AFC West: Jeremy Bates

A Denver reunion in Chicago has some current AFC West relevance.

The Bears just acquired Brandon Marshall, and his big contract, from Miami for two third-round picks. The Bears were expected to be a big player for San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson. That pursuit likely won’t happen now.

So, the Chargers will likely have one less competitor for Jackson.

Also, I wonder if Peyton Manning will be bothered to see the Dolphins traded their top receiver. The Broncos are battling the Dolphins to sign Manning.

Two years ago, Denver received two second-round picks from Miami for Marshall, which helped the Broncos move up to take Tim Tebow at No. 25. In Chicago, Marshall reunites with former Denver quarterback Jay Cutler and Denver offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

In other AFC West news:

The agent for Kevin Boss tweeted that he will be cut Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

NFL.com reports that Nick Hardwick’s three-year deal in San Diego is worth $13.5 million with $6.5 million guaranteed. Pretty nice deal for the Chargers. Hardwick is a fine player.

Buffalo is visiting with Houston pass-rusher Mario Williams. San Diego has been interested.

What could have been in Denver

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
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There is no doubting that Josh McDaniels was a hot prospect when Denver chose the then 32-year-old to replace Mike Shanahan in January 2009. He was sought after and if Denver didn't hire him, another NFL team would have snagged New England’s offensive coordinator.

But some questioned the hire, because the Broncos really needed help on defense. Shanahan left Denver in fine shape on offense. Originally, the plan was to keep offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who had a good relationship with 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, and pursue a defensive coach.

Three of the seven people interviewed for the opportunity to replace Shanahan were defensive coordinators who are now NFL head coaches. Among the runners up were Steve Spagnuolo (now St. Louis’ coach), Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay’s head coach) and Leslie Frazier (Minnesota’s interim coach). All three have done well in their head-coaching roles.

The other coaches who interviewed for the job were Dallas interim coach Jason Garrett, former Denver assistant and current Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Miami assistant head coach Todd Bowles.

In the end, Denver went with McDaniels and will have to live with the idea that it let successful coaches like Spagnuolo, Morris and Frazier get away. If Minnesota doesn’t promote Frazier to the permanent job, it would not be a surprise if Denver takes a serious look at Frazier if he’d be interested in the job.

Denver and Kansas City updates

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
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ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting that former Denver guard Ben Hamilton has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Hamilton visited the Seahawks earlier this offseason. Denver had no interest in bringing back Hamilton because it is looking for bigger interior offensive linemen. Denver is moving from a zone blocking scheme to a more traditional, power-blocking scheme. Hamilton, who has been with Denver since 2001, lost his starting job last season.

In Seattle, he reunites with former Denver coaches Alex Gibbs and Jeremy Bates.

In Kansas City, restricted free agent Corey Mays signed his tender and is now under contract. Mays started 14 games last season.

AFC West mailbag

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
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Zachariah West from Durango, Colo., wants to know if we’ll see Kansas City continue to use running back Jamaal Charles as a returner now that the team has signed Thomas Jones.

Bill Williamson: Charles is a dynamic runner and is a great weapon as a returner. He averaged 25.7 yards per return last season and he had a touchdown return. Of course, because Charles is developing into a star running back -- he had 1,120 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season -- the team may not want to use him much as returner because of the injury risk. The presence of Jones does give Kansas City a solid insurance policy. I would expect the Chiefs to still use Charles as a return man because he is so dangerous, but they will be cautious.




Matt from Colorado Springs wants to know what Seattle saw in Charlie Whitehurst to give up so much for him.

BW: The Seahawks obviously really like Whitehurst. They gave up plenty to get him. Seattle and San Diego switched picks in the second round (the Chargers now have No. 40 and Seattle now has No. 60), and Seattle gave up its third-round pick next year. That’s a lot to give up for a guy who has never thrown an NFL pass and who will be 28 in August. But Seattle thinks Whitehurst would be the third best quarterback in this year's draft behind Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates has long admired Whitehurst. Seattle believes he has the makeup to be a star. Still, this was a no-brainer trade for San Diego. Whitehurst had no future in San Diego. In return for a player who was a non-factor in San Diego, the Chargers will be able to remake their draft. What a steal.


Dustin T from San Diego wants to know if San Diego could draft Tim Tebow.

