Patriots 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

Coaching Notes: Colts, Rams, Patriots

The Colts are moving on to second interviews with some head coaching candidates, but they’re still hoping to get one individual in the building for a first interview. According to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press, the Colts still want to speak with 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

The Colts have been trying to nail down an interview with Ryans for a few weeks. The organization was expected to finally speak with him on Sunday, but with the 49ers advancing to the NFC Championship Game, the coach once again put his interview on hold.

The coordinator already spoke with the Texans and Broncos about their HC jobs, and he also postponed an interview with the Cardinals. As Maaddi details, NFL rules allow Ryans to have second interviews with the Texans and Broncos next week, regardless of the outcome of this weekend’s game. However, the NFL’s “window for first interviews” has close, so he’ll have to wait until the end of the 49ers’ season to speak with the Colts and Cardinals.

We heard earlier today that Ejiro Evero will be getting a second interview with the Colts, and per Maaddi, the organization is expected to advance “six or seven other candidates” to the second round. Another name that should get a second meeting with the organization is interim head coach Jeff Saturday, according to Maaddi.

More coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Sean McVay continues to shake up his coaching staff, and that’s led him to an assistant coach in Chicago. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter), the Rams have requested permission to interview Bears assistant offensive line coach Austin King. The former NFL player would presumably be eyeing a promotion in Los Angeles, and he could fill multiple roles considering his experience coaching tight ends with the Raiders.
  • Former Patriots lineman Adrian Klemm previously interviewed for New England’s offensive coordinator job, a position that ultimately went to Bill O’Brien. However, it sounds like the Patriots are still considering recruiting Klemm to their staff. According to TheMMQB’s Albert Breer (on Twitter), another meeting is anticipated between the coach and the Patriots. Klemm spent the 2022 season as Oregon’s associate head coach, run game coordinator, and offensive line coach. He previously spent time on the Steelers staff, serving as assistant OL coach before earning a promotion to OL coach in 2021.
  • With O’Brien back in New England, focus turns to the status of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge after the duo led the Patriots‘ offense in 2022. ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes that Patricia should be able to carve out a role on New England’s staff in 2023 considering his familiarity with the organization and his relationship with Bill Belichick. However, since the Lions are no longer picking up the tab, it remains to be seen if the Patriots will be willing to compensate the coach accordingly. Meanwhile, Reiss could see see Judge sticking around New England, but the writer is skeptical about the coach returning to his natural ST role. Judge officially spent last season as the Patriots quarterbacks coach, a designation that “surprised people both inside and outside the organization,” according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.
  • There’s still no clarity on what Jerod Mayo‘s new role will be in New England, but he could be facing a significant promotion. Some pundits have suggested that Belichick could be preparing the former linebacker to eventually take over as head coach, and Breer tweets that Mayo was alongside his boss for all of the organization’s offensive coordinator interviews last week.

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/24/23

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

  • FB Tyler Coyne

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

  • OT Jarrid Williams

Pittsburgh Steelers

Patriots To Hire Bill O’Brien As OC

The Patriots’ search for an offensive coordinator has come to an end. New England is reuniting with Bill O’Brien to fill the vacancy, as first reported (on Twitter) by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. O’Brien will also serve as the Pats’ quarterbacks coach, the team announced.

Both during and after New England’s season came to an end with the team sitting outside the postseason (in large part due to their offensive struggles), it became clear that O’Brien was the Patriots’ preferred choice to help the unit rebound in 2023. The 53-year-old spent the past two seasons at the helm of Alabama’s offense, but his next NFL gig will be in a familiar place.

O’Brien began his pro coaching career in New England in 2007 as an offensive assistant. Over time, he took on a larger role on Bill Belichick‘s staff, working with the team’s wide receivers and quarterbacks before being promoted again to offensive coordinator in 2011. While he only held that title for one season, he operated as the team’s play-caller after Josh McDaniels departed in 2009.

Following that time, O’Brien took a two-year head coaching gig at Penn State, which led him to the same role with the Texans. He operated as the team’s bench boss – and, for part of that stretch, the general manager as well – from 2014 to the one-quarter mark of the 2020 campaign. Overall, the Texans sported winning records in five of his six full seasons at the helm, though his firing came as little surprise by the time it happened in the wake of an 0-4 start and several missteps in terms of managerial moves.

