Once Josh McDaniels went to New England, it was a fait accompli that free agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd would soon become a Patriot, too. After gaining only 2,370 yards in the first seven seasons of his career, Lloyd had a breakout season with the Broncos and McDaniels in 2010, catching 77 passes for a league-leading 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. McDaniels was fired following the 2010 season and landed as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, which appeared to end their relationship.
But once the Broncos struggled to start the season, Denver shipped Lloyd off to St. Louis and reunited him with his former coach. In 11 games, Lloyd had modest production — 51 catches, 683 yards and 5 TDs — but much of that can be attributed to playing in arguably the league’s worst offense. He joins a very crowded New England passing attack, but should have a strong season with the Patriots.
I have a large but incomplete database on coaching staffs in the NFL, stretching back to 1990, and a complete list of head coaches for all of pro football history. I wondered, how many times has an offensive player played for the same offensive coordinator or head coach on three different teams? By my count, I see six examples since 1990:
- Gus Frerotte and Scott Linehan: Frerotte was the backup quarterback to Daunte Culpepper and Linehan was the offensive coordinator on the 2004 Vikings. The next year, Linehan went to Miami to serve as the OC under Nick Saban, and brought in Frerotte to be his starting quarterback. When Linehan was hired as the Rams head coach in 2006, he brought Frerotte to St. Louis to sit behind Marc Bulger.
- Charlie Garner and Jon Gruden: Charlie Garner was drafted by the Eagles in 1994, and Gruden served as the team’s offensive coordinator from 1995 to 1997. Gruden’s success with the Eagles landed him the Raiders coaching job in ’98; in 2001, he added the final piece to the dynamic Raiders passing attack. Garner immediately filled the role of pass-catching, West Coast Offense running back perfectly. He nearly mirrored Roger Craig’s production a year later, when Garner became just the third player in league history to gain over 900 yards on the ground and through the air in the same season. Gruden was in Tampa Bay by then, and Garner joined him there in 2004, his final season in the league.
- Justin Griffith and Greg Knapp: Fullback Justin Griffith was drafted by the Falcons in 2003; a year later, Knapp came over to Atlanta to run the offense. The two would stick together for six straight seasons in three different cities. When Knapp was purged in connection with the Falcons transition from Jim Mora to Bobby Petrino, Knapp and Griffith went to Oakland to join Lane Kiffin and JaMarcus Russell for two seasons. While the Raiders experience was a disaster, the timing was right: by 2009, Mora was the head coach of the Seahawks, and Griffith and Knapp re-joined him in Seattle. The reunion wasn’t successful, and all three were out of Seattle after one season. Knapp ended up in Houston as a quarterbacks coach. Griffith signed with the Texans for a cup of coffee in 2010, but did not make the final roster.
- William Roberts and Dave Meggett, and Bill Parcells: Parcells famously brought many of his defensive players with him along his stops in New York (Giants), New England, New York (Jets) and Dallas (he would do the same when he went to serve in the front office in Miami). He also saw enough in offensive lineman William Roberts and running back/special teams star Dave Meggett to coach them for three different franchises. Roberts was a starter for a decade with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls with Parcells and earning a Pro Bowl berth in 1990. Meggett was drafted in 1990, and led the league in punt return yards in each of his first two years with New York. Roberts joined Parcells in New England in 1994, and Meggett came on board a year later, finishing third on the team in receptions. Parcells came to the Jets in 1997 and added Roberts to help bring his guys and his system to the 1-15 Jets. In 1998, Parcells brought in Meggett to provide veteran leadership and depth behind another ex-Patriot, Curtis Martin.
- Ahman Green and Mike Sherman: In 1998, the Seahawks drafted Ahman Green; the next season, Sherman was lured from Green Bay to run the Seahawks offense. After Packers head coach Mike Holmgren left to go to Seattle, the Packers hired Sherman to be their new head coach. Now back in Green Bay, Sherman sought to reacquire Green, trading Fred Vinson and swapping late round picks with Holmgren. Green was a star in Green Bay, ultimately retiring as the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing yards. Sherman had a less successful run, but was tabbed to run the offense in Houston under Gary Kubiak in 2006. The next season, the Texans signed Green to a four-year, $23 million deal. Green would scored just five touchdowns and start six games during a disappointing two-year stint in Houston. Ahman Green recently announced that he’s considering a comeback; perhaps his first call was to Miami, where Sherman is now the offensive coordinator.
Can you think of any other combinations where an offensive player and coached teamed up for three different franchises? And what do you expect from Brandon Lloyd this season?