MONDAY, 8:45pm: Mularkey’s deal will be a three-year pact, Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com reports.
SATURDAY, 5:03pm: The Titans will hire interim head coach Mike Mularkey on a full-time basis, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the move (via Twitter). Tennessee is the seventh, and barring any unforeseen changes, final, club to hire a head coach this offseason.
Mularkey had longed look the favorite to take over the Titans job on a permanent basis, and just a few hours ago a report indicated that it would be a “massive upset” if anyone other than Mularkey landed the job. New general manager Jon Robinson reportedly agreed to consider Mularkey as a serious candidate for the gig, and with ownership also in Mularkey’s corner, Robinson ultimately opted for continuity over a fresh start.
As our head coaching search tracker shows, the Titans also considered several other candidates for their vacancy. Incumbent defensive coordinator Ray Horton garnered an interview, as did Jaguars assistant head coach Doug Marrone and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Meanwhile, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was thought to be a strong contender for the position (given Robinson’s ties to New England), but Tennessee opted not to wait to interview McDaniels.
The 54-year-old Mularkey will become a full-time head coach for the third time in his NFL career — he previously lead both the Bills and Jaguars. A longtime offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, Mularkey has accrued an uninspiring 18-39 record, including a 2-7 mark in nine games as the Titans’ interim coach in 2015.
In being promoted to the full-time role in Tennessee, Mularkey has landed one of the prime jobs on the market. The mere presence of quarterback Marcus Mariota on the roster sets the Titans up for long-term success, and as owners of the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, the club should be able to secure another top talent.
Mularkey’s first task will be deciding on the fate of his coaching staff, especially his two coordinators. Offensive coordinator Jason Michael would be entering his third season on the job, and while his unit struggled last season (last in DVOA), Mularkey might opt to keep Mariota in the same system for consecutive seasons. On the other side of the ball, Horton has drawn interest from the Browns to act as their DC, and he’s made it known that he’d like to leave for Cleveland if he weren’t promoted in Tennessee.