O’Brien returned to the college ranks after that, working under Nick Saban and with the help of current Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. The latter helped O’Brien, a Massachusetts native, get acquainted with the Crimson Tide’s scheme, one which allowed Bryce Young develop into a Heisman winner and a serious contender to be selected first overall in the upcoming draft. O’Brien and Jones working together on a full-time basis could be beneficial to unlocking the latter’s potential.

After a rookie campaign in which Jones earned a Pro Bowl nod, the former first-rounder took a step back statistically. Overall, the Patriots finished below-average in almost every offensive category in 2022, a season in which Belichick drew criticism for his arrangement with Matt Patricia calling plays and Joe Judge having a key role in the unit as well. Both ex-head coaches had plenty of experience in New England, but not on the offensive side of the ball.

O’Brien’s hire comes not long after he interviewed for what will be a much more traditional OC role. New England also spoke with their TEs coach Nick Caley, Vikings WRs coach Keenan McCardell, Cardinals assistant head coach Shawn Jefferson and Oregon associate head coach Adrian Klemm in a more expansive, outward-looking search process than many others Belichick has overseen. O’Brien and the Patriots will enter 2023 with expectations for a significant step forward in offensive production to compliment the team’s highly-regarded defense.

Patriots Interview Bill O’Brien For OC Job, To Meet With Keenan McCardell

Rumored to be the favorite for the Patriots’ offensive coordinator gig, Bill O’Brien has now met with the team. The Alabama OC interviewed with the Patriots on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

O’Brien emerged as a contender for this job before the Pats’ season ended, and a report earlier this week indicated he is the favorite. The former Texans HC coming back to New England would continue a trend, as Bill Belichick rehired the likes of Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge following their initial dismissals as HCs.

Like McDaniels at the time of his New England return, O’Brien has experience running the Pats’ offense. While McDaniels was in Denver and St. Louis, O’Brien took over as Belichick’s top offensive assistant. He finished his New England tenure with the official title of offensive coordinator, something Belichick did not give Patricia this year — despite the ex-Lions HC being the Pats’ primary play-caller. After Belichick placing a career-long defensive coach in this role predictably backfired, the Pats are operating intently with their OC search this time around.

This search is different from the most recent such pursuits. Belichick promoted McDaniels to OC in 2006 and elevated O’Brien from the position coach level to OC in 2011. Thus far, the Pats have reached out to a few outside staffers. The team conducting an official search mandates an interview with at least one external minority candidate. Thus far, the Patriots have three on their radar.

Keenan McCardell, the Vikings’ receivers coach for the past two seasons, is expected to interview for the job today, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. The team sent out an interview request to the former Belichick Browns wideout Thursday. The Pats are planning to meet with Cardinals receivers coach Shawn Jefferson on Friday and have interviewed Oregon assistant Adrian Klemm. All three also have a history with Belichick — either in New England or Cleveland. The other candidate here, Pats tight ends coach Nick Caley, has been with the team for eight years. Caley has also interviewed with the Jets this week.

With the O’Brien interview done, this process looks like it will wrap soon. He has a few factors working in his favor. Even though O’Brien, 53, was not in place as Alabama’s OC during Mac Jones‘ career, the current Pats quarterback helped the coach learn the Alabama offense following his hire. Patriots ownership is also fond of O’Brien, who is a Massachusetts native. The Texans employed O’Brien as HC from 2014-20, firing him early in the 2020 season after his short GM stint did not go well. As a coach, however, O’Brien is 52-48 with four playoff appearances on his resume.

Patriots To Interview Shawn Jefferson For OC Position

The Patriots now have two wide receivers coaches on the radar for their offensive coordinator position. In addition to requesting a Keenan McCardell interview, the Pats have reached out to Cardinals wideouts coach Shawn Jefferson.

Jefferson will interview for the position Friday, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. Jefferson and McCardell had a combined 30 years’ worth of NFL receiver experience, though the former has a bit more seasoning on the sideline. This is believed to be Jefferson’s first OC interview; he emerged as a rumored candidate recently.

Although Jefferson played with the Patriots for four seasons, none of those came during Bill Belichick‘s HC run. But the 13-year NFL veteran did begin his New England tenure in 1996, when Belichick was on Bill Parcells‘ Pats staff for a season. Jefferson played four Patriots seasons — one under Parcells, three under Pete Carroll — before finishing out his career with the Falcons and Lions. He has been an NFL coach since 2006.

