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Dan Quinn Remaining With The Cowboys

The most sought-after candidate in this year’s head coach hiring cycle has taken himself out of consideration for numerous jobs. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has informed HC-needy teams that he will be staying put in Dallas, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). 

Six of the nine teams with a vacancy requested an interview with Quinn, so it was widely believed his stay with the Cowboys would only last one season. Instead, he will carry on with the Cowboys to take another shot at a Super Bowl with one of the league’s most complete rosters.

Quinn conducted one interview with each of the Dolphins, Vikings and Giants. He was also a finalist for the Bears‘ and Broncos‘ positions, both of which have been filled today. The widespread interest he generated was in large part due to the success of the Cowboys’ defense in 2021. The unit ranked in the top ten in the league in points allowed (21 per game) and led the NFL with 26 interceptions.

The 51-year-old’s work with the ‘Legion of Boom’ in Seattle earned him the HC position in Atlanta. His return to life as an assistant in Dallas has certainly paid off, though, considering the opportunities he’s gotten in recent weeks. That interest is unlikely to die down, as Pelissero adds Quinn “should be a hot name again next year”. For now, though, teams will have to look elsewhere for their 2022 HC hires.

Bears Hire Matt Eberflus As Head Coach

Hours after the first head coaching hire was made, the second has been soon to follow. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the Bears are hiring Matt Eberflus as their new head coach. 

[Related: Bears To Hire Ryan Poles As GM]

Eberflus was one of three finalists for the job, along with Jim Caldwell and Dan Quinn. He conducted a second interview with the team on Wednesday, and the front office – which now includes, of course, former Chiefs exec Ryan Poles – clearly liked what they heard.

The 51-year-old has long been regarded as one of the league’s top defensive minds, something that has been confirmed with Chicago giving him his first HC opportunity. He was a candidate for the Jets’ and Chargers’ vacancies last year, but came up short. He also interviewed twice with the Jaguars for their current opening. Schefter tweets that Eberflus going to Chicago furthers Byron Leftwich‘s status as the “clubhouse leader” for Jacksonville’s next HC.

Just like the other hire of the morning, this represents a reversal of positional background for the affected team. After the Broncos replaced Vic Fangio with an up-and-coming offensive mind in Nathaniel Hackett, Eberflus will bring a celebrated defensive background to the Bears after they dismissed Matt Nagy.

Here’s the final rundown of the Bears’ HC search:

With the updates coming fast and furious now, be sure to check in on our Head Coach Tracker regularly.

Ben Roethlisberger Officially Retires

What had been expected for months has now become official: Ben Roethlisberger has called it a career. The 39-year-old tweeted a video making the announcement. 

“I don’t know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me, and what a blessing it has been. While I know with confidence I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all it has given me… The journey has been exhilarating, defined by relationships and fuelled by a spirit of competition… I retire from football a truly grateful man” he said.

“To the Rooney family, the Tull family, Coach [Mike] Tomlin, Coach [BillCowher, the incredible people on every level that make the Pittsburgh Steelers a special organization, thank you for believing in me… To all my teammates and the friendships I have gained, I appreciate you… Putting that jersey on every Sunday with my brothers will always be one of the greatest joys of my life. To Steeler Nation, the best fans in all of sport, thank you for accepting and supporting me as you quarterback over the years”.

Roethlisberger’s 18 years – all with the Steelers – will be remembered most for his two Super Bowl titles (XL and XLIII). The 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year and six-time Pro Bowler retires in fifth place on the All-Time Passing Yards list (64,088).

It had been assumed since December that the 2021 season would be Roethlisberger’s last in the NFL. Against the odds, the regular season finale against the Ravens didn’t turn out as his final game, as the overtime victory, along with some outside help, got the Steelers into the postseason one final time and continued a career-long streak of never having a losing season.

Going forward, the team will have Mason Rudolph and, in all likelihoodDwayne Haskins on the roster at the quarterback position. The Steelers will undoubtedly be one of the suitors for an offseason QB acquisition, but whomever the next starter will be, they will face the tall task of carrying on the standard set by a future Hall of Famer and franchise icon.

Broncos Hire Nathaniel Hackett As Head Coach

The first domino has fallen in the 2022 head coaching hiring cycle. The Broncos have hired Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach, as first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

Hackett, 42 has been the offensive coordinator in Green Bay since 2019. While he hasn’t handled play-calling duties during that time, he is credited to a large degree with the high level of play QB Aaron Rodgers has sustained well into his thirties, and the Packers’ three-straight 13-win seasons.

