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AP sources: Eagles plan to hire Colts OC Sirianni

Nick Sirianni's success working with various quarterbacks with different styles comes in handy in his new job.

The Philadelphia Eagles are nearing a deal to hire Sirianni to be their head coach, according to two people familiar with the decision. Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the team hasn't officially announced the hiring.

Sirianni was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts the past three seasons. He worked under coach Frank Reich, who was offensive coordinator in Philadelphia when the Eagles won the Super Bowl three years ago.

The 39-year-old Sirianni previously served as an assistant coach with the Chiefs and Chargers.

The Eagles fired Doug Pederson following a 4-11-1 season, less than three years after he led the team to the franchise's only Super Bowl title.

Sirianni worked with Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers in Indianapolis and coached Rivers in San Diego and Matt Cassel in Kansas City. Now he's tasked with figuring out how to get Carson Wentz back to his 2017 form. Wentz finished third in NFL MVP voting that season and helped the Eagles earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He tore two knee ligaments in Week 14 and watched Nick Foles lead the team to victory over New England and earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

Wentz is coming off the worst season of his five-year career and was benched for rookie Jalen Hurts for the final four games in 2020. Wentz's $128 million, four-year contract kicks in this year, making it difficult for the Eagles to trade him. Sirianni's top priority has be to solving the quarterback dilemma.

Sirianni began his NFL coaching career as offensive quality control coach in Kansas City in 2009. He also served as an assistant quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach during four seasons with the Chiefs.

Sirianni held the same positions during five seasons with the Chargers from 2013-17. He joined the Colts when Reich left Philadelphia to take over as head coach in 2018. The Colts finished top 10 in points and yards in two of Sirianni's three seasons as offensive coordinator. They were top 10 in rushing offense the other season.

"He's great. Hope he does really well," former Eagles and current Colts tight end Trey Burton said about Sirianni in a text message.

The Eagles were one of seven teams looking for a head coach during this hiring cycle and so far, only the New York Jets did not pick a white man. The Jets hired Robert Saleh, the son of Lebanese parents.

Houston still has an opening for a head coach. The NFL has just four minority coaches: Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Washington's Ron Rivera, Miami's Brian Flores and Saleh, who is the first Muslim coach in the league.

"Biggest thing is there's only 32 jobs and they're going to hire personal preference," said Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who interviewed with Philadelphia. "It's really an offensive league right now the way things are going. ... There's a lot of qualified guys that deserve chances to be head coaches that are African American."

Washington hires Martin Mayhew as general manager

Ron Rivera bulked up his front office Friday, hiring Martin Mayhew to be Washington's general manager and Marty Hurney to serve as executive vice president of football and player personnel.

The moves give Rivera two seasoned NFL executives to work with going into his second season coaching and running football operations.

Mayhew joins Washington after four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Before that, he spent a year with the New York Giants and was GM of the Detroit Lions for seven-plus seasons.

He and Hurney will report directly to Rivera as part of the organization's coach-centric front-office structure under owner Dan Snyder. Hurney was widely reported to be the pick as GM this week before Mayhew became the choice.

"I look forward to collaborating with both Marty and Martin in the years to come," Rivera said.

Mayhew drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford first overall in 2009 while in Detroit, a connection that is sure to raise eyebrows given the

Lions' regime change and Washington's question mark at the position.

As a player, Mayhew was a cornerback on Washington's most recent Super Bowl-winning team in the 1991 season. Rivera called the 55-year-old "a man of high character and integrity (who) was part of the rich history and tradition of this great franchise."

"Martin is a proven general manager who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization," Rivera said. "He will be an integral part of running the daily football operations and will allow me the opportunity to focus more on coaching."

The hiring of Mayhew makes Washington the only team in the NFL with a Black team president and GM.

Jason Wright joined the team as president last summer.

Rivera has championed diversity in football throughout his career. The 57-year-old of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent was the first minority to be named full-time head coach in franchise history when he was hired in January 2020.

After playing eight seasons, Mayhew began his path to NFL executive with Washington as a personnel intern in 1999 while attending law school at Georgetown University.

