Month: February 2024

Sean Payton Addresses Decision To Accept Broncos’ Offer

Four teams pursued Sean Payton this year, and the former Super Bowl-winning HC would have been a coveted option next year. Rather than stay at FOX and wait out potential openings of jobs he was previously connected to, Payton decided to become the Broncos’ next head coach.

Addressing the decision to relocate to Denver — in a transaction that probably doubles as the highest-profile coaching hire in Broncos history — Payton broached a few topics. Among them, the team’s new owners.

I tried to put ownership at the top from the beginning, and I was impressed with how much they want to be successful,” Payton said, during an interview with NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan, of the Broncos’ Walton-Penner ownership group. “We had great support in New Orleans. I can’t recall Mr. or Mrs. B [Tom and Gayle Benson] ever saying no to something. … This was the opportunity I was looking for.”

Payton, 59, also interviewed with the Cardinals, Panthers and Texans. He made the Broncos his first meeting, and Duncan adds the former Saints coach spoke with Rob and Carrie Walton Penner via Zoom this past weekend. Rob Walton was not part of the Broncos’ contingent to initially meet with Payton in Los Angeles more than two weeks ago. Denver’s ownership did not announce interviews this year and made a surprise trip to Ann Arbor to meet with Jim Harbaugh, who had previously announced he was staying at Michigan. The winding HC search still led back to Payton, who was believed to be the franchise’s top choice throughout.

Waiting out the prospect of the Cowboys or Chargers’ jobs becoming available next year would have included opportunities to coach Dak Prescott or Justin Herbert. Not long ago, Russell Wilson would have resided as an asset for coaching candidates. Thanks to a stunningly woeful season that came shortly after the Broncos’ new ownership group authorized a five-year, $245MM extension, Wilson can be viewed as a liability. Reports had indicated Payton was onboard with coaching the former Seahawks great, however, and his Tuesday decision will greenlight this pairing as one of the more interesting in recent memory.

Russell is a hard worker and has played at a high level and won a lot of games in this league,” Payton said. “The pressure is on us to put a good run game together and reduce the degree of difficulty on his position. I’m excited about him.”

Wilson, 34, reached out to Payton about coming to Denver and will have one of this era’s top play-callers overseeing his bounce-back opportunity. The Saints were on Wilson’s initial 2021 trade-destination list; he added the Broncos later that year. The Broncos traded an eight-asset package for Wilson, including two first-round picks and two seconds, to land the nine-time Pro Bowler in March 2022. The early returns were alarming, but Wilson going from an overmatched Nathaniel Hackett to Payton should represent a strong spot to re-emerge as an upper-echelon starter. If Wilson cannot resemble his Seattle form this season, the Broncos will need to look at other options. Of course, Wilson’s contract will make such a move more difficult — even by 2024.

The Wilson situation heightens the importance of the Broncos’ Payton hire. Payton unleashed Drew Brees in New Orleans. The former Charger morphed from a player the team obtained Philip Rivers to replace into one that totaled a record-shattering five 5,000-yard passing seasons. Payton guided the Saints to seven NFC South titles and nine playoff wins. The team ranked in the top 10 offensively 11 times during Payton’s 15 years on the sideline; it also did so during Payton’s 2012 Bountygate ban. After the Broncos gave Wilson considerable autonomy to co-design an offense last year, Payton should be expected to hold the reins tightly.

Mickey Loomis and Broncos GM George Paton spent the past three days hammering out a compensation package for Payton, Duncan adds. Payton has been rumored to wanting to bring some personnel people with him to Denver, which could certainly cause a conflict with the Paton-led front office. The high-profile coach should have the opportunity to structure things as he sees fit, given his pedigree and the leverage he possessed. For now, however, Paton remains in place.

Both Payton and Paton — that will make for some confusing conversations as long as this partnership lasts — will report to Broncos CEO Greg Penner. That marks a change from 2021 and ’22, but the Walton-Penner group only arrived in Denver late last summer. Payton and Paton also spoke privately often ahead of this hire, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

George and Mickey were great,” Payton said. “It took a minute, but they worked through it hard and got a deal done. … It works out great in Denver because we’re in the AFC.”