BW: I think the chances are increasing. Now that Whitehurst is gone, San Diego needs a young quarterback to develop and be a No. 3 guy. Tebow would be a perfect No. 3 at this point. But I’m not sure if San Diego would take Tebow until late in the third round and he could be gone by then. I don’t think Tebow should or will be a priority for San Diego, but if the timing is right, it could be an interesting pairing.
Finally, there appears to be some progress in the Brandon Marshall restricted free-agency saga.

At the NFL owners meetings on Wednesday morning, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that the team has had some preliminary talks about a deal with the agent of Denver’s Pro Bowl receiver. That is an important step, even if the talks are preliminary.

On March 6, we outlined the three major steps in the Marshall process. We are now on step No. 2. That means Seattle felt good after step No. 1 following Marshall's visit on the first weekend of free agency.

By Carroll’s statements Wednesday, it’s clear Seattle liked Marshall and it is still very interested in making him a Seahawk. The team has several former Denver assistants on its staff, including offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

“Knowing that he has a chance to be available, just as any other aspect of developing a football team, we’re looking for the best guys we can possibly find and see what we can do with them, and see what his individual situation holds,” Carroll said. “There is a chance that you can find a way to get him, but that’s all. That’s really all I can really tell you about it. We enjoyed the visit. We have a lot of information and background with him because of Jeremy. Jeremy Bates had a very good relationship with him in Denver. Jedd Fisch was on the staff. Pat McPherson was on the staff. Those guys all know him. So they give us unique insights, I think, to understanding how he could fit into the offense and what he could do in helping us.”

With step No. 2 in play, the Seahawks and Marshall have to come up with a contract that works for both sides. If that happens, we’ll go to the final and most tricky step -- discussing trade compensation with the Broncos.

Marshall has a first-round tender and Denver wants a top pick for him. Seattle has the No. 6 and No. 14 picks in the draft. It is not giving up the No. 6 pick, and the No. 14 pick (acquired from Denver last year so Denver could take cornerback Alphonso Smith in the second round) is not going away without a major fight and other returned compensation. Perhaps Denver will lessen its compensation request and take a second-rounder and a package of other picks.

But that chatter won’t begin until step No. 2 is finalized. With the draft four weeks away, there is some time.

But at least we know Seattle is still working through the process. Ultimately, that has to be good news for Denver. Seattle has been the only team to show legitimate interest in Marshall and that interest clearly remains.
Brandon Marshall is getting the royal treatment in Seattle as his visit there commences.

However, don’t expect a fast resolution. Just because Seattle struck quickly to arrange a visit for the restricted free agent receiver, it doesn’t mean he will sign quickly. This situation may percolate for a few days or longer.

There are going to be layers to this situation. First, Seattle has to feel comfortable with Marshall. That is the purpose of this visit. He has had several off-field issues, so Seattle has make sure it has a good feeling about Marshall. It has a good start because former Denver assistants Jeremy Bates, Jedd Fisch and Pat McPherson are on Seattle’s staff. They know Marshall and they like him.

Then, if Seattle does get a good feel for Marshall, it will start to negotiate a long-term deal. It wouldn’t make sense for Seattle to deal for Marshall and not give him an extension with just one year remaining on his contract. The contract discussions could take a while. Like any team dealing with Marshall, Seattle will likely pursue contract protection in case Marshall gets in trouble in the future.

Finally, if Seattle gets through the first two steps, it will be time to negotiate trade terms with Denver. Don’t expect Seattle to sign Marshall to a classic offer sheet for the first-round tender. Seattle very likely won’t want to surrender the No. 6 overall draft pick. Seattle also has the No. 14 pick, which was acquired from Denver last year on draft day when the Broncos traded for the chance to take cornerback Alphonso Smith at No. 37.

Seattle could be willing to trade a second draft pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if receiver Deion Branch was part of a deal. He flourished in New England when Denver coach Josh McDaniels was there and he could help in McDaniels’ system.

Still, there is a lot to hash out and it could take awhile. Seattle may not feel any urgency to finalize this deal until another team comes forward with interest. Thus far, that has not happened. Baltimore was expected to be interested, but that interest probably waned since the Ravens traded for Anquan Boldin on Friday.
This won't hurt the Seattle Seahawks' interest in Brandon Marshall.

Seattle just lost receiver Nate Burleson. He signed with Detroit.