Mayhew was most recently vice president of player personnel for the 49ers, helping first-year GM John Lynch in 2019 with the team that went to the Super Bowl.

"Martin has played an integral role in helping to establish a sustainable, championship culture over the last four years," Lynch said. "His skills as a talent evaluator and his counsel as a trusted advisor have positively impacted me and the 49ers organization. Personally, Martin has always been a loyal teammate and a tremendous friend to me and my family. We are excited for him to take on this new opportunity."

It's a new opportunity with a familiar face for Hurney reuniting with Rivera, whom he hired in Carolina for his first NFL head coaching job in 2011. Panthers owner David Tepper said upon

firing Hurney in December from his second stint as GM with them, "Some of the timing in this decision was out of that respect for Marty to make sure he has the opportunity to look at other places."

Hurney grew up in Maryland just outside D.C., went to Catholic University and was a sports writer at the Washington Star and Washington Times before transitioning into football. He joined Washington in public relations in 1988 and became assistant GM of the Chargers two years later.

"Marty Hurney is an excellent evaluator of talent and someone whom I trust and have worked with in the past," Rivera said. "He knows the amount of hard work it takes to operate a successful personnel department. Marty has a proven track record as a successful scout and general manager and will be a vital part of shaping our roster."

Bears promote Desai to defensive coordinator

The Chicago Bears promoted safeties coach Sean Desai to replace retired defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano on Friday.

The longest-tenured member of the Bears’ coaching staff, Desai was hired as a quality control coach in 2013 under Marc Trestman. He worked with defensive backs and linebackers while also assisting on special teams through the 2018 season before being promoted to safeties coach.

Coach Matt Nagy called Desai “a person of high football intelligence” while announcing his promotion.

“The respect he has within our building from coaches, players and staff is unparalleled,” Nagy said in a statement.

The Bears made the playoffs for the second time in Nagy’s three seasons despite going 8-8 for the second straight year. They dropped six straight and eight of their final 11 games counting a wild-card loss at New Orleans.

Pagano retired after two seasons in Chicago and more than three-and-half decades coaching at the college and NFL levels.

Chairman George McCaskey announced last week the team is retaining Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace for at least another year, insisting the Bears have the culture to become a consistent winner.

The 37-year-old Desai will try to re-energize an effective unit that has taken a step back after dominating under former coordinator Vic Fangio.

The Bears’ defense spent most of the year in the top 10, only to struggle down the stretch and finish ranked 11th overall. A big issue was an inability to create game-changing plays. The Bears tied for 25th in the NFL in takeaways with 18 and finished with 35 sacks, 17th in the league.

Three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack had nine sacks in his second straight season finishing in single digits.

Desai joined the Bears after spending the 2012 season as Boston College’s running backs/special teams coordinator. He was assistant director of football operations at Miami (Fla.) in 2011 after five years at Temple as a defensive and special teams coach. He became one of the youngest coordinators in the country in 2010 when at age 27, he was put in charge of the Owls’ special teams.

Desai also earned a doctorate in educational administration from Temple in May 2008. He was an adjunct professor in the school’s master’s and doctor’s programs in educational administration in 2009 and 2010.

Vea in, Brown out for Bucs in NFC title game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers bolstered their defense for Sunday's NFC championship game, activating nose tackle Vita Vea from the reserve/injured list.

The third-year pro, one of the top run-stoppers in the NFL, has been sidelined since early October with a broken ankle. He resumed practicing with the team this week and will be available this weekend against the Green Bay Packers.

The 6-foot-4, 347-pound tackle appeared in five games during the regular season. He has started 29 of 34 games he's appeared in since entering the league as the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Coach Bruce Arians also said Friday that receiver Antonio Brown, who had been day-to-day with a knee injury, will not play in the NFC title game.

Brown was hurt during last week's divisional playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Bills list WR Davis questionable for AFC title game

The Buffalo Bills are uncertain whether wide receiver Gabriel Davis will be available to play in the AFC championship game at Kansas City on Sunday.

Davis and defensive tackle Vernon Butler were listed as questionable Friday after returning to practice on a limited basis.

Coach Sean McDermott provided no definitive update on either players' status when speaking before Friday's practice.