The Saints were believed to have asked for two first-round picks from teams for Payton, and while the price undoubtedly would have been higher had the Panthers made the hire, the Broncos collected a 2024 third-rounder in the deal. Still, Denver will go into this draft without first- or second-round picks and will not have a 2024 second-rounder. That will make matters difficult for the Payton-Paton tandem, but this will be the power structure in place in charge of helping the Broncos crawl out of their biggest slump in 50 years.

Latest On Texans’ Coordinator Searches

The Texans have secured their new head coach, as the organization agreed to a six-year contract with DeMeco Ryans earlier today. Now, the organization is shifting the focus to coordinators, and the Texans have already starting compiling a list of candidates for both roles.

[RELATED: Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As HC]

It sounds like Ryans will presumably bring in his own staff, meaning incumbent offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will likely be on the outside looking in. The Texans have already started reaching out to potential candidates, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting (via Twitter) that the organization has requested an interview with 49ers passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik for the OC job. Meanwhile, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter) that the Texans have also requested permission to interview Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters for the gig.

Slowik would be a natural fit if Ryans is hoping to implement some of San Francisco’s offensive philosophies. Slowik has been with the 49ers since 2017 and actually started on the defensive side of the ball. He moved to offense in 2019, became an offensive pass game specialist in 2021, and earned the promotion to offensive passing game coordinator in 2022. The 49ers, of course, dealt with a number of injuries at quarterback this past season, but the team still got 29 passing touchdowns (vs. only eight interceptions) from Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Brock Purdy.

It’s not a huge surprise that Walters is getting a look for an offensive coordinator job. While the Bengals organization has invested plenty of resources into the receiver position, Walters has still gotten the most out of the trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. The 46-year-old coach doesn’t have much of an NFL coaching resume, but he previously served as offensive coordinator at UCF and Nebraska.

The 49ers didn’t have a defensive coordinator in 2022, with head coach Lovie Smith mostly being responsible for defensive play-calling. With Smith now out of the picture, it sounds like Ryans will be looking for someone to help guide the defense. According to Aaron Wilson of Click2Houston.com (via Twitter), the Texans have interest in Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel for the defensive coordinator job.

Following an eight-year playing career, Manuel joined the coaching ranks as an assistant special teams coach with the Seahawks in 2012. He worked his way up to become the Falcons’ defensive coordinator from 2017-18, but following a top-10 performance during his first year, Atlanta finished in the bottom five in 2018, leading to his ouster. After a one-year stint as a DBs coach with the Eagles in 2020, Manuel joined Robert Saleh‘s first Jets staff in 2021 and has served as Gang Green’s safeties coach over the past two seasons. The Jets allowed the fourth-fewest yards per game and the third-fewest passing yards per game in 2022, leading to him also garnering an interview for the Panthers’ defensive coordinator job.

The Texans also have interest in 49ers passing game specialist-secondary coach Cory Undlin for the defensive coordinator job, according to Wilson (on Twitter). Besides having worked extensively with Ryans over the past two years, Undlin has experience as a defensive coordinator, having served in the role with the Lions in 2020. Of course, that stint ended with his firing, but Undlin has seemingly rehabilitated his image following two successful seasons in San Francisco. The long-time coach won Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and Eagles, and he’s also head coaching stints with the Browns, Jaguars, and Broncos.

Undlin isn’t the only 49ers defensive coach that Ryans is considering. According to Wilson, the Texnas also have interest in 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. However, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is “expected to work to keep his staff intact” following Ryans’ move to Houston. Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that Ryans could also recruit 49ers defensive quality control coaches Stephen Adegoke and Andrew Hayes-Stoker to Houston (but presumably not for the DC job).

Seahawks’ Dave Canales Set For Second Ravens OC Interview

A thorough search to replace Greg Roman now includes second interviews. The Ravens plan to bring in Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales for a second meeting about their vacant offensive coordinator position, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Ravens have sent out 10 interview requests about the job. Some went to internal staffers and others to current coordinators. Canales profiles as an up-and-coming option, but he has extensive experience. The veteran position coach has been on Pete Carroll‘s Seahawks staff since the HC arrived in Seattle in 2010.

