Fri Dec 14 11:00am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 file photo, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. Chicago first-year coach Matt Nagy has been picked by a panel of AP football writers as having done the best coaching job in 2018. Nagy has helped develop Mitchell Trubisky and has the Bears poised for their first playoff berth since 2010. Nagy beat out Seattles Pete Carroll and Kansas Citys Andy Reid in the voting.(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
In this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 file photo, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy speaks at a news conference after an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Chicago. Chicago first-year coach Matt Nagy has been picked by a panel of AP football writers as having done the best coaching job in 2018. Nagy has helped develop Mitchell Trubisky and has the Bears poised for their first playoff berth since 2010. Nagy beat out Seattles Pete Carroll and Kansas Citys Andy Reid in the voting. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 file photo, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll watches during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit. Chicago first-year coach Matt Nagy has been picked by a panel of AP football writers as having done the best coaching job in 2018. Nagy has helped develop Mitchell Trubisky and has the Bears poised for their first playoff berth since 2010. Nagy beat out Seattles Pete Carroll and Kansas Citys Andy Reid in the voting. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Matt Nagy is making an impressive first impression as an NFL head coach.
Nagy has helped develop second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky into a solid NFL starter, convinced Vic Fangio to stay on as defensive coordinator, and has the Chicago Bears in position to earn their first playoff berth since 2010 in his first year on the job.
For doing all that, Nagy was picked as having done the NFL's best coaching job in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press.
Nagy received seven of the 10 first-place votes for his work leading the Bears (9-4) to the top of the NFC North behind an improved offense led by Trubisky and a fierce defense spearheaded by preseason acquisition Khalil Mack.
''(Nagy's) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn't finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North,'' said Washington-based Howard Fendrich, who voted Nagy first. ''He's an offensive guru who learned from former boss Andy Reid, and Chicago's play calling has been creative and fun - and overcome limitations at the QB spot to be good enough to let a superb defense lead the way.''
Seattle's Pete Carroll finished second in the voting for rebuilding the Seahawks on the fly following the departure of most key members from the Super Bowl-winning Legion of Boom defense.
The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot with a win this week despite losing key players Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril in the past year. Star safety Earl Thomas has also been sidelined most of the season, but it hasn't slowed down the Seahawks.
''For the second time, Carroll is retooling Seattle's roster,'' said New York-based Barry Wilner, who voted Carroll second behind Nagy. ''Yet he's somehow improved the team in the first year of that rebuild. This is a textbook case of a coaches' heavy influence on a club's success.''
Carroll finished second despite not getting a first-place vote. The other coaches named No. 1 on ballots were Indianapolis first-year coach Frank Reich, who got one vote, and New England's Bill Belichick, who got two.
Reich, who has helped a healthy Andrew Luck regain his top form, finished eighth overall. He wasn't even the top choice for the Colts, only getting the job after Josh McDaniels backed out shortly after Reich won the Super Bowl as offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
''He took a team that went 4-12 last year, worked through a rough 1-5 start that could've easily turned into another losing season, and has them in playoff contention,'' said Philadelphia-based Rob Maaddi, who voted Reich first. ''Reich's success in Indy coupled with Philadelphia's offensive misery since his departure after the Super Bowl prove his value.''
Belichick, who has a record five Super Bowl titles, finished in ninth place despite getting two first-place votes. Some voters believed this year wasn't his best coaching job, but he still had strong support from others.
''Despite the ''Miami Miracle'', he has the Patriots on the verge of a 10th consecutive division title,'' New York-based Simmi Buttar said. ''Aside from quarterback of course, this is hardly the most talented roster in Foxborough, yet it would surprise no one if they once again reached the Super Bowl.''
Belichick was one of seven coaches named as a top 10 coach on all 10 ballots, joining Nagy, Carroll, third-place Andy Reid of Kansas City, fifth-place Sean McVay of the Rams, sixth-place Bill O'Brien of Houston, and seventh-place Sean Payton of New Orleans.
Reid had the Chiefs tied for the most wins in the league through Week 14 after targeting quarterback Pat Mahomes in the 2017 draft and then cutting ties with longtime starter Alex Smith in the offseason to give Mahomes a chance.
Mahomes has thrown a league-high 45 TD passes and is the latest quarterback to thrive under Reid's tutelage.
''Sure, the Chiefs were expected to be good this year, but Reid went all in with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback - and this year's squad could be the veteran coach's best chance at a Super Bowl since his days in Philadelphia,'' New York-based Dennis Wazsak Jr. said.
The Chargers' Anthony Lynn was on nine of 10 ballots and finished fourth overall, while John Harbaugh of Baltimore came in 10th place.
The Detroit Lions signed free-agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a one-year, $3.5 million deal on Friday, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Melvin played for the Patriots in 2015 when head coach Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator. The 29-year-old has been mostly a starter the last three seasons with the Colts and Raiders and had a career-high three interceptions with the Colts in 2017. He could be the replacement for Nevin Lawson, who signed with the Raiders earlier this week.
The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon to a one-year, $2 million deal on Friday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 29-year-old will be with his fourth different team in the last four seasons and will serve as Derek Carr's backup in silver and black. Glennon has played in 27 games (22 starts) and is 6-16 as a starter in his five seasons in the NFL. He has 35 touchdown passes, 20 interceptions and an 84.0 quarterback rating. Glennon won't be fantasy relevant.
