Lions Rumors

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-26-23 (4:36pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spins, many of the league’s offensive and defensive coordinator positions are open as well. Teams seeking new head coaches will soon begin OC and DC searches — some have already started those processes — but a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

The Browns and Patriots have begun 2023’s coordinator hires. Here are the rest of the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 1-26-23 (10:06pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Carolina Panthers 

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

Cardinals Hire Lions’ Dave Sears As Assistant GM

The Cardinals decided to go outside the building when choosing new general manager Monti Ossenfort‘s assistant general manager, hiring Lions director of college scouting Dave Sears, as reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network this morning. The move will be a reunion for Ossenfort and Sears who worked together for the Texans as college scouts.

Sears left Houston for Detroit in 2007 and has been with the Lions ever since working his way up from regional scout to his current role, which he’s held since 2019. Sears has been integral in the team’s draft process, serving as the intermediary between area scouts and the decision-makers of the draft.

Sears will become the No. 2 behind Ossenfort, who was hired as the Cardinals’ general manager earlier this week. The move to bring Ossenfort and Sears in from outside the building is an interesting one considering the Cardinals had two capable candidates for both positions in vice president of pro personnel Adrian Wilson and vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris, who served together filling the interim duties of general manager during Steve Keim‘s leave of absence.

Both Wilson and Harris interviewed for the open general manager position, and both are more than qualified for the assistant role. If the franchise is adamant on bring in new blood to the front office, it may be spelling the end for Wilson and Harris’s time in Arizona. The team had also interviewed Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, who reportedly turned down the job after receiving an offer, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports echoes Glazer’s report, saying that Cunningham was Arizona’s first choice and that Cunningham declined the position because the “fit” was not right.

The Cardinals are now set moving forward with Ossenfort and Sears leading in the front office. They currently also still have Wilson and Harris in their current positions creating a strong group of top executives in the player personnel office.

OC Ben Johnson To Stay With Lions

JANUARY 19: As could be expected, the Lions will reward Johnson for staying. The second-year Detroit OC will receive a large pay raise, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). While the Byron Leftwich development shows the risk of coordinators bypassing potential opportunities, Johnson will be attached a higher salary ahead of a potential 2024 HC bid.

JANUARY 17: Part of multiple teams’ HC searches during this year’s cycle, Ben Johnson is bowing out. The young offensive coordinator is opting to stay with the Lions, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Despite entering this season having not called plays before, Johnson became a hot name. The Colts, Panthers and Texans requested interviews with him. Carolina’s meeting was to take place Wednesday, but that will no longer come to pass.

Johnson, 36, had already interviewed virtually with the Colts and Texans. But he was viewed as a frontrunner for the Panthers job. Assistants’ stocks can change quickly, making Johnson’s decision somewhat risky, but the Detroit play-caller views the Detroit situation as promising enough to pass on this year’s lot of available jobs.

Dan Campbell promoted Johnson to OC last year, after the team moved on from Anthony Lynn after one season. The Lions’ offense led the way to the team becoming one of the season’s biggest surprises. Jared Goff delivered a bounce-back showing, ranking fifth in QBR and going from bridge starter to a player the Lions believe they can use as a long-term option. Jamaal Williams also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns. The former Packers draftee finished the season with 17, breaking Barry Sanders‘ record during the Lions’ upset win in Green Bay that prevented a Pack playoff appearance.

The Lions also have Amon-Ra St. Brown signed through 2024 and Jameson Williams inked through 2025. Williams stands to be available for all of 2023, after his January ACL tear shelved him for much of this season. The team wants to bring back DJ Chark, and the former Jaguars second-round pick said recently (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) he wants to stay in Detroit. D’Andre Swift battled injuries this season, and Williams’ rise impeded the 2020 second-rounder’s role. But he remains under contract. Although Williams is a free agent, his Hard Knocks performance and season-wrapping NBC interview certainly point to an interest in sticking around. The Lions also have four starting offensive linemen from this season under contract for 2023.

This would set up Johnson to draw interest again in 2024, though he is passing on parlaying his first Detroit OC season — which produced top-five rankings in scoring, yardage and DVOA — into a gig this year. But Johnson has been with the Lions since 2019, moving from the quality control level to tight ends coach to OC. While Matt Patricia hired Johnson, he had worked with Campbell in Miami. Johnson will bet on his value remaining high at this time next year.

Cardinals To Interview Lions DC Aaron Glenn For HC Job

Day by day, the Cardinals continue to add names to their head coaching search. The latest candidate is Aaron Glenn, with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reporting (via Twitter) that the Cardinals have requested permission to interview the Lions defensive coordinator for their head coaching vacancy. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Glenn will meet with the organization on Saturday.

It was only a few months ago that Glenn was rumored to be on the hot seat following Detroit’s 1-6 start to the 2022 campaign. The Lions managed to turn around their season with an 8-2 finish, putting Glenn back on the coaching radar. A year after having interviewed for the Saints’ head coaching position, Glenn got an interview with the Colts for their current vacancy. Ben Johnson was also a popular coaching candidate following the Lions’ season, but the offensive coordinator ultimately decided to stick in Detroit.

