Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Saturday, Jan. 2:
It appears the writing may be on the wall for Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine heading into the regular-season finale. NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported Friday evening that "there's a sense" within the organization that Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be Pettine's last with the team. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport added on NFL Network that Pettine "specifically asked [owner Jimmy Haslam] at a recent meeting if he was coming back, [and] Haslam did not answer." Rapoport noted that there will be "no firm decision" until after Sunday's game, but it certainly sounds like Cleveland will search for a new head coach yet again. As for GM Ray Farmer's status, there doesn't appear to be a clear indication one way or another at the moment. Rapoport does offer an interesting observation: Because Pettine was hired in 2014 by then-CEO Joe Banner and then-GM Michael Lombardi, Farmer has never had the opportunity to choose his own head coach. Banner and Lombardi left the organization less than three weeks after Pettine was hired, and Farmer was promoted to GM upon their departure. Perhaps Haslam will give Farmer the chance to tab his own head coach to fix the Browns, but we're a little skeptical. If the 2016 season went sour, that situation would require Haslam to either be very patient -- a virtue he hasn't displayed much, so far -- or dismiss Farmer and bring in another GM, who would likely want to hire his own coach. So while it wouldn't say much for continuity, Haslam might prefer installing a fresh GM-coach pairing this offseason. Either way, change appears to be on the way in Cleveland ... again. Stay tuned.
Will Tom Coughlin be coaching his last game for the New York Giants on Sunday? According to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, it sure sounds like it. "A lot of people are talking as if it's an inevitability that on Monday [Coughlin] is going to resign," Garafolo said Friday. Retirement rumors have been swirling around Coughlin for years, and the coach will turn 70 in August. His 12th season coaching the Giants -- and 20th as an NFL head coach -- hasn't gone as planned, with Big Blue missing out on the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. Many have suggested that Coughlin would be asked to resign rather than being fired by owner John Mara, out of respect for the coach's accomplishments, so perhaps that scenario is in the works.
Another coach who could be heading into his final game on Sunday is San Diego Chargers HC Mike McCoy. Fox Sports' Alex Marvez says it "sounds like" that will indeed be the case, based on conversations with "multiple folks around the NFL." McCoy led the Chargers to 9-7 seasons in 2013 and 2014 -- including a playoff appearance in '13 -- but San Diego has fallen all the way to 4-11 this season. However, McCoy shouldn't be entirely to blame. An injury epidemic laid waste to the offensive line in a way few teams have ever seen, with every starter missing significant time and several dealing with multiple ailments throughout the season. If Sunday is indeed McCoy's last hurrah, it will come against his former team, the Denver Broncos, against whom he's 1-5 with the Chargers.
Another interesting nugget regarding the NFL coaching carousel: Marvez reports the Miami Dolphins plan to interview Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase as a candidate for their head-coach opening. This isn't much of a surprise, as Gase should be a highly sought-after option for several teams and the Dolphins will likely want a coach who can develop quarterback Ryan Tannehill. At this point, it sounds like interim coach Dan Campbell is unlikely to stick as the long-term head coach in Miami. Whispers regarding coaching searches will pick up quickly next week, after many seasons have ended and firings are made official.
As for the Dolphins' front office, it sounds like GM Dennis Hickey won't be back. Pro Football Talk quotes a source saying Hickey is "definitely out," adding that director of college scouting Chris Grier will be promoted to general manager in Hickey's place. It's unclear if Grier's promotion will come immediately, but it's reasonable to think he will at least have a role in the team's search for a head coach. At the same time, we would expect Mike Tannenbaum -- who was hired as executive V.P. of football operations almost exactly a year ago -- and owner Stephen Ross to lead the front-office decision-making.
Andrew Luck's nightmare season has left the Indianapolis Colts' playoff hopes hanging by a thread, and it sounds like the quarterback's early-season injuries may have been worse than we thought. Two months after the Colts' handling of their QB's injury status was called into question, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star heard from an NFL source that Luck "sustained torn cartilage on two of his ribs and was still coping with significant pain after returning to the lineup for four games in late October and early November." Holder also reports that Luck "needed pain-killing injections to play and was quite limited by the injury." This sounds like an elaboration on the Fox Sports report that said Luck fractured multiple ribs in Week 3, again raising the question of why Luck's ribs were never listed on the injury report. Holder added that team COO Pete Ward confirmed the rib cartilage injury, but the team didn't deem it worthy of being listed on the injury report: "It never limited him in any way," Ward told Holder, via email. "Remember, he was dealing with a significant shoulder injury at the time." The NFL said previously it would investigate the discrepancy for a rules violation, but no further information has been provided. Perhaps that will change, but for now, it's worth noting yet another ailment Luck had to battle this season. The QB's fourth season got off on the wrong foot against blitz-heavy opponents in Weeks 1 and 2, and injuries to his shoulder, ribs and kidney kept Luck from ever getting back on track. We expect him to bounce back just fine in 2016.
Unsurprisingly, the Buffalo Bills and defensive end Mario Williams seem to be headed for an ugly divorce three years after they agreed on a six-year, $100 million deal. After news broke of the Bills' plan to release Williams, Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News heard from an anonymous teammate that Williams has "totally checked out." The teammate went on: "It’s been clear to me that Mario doesn’t care about anybody but himself. He followed that up by not giving any effort during the season and complaining about the scheme instead of manning up and saying he played like crap and doesn’t care." Another anonymous player told Dunne that Williams has given "zero effort" this season, saying, "The tape speaks for itself. … He takes two steps and stops." However, Dunne notes that Williams also has plenty of supporters in the locker room, and that some players are "downright furious privately" about Rex Ryan's defensive scheme and the drop-off from 2014's unit under then-coordinator Jim Schwartz. It's fair to say nothing has gone as planned for the Bills' defense this season, and this sort of anonymous finger-pointing is rarely a good sign for the future, but two things seem almost certain: Williams will be gone and Ryan will be back. With $12.9 million in cap savings from Williams' release and an offseason to ponder changes, perhaps Rex & Co. can pick up the pieces.
The New England Patriots will again be without wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) this week after he didn't make the trip to Miami, but it sounds like Danny Amendola (knee) will be available. Adam Lichtenstein of the Boston Herald relays that Amendola -- who missed Week 16's game against the New York Jets -- "expects to play" Sunday despite being listed as questionable. Amendola caught nine passes for 117 yards in Week 11, the team's first game without Edelman this season, but he's been bothered by knee injuries since then. The Patriots must beat the Dolphins on Sunday to ensure home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, but they'll be without several key starters in Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones and Jonathan Freeny.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has had a tremendously healthy season, by his standards, but he's listed as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale with a hamstring strain. While the game is virtually meaningless, Lee has plenty of reason to play. Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News notes Lee's contract contains a $2 million incentive if he participates in more than 80 percent of the team's defensive snaps on the season. Per Pro Football Focus, Lee -- who missed Week 10 with a concussion -- has played in 825 of 1,008 snaps thus far, good for 81.8 percent. If the team plays 67 defensive snaps on Sunday (its season average is 67.2), Lee would have to log 35 of them to stay above the 80 percent benchmark. If Lee doesn't suit up, it's a virtual certainty he would miss out on the extra payday, as he would drop below 80 percent after the team's 24th defensive snap.