Prior to his time in Green Bay, he had established himself as one of the best young offensive minds in the league during stints in Buffalo and Jacksonville. He interviewed with the Jaguars once already, and had a second meeting scheduled for today. That sped up the hiring process for Broncos general manager George Paton, who “stepped in Wednesday night to get a deal done”, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Hackett will take on a HC role for the first time in his career, both at the college and NFL levels. Meanwhile, he marks the fourth coach hired by Denver since 2016, a stretch that includes five consecutive losing seasons. The offense-based background for Hackett represents a departure from that of the recently-fired Vic Fangio, as well as Dan Quinn, the Cowboys’ DC who has been the hottest name in this year’s hiring cycle and was a finalist for this job.

For the Packers, QB coach Luke Getsy, who also interviewed in Denver, is the favorite to take over as their OC. Meanwhile, this news strengthens the case for Byron Leftwich to get the Jacksonville gig.

Here’s how Denver’s HC search ended up looking:

Be sure to check in on our Head Coach Search Tracker for all the latest updates as more vacancies begin to be filled.

Saints’ HC Sean Payton “Stepping Away”

After speculation on his future continued to grow, Saints’ head coach Sean Payton has informed the team that he is “stepping away”, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). The news brings an end to his tenure in New Orleans dating back to 2006.

[Related: Sean Payton Not Certain To Return in 2022]

Rapoport reported earlier in the week that the 58-year-old was weighing his options, and that there was a strong chance he might not be coaching in 2022. Many thought a one-year absence was a possibility, either for Payton to take a year off from coaching altogether, or perhaps to try his hand in broadcasting, as TV networks are apparently interested in him. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports (via Twitter) that “he is not done coaching football in the future”.

Meanwhile, Nick Underhill of The Athletic has tweeted that Payton has “retired”. That would of course suggest a much greater degree of finality to the decision, as opposed to a temporary break from the spotlight. Payton was back at the Saints’ facility on Monday, the day owner Gayle Benson confirmed that no one in the organization knew his intentions.

Payton has three years remaining on his current contract, but obviously the Saints need to begin looking for a replacement HC. One of the names mentioned as a candidate to take over is defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who has also received interest from the Bears. New Orleans will certainly have competition for any external options, as there are now nine HC vacancies around the league.

One year after the quarterback who delivered the franchise’s only Super Bowl retired, the coach who was an equally integral part of that championship is now departing New Orleans as well.

Bears To Hire Ryan Poles As GM

The Bears are in the process of hiring Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles as their next general manager (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). The former player in Chicago is coming back, this time to lead the franchise’s front office.

Poles had gotten a request from the Bears for a second interview earlier this week. The fact that he was a finalist for the job wasn’t a surprise, given the interest he was also receiving from the Vikings and Giants. The 37-year-old was also a finalist for the GM job in Carolina last year.

Widely seen as one of the top-up-and-coming executives in the league, Poles has worked his way up the ladder in Kansas City very quickly. After starting out on the college scouting side of the franchise, he has recently worked alongside GM Brett Veach on a much wider scale. Still, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes that Poles will face “a learning curve”, given that he has yet to handle player contracts, among other things, directly. Overall, though, this is being viewed as a very smart hire, leading to optimism that the Bears can move forward from the previous Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace regime and return to playoff contention. As The Draft Scout’s Matt Miller points out (via Twitter), the Chiefs will receive one third-round compensatory pick this year and next as a result of the hire.

This news represents the second GM hire so far, after the Giants brought in Joe Schoen. With Poles hired, that leaves Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the vice president of football operations for the Browns, as the only remaining finalist for the Vikings’ GM vacancy. He is now the favorite to take over in Minnesota. Be sure to keep up to date with all the latest using our GM Search Tracker.

Ravens, DC Don Martindale Part Ways

Don Martindale will not lead the Ravens’ defense for a fifth season in 2022. The sides agreed to part ways Friday, making for an unexpected development.

The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout. Martindale had previously surfaced on the HC interview circuit, meeting with the Giants in 2020. The veteran defensive leader has not been connected to any jobs yet this cycle.

After several productive conversations, Don and I have agreed to move forward in separate directions,” John Harbaugh said Friday. “Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He has done a great job. Now it’s time to pursue other opportunities. Sometimes the moment comes, and it’s the right time.”

One year remained on Martindale’s contract. The Ravens had extended their DC in 2020. The 58-year-old assistant stands to be an intriguing commodity on the market, as several teams hire new coaches ahead of staff retools. He joins Vic Fangio and Mike Zimmer as proven defensive coordinators in coaching free agency.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens. Baltimore ranked as a top-10 defense from 2018-20, with Martindale’s units helping the team’s Lamar Jackson transition result in three straight playoff trips. Prior to being promoted to replace Dean Pees as Baltimore’s DC, Martindale headed up the team’s linebacking corps from 2012-17. The first of those seasons ended with the team’s second Super Bowl win.

