After drawing significant head coaching interest for the second consecutive year, Ben Johnson has repeated his decision from 2023. Detroit’s highly-acclaimed offensive coordinator will remain with the Lions, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.
Johnson entered the 2024 hiring cycle as a prime candidate to land a head coaching gig. Only two vacancies remain, and he was a finalist to join both the Commanders and Seahawks. Washington in particular seemed to be in pole position to land him, but both teams’ searches will now move in a different direction. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, Johnson’s asking price served as a deterrent for some teams. Schefter further details that Johnson’s decision was learned as the Commanders were en route to speak with his counterpart, Aaron Glenn.
It is unknown if financial hesitancy applies to the Commanders and/or Seahawks, teams which have interviewed Johnson twice. The 37-year-old was believed to be Washington’s top choice on a number of occasions, and recent reports pointed to a Johnson hire being the likeliest outcome. After doing the same last year, though, he has elected to make at least one more run at a Super Bowl with the Lions.
Detroit’s offense has been among the league’s best during Johnson’s two-year run as the team’s OC. He has drawn considerable interest around the NFL as a result, and it was reported before the season ended that the Panthers would be a team to watch closely. Carolina attempted to land Johnson last year, and he was believed to be the team’s top choice before Buccaneers OC Dave Canales was tapped for the position. The Commanders and Seahawks openings profile as being more attractive than the one in Carolina, but those teams have now seen one of their finalists bow out of the running.
The Commanders have taken an extended look at candidates with a background on both sides of the ball during their search for a Ron Rivera replacement. Washington has spoken twice with Glenn, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Texans OC Bobby Slowik in addition to the second sit-down with Johnson. The Commanders are also interested in Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, and a member of that group of candidates will now be in line for the gig in the nation’s capital.
Quinn and Macdonald in particular are also central figures in Seattle’s search. Both teams decided to wait until after Sunday’s conference championship games to make their final HC decisions, and the elimination of the Ravens and Lions opened the door to their respective searches reaching an end in the near future. That may well still be the case, but Johnson is no longer in consideration.
Today’s update will of course be welcomed news on a Lions staff which was labeled as one likely to see signficant departures in the wake of the team’s success. Glenn landing a head coaching position would deal a blow to Dan Campbell and Co., but the Lions’ offense will again be expected to put up high-end production with Johnson in place. The latter’s relationship with quarterback Jared Goff was a central reason why he declined to leave last year, and their partnership will continue in 2024. That season marks the final one of Goff’s contract.