Canales, 41, has not been connected to any other OC search yet, but it is not surprising the Ravens are showing interest. Geno Smith just completed one of the more surprising years by a quarterback in recent NFL history. Signed in April to a one-year, $3.5MM deal, Russell Wilson‘s former backup provided strong work replacing the franchise icon. Smith led the NFL with a 69.8% completion rate and threw 30 touchdown passes, piloting the Seahawks to a wild-card spot.

Wilson also worked under Canales, who served as the Seahawks’ QBs coach from 2018-19 and their passing-game coordinator from 2020-21. While Wilson struggled mightily in his Denver debut, he continued to lift Seattle squads to the playoffs during most of his time with Canales. Carroll saw plenty in Canales, bringing him from El Camino College — a JUCO program — to USC in 2009 and then installing him as a full-fledged position coach in 2010.

While the Ravens are progressing to second-round interviews with some candidates, they’re also set to conduct first interviews this week. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), the organization will interview Bills wide receivers coach Chad Hall on Wednesday.

Hall started as an assistant with the Bills in 2017 and has spent the past four seasons as their WRs coach. Stefon Diggs has exploded during his three seasons with Buffalo, but Hall has also squeezed a career year out of John Brown in 2019 and has helped with the development of late-round wideouts like Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie.

Baltimore interviewed former OCs George Godsey, its current tight ends coach, and 2022 Broncos OC Justin Outten. The Ravens also spoke with Georgia OC Todd Monken this week; Monken is also on the radar to return to the Buccaneers. The Ravens sent Eric Bieniemy an interview request, but it is unclear if the longtime Chiefs OC is interested in a non-head coaching role. Baltimore has promoted from within to fill its OC role recently, hiring Roman and Marty Mornhinweg, but it appears to be seriously considering outside options this time.

Here is how the Ravens’ OC search looks:

49ers Eyeing Chris Harris For DC Interview

Chris Harris was reportedly heading from Washington to Tennessee, but there could be a change of plans. According to Josina Anderson (via Twitter), the 49ers are hoping to interview Harris for their defensive coordinator vacancy. They have moved forward with an interview request, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

[RELATED: Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As HC]

After most recently serving as Washington’s defensive backs coach, we heard earlier this month that Harris was set to join the Titans as their their defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach. No deal was finalized, leaving the door open for Harris renege on the agreement. A promotion to defensive coordinator would obviously be an opportunity the 40-year-old couldn’t refuse, but there’s still a good chance he lands in Tennessee if things don’t work out with San Francisco.

Harris has spent the past three years with Washington, helping develop a number of defensive backs behind veterans Kendall Fuller and Bobby McCain. Washington’s defense only allowed 3,252 passing yards this past season, good for fourth in the NFL. They also allowed opposing QBs to complete only 59.9 percent of their passes, the second-best mark in the NFL. As a result, Harris became a hot name on the coaching circuit, with the Bears also making a run at him.

The 49ers are officially in the market for a new defensive coordinator after DeMeco Ryans agreed to become the new Texans head coach. We heard earlier today that the 49ers requested an interview with former Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks, and Anderson confirms that the organization is set to speak with the coach. Anderson also notes that Vic Fangio is also in contention for the gig; Fangio was reportedly heading to the Dolphins to become their defensive coordinator, but that move has yet to become official.

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/31/23

Here are today’s reserve/futures contracts handed out:

Cincinnati Bengals

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As HC

The Texans interviewed DeMeco Ryans for a second time Tuesday, and the team is not letting the hot HC candidate leave town without a deal. Ryans will become the next Texans head coach, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The parties finalized a six-year contract to bring Ryans, a Texans linebacker from 2006-11, back to Houston. This will wrap a six-year Ryans tenure in San Francisco, and Houston — after back-to-back one-and-done coaching tenures — will land one of this year’s top HC options.

Long expected to secure one of this year’s HC jobs, Ryans will head back to Houston after overseeing a dominant San Francisco defense. The 49ers ranked first in total defense, scoring defense and defensive DVOA this season. While Brock Purdy‘s elbow injury effectively ended San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes early in the NFC championship game, the 49ers’ loss opened the door for the Texans to make an official hire this week.

Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town,” Ryans said. “I have been around the game of football my entire life and I’ve always had a natural ability to lead others. I know what it takes to win and be successful in this league as both a player and coach. We’re going to build a program filled with players who have a special work ethic and relentless mindset. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and to the fans of Houston to build a winner and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Ryans, 38, jumped to a DC role just three years after being promoted from the quality control level; he has spent his entire career on Kyle Shanahan‘s staff. Shanahan was with the Texans during part of Ryans’ time as a Houston defender and has long stumped for the well-regarded leader. The 49ers’ defensive performance this year left little doubt Ryans would soon become a head coach, and both the Broncos and Texans aggressively pursued him. Houston won out, and Ryans profiles as a vastly different HC compared to the franchise’s previous two.

All five head coach-needy teams this year reached out to Ryans. Four of those scheduled interviews, but Ryans ended up passing on Cardinals and Colts meetings — which would have come hours before the 49ers’ divisional playoff game against the Cowboys — to lead to a two-team race. Despite days of Texans-centric developments regarding Ryans, the Broncos may or may not have made a Tuesday push for him. While Sean Payton had long been the Broncos’ preference, he cost first- and second-round picks. And Ryans clearly impressed the Broncos, to the point they were prepared to abandon their pursuit of an experienced head coach.

This could be a seminal hire for the Texans, who completed odd coaching searches in 2021 and ’22. GM Nick Caserio interviewed Josh McCown in both years, but potential backlash about hiring a head coach with no experience is believed to have affected a hire. The Texans hired David Culley in 2021, despite no other teams being in on the then-Ravens wide receivers coach, and fired him after a 4-13 season. Last year’s search did not include Lovie Smith until the end, but after McCown and Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon were in the mix, Caserio instead promoted Smith. The former Houston DC oversaw a 3-13-1 season that led to his firing.

The hiring of back-to-back 60-somethings — for a team amid a long rebuild — proved confusing. Considering the team went through a chaotic period when Bill O’Brien held the dual HC-GM role and was at the forefront of the Deshaun Watson scandal, stability is desperately needed here. Hence, the six-year contract. The Texans included a host of younger names in their 2023 search, but Ryans stood out. It can be safely assumed Ryans will not be a one-and-done, given the team’s recent past and the momentum the linebacker-turned-coordinator built in San Francisco.

The Texans drafted Ryans in the 2006 second round and plugged the Alabama product into their lineup immediately. Ryans became a steady presence for the Texans in their first decade, and he was a starter for the 2011 team that secured the franchise its first playoff berth. The Texans had previously extended Ryans, but they traded the two-time Pro Bowler to the Eagles in 2012. Ryans played four Philadelphia seasons before hanging up his cleats. The McNair family is obviously familiar with Ryans from his playing days, and they will bet on him once again. This will mark a homecoming for the Ryans family as well; his wife, Jamila, is from the area.

Although the Texans have just 11 wins over the past three seasons, they hold two first-round picks in the 2023 and ’24 drafts thanks to the Watson trade. In addition to carrying this year’s No. 2 overall pick, Houston is projected to rank in the top five for cap space this year. That is believed to have intrigued Payton. But not too much smoke followed the Payton interview on the Texans’ end. They will instead entrust Ryans to be the sideline leader that pushes Caserio’s rebuild to higher levels.

This will mark the second transaction of the month that will give the 49ers a third-round pick. The Titans hiring 49ers exec Ran Carthon as GM earlier this month sent the 49ers two thirds, and Ryans’ Texans hire represents the latest in a steady line of minority hires from San Francisco. Although the NFL expanding the Rooney Rule to attach draft compensation to minority HC or GM hires, the 49ers already collecting two thirds for Carthon will reduce the Ryans haul to one third-rounder. Nevertheless, the 49ers have now seen five minority staffers land HC jobs (Ryans, Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel) or GM positions (Carthon, Martin Mayhew) since the NFL adjusted the rule. The pick from the Texans’ Ryans hire will arrive in 2025, Matt Miller of ESPN.com tweets.

49ers To Interview Steve Wilks For DC

DeMeco Ryans is now the Texans’ head coach. The 49ers had long prepared for the scenario in which Ryans departs, and they are moving ahead in this direction.

