Wed Jan 9 7:42pm ET
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
The Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury poses for photos, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. The Arizona Cardinals introduced Kliff Kingsbury as their new coach a day after hiring the former Texas Tech coach in a bid to revitalize the worst offense in the NFL. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona Cardinals new NFL football head coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, and team owner Michael Bidwell, address the media, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The Arizona Cardinals introduce their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, middle, flanked by owner Michael Bidwell, left, and general manager Steve Keim, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell, left, head coach Kliff Kingsbury, middle, and general manager Steve Keim pose for a photo, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. The Arizona Cardinals introduced Kliff Kingsbury as their new coach a day after hiring the former Texas Tech coach in a bid to revitalize the worst offense in the NFL. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury addresses the media, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. The Arizona Cardinals introduced Kliff Kingsbury as their new coach a day after hiring the former Texas Tech coach in a bid to revitalize the worst offense in the NFL. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill went outside the traditional boundaries to find his new head coach, identifying Kliff Kingsbury as someone who can ignite the team's moribund offense and mold Josh Rosen into a dynamic NFL quarterback.
Kingsbury, with no NFL coaching experience and a losing record in six seasons at Texas Tech but a history of high-scoring offenses and prolific quarterbacks, was introduced as the Cardinals coach at a news conference at the team's headquarters on Wednesday.
Kingsbury called it ''an incredible opportunity.''
The reason for the hire, Bidwill made clear, is Kingsbury's record as an innovative offensive coach.
''Look at today's NFL and you look at the college game, especially the last several years, has come into the pro game,'' Bidwill said. ''When you look at the output of his offenses, both when he was a coordinator in college and as a head coach, it's really impressive, the amount of points he puts up, where he positions his offenses. And you look at the six quarterbacks that he tutored and coached that have come into the National Football League.''
Among those quarterbacks are Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield, who played at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma.
Kingsbury believes he can incorporate the high-scoring system he had at Texas Tech into the NFL.
''I think that's going to be the exciting part for me,'' he said. ''You watch the trends in the NFL. College football infiltrated that. There's a lot of similar concepts to what we've done on the college level that are being widely used and are really successful in the league right now. ... I do think there are a lot of things we did at Texas Tech that can be successful.''
The Cardinals ranked last in the NFL in every major offensive category last season, so Bidwill went after someone who could turn that around.
''The most successful teams in the league are teams that have great offenses, top 10 offenses,'' he said. ''Those are the teams that are in the Super Bowls, win divisions. We wanted to hire a great offensive mind. We wanted to make sure that we hired someone with head coaching experience and weren't particularly concerned if it was at the college or pro level.
''One name that kept coming back to us over and over as one of the most innovative bright minds as an offensive play caller and as an offensive mind is Kliff Kingsbury.''
Kingsbury was fired after compiling a 35-40 record in six seasons at Texas Tech and, just over a month ago, was hired as offensive coordinator at Southern Cal. When USC wouldn't allow him to talk to NFL teams, Kingsbury resigned and was interviewed by the New York Jets and Cardinals.
''It's been a whirlwind, I can say that,'' he said. ''When I took the job at USC I couldn't be more thrilled to have that job. I thought it was an incredible opportunity with coach (Clay) Helton, Mr. Swann (athletic director Lynn Swann), that program, that tradition. But this is just an opportunity I couldn't pass up.''
Kingsbury said his first order of business is building a staff, most significantly finding a defensive coordinator. He said he's ''leaned heavily'' on Cardinals general manager Steve Keim in that process. Keim said the Cardinals will look to return to the 3-4 defensive scheme that they had in the Bruce Arians years. In its one season under coach Steve Wilks, Arizona switched to a 4-3 scheme and it never seemed to fit the personnel on hand.
''I don't think there's any doubt that a veteran defensive coordinator would be ideal in this situation,'' Keim said.
Kingsbury said he has ''some great candidates'' for the job.
''It will be an attacking style,'' he said. ''We want to be aggressive and get this defense back to where it's been previous to last year.''
Kingsbury said he's talked to Rosen, who had a difficult rookie season behind an offensive line decimated by injury.
''Josh Rosen is incredibly talented, one of the most talented throwers you'll see,'' Kingsbury said, ''a young player obviously that I'm excited to work with and develop. But as a pure thrower, it's hard to find a guy that throws it better.''
He said he wants to ''get to know Josh, find out what makes him tick.''
''I do think he wants to be a great player in this league,'' Kingsbury said. ''I think he's very competitive. You watch him play this year, some of the shots he took and continued to get up, continued to fight. That says a lot about a young man so I'm excited to develop that relationship.''
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client will likely make a decision on his playing future "in the next couple of weeks." While Gronk looked somewhat rejuvenated late in the team's Super Bowl run, the 29-year-old has been worn down by injuries throughout his career and has clearly lost a step. He hasn't played a full season since 2011 and had 47 catches for only 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last year. He'd still be in the TE1 conversation if he returns for another season, but Gronkowski is no longer what we'd call an elite TE1.
