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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Divisional

Jets hire 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as coach

Thu Jan 14 10:39pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr..
AP Pro Football Writer

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is shown during an NFL football game against Arizona Cardinals, in Santa Clara, Calif., in this Sept. 13, 2020, file photo. The search for a new coach continues for the New York Jets after they completed an in-person interview with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, without apparently reaching a deal.(AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)


NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets reached an agreement in principle with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on Thursday night to hire him as their head coach.

Saleh replaces Adam Gase, who was fired by on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons.

The 41-year-old Saleh emerged as the favorite for the Jets job when he was brought in for a second -- and this time, in-person -- interview Tuesday night, and those discussions extended into Wednesday. He was the first of the nine known candidates New York interviewed remotely to meet with chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, team president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at its facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Saleh, a popular candidate among teams looking for a new coach, left to meet with Philadelphia. And the Jets also had an in-person meeting with Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. After Smith left without a deal, New York had internal discussions and opted to hire Saleh.

Saleh, recognized as an energetic leader who is well liked by his players, had been the 49ers' defensive coordinator under Kyle Shanahan since 2017, overseeing San Francisco's defense that ranked No. 2 overall on the way to the Super Bowl last season.

The 49ers ranked fifth in overall defense this season despite season-ending injuries to pass rushers Nick Bosa - the 2019 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - and Dee Ford, as well as defensive linemen Solomon Thomas and Ezekiel Ansah. While San Francisco missed the playoffs, Saleh's work with a banged-up and short-handed defense made him a popular candidate among the teams looking for a coach.

Saleh, who first interviewed with the Jets last Friday, also spoke with Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Chargers.

New York pounced, though, and got its guy after Douglas promised the team would ''cast a very wide net'' in its search. Both Johnson and Douglas spoke about finding a leader, a CEO-type of coach who would oversee the entire operation of the team and help re-establish a culture and identity for the franchise.

The 20th coach in franchise history, Saleh beat out Smith, Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, New Orleans defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, former Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.

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Player Notes
Cleveland Browns Jan 15 7:10am ET

The Cleveland Browns Defense was instrumental in the team's upset playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round as they scored a touchdown and forced five turnovers. They are likely to struggle to repeat that performance in a tough matchup against an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense in the Divisional Round. Kansas City's offense only had 16 giveaways during the regular season and is led by All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cleveland will be bolstered by the return of top cornerback Denzel Ward and starting slot corner Kevin Johnson but they are still in a tough spot as 10-point road dogs against the Chiefs. The Browns defense is not a unit to target in daily fantasy contests this weekend.

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Austin Hooper Jan 15 7:00am ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper found the end zone in his team's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and it could have been a bigger game for him but he dropped a second touchdown in the end zone. Hooper sets up as an excellent DFS play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to defend the tight end position during the regular season, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game. Hooper has emerged as a main piece of the Cleveland passing attack over the final portion of the season and should be heavily involved in a game where Cleveland is installed as 10-point road underdogs. If you can't find the necessary space to fit top tight end Travis Kelce into those daily fantasy lineups, Hooper is an excellent, money-saving pivot.

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Jarvis Landry Jan 15 6:50am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry made several clutch catches and scored a touchdown for his team in their Wild-Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Landry will look to keep it going in the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Kansas City represents a tough matchup for Landry as they allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position during the regular season. That being said, Landry should still get several chances to do damage in a game where the Browns project to throw frequently. Treat him as a solid WR2 for DFS contests, especially in cash games.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Jan 15 6:40am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to help power his team to an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. He will look for an encore against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to stop the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA. The Chiefs are set as 10-point home favorites, so Hunt could be called upon in the passing game, especially if Cleveland falls behind. Treat Hunt as a quality second running back in playoff DFS contests this weekend.

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Nick Chubb Jan 15 6:30am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a favorable matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Chubb came up big against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and will look to continue that success this Sunday. The Chiefs struggled to contain the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA and allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The only concern here is that the Browns are 10-point underdogs and Chubb faces negative game script, but Cleveland's offense has proven to be proficient enough that they could keep this game closer than Vegas expects. If that happens, expect Chubb to play a major role in helping Cleveland keep up with the explosive Chiefs on the scoreboard. Chubb is an excellent anchor running back for DFS lineups this weekend.

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Baker Mayfield Jan 15 6:20am ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield engineered an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs last weekend. He now travels to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Mayfield played very well against a tough Pittsburgh defense last week and should find it easier to move the ball against a less fearsome Kansas City defense on Sunday. The Chiefs allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked 16th in pass-defense DVOA. The Browns are 10-point road underdogs so they could be forced to throw more often than usual. Mayfield is an excellent value option in DFS contests this weekend.

