NOTEBOOK: Austin, Cooter expected back for 2016

The gang is getting back together for the 2016 season.

It was announced last Friday that Jim Caldwell will return for a third season as head coach.

Teryl Austin, his defensive coordinator the last two years, was a popular head-coaching candidate this offseason, but the final opening was filled Sunday with Mike Mularkey taking over in Tennessee, which means Austin should be back in Detroit for another season.

Austin drew interest from Tennessee, Cleveland, Miami, Philadelphia and the New York Giants for head-coach vacancies this offseason.

Austin, 50, pulled the reins for one of the league's most dominant defenses in 2014. That unit struggled out of the gates this past season following the losses of Ndamukong Suh and DeAndre Levy, but finished the year strong, allowing 11 fewer points per game the second half of the year.

Jim Bob Cooter, who took over as offensive coordinator midway through last season, is returning in that role next season.

Cooter's offensive was a perfect fit for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had 19 touchdowns vs. just two interceptions and completed 70 percent of his passes under Cooter. He had just 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions the first half of the season under Joe Lombardi.

With Caldwell's coaching staff intact, the focus now shifts to the offseason to-do list of self-evaluation, free agency and the draft.

The East-West Shrine Game is this week, followed by the Senior Bowl next week and the NFL Scouting Combine in February.


Darius Slay is hoping a breakout third season lands him a new long-term contract this offseason.

Slay recently parted ways with Eugene Parker as his agent and hired Drew Rosenhaus, the NFL Network reported over the weekend.

Slay is entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2016 that will pay him a base salary of $976,269 with a $100,000 roster bonus and $50,000 workout bonus as a second-round pick in 2013.

Slay had a very good season in 2015, finishing as the second-ranked corner in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. He typically drew the opponent's best receiver and had two interceptions on the year.

The Lions could have upwards of $30 million in cap space this offseason and GM Bob Quinn will have to make a decision on extending Slay now and potentially a couple of his teammates from the 2013 draft, including Ziggy Ansah (though the Lions have control of his contract for at least two more seasons), Larry Warford, Devin Taylor, Sam Martin and Theo Riddick, who will all be free agents after the 2016 season.


The Lions have moved on from their longest-tenured scout, Scott McEwen, after 29 seasons with the team, according to multiple reports.

McEwen joined the Lions in 1987. He was a senior personnel executive last season and the team's former director of college scouting.

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