’”Campbell said. “And I told Brad, ‘Brad, what can I do for you? Tell me how I can help you? Can I get you something that’s going to help you do your job well?’ I’ve already said it, I don’t want to make a move without him knowing about it. We’re going to be on the same page. We’re in this thing together.”

4. The roster reality: Holmes might not want to use the word rebuild, but the amount of change that will likely have to come on the defense is clear. Holmes mentioned it during his first presser. So did Campbell. Both men were transparent about that.

“There’s probably more pieces offensively than defensively that super fire me up, but that’s tentatively kind of how I feel,” Campbell said. “I’m going to go through it, but I also know this; there’s always the ability to hit on a good draft and sign a few free agents that you feel believe the same way that you do as a program and come from winning programs, and they fit a role, they fit a piece.”

They’ll likely start with a decision on Stafford, but Detroit has holes in every portion of its defense, many questions at receiver and some smaller issues on the offensive line and at running back.

So it’s not going to be an easy job for either man, especially if they are trying to be competitive in 2021.

5.This is a different deal in Detroit: The Lions have been mediocre at best for most of the last six decades. That’s likely longer than most of the people reading this have been alive or at least can have memories of. So yes, Campbell came off unconventional in his first meeting publicly. Talking about biting kneecaps is something that will be remembered.

But maybe this is what Detroit needs, a completely out-of-the-box, comfortable-in-who-I-am, tell-it-like-he-sees-it coach because so much else has just not worked. Pair him with a forward-thinking general manager — and Holmes appears to be that — and it’s at least the Lions trying something new, which is more than they’ve done for so long.

Campbell is transparent and refreshing. He spoke openly about wanting to hire Glenn, told a great story about how he learned to not judge somebody on preconceived notions in a story about Terry Glenn and answered a difficult question about comments he made about homosexuality as a student at Texas A&M with contrition and another apology, more than 20 years later.

Will this work out? One press conference won’t tell you that. One hire won’t, either. This is going to be a long-term play. But considering Detroit’s last regime, it’s clear there’s a difference with the Lions whether it leads to success or not.

“He really understands the city,” Hamp said. “He understands our fans, he’s going to understand you guys and all the things we’ve been through and he’s determined to bring us all a winner and a new pride for Detroit.”

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