Glenn made a name for himself as the Saints defensive backs coach, a role he held for five years. He took over the Lions gig in 2021, and while the defense still allowed the most yards and the fifth-most points in the NFL in 2022, he earned praise for his development of defensive players like Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston, Jeff Okudah and Kerby Joseph.

We heard last night that the Cardinals had requested permission to interview Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. He was added to a growing list of candidates that also includes Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores (who was also mentioned as a potential favorite), Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, former Saints head coach Sean Payton, former Colts head coach Frank Reich, and 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Besides Payton and Reich, the coaching candidates all come with a defensive pedigree, which is perhaps a hint that the Cardinals are looking to pivot from the offensive-focus of former head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Lions GM Brad Holmes Backs Jared Goff As Starting QB

The Lions engineered a remarkable turnaround late in the season, and nearly managed to clinch the NFC’s final playoff spot on the back of their offensive efficiency in particular. Detroit’s play under center is now likely to lead to continuity at the position into 2023.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes endorsed Jared Goff as the team’s top signal-caller when speaking to the media in his season-ending news conference. That would have come as a surprise not long ago, as their acquisition of the 28-year-old was widely thought to simply make him a ‘bridge’ starter likely resulting in a younger option being drafted not long after.

That sentiment remained true well into the start of the 2022 season, when the Lions sat at 1-5 and they appeared to be destined for one of the top spots (if not the No. 1 slot) in this spring’s draft. However, Goff helped guide the team to a 5-1 record to close out the season as they continued to showcase their surprising production both in the passing game and on the ground.

Goff himself was efficient in the process, going nine straight games without throwing an interception to finish the season. The former Ram added 15 touchdowns and averaged over 266 yards per game during that span, adding to his chances of his new team committing to him for the long haul. He is under contract for two more years with cap hits of $30.9MM and $31.9MM, but there is no guaranteed money remaining on his deal.

“I think it’s a lot easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better at quarterback, in this league,” Holmes said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required). “And so, I think what Jared has done this year, he captained the ship of a top-three offense, and I want to say he was top-10 statistically in most of the passing categories. And again, you know how we approach the draft like we’re never going to turn down a good football player, so if there’s a football player we really love, we’re going to make sure every stone is unturned. But I do think that Jared has proven everybody that he is the starting quarterback for us.”

Indeed, the Rams’ collapse this season leaves Detroit with the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft owing to the Goff-Matthew Stafford swap from last year. The Lions’ own pick sits at 18, so they will have multiple opportunities to draft someone to compete with Goff in the near term or succeed him down the road. Regardless of what this offseason brings, though, the matter of the Lions’ 2023 QB situation appears to be far more certain now than it was in the fall.

Lions Interested In Re-Signing WR DJ Chark, DL John Cominsky

The Lions have interest in retaining free agents on both sides of the ball. When asked about the impending free agencies of wide receiver DJ Chark and defensive lineman John Cominsky, Lions GM Brad Holmes made it clear that he’d like to re-sign the two players.

“Those guys had good years and, look, as long as their fits for our culture and what we’re trying to build and where we’re going, yeah, absolutely [we’d like to re-sign them],” Holmes said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).

After starting his career with the Jaguars, Chark inked a one-year, $10MM deal with the Lions last offseason. The wideout ended up starting 10 of his 11 games, hauling in 30 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns. Chark suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 that kept him off the field until the middle of November.

Following three forgettable seasons in Atlanta to start his career, Cominsky was claimed by the Lions in May. He ended up starting eight of his 14 games in 2022, ranking second on the team in QB pressures and hits. For his efforts, Pro Football Focus ranked Cominsky 47th among 119 qualifying edge defenders, including one of the best grades at the position for coverage. The defensive end seems to share his GM’s sentiment, telling Kyle Meinke of MLive that he’d like to stick around Detroit.

“I do want to be here,” Cominksy said. “I’ve told all the coaches. I’ve told players. I want to be here. I want to be with these guys. We have a young room (and) I would love to be that veteran in that room. (Josh) Paschal, Demetrius Taylor, Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston. I love all those guys. To be here and to be a leader and mentor for them, I would love that.”

NFC Injury Rumors: Rams, Commanders, Penning, Swift

Rams rookie safety Russ Yeast endured a scary moment on Sunday in the team’s loss to the Seahawks, according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN. The seventh-round pick earned the first start of his career in place of Nick Scott, who was placed on injured reserve last week.

In the game, Yeast suffered a pulmonary contusion and needed to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. Head coach Sean McVay told reporters that Yeast was in stable condition but would stay in the hospital overnight. Yeast was reportedly scheduled to return to Los Angeles on Monday, according to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue.