The Arizona Cardinals are signing free-agent tight end Charles Clay to a one-year deal worth up to $3.25 million on Tuesday, according to a source. The deal includes a $350,000 signing bonus. Clay was an afterthought in Buffalo's offense the last couple years and had only 21 catches for 184 yards and no scores in 13 games last season. He's unlikely to produce much more in Arizona with Ricky Seals-Jones and veteran Jermaine Gresham also in the fold with a young quarterback still learning the speed of the NFL. Clay won't even be worth drafting in most fantasy leagues.
The Jacksonville Jaguars exercised the 2019 options for defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis. Campbell has been a Pro Bowl selection the last two years with the Jaguars and has accumulated 25 sacks in that time frame. He'll enter his 12th season in 2019 and had a franchise-record 14.5 sacks in 2017. He became the first player in team history to have back-to-back double-digit sacks when he registered 10.5 quarterback takedowns last season. Campbell is a four-time Pro Bowler and is certainly an IDP force.
The Jacksonville Jaguars declined the 2019 option for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Tuesday, making him a free agent. He started the first five games of the season and caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown before missing the final 11 games with a core muscle injury. His best year came in 2017 with the Jets when he had 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Between injuries and off-field issues, teams are unlikely to be knocking the door down to sign ASF this offseason.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will not be asked to run a dramatically different offense than the one he has operated for most of his career, according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. 'When you take a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who is a very good football player, I mean, he's kind of one of those guys where you can kind of pretty much do a lot of everything. I think a lot of it is going to carry over. I think some of the language will be different but it's going to be a lot of the same premises for him,' Hackett told PackersNews.com.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers is unlikely to be the overall QB1 in drafts this summer following the emergence of Patrick Mahomes, but he'll come off the board shortly thereafter as the QB2 or QB3. It will also be interesting to see how receptive the 35-year-old will be to the schemes of new head coach Matt LaFleur and Hackett, although it's hard to imagine he'll drop off considering how vanilla Mike McCarthy had become with his play-calling in recent years.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is unlikely to receive a franchise or transition tag from the team, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Impending free-agent LB C.J. Mosley and the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly optimistic they will agree to a long-term contract before the March 5 deadline for franchise tags, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. is believed to be a trade target for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.
Fantasy Spin: It is not known if Beckham will be available this offseason, but the 49ers likely will look to add a No. 1 receiver during the offseason. Beckham will be a No. 1 fantasy receiver no matter where he plays in 2019.
Seattle Seahawks impending free-agent FS Earl Thomas may not be an option for the Dallas Cowboys if he is looking for a lucrative contract this offseason because the team will need to sign DE DeMarcus Lawrence, QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper and CB Byron Jones to long-term contracts over the next year or so, in the opinion of SI.com's Albert Breer.
The San Francisco Giants gave the sense that they'd be interested in trading for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the season ended, and that sense still persists halfway into February. They've had real interest in OBJ for almost a year, but the question is whether the Giants would actually consider trading him after signing him to a big extension last fall. San Fran holds the second and 36th overall picks of this year's draft. The Niners are looking to bolster their receiving corps after Marquise Goodwin failed to live up to expectations as the No. 1 wideout in 2018. The Steelers' Antonio Brown could be a target, too, but he comes with a lot of baggage and the 49ers might prefer Beckham. OBJ is younger and has just as much talent as Brown, and a move to the bay area with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan would make Beckham even more appealing as an elite WR1.
Detroit Lions impending free-agent DE Ziggy Ansah could re-sign with the Lions depending on how he is physically this offseason, according to general manager Bob Quinn.
Detroit Lions impending free-agent TE Levine Toilolo, TE Luke Willson, RB LeGarrette Blount and DT Ricky Jean-Francois are all expected to hit the free-agent market this offseason.
Detroit Lions restricted free-agent DE Romeo Okwara is expected to receive a tender offer this offseason.
Washington Redskins RB Derrius Guice (knee) is able to sprint in a straight line but is still not able to do any lateral movements at full speed yet. He also wants to build the strength in his legs over the next few months.
Fantasy Spin: Guice was the team's starting running back last season but missed most of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He may have to share playing time with Adrian Peterson in 2019 if Peterson re-signs with the team. Guice can be a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy back if he receives most of the playing time.
San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent PK Robbie Gould said he is looking to sign at least a three-year contract this offseason.
Miami Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville said he is not sure if impending free-agent RB Frank Gore will receive a contract offer from the Dolphins this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Gore had a solid season in 2018 with 722 yards but failed to record a rushing touchdown. It is not known if he will be able to find a starting job this offseason but would be a good No. 2 running back for a team. He will have some fantasy value in standard leagues if he finds a good situation.
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage was impressive during his rookie season but still has room to grow, according to running backs coach Eric Studesville. 'He's a big, physical body,' Studesville said. 'He can run. He's athletic. He's got a lot of growth to do as far as seeing and recognizing things. His work ethic is tremendous. He's got speed for a big man.'
Fantasy Spin: Ballage rushed for 191 yards and one touchdown in limited playing time this past season but could be a contender for the starting running back job in 2019. He has a chance to be a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy running back depending on his role.
New England Patriots impending free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski will be a candidate for the franchise tag if the two sides are not able to agree to a long-term extension over the next few weeks.
New England Patriots impending free-agent OT Trent Brown and DE Trey Flowers likely will not be candidates for the franchise tag because it is believed the team probably would think the franchise tag salaries would be too high for the players, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent DT David Irving is not expected to be retained, according to a source.