NFL News and Rumors: NFL agents to announce planned combine boycott, Rams’ top offensive coordinator candidate Liam Coen

PFN Insider Aaron Wilson's latest news and rumors include NFL agents organizing a boycott of the Combine, plus the Rams' top OC candidate.

With so much going on around the NFL right now and the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, here are the latest news and rumors around the league from PFN National NFL Insider Aaron Wilson. Make sure to continue to check back here as we update you with the most recent NFL news and rumors on February 20, 2022.

NFL News and Rumors: Ricardo Allen retires

Cincinnati Bengals safety Ricardo Allen retired from the NFL, he announced on Instagram.

Allen is a former Atlanta Falcons fifth-round draft pick. In seven NFL seasons, he recorded 355 tackles, 11 interceptions, and 26 passes defensed in 91 career games. At Purdue, Allen had 250 tackles (14.5 for loss) and 13 interceptions, with 4 returned for touchdowns.

He’s a former Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

“I’ve always wondered how it would feel giving up what most people would consider to be ‘most of me’, and that’s being a professional athlete,” Allen wrote, in part. “But, the truth is, I’m blessed to be able to say that it’s been good. It could have been better with two Super Bowl rings, but who’s complaining? Not me…”

NFL News and Rumors: NFL agents plan to recommend boycott of Combine testing

NFL agents representing 155 draft prospects from 13 separate sports agencies are poised to recommend on Monday their clients boycott the testing portion of the NFL Combine due to the NFL and National Football Scouting’s intention to have a bubble environment with consequences — including dismissal from the event — for anyone who violates procedures, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

What would a boycott involve? Not participating in testing, including the 40-yard dash and bench press, and limiting activities to the medical exams and interviews with NFL teams.

“This is really bad for them to spring these restrictions on the players at the last minute,” one veteran NFL agent said. “This is unfair. People spend a ton of time and money getting ready for the Combine. This is not good, and it won’t stand. We’re taking action and are going to have our voices heard.”

Sources explain where the conflict lies

Here’s why the agents are speaking out and what they’re taking issue with as they have characterized the system as flawed, according to sources:

  • The league scheduling the bench press on the same day as the 40-yard dash and other testing at Lucas Oil Stadium, which agents feel like decreases performance levels and could potentially lead to increased injuries.
  • Limiting access to trainers, physical therapists, nutrition, etc., potentially preventing draft prospects from performing at peak levels.
  • The NFL profiting from the popularity of the Combine and making it a television event in prime time, without consulting the players and with several NFL teams not wanting this schedule change years ago.
  • A different approach to the coronavirus pandemic than conditions at other NFL events, including the Super Bowl, which had a full stadium at SoFi Stadium to watch the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals with masks not being worn.

The players union and governing body for agents sent an email to registered agents stating its stance, obtained by Pro Football Network:

“Dear Contract Advisor, We have spoken to several agents to reinforce our long-standing opposition to the NFL Scouting Combine and agree and support the decisions by those to not attend. The combination of the NFL’s proposed ‘bubble’ and fact that we still have an antiquated system of every team doctor examining players and having them perform yet again needs serious modification or elimination. While we do not represent these players, we have advocated for their rights to fair treatment.

“Our union has always encouraged players to take control of their careers from the very beginning and we appreciate that agents are looking at ways to support that goal.”

Pro days could become critical

It’s a restrictive situation intended to prevent potential COVID-19 outbreaks. The memo from the league, obtained by Pro Football Network, outlines the rules, which include limited exposure to medical trainers.

“Players will be restricted to secure Combine venues during their entire time in Indianapolis for their protection,” the memo stated. “Players who violate this policy at any time will be disqualified from further participation and sent home.”

Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline previously reported that this would be the situation for NFL Draft prospects invited to attend the Combine in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Because of the restrictive nature of the rules, several agents are advising their clients not to work out at the Combine. Instead, some prospects will focus on auditioning for NFL scouts at campus pro day workouts. Thus, pro days will become an even more important evaluation portion of the draft process this year.

Rams’ top offensive coordinator candidate is Liam Coen

The Los Angeles Rams’ top candidate to replace new Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell as offensive coordinator is Kentucky offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Liam Coen, according to league sources.

The Rams also lost tight ends coach and passing game coordinator Wes Phillips to the Vikings as their new offensive coordinator, per sources.

Coen is a former Rams assistant quarterbacks coach from 2020. Under his tutelage, Kentucky ranked 19th in yards per play and finished 10-3 last season.

A former starting quarterback at Massachusetts who threw to future New York Giants star wide receiver Victor Cruz, Coen holds six of eight major school career passing records.

He is a former Brown quarterbacks coach, Rhode Island passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Massachusetts pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Maine offensive coordinator.

Coen was hired by the Rams as assistant receivers coach in 2018 and then shifted to quarterbacks in 2020.

As the league transitions into free agency, there will be plenty of news and rumors from around the NFL in regard to your favorite team. That includes chatter about players who will be on the move (or not) in free agency. Stay updated and keep track of Pro Football Network’s Top 50 Free Agent Rankings to better understand the free-agent market.

Aaron Wilson is the NFL Insider for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL.

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