The Seahawks were expected to look for receivers -- and be interested in trading for Marshall -- before Burleson left town. This will only increase Seattle’s interest in getting a receiver.

I expected Seattle to be a frontrunner to land Marshall. Former Denver assistant Jeremy Bates is the new offensive coordinator in Seattle and he may covet Marshall. Marshall would be a perfect fit in Seattle.

The Broncos are willing to listen to offers for the talented, but troubled receiver. They set the stage for Marshall’s departure by putting the first-round tender on Marshall instead of the high tender of first-and-third-round compensation.

Marshall is available and Seattle is interested. Burleson’s departure could potentially jump start Seattle’s pursuit.
Expect Denver to listen to offers for Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall this week in preparation for the start of league's trade season Friday.

With the help of the NFL Blog Network, here is a look at some of the potential landing spots:

Baltimore: The Ravens have been linked to Marshall since before last season. The Ravens have a huge need at receiver and Marshall would fit.

Chicago: The Bears don’t have much ammunition. But a Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall reunion has to be intriguing for Chicago.

Cincinnati: The Bengals need a receiver. Badly. But it is unlikely they will pay big for Marshall.

Miami: Marshall would fit in with the Dolphins, but would Bill Parcells pursue the troubled Marshall?

Seattle: This may be the front runner to land the receiver. The Seahawks have players to trade and Marshall would like to reunite with former Denver assistant coach Jeremy Bates, who is now Seattle’s offensive coordinator.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers could use Marshall, but they may be worried about his off-field behavior.

Washington: New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan could always make a play for his former Denver star.

Cutler fallout breakdown

March, 19, 2009
3/19/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The timeline of the fallout between the Broncos and Jay Cutler that his agent, Bus Cook, gave the NFL.com is consistent to what I've been hearing all along.

  2008: Best of Jay Cutler
  NFL.com Video
  Quarterback Jay Cutler finished with 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2008.

Yes, Cutler wasn't happy about the firing of Mike Shanahan (he publicly said it on the night his coach was axed). But those close to him maintain he never asked for a trade as a result of Shanahan and his passing game coordinator, Jeremy Bates, being fired, even though he wasn't thrilled with losing the two men who molded him in the NFL. Cutler told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that on the record Sunday.

From everything I hear, Cutler was satisfied with playing under new Denver coach Josh McDaniels until the day the Matt Cassel trade talks were disclosed.

Cutler has been on the record on that as well.

The bottom line here is that this saga became a problem when the trade talks started and not before. The trust issue between Cutler and McDaniels is at the heart of the matter.

Sure, McDaniels may have been turned off that Cutler wasn't thrilled that his former coaches were let go and perhaps that got the trade talk rattling in his head. And if that is the case, that is all within his right as the head coach.

But the ball all got rolling in this mess with the Cassel talks.

Meanwhile, the NFL world continues its fascination with Cutler. Here is a look at some of the headlines around the league as news outlets wonder where Cutler, if he is dealt, will end up:

Chicago
Daily Herald

Dallas
Dallas Morning News

Detroit
Detroit News

New York Jets
New York Daily News

Philadelphia
Philadelphia Inquirer

Tampa Bay
Tampa Tribune

You pick it responses

January, 23, 2009
1/23/09
3:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here are this week's "you pick it" responses. The candidates were Denver passing game coordinator Jeremy Bates going to USC; the Chiefs dragging their feet on deciding the fate of coach Herm Edwards and Tom Cable's situation in Oakland.

The slow-moving situations in Kansas City and Oakland caught most the imagination of readers. Here is some of what you had to say. Thanks to those who participated:

Matt Hubert from Erie, Pa: Story of the week? The sad state of Raider Nation. It?s embarrassing being a Raiders fan these days. It?s bad enough routinely finishing at or near the bottom of the standings. But now they?re finishing last in the coaching search, too. And it?s not like too many high-profile candidates flocking to Oakland is the problem. You certainly won?t see recently-made-available hot commodities Mike Shanahan or Jon Gruden anywhere near this job. The problem is Al Davis. Keep Tom Cable (he finished the season strong) or move on and hire someone else (Cable was 4-8 with several bad losses). But make a decision and stick with it. Whether it?s Cable or someone else, the next coach of the Raiders has to be given at least 3-4 years to make his mark on the team and try to lead them back to respectability.

