We can add two more names to the Buccaneers’ list of candidates to replace offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who parlayed a strong showing in his one year as Tampa Bay’s OC into a head coaching gig with the division-rival Panthers. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Bucs either have interviewed, or have requested an interview with, Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson, and they have requested an interview with Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El.
Johnson, 35, is a popular name in this year’s hiring cycle and has already interviewed with the Browns, Saints, Eagles, and Steelers for their vacant OC positions (Philadelphia went in a different direction, however, as they hired Kellen Moore yesterday). An offensive quality control coach for the Colts from 2020-21, Johnson joined the Vikings as assistant quarterbacks coach in 2022 and took his current position with Houston when DeMeco Ryans was named the Texans’ HC last year.
Of course, Johnson’s work with C.J. Stroud is driving the interest from rival clubs. As a rookie, Stroud led the league in passing yards per game and interception rate while finishing sixth in quarterback rating. That production, along with Stroud’s excellent performance in a wild-card round victory over the Browns earlier this month, raised Johnson’s stock considerably. He took a second interview with New Orleans yesterday, so if Tampa Bay wants him, it may need to act quickly.
Meanwhile, it appears that this is the first time we are hearing Randle El’s name in connection with an OC post. The former college quarterback entered the NFL as a wide receiver and served as an auxiliary target and return man for Pittsburgh and Washington over his nine-year playing career (he earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Steelers in 2005 and caught 12 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown during the team’s four-game run in that postseason).
Now 44, Randle El began his coaching career with the Bucs as an offensive assistant in 2019 and accepted his current post with the Lions in 2021. While Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has understandably drawn rave reviews for his work in the Motor City — which is likely to earn him an HC job of his own in the very near future — Randle El has coaxed strong production out of the Lions’ complementary wideouts and has overseen the evolution of 2021 fourth-rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown. St. Brown earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2022 and firmly established himself as one of the league’s top receivers in 2023, piling up 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 TDs en route to a First Team All-Pro selection.
The Bucs will have to wait to interview Randle El until the Lions’ season is over. Detroit takes on the 49ers in today’s NFC Championship game, and assuming Ben Johnson lands one of the remaining HC posts — the Seahawks and Commanders are now the only two clubs with vacancies — Randle El would be an obvious candidate to fill his shoes with the Lions.