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Matt Rhule Jan 14 4:40pm ET

The Carolina Panthers are expected to hire Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer as their new general manager, according to sources. Fitterer was a late addition to the interview process but made a quick impression on the Carolina decision-makers. He was one of 15 candidates to interview for the position when the team fired veteran Marty Hurney on Dec. 21. The other finalists for the job included Tennessee's Monti Ossenfort, San Francisco's Adam Peters and Kansas City's Ryan Poles. Fitterer had been with Seattle since 2001 and worked alongside Seattle GM John Schneider since 2010. He'll be paired with second-year head coach Matt Rhule with the team coming off a 5-11 season with the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Locating a franchise quarterback will be priority No. 1.

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Melvin Gordon Jan 14 4:30pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III pleaded not guilty in his DUI case on Thursday. His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24, with a potential jury trial on April 8 if the case isn't resolved before then. Gordon could still face league discipline in 2021 after being arrested on Oct. 3 in downtown Denver and charged with driving under the influence. Safety Kareem Jackson was suspended for the final two games of the 2019 season after a DUI charge. Gordon led the Broncos in carries (215), rushing yards (986) and rushing touchdowns (nine) in his first season in Denver while sharing the backfield with Phillip Lindsay for much of the year. There's a possibility that new general manager George Paton could move on from Gordon if he's suspended, but he should be a midrange RB2 if he sticks around for another season in Denver.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Jan 14 4:00pm ET

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard thinks that impending free-agent quarterback Philip Rivers can still play in the NFL, but the team must decide if bringing the 39-year-old back for another season is the right course for the franchise. If Rivers does decide to come back for another year, he only wants to play for the Colts. Head coach Frank Reich also recently said that he thinks Rivers can continue his career and would love to have him back in 2021. Rivers rebounded from a rough season in his final year with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen if the Colts want an upgrade. The eight-time Pro Bowler threw for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2020 and would merely be a middling QB2 in a run-first offense if he were to return for an 18th NFL season in 2021.

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John Wolford Jan 14 3:10pm ET

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has ruled quarterback John Wolford (neck) out for the Divisional Round game against the Packers on Saturday. Wolford hasn't practiced this week after suffering a stinger in the wild-card game against the Seahawks and having to be taken to the hospital. Jared Goff (thumb) will make the start against Green Bay, with Blake Bortles backing him up. Goff didn't start last weekend after having surgery to fix a broken and dislocated thumb that he suffered in Week 16. The Rams didn't ask too much of him, as he went just 9-for-19 for 155 yards and a touchdown after he replaced Wolford in the first quarter. Goff has been practicing in full this week but is unlikely to be 100 percent against a Packers Defense that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to QBs during the regular season. Goff will be the shakiest fantasy signal-caller this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Jan 14 3:03pm ET

Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon's attorneys on Thursday, Jan. 14, in virtual court entered a not guilty plea to a DUI charge last Oct. 14 in Denver. Gordon's next hearing is a disposition on Feb 24.

Fantasy Spin: Something to keep an eye on this offseason as Gordon could wind up opening the 2021 season on a league-issued suspension, depending on how things play out.

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Jared Goff Jan 14 3:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb) will start Saturday, Jan. 16, in the divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Rams head coach Sean McVay said Thursday. Blake Bortles will serve as the backup.

Fantasy Spin: Goff came in early for injured starter John Wolford (neck) in last Saturday's wild-card win over the Seahawks, but completed only 9-of-19 passes for 155 yards and a TD while playing with his surgically repaired thumb.

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Marlon Mack Jan 14 2:03pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack (Achilles) 'deserves a good contract,' Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Thursday, Jan. 14, but added that he doesn't know if the team will be in position to offer the pending free agent one this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: The Colts certainly aren't in need after second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor's late-season emergence, leaving Mack in tough spot as a free agent running back coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. The clock, though, is on Mack's side as he'll only turn 25 in March.

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Fantasy Spin: Rivers will turn 40 before the end of next season, but can still sling it as evidenced by his eight straight seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards and 23 TD tosses. Fantasy-wise, though, he's now at the low end of the QB2 scale after residing in the high-end QB2/low-end QB1 range.

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Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (hamstring) won't practice Thursday, Jan. 14, but is making progress, head coach Kevin Stefanski said.

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Ronald Jones II Jan 14 12:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps, thumb) was spotted at practice Thursday, Jan. 14. He was wearing a brace on his surgically repaired thumb.

Fantasy Spin: It's unknown whether he was a full-go, but if he returns this weekend, he'll be an RB2 option. It would also move Leonard Fournette to the flex area.

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Ben Roethlisberger Jan 14 11:50am ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, according to a source. Fichtner's contract was due to expire at the start of the new league year, so the club will not renew his deal. He joined the Steelers in 2007, head coach Mike Tomlin's first year with the team. Offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley also won't have their contracts renewed. Fichtner started as the team's wide receivers coach, a title he held for three seasons before moving to quarterbacks coach and working with Ben Roethlisberger. He was in that role for eight seasons before becoming offensive coordinator in 2018. Big Ben threw for 5,129 yards in 2018, but he was hurt all of last year and declined throughout the year in 2020.

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Bill Callahan Jan 14 2:23am ET

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