Pano M. from Salt Lake City: Hey Bill, aspiring sports journalist (Go Utes!) and big Broncos fan here. I would have to say the Chiefs staying undecided is the biggest story. I understand Pioli weighing his options and initially wanted to give Herm a fair shot but this is getting ridiculous. As you wrote with Cunningham leaving there isn't much of Edward's staff left. Why doesn't Edwards save what pride he has left and resign on his own terms, instead of dragging out this embarrassing ordeal? I know he probably wouldn't want to quit on his players but he has to keep his own interests in mind, like his image, and maybe go get a D-coordinator job. Thanks, love the blog.

Ryan from New Jersey: Chiefs are the best story by far. The Raiders will be horrible with Cable or without him, so who cares. And Bates leaving wasn't the worst thing in the world, because although Cutler had a lot of yards, I wasn't impressed with the amount of TD's. Going back to the Chiefs, this delay might be a show of things to come. In a cuthroat league like this, you need to take action and take it fast. If Pioli does this with other executive descicions (Free Agents, Trades, Draft etc.) he could be in a lot of trouble. This is a desicion will be a deciding factor for the next 10-20 years of Chief's football because if they can get a coach (or keep one) to put the pieces together, and possiby get other players outside of the orginization to come in and help, we might see a good Chiefs team in a couple of years.

Big J from Sac: Withouot question, the story of the week is Pioli not making the decision on Herm. Clark Hunt built up some good will with Chiefs fans by firing King Carl and hiring Pioli, but everyone knows Herm HAS to go, so why not get it done and move on while there are still a few good coaches available. I heard that they didn't want to do it on MLK day or Inaguration day, but they could have done it last week! We need every second of offseason prep to get this team back on track!

Parker from Boulder: Cable is definitely the big story. Not only because no one knows what is going on and yet somehow he is still with the Raiders despite being free of his old contract, but that he may be the future coach of the Raiders. Although there is reason to doubt his HC skills, he showed hope toward the end of the season, the players support him and most of all he can actually work with Al Davis. Its a Raiders dream to find a long term coach and if he can do well, or even mediocre for now, we may actually have the luxury of some coaching stability.

Dave from Denver: BW. I would say it is tie for Inactivity by both the Chiefs and Raiders. The Chiefs can only hide so long behind the "we have a new GM" statement. As for the Raiders - Al is putting together the entire staff except the HC which is pretty normal for him and will get the same results he has for the last 6 years.

You pick it: AFC West story lines

January, 21, 2009
1/21/09
11:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It's time for this week's "you pick it" feature.

I offer three candidates for the top story in the AFC West from the past week and you hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week. Here are the candidates:

The Chiefs stay undecided: Eight days after he was hired as the team's general manager, Scott Pioli still hasn't announced whether coach Herm Edwards will return or not. A decision is expected at any moment, but it was originally expected last week.

Jeremy Bates goes to USC: The Broncos informed Bates, their passing coordinator who had a huge fan in quarterback Jay Cutler, that he was going to be replaced last week. On Monday, Bates opted to go to USC as the Trojans' offensive coordinator.

Cable goes to Senior Bowl as a member of the Raiders but still no word if he's the coach: Tom Cable went to the Senior Bowl as a member of the team and he has helped interview potential assistant coaches. But, as of now, it has not been announced if the interim coach will return to Oakland or if the team will hire another full-time coach.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It appears two former Denver Broncos offensive assistant coaches are getting college offensive coordinator jobs in a two-day span.

According to a source close to the situation, former Denver receivers coach Jedd Fisch is arriving in the Twin Cities on Tuesday afternoon. Barring any unexpected changes he is expected accept the offer to guide the Golden Gophers' offense.

Fisch interviewed for the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator job Monday.

Fisch, 32, was let go by new Denver coach Josh McDaniels late last week. He was let go along with passing game coordinator Jeremy Bates. Bates became the offensive coordinator at USC on Monday.

Bates and Fisch were considered among the best young offensive coaches in the NFL. They were let go because McDaniels will run the passing game and he wanted his own influence. He hired Mike McCoy from Carolina to replace Bates.

Fisch is was lauded for the continued development of Denver receiver Brandon Marshall in 2008 and the sudden impact made by second-round pick Eddie Royal.