The 49ers requested an interview with former Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks for the likely soon-to-be-vacant defensive coordinator position, Aaron Wilson of KPRC tweets. Wilks was a finalist for the Panthers’ HC job, but Frank Reich ended up as Carolina’s hire. Wilks is prepared to coach elsewhere in 2023. He will move forward with a 49ers interview Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Carolina still has Wilks under contract, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets, but after the team hired Reich, it seems a separation is imminent. The Panthers interviewed Wilks and Reich twice, but the team was long expected to hire an offense-oriented HC. Wilks made the process more difficult, clearly, as he went 6-6 as Carolina’s interim boss. But his second stay with the Panthers will likely be capped at one year.

Re-emerging as a key NFL name after a two-year hiatus — one of those seasons spent as Missouri’s DC — Wilks oversaw one of the better interim efforts in a long time by guiding the Panthers, who were 1-4 under Matt Rhule, to a 7-10 mark. The Panthers vied for the NFC South lead in Week 17, but a loss to the Buccaneers ended their rally. The Tampa Bay defeat, in which Tom Brady torched Carolina’s secondary, likely affected Wilks’ chances of having his interim tag removed. The Panthers rehired Wilks — a Ron Rivera assistant from 2012-17 — as their secondary coach last year, and David Tepper promoted him to steer the ship post-Rhule.

Wilks is part of the Brian Flores-led discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and multiple teams, and his attorney expressed disappointment shortly after the Panthers went with Reich. But Wilks released a statement thanking the Panthers in the wake of their Reich hire, potentially signaling he will move on with his career over adding the Panthers to the suit.

The 49ers had Vic Fangio on their radar as a Ryans replacement, but the former San Francisco DC is taking over as Miami’s defensive leader. The 49ers have lost their past two DCs — Ryans and Robert Saleh — to HC jobs. Wilks is 9-19 as a head coach, with his one-year Cardinals stint leading to the sub-.500 record. But he improved his stock this past season in Carolina. The Charlotte native does not have a history with Kyle Shanahan, but he has been an NFL assistant since 2005.

Aaron Rodgers Addresses Latest Trade Rumors, Jets’ Nathaniel Hackett Hire

During the first round of Aaron Rodgers trade rumors, the source rarely provided insight about his situation. With Rodgers now having a weekly radio spot, his status is never far off the radar. The 18-year Packers quarterback had more news to address Tuesday.

A weekend report from ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicated the Packers would prefer to move on from Rodgers. This would mean giving another team responsibility of the $58.3MM bonus, which can be paid at any point this offseason, but also taking on a substantial dead-money hit — should a trade occur before June 1 — and committing to seeing what Jordan Love has to offer.

[RELATED: Rodgers Trade A “Very Real Scenario”]

Rodgers is well aware of the conversations occurring among Packers brass, per Schefter, and the 39-year-old superstar certainly seemed to confirm as such. “It sounds like there’s already conversations going on that aren’t involving me, which are interesting,” Rodgers said during his latest Pat McAfee Show interview (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). This response also came to question that did not specifically address the Schefter report.

The Jets’ Nathaniel Hackett OC hire also did plenty to fuel speculation Rodgers could be headed out of Green Bay. Again offering praise for Hackett — the Packers’ OC from 2019-21 — Rodgers said (via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini) the former Green Bay assistant was among his favorites. Robert Saleh downplayed the Rodgers-Hackett connection, as should be expected, but the Jets are evaluating Rodgers, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Rodgers reiterated he has not made a decision about returning but pointed to one of the two decisions on his plate — seemingly calls on playing and staying with the Packers — being made in “a couple weeks.” Carr, Garoppolo and Rodgers could all be available at different points on the calendar — Carr in February, Garoppolo in March and Rodgers potentially in June, when a trade would be less financially punishing for the Packers — adding an interesting wrinkle to this year’s QB market.

Green Bay moving on this offseason would be eerily similar territory, especially with New York being in the equation again. The Packers have used Rodgers as their starter since trading Brett Favre to the Jets in August 2008. The Jets have not acquired a franchise-caliber veteran since that Favre deal, which was only for a conditional third-round pick. Rodgers is expected to command more in a deal. Favre turned 39 shortly after being dealt to the Jets; Rodgers turned 39 last month. Love is going into his fourth season, just as Rodgers was in 15 years ago.