Jefferson, 53, has been with the Cardinals since 2021. Prior to his Hard Knocks cameo this season, Jefferson served as the receivers coach for the Lions, Titans, Dolphins and Jets from 2008-2020. The Detroit tenure, which did overlap with Calvin Johnson‘s record-setting season, represents Jefferson’s longest stop (seven years). With the Cardinals looking for a new HC, Jefferson may be on the move again regardless of what transpires with the Patriots’ OC search.

New England’s OC search now includes five names — Jefferson, McCardell, tight ends coach Nick Caley, Oregon assistant Adrian Klemm and Alabama OC Bill O’Brien. After making a surprising decision to go with Matt Patricia as their de facto OC last season, the Pats are moving more intently this year. An ex-Pats OC, O’Brien is believed to be the favorite, though no report of an interview taking place has surfaced. Caley has interviewed, and it seems likely McCardell — the Vikings’ wideouts coach for the past two seasons — will as well. It will be interesting to see if a non-O’Brien candidate becomes a serious contender for the position, one that may well be the centerpiece of New England’s offseason.

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/18/23

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

  • DB Tristin McCollum

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter), there was a bit of competition for offensive lineman Kyle Hinton’s services. The 2020 seventh-round pick spent much of the season on the Vikings practice squad, and they looked to sign him to a reserve/futures contract. However, he ended up opting for the Falcons, who gave him an $100K signing bonus.

Pats To Interview Nick Caley, Adrian Klemm For OC Role, Request Keenan McCardell Meeting

3:22pm: A fourth candidate is now in the picture. Adrian Klemm, a former Steelers O-line coach who spent the 2022 season at Oregon, will interview for the Pats’ OC job, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. Klemm has spent most of his career in the college ranks, having served as an O-line coach for SMU, UCLA and now Oregon, but was on Mike Tomlin‘s staff for three seasons.

The 45-year-old assistant has history with the Patriots, having been Belichick’s first draft choice (No. 46 overall) as New England’s HC back in 2000. A backup offensive lineman, Klemm played five of his six NFL seasons with the Pats.

10:02am: Nick Caley‘s docket now includes a second offensive coordinator interview. After he met with the Jets about their vacant play-calling role, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) the Patriots’ tight ends coach is interviewing for the New England gig.

Caley, who will meet with the Pats regarding a promotion Wednesday, has been with the team since 2015. In addition to their interest in promoting Caley, the Patriots also requested permission to interview Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Although Bill O’Brien is believed to be in the lead for the role, the Pats’ Caley interview will be their first for this position. After the team went through with one of the most surprising plans in modern offensive coordinator history this past season by having Matt Patricia serve as the primary play-caller, Bill Belichick is on board with making changes.

The Patriots moved Caley into their tight ends coach role back in 2017 but increased his role following Josh McDaniels‘ departure. While Caley served as a key assistant during a disappointing Pats season, the 39-year-old assistant has previously come up as a potential play-caller for the team. The Patriots have made a concerted effort to ensure Jerod Mayo does not depart. With the Jets now in the mix to poach Caley, will the Pats make a similar move to ensure he stays?

While McCardell is best known for his 17-year career as a wide receiver, he has been an assistant coach since 2010. Most of that work has come in the NFL. McCardell, 53, has served as a wide receivers coach in Washington, Jacksonville and Minnesota. Being the Jags’ wideouts coach from 2017-20, McCardell moved to the Vikings after the organization hired Urban Meyer last year. Despite the Vikings changing regimes this past offseason, Kevin O’Connell retained McCardell. The former Pro Bowler being Justin Jefferson‘s position coach will look pretty good on a resume, though ex-fifth-rounder K.J. Osborn posting 655- and 650-yard seasons over the past two years — after not catching a pass as a rookie in 2020 — also reflects well on McCardell.

McCardell also has a history with Belichick dating back to the latter’s Browns days. The Browns added McCardell in Belichick’s second season (1992) and rostered him for most of the next four seasons. McCardell used the 1995 season — Belichick’s Cleveland finale — as a springboard to a prominent Jaguars run.

Bill O’Brien “Primary Target” For Patriots OC Job

The Patriots are looking to revamp their offensive coaching staff, and it sounds like a familiar face is a favorite for the gig. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes that Bill O’Brien is the “primary target” for New England’s offensive coordinator job.