Following the dramatic events around Bills safety Damar Hamlin, another cardiac event requiring a hospital visit was the last thing the NFL wanted to see in Week 18.

Here are a few other injury rumors from around the NFC:

  • As the Commanders‘ season came to an end, Washington decided to address some players’ injuries, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. Head coach Ron Rivera informed the media before their final regular season matchup that running back Antonio Gibson underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his foot. Additionally, defensive tackle John Ridgeway tore a pectoral muscle in the team’s season finale against the Cowboys. He’ll have the full offseason to recover.
  • Saints first round rookie tackle Trevor Penning missed much of his first NFL season with a foot injury. What was initially thought to be a “bad case of turf toe” ended up being a torn ligament in his foot, resulting in him missing the first 11 games of his debut season. Penning would eventually work his way back and earn some snaps as a backup lineman before earning the first start of his career in Week 18. Unfortunately, a rough start for the Northern Iowa product has gotten even tougher as he suffered a Lisfranc injury in the season finale against the Panthers, according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football. Penning faces a long recovery of approximately five to six months, but if he can come back by June, he should be able to make it back for part of the offseason training program in New Orleans.
  • Early in the season, Lions running back D’Andre Swift suffered a high ankle sprain and a separated shoulder that would dog him for the rest of the year. Despite playing through those ailments for much of the season, there doesn’t appear to be any need for surgery in the offseason, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Swift will reportedly meet with medical professionals in the next few weeks but is under the impression that, come next season, he will be fully healthy and ready to go.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/9/23

18 teams had their seasons come to an end yesterday, and their front offices have already turned the page to the 2023 NFL seaon. This started today, as a number of players were signed to reserve/futures contracts, which allows organizations to retain (routinely) young, practice squad players throughout the offseason. Here are today’s reserve/futures contracts:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

  • WR Ty Fryfogle

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Commanders

Colts Request HC Interviews; Jeff Saturday Wants To Stay

On display knocking the Packers out of the playoff race, the Lions finished off a remarkable turnaround this season. Early interest is coming in for Dan Campbell‘s coordinators.

Following a Texans interview request, OC Ben Johnson received another from the Colts, whom Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) are interested in speaking with Lions DC Aaron Glenn. Jeff Saturday is believed to remain in the equation for Jim Irsay‘s team, but the owner said last month he looked forward to meeting with a host of candidates for the gig. The Colts will also attempt to meet with Rams DC Raheem Morris, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter), and Eagles OC Shane Steichen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

This run of HC interest represents quite the rise for Johnson, who started last season as Detroit’s tight ends coach. For Glenn, the HC interest comes a few months after rumors of his potential ouster as Detroit’s DC surfaced. The Lions, however, completed an incredible bounce-back effort by going from 1-6 to 9-8.

Glenn’s defense did not cross the finish line with particularly strong marks. The Lions’ late-season surge still ended with their defense in last place in yards allowed and 28th in scoring. A crucial December loss to the Panthers ended with Carolina setting franchise records in total yards and on the ground. Still, the development of players like Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston, Jeff Okudah and Kerby Joseph reflects well on Glenn, who was up for the Saints’ HC job that went to Dennis Allen last year. Glenn, 50, took over Lions DC duties in 2021 but spent the previous five years on Sean Payton‘s staff.

Jared Goff finished the season fifth in QBR — by far the highest placement of his career — and closed his second Lions campaign with a 29-7 TD-INT ratio. Behind one of the league’s better offensive lines, Jamaal Williams also put together a 1,000-yard season that ended with him leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns (17 — a number that broke Barry Sanders‘ 31-year-old Lions record). Johnson, 36, has gone from never calling plays at any level prior to 2022 to being a sought-after interviewee.

Morris, a former Buccaneers coach and Falcons interim HC, wrapped his second season as the Rams’ DC. While 2022 proved to be a rough year for the defending Super Bowl champions, Morris’ work shaping the 2021 Rams’ defense will still make him an intriguing candidate. Morris, 46, has experience coaching on both sides of the ball at the NFL level. Mostly a defensive coach, he helmed the Falcons’ wide receivers from 2016-19.

The Texans also requested a Steichen meeting, but the Eagles’ continued growth on offense — as Jalen Hurts morphs from a player with long-term questions to a surefire extension candidate — has been expected to generate looks for their play-caller. Ex-Colts OC Nick Sirianni gave Steichen play-calling duties midway through last season, and the 37-year-old assistant drove the team to becoming the league’s top rushing attack. The Eagles rank third in total yards and points this season, and Hurts took a major leap as a passer.

Despite the Colts completing their worst regular season in at least 11 years, Irsay has stumped for Saturday on multiple occasions since making the controversial hire. Saturday wants to stay on as head coach, Mike Chappell of CBS4 notes, adding that while no interview has been scheduled one should be expected. It would be odd (and wildly unpopular) for the coach in charge of the Colts’ first seven-game losing streak to end a season since the team’s 1953 expansion year would stay on, but that scenario remains in play.