The Packers’ direction will also influence their decision on keeping Rodgers, who mentioned five players — David Bakhtiari, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis — as those he wants as teammates. All but Bakhtiari are free agents. Cobb and Lewis’ statuses with the Packers almost certainly depend on Rodgers’, Demovsky adds. Both vets likely will not return to the team if Rodgers is not back. Bakhtiari is due a $9.5MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2023 league year and is set to carry a $28.9MM cap number. Bakhtiari should be expected to return on a restructured deal, per Demovsky. The former All-Pro left tackle said he is not planning to retire, and Brian Gutekunst said he expects the 10-year veteran to be back.

Steelers Likely To Extend Mike Tomlin?

The Steelers seemed destined for their first ever losing season under head coach Mike Tomin midway through the 2022 campaign, but the team rallied to a 9-8 finish. While that was not enough for them to make the postseason, it seems to have been sufficient to earn him another new deal.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that Tomlin, 50, is under contract through 2024. However, the Steelers have routinely extended him during offseasons when he had two years remaining on his existing pact, including most recently in April of 2021. That would make this spring the next expected date for a re-up, which would mark Tomlin’s seventh extension with the Steelers.

2022 saw Pittsburgh turn their offense over to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett, a move which involved growing pains and inconsistency on offense in general. The team’s performance on that side of the ball led to plenty of criticism for offensive coordinator Matt Canada, though he is expected to be retained for at least one more season. A return to health from edge rusher T.J. Watt helped spark another high-end defensive performance, though, which brought the team back into postseason contention.

That concluded Tomlin’s 16th season at the helm of the Steelers, a franchise which has had only three coaches since 1969. His recent tenure does not include the postseason success of his earlier years – Pittsburgh has not won a playoff game since 2016 – but he is still very highly regarded by the team’s front office. That includes president Art Rooney II, who spoke about Tomlin in a recent interview.

“I don’t really evaluate Mike on anything other than I’m glad he’s our coach,” Rooney said, via Dulac. “Hopefully he’ll be our coach into the future. He gives us a chance to win, year in and year out, and put us in a position where we have a chance to compete for a championship.”

While Rooney also cautioned that he did not want to “speculate” on Tomlin’s contractual status, his above remarks certainly point to another multi-year deal coming soon. Assuming that takes place, a two-year re-up would put Tomlin on track to coach in Pittsburgh for 20 seasons, only three shy of Chuck Noll‘s tenure with the franchise. Even without a new contract, he can safely be pegged for another campaign in 2023 as the team looks to build off of this year’s late-season turnaround.

Latest On Eagles QBs Coach Brian Johnson

The Eagles have made it to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in franchise history this season in large part due to the jump in production seen from quarterback Jalen Hurts. To little surprise, his positional coach is drawing interest during this year’s coordinator cycle.

[RELATED: Eagles, Hurts To Discuss Extension]

Brian Johnson began his coaching career at the college level in 2010. Over the course of the following decade, he spent time with four different programs, working as QBs coach and/or offensive coordinator at each stop along the way. That landed him his Eagles post in 2021, his first foray into coaching in the NFL.

This season, his second as a full-time starter, Hurts has taken a substantial step forward. The former second-rounder led the Eagles to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, putting himself in the MVP conversation along the way. That earned Johnson considerable praise alongside the other key members of the Eagles’ offensive staff, particularly OC Shane Steichen. It has not, on the other hand, resulted in much in the way of interviews so far.

The only meeting Johnson reportedly took was with the Rams prior to their decision to hire Mike LaFleur for their OC position. Contradicting that, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones writes that Johnson has yet to take part in any interviews. Part of the reason for that, he adds, is the possibility that he could be waiting to see if the Eagles’ OC role becomes vacant after the season with Steichen being hired elsewhere. If that were to take place, Johnson, 35, would represent a logical candidate to be promoted.

In any case, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler names Johnson and Kevin Patullo as names on Philadelphia’s staff to watch closely as teams fill out their OC positions (Twitter link). One such team is the Panthers, who have Frank Reich in place as their new head coach but plenty of uncertainty with respect to the rest of his staff. A push from Carolina to hire Johnson for the role is “probably coming,” per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer adds that Johnson would have also been the preferred candidate for Steve Wilks, had he been given the full-time HC position with the Panthers.

With five OC spots still yet to be filled, plenty is still to be determined in the coming weeks as the coaching cycle plays out. Regardless of the outcome of the coming Super Bowl, though, Johnson will figure to be on the radar in 2023 and beyond.