[RELATED: Patriots Will Start OC Interviews Next Week]

Curran notes that there are “other candidates with merit,” but there’s “unanimity on all sides” that O’Brien is the best person for the position. The main thing going for O’Brien is his relationship with the Patriots organization, especially when you consider Bill Belichick‘s penchant for bringing back former assistants. O’Brien spent five years with the Patriots, culminating in him becoming the team’s offensive coordinator. Following head coaching stints with Penn State and the Texans, O’Brien spent the past two years as the offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban, a close confidant of Belichick.

Speaking of Alabama, O’Brien also has an advantage over the field thanks to his relationship with Mac Jones. While the QB prepared for the 2021 NFL Draft, he also helped O’Brien learn the Alabama offense following the coach’s hiring. O’Brien could look to add elements of Alabama’s quick-strike offense to the Patriots offense. While the familiar scheme would obviously benefit Jones, the offensive philosophy would also take better advantage of Jones’ game-management skills (vs. his average QB skills).

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mike Reiss looks at a handful of additional potenital candidates for the offensive coordinator position. After O’Brien, Reiss lists former Jets head coach Adam Gase as a candidate considering his mutual respect with Belichick and his experience with Saban. Reiss also lists Vikings receivers coach Keenan McCardell, former Jets/Cardinals associate head coach/receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, Cowboys QBs coach Doug Nussmeier, and current Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley as potential targets for the job.

In a surprising press release last week, the Patriots revealed that they would begin interviewing offensive coordinator candidates. This follows a 2022 campaign where Belichick opted to go without an OC to replace Josh McDaniels and chose former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coordinator Joe Judge to lead the way. The results were ugly, as the inconsistent Patriots offense struggled for much of the year.

Latest On Jets’ OC Search

JANUARY 15: The Jets are interviewing Marcus Brady today, per Rapoport (via Twitter).

JANUARY 14: The Jets made headlines earlier in the week when they parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. That leaves the team with a significant hole to fill on offense during the coming weeks, but there is no shortage of names being floated around with respect to his potential replacements.

The early favorite appears to be Darrell Bevell. The Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator represents the name mentioned most often for the Jets’ OC vacancy, Connor Hughes of SNY tweets. The 52-year-old is in his first season with Miami, but spent the previous 15 campaigns as an offensive coordinator. That tenure included a stint as the Seahawks’ OC from 2012 to 2017, which earned him a Super Bowl ring.

That time also included overlap with current Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who was a defensive assistant at the time. Bevell saw time with the Vikings as their OC prior to his Seattle stint, and occupied the same role with the Lions and Jaguars. His experience as an interim head coach with the latter two teams – coupled with his role in revitalizing the Dolphins’ offense this year – has made him a potential HC candidate in this year’s cycle.

While it remains to be seen if New York will interview Bevell for the position, they have done so with Eagles passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The meeting took place yesterday, as Patullo prepares to continue his work with the NFC’s top seed. He has been with Philadelphia for the past two seasons, after a three-year stint alongside Nick Sirianni with the Colts in a similar role; he also spent one season with Gang Green prior to that.

The Jets have also requested an interview with Nick Caley, per Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). He is currently the Patriots’ tight ends coach, a title he has held since 2017. The 39-year-old has exclusively worked in New England during his NFL coaching career, but he spent a decade in the college ranks prior to joining Bill Belichick‘s staff in 2015. Rapoport had previously named Caley as a name to watch, alongside Eagles QBs coach Brian Johnson and former Colts OC Marcus Brady (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweets that Bills QBs coach Joe Brady is another potential candidate. He notes that the Jets are “doing homework” on the 33-year-old, who was highly-touted after his work in college (particularly with LSU) when he took on the Panthers’ OC job in 2020. That, much like Matt Rhule‘s tenure in Charlotte, did not go according to plan, however, and he was fired midway through his second season with the team. Brady was hired by the Bills shortly thereafter, as he began the process of rebuilding his stock.

Each of the above names comprise a list of candidates along with the likes of ex-Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, Rams offensive assistant Greg Olson and Chiefs QBs coach Matt Nagy. That trio, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, could all be in the mix, though he adds (via Twitter) that veteran Gary Kubiak is not expected to be a part of the Jets’ search. New York’s process of replacing LaFleur will be worth watching as the team looks to take another step forward on offense in 2023.