Davis sat out two midweek practices due to an ankle injury. He finished third on the team with 599 yards receiving and second with seven touchdowns receiving in his rookie season. In two playoff victories, Davis had four receptions for 85 yards.

Buffalo's two top receivers Stephon Diggs and Cole Beasley "are in a pretty good spot," McDermott said. Diggs (oblique muscle) and Beasley (knee) were both full participants in Friday's practice after being limited earlier in the week.

Butler has started the past 13 games for the Bills and is part of a four-man rotation on the interior defensive line. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a thigh injury.

Buffalo (15-3) plays at Kansas City (15-2) on Sunday in its first AFC championship game appearance since 1994.

Steelers tight end McDonald retiring after eight seasons

Vance McDonald could sense last spring the end of his NFL career was in the offing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end's urge to branch out beyond the football field — one that bubbled for years — came to a head during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It just came down to feeling that call to just step away from football," McDonald said.

And so he did, retiring on Friday after eight seasons to focus on both his charity foundation and the work that lays ahead on the western Pennsylvania farm he plans to turn into a retreat for Christian leaders.

McDonald kept the decision to himself until Pittsburgh's loss to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs earlier this month. He approached close friend Ben Roethlisberger in the aftermath and the two embraced while fighting back tears.

"It wasn't really about football," McDonald said. "We just looked at each other and how thankful we are for the friendship."

McDonald spent the first four years of his career in San Francisco before arriving in Pittsburgh on the eve of the 2017 season. He became a fan favorite for his physical play and intensity. He famously

chased down Chicago's Marcus Cooper to prevent a touchdown following a blocked field goal early in his first year in Pittsburgh and planted Tampa Bay's Chris Canty into the turf on Monday Night Football in 2018 with a devastating stiff arm on his way to a 75-yard score.

"I will honestly miss holding the football and running into a human being as hard as I possibly can, because that is something I appreciate," McDonald said with a laugh.

McDonald finishes his career with 181 receptions for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns. His playing time decreased in 2020 as Pittsburgh went to a more pass-heavy offense. The former second-round pick in the 2013 draft played on just 44% of Pittsburgh's offensive snaps this season, down from 69% in 2019 and 51% in 2018.

The Steelers held a 2021 club option worth $5.2 million for McDonald, who caught just 15 passes for 99 yards in his final season. McDonald's retirement likely kept Pittsburgh's front office from letting him walk this spring and McDonald had no interest in starting over elsewhere.

"I know there's going to be a lot of changes with the Steelers moving forward," McDonald said, later adding, "I'm very, very happy to retire a Steeler. I'm very happy to do it on my own terms."

McDonald is Pittsburgh's 2020 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually to a player who makes a significant positive impact in their community. McDonald and Roethlisberger started the Trucks of Hope campaign during the spring, a drive that brought trucks full of nonperishable food, PPE and cleaning supplies to over 1,000 families in Western Pennsylvania.

The program only deepened McDonald's resolve to move on to the next phase of his life. He and his wife Kendi established

Hidden Meadows Retreat in Ligonier, Pennsylvania — about an hour east of Pittsburgh — to create a place where "faith-based leaders, non-profit teams, and others can find respite, refreshment and renewal."

McDonald spent time on the COVID-19 reserve list this season after testing positive for the novel coronavirus shortly after a win over Dallas on Nov. 8. He missed two games while in the protocol and his playing time fluctuated wildly upon his return.

McDonald said his bout with the virus only reinforced his decision that it was time.

"It created even a bigger fire underneath me, it stirred more passion in me to get (Hidden Meadow) up and running," McDonald said.

McDonald offered no insight into whether Roethlisberger — who he sat next to in the locker room for the final three seasons of his career — will return for an 18th season in 2021, though he believes Roethlisberger "can still play at a high level."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin praised McDonald's influence not only in the locker room but the city.

"He was a class act on and off the field, leading many of our efforts in the community while also being a voice for our social justice efforts and the community work during the pandemic," Tomlin said in a statement. "I wish he and his family nothing but the best in his retirement and his continued work to be a pillar in the community."

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