The Pittsburgh Steelers informed safety Morgan Burnett that they will release him by April 1 per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner. Both parties discussed trade possibilities before the release, according to a source. Pittsburgh signed the safety to a three-year, $14.25 million contract last season that included a $4.25 million signing bonus. Burnett missed four of the first six games of 2018 due to injury and recorded 30 tackles and six pass deflections in a sub-package role in 11 games. The 30-year-old had previously played eight seasons with the Packers.
The Los Angeles Rams are matching the Detroit Lions offer sheet for restricted free-agent running back Malcolm Brown on Friday. Brown's deal with the Rams is for two years with a $3.3 million base salary, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He'll receive $2.1 million in practice guarantees ($1 million base guaranteed and a $1.1 million roster bonus to be issued April 15). Brown landed on Injured Reserve in Week 13 with a clavicle injury. He played just 15 percent of the offensive snaps and had 264 yards from scrimmage and one receiving touchdown. He's merely depth behind Todd Gurley.
The New York Giants re-signed wide receiver Cody Latimer to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Latimer played in the first three games and the last two games of the 2018 season but just one of the 11 games in between in his first season in New York because of injuries. He battled a knee injury and also spent two months on Injured Reserve with a pulled hamstring. Latimer finished with only 11 receptions for 190 yards and one touchdown and also averaged 24.6 yards on five kickoff returns. He might have more opportunities to make noise in 2019 with Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, but Latimer still doesn't have much fantasy upside.
The New York Jets agreed to terms with free-agent quarterback Trevor Siemian on a one-year, $2 million deal on Wednesday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Siemian can make up to $3 million in incentives. The 27-year-old former Bronco didn't play at all with the Vikings last year while backing up Kirk Cousins. He was the starter in Denver in 2016 and 2017, completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. New York's addition of Siemian likely means that veteran Josh McCown, a 40-year-old journeyman quarterback, will leave in free agency or retire. Siemian won't have any fantasy appeal in his new digs while backing up Sam Darnold.
The New Orleans Saints are expected to sign free-agent tight end Jared Cook, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cook, who turns 32 next month, had a career year with the Raiders in 2018, catching 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns. The veteran can stretch opposing defenses down the seam and should open up more space for star receiver Michael Thomas on the outside. While it would be foolish to expect Cook to put up better numbers than he did in Oakland, he should remain a strong TE1 option in the high-flying offense of the Saints.
Updating previous reports, Los Angeles Rams LB Clay Matthews' two-year deal has a $9.25 million base value with $5.5 million guaranteed.
Pittsburgh Steelers FS Morgan Burnett will be released by April 1, per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner.
Free-agent QB Robert Griffin III (Ravens) re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 22, on a two-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed, and the deal is pending a physical.
The New Orleans Saints signed long-time Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to a source. The 31-year-old was the Vikings primary punt returner for the last eight years and averaged 12.0 yards per punt return in 2018 to finish in the league's top five for the third time in the last six seasons. He was also used occasionally as a kickoff returner and was a backup cornerback. New Orleans ranked in the league's bottom 10 teams in punt return yardage the last two years. Sherels won't be an option in most fantasy leagues with his move to the Saints.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (ankle) spent time running routes and catching passes from Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Thursday, March 21.
Fantasy Spin: Howard was having a TE1 campaign in 2018 before an injury ended his season early, but he should be back at full strength well before the start of next season. He is a big-play weapon from the tight end spot and could finish as a top-five fantasy option at his position.
The Baltimore Ravens re-signed backup quarterback Robert Griffin III on Thursday to an undisclosed two-year deal. The 29-year-old will continue to back up starter Lamar Jackson in 2019. The former first-round pick can be an invaluable source for Jackson as he matures heading into his second season, but RG3 will continue to have no fantasy value.
Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is unlikely to have a role in the offense if he remains with the team in 2019, in the opinion of Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Fantasy Spin: Howard has always struggled to make an impact in the passing game, and after regressing as a between-the-tackles runner last year, the Bears don't have much incentive to feature him in the offense. Feel free to take a flier on him in the final rounds of drafts, but don't count on him to be a contributor for your fantasy squad.
The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent outside linebacker Justin Houston to a two-year deal worth $24 million on Thursday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Houston had nine sacks for the Chiefs last year, but he was cut with the team trying to get younger and defense while transitioning from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 scheme. The Colts also run a 4-3, but they project to use him as a defensive end for the first time in his career. The 30-year-old has dealt with a nagging knee injury in recent years but still has 18.5 sacks in the last two years. The veteran will certainly help boost a weak Indy pass rush from a season ago.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (toe) has been working out with teammates this offseason, according to RB Adrian Peterson.
Fantasy Spin: Reed managed to play in 13 games last season, but it didn't translate into much production on the field. Between constant health issues and slipping per-game numbers, Reed is no more than a late-round lottery ticket heading into 2019.
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (knee) said his recovery is where it is 'supposed to be' at this point in the process.
Fantasy Spin: Kupp is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 season. He was Jared Goff's go-to target on third downs and in the red zone prior to the injury, and Kupp should be able to deliver WR2 numbers, especially in PPR formats.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of OTAs, according to general manager Tom Telesco.
Fantasy Spin: Assuming he doesn't suffer any setbacks, Henry should open the year as the starting tight end for the Chargers and a low-end TE1 candidate for fantasy owners.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) is making progress in contract talks with the New England Patriots. Gostkowski has also received interest from other teams.
Fantasy Spin: Gostkowski struggled at times this past season but still can be a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent DT Al Woods (Colts) met with the Detroit Lions Thursday, March 21.