Minnesota is coached by former Denver assistant Tim Brewster. Former Denver coach Mike Shanahan highly recommended Fisch for the Minnesota job. Now, the only thing keeping him from joining Brewster's staff is a formal offer and Fisch accepting it.

AFC West news and notes

January, 16, 2009
1/16/09
9:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

With Raider Nation buzzing with the hope that Jon Gruden could somehow end back up in Oakland, the Oakland Tribune reports that fired Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen could have a better chance of returning. Meanwhile, the paper reports more assistant coaches are being interviewed and more head coaching candidates could be considered.

Here's a name to keep an eye on if the Raiders bring in more candidates: Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He is considered a bright young offensive mind and the Cardinals offensive is high flying. He fits the mold of coach Davis usually looks at. It wouldn't be a surprise if Davis considers him.

A day after Denver retained running backs coach Bobby Turner, Denver also decided to keep running game coordinator Rick Dennison under new coach Josh McDaniels. Dennison is a well respected coach who has done a good job on the offensive line. Dennison interviewed for the head coaching job.

If Jeremy Bates ends up in Detroit, his replacement could be Carolina assistant Mike McCoy. The former quarterback is regarded as a strong passing game coach.

Gruden added Joe Barry to his staff shortly before he was fired. If he doesn't stay in Tampa Bay, Barry's name could surface as an assistant candidate in San Diego.

Don't be surprised if San Diego and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera discuss a new contract. His prior contact was done when he was the inside linebacker coach. After his success in the second half of the season, Rivera, if he isn't considered for any head coaching jobs, will likely have his contract adjusted to reflect his responsibilities.

AFC West news and notes

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
9:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

• It is expected around the league that new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli will fire coach Herman Edwards. But the word in Kansas City is that the situation is still being mulled.

Edwards has a big fan in owner Clark Hunt.

Don't be surprised if Edwards attends Pioli's introductory news conference on Wednesday. Pioli is expected to meet with Kansas City coaches Thursday.

If Pioli does fire Edwards, don't be surprised if San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera gets a look. Rivera interviews in Detroit on Wednesday for the Lions' head job.

• San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson admitted he has heard rumors he could be traded but he hasn't heard anything concrete. I get the feeling San Diego hasn't even thought about that notion.

• The idea of the Chiefs heading to Missouri for training camp in 2010 has taken another step toward becoming a reality.

• In Denver, the offensive coaches are expected to talk to new coach Josh McDaniels about staying. However, assistants Jeremy Bates and Rick Dennison already have had or will have interviews elsewhere.

• Don't be surprised if former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist's name is connected to a potential opening in Detroit's front office.

• San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie said he played the season with a fractured hip. That could help explain a down season for Cromartie.

• Kansas City special teams coach Mike Priefer interviewed for the same job in Green Bay.

• The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that Mike Nolan is officially Denver's defensive coordinator and the team is also pursuing Dom Capers for a spot on the coaching staff.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The AFC West is changing dramatically.

Comfortable names such as Mike Shanahan and Carl Peterson are memories. New additions to the division are New England hotshots Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli in Denver and in Kansas City, respectively.

The Broncos and Chiefs have dominated the headlines the past couple of days with high-profile hires. Now it is the Raiders' turn to make some noise. The Broncos are done and the Chiefs may or may not be done depending on if they fire coach Herman Edwards.

With two major hirings complete in the AFC West, all eyes are on Oakland.

There are indications Oakland is moving somewhat on its decision to either retain interim coach Tom Cable or hire someone else. They have already talked to Cable, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Packers assistant Winston Moss.

There have been indications that Oakland owner Al Davis is making calls examining other coaches.

The team has made some coaching moves, including the firing of receivers coach James Lofton. The team has also sought to talk to Denver passing game coordinator Jeremy Bates.

This is very intriguing. Bates is a highly-respected coach who called plays in Denver last season. He was credited for helping quarterback Jay Cutler become a Pro Bowl player in 2008. He'd surely help Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who will be entering his third NFL season in 2009.

It is likely Bates is being pursued in Oakland as an offensive coordinator candidate. He fits Davis' mold. He is young, bright and aggressive in his offensive scheme. He'd be a great addition in Oakland.

The Broncos wanted to keep him and Cutler wanted him back. But with McDaniels calling the offensive plays, Bates may want to go elsewhere.

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