Giants Hire Joe Schoen As GM

The Giants have hired former Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen as their new GM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Now, per a press release from the team, Schoen has been officially tapped as Dave Gettleman‘s replacement.

[RELATED: 2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

We are pleased and proud to name Joe as our general manager,” said Giants president John Mara. “Throughout our search, Joe impressed us with his ability to communicate a progressive and comprehensive vision for our team. His philosophy and collaborative approach to building a roster and coaching staff align with what we were looking for in a general manager.”

The Giants spoke with at least nine candidates during their search, before narrowing the field to three finalists: Schoen, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters, and Chiefs executive Ryan Poles. This morning, the Giants informed Peters and Poles that they will be hiring someone else (Twitter link via Schefter) — that someone was Schoen.

Steve [Tisch] and I were both impressed with all nine candidates,” Mara said, via the team’s press release. “We came away from this process feeling like all nine will be a general manager in this league at some point. We just felt like Joe was the right fit at the right time for us.”

Schoen, 42, has spent the past five seasons as an assistant under current GM Brandon Beane, who has a relationship with Schoen dating back to 2001 when he was the GM of the Panthers. The turnaround in Buffalo over the past few years, and Schoen’s role in that process, earned him plenty of GM interest. In addition to the G-Men, the Bears were also high on him, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.

[Schoen is] going to be a GM,” Beane told The Athletic back in 2019. “The thing about him is that he’s smart enough to know that he’s still learning and growing, and he’s trying to get stronger at his craft. He wants to be totally ready when he gets in there.”

Instead of just rushing to the seat and then trying to figure it out, Joe’s that guy that he wants to have all the answers to the test before he goes and sits down. Very few people are like that. There’s so many people in this business that are just trying to get into that head coach seat, that GM seat, and maybe they’re not ready for it. I have no doubt he’s going to be ready for it. He’s a great communicator. He understands people. You’re not going to outwork him.”

With Schoen at the helm, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll may have a leg up in the Giants’ head coaching search. It’s also worth noting that Giants ownership was high on Daboll, even before Schoen got the job today. Cowboys DC Dan Quinn and ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores are also expected to garner serious consideration.

Raiders Won’t Retain GM Mike Mayock

We heard earlier this evening that the Raiders had requested permission to interview two GM candidates. There was one issue: Mike Mayock was still the team’s general manager. Now, we’re learning that Mayock is out in Las Vegas. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders have informed Mayock that he won’t be retained.

[RELATED: Raiders Request Interviews With Patriots’ Jerod Mayo, Dave Ziegler]

“We have relieved Mike Mayock of his duties as General Manager of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the team said in a statement (via Albert Breer on Twitter). “We thank Mike for his contributions over the last three years in helping to form the foundation for the franchise to build upon in its future.”

Per Rapoport (on Twitter), the Raiders organization made their decision to fire Mayock “several days ago.” Their requests to interview Patriots exec Dave Ziegler and Colts exec Ed Dobbs were made earlier this evening. It’s uncertain when Mayock learned of his fate. According to Breer (on Twitter), there were rumblings prior to the draft that Mayock could be on his way out with the organization. He kept his gig and saw his team make the playoffs, but Aaron Wilson tweets that the organization had been putting out feelers on potential HC and GM candidates over the past few days. It doesn’t sound like that sits well with current Raiders staffers; NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe tweets that scouts, coaches, and executives were currently prepping for the draft and free agency without knowing there could be a major shakeup atop the front office.

The broadcaster-turned-GM didn’t have final say over transactions during much of his tenure with the Raiders; that honor belonged to head coach Jon Gruden before he resigned this season. There were plenty of misfires during the duo’s time with the organization; both of the Raiders’ 2020 first-round picks (Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette) were cut this year, and the front office surely has regrets with how things unfolded with acquisitions like Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, and Lamarcus Joyner.

However, as PFF’s Doug Kyed tweets, Mayock should be credited with a handful of late-round hits, including defensive end Maxx Crosby, wideout Hunter Renfrow, tight end Foster Moreau, and cornerback Nate Hobbs. The Raiders also improved during each of Mayock’s three seasons at the helm, culminating in the GM’s first playoff appearance this season following a 10-win regular season. Not to mention, that playoff performance came amid a tumultuous season off the field. Alas, the organization will now look for a new GM to guide the front office, with Ziegler and Dobbs first on the list of candidates.

Meanwhile, this news doesn’t bode well for interim head coach Rich Bisaccia‘s chances of keeping his gig. The long-time special teams coordinator guided the team to a 7-5 record and a playoff appearance, but a new GM will surely prefer their own coaching staff. We already heard earlier tonight that the organization requested permission to interview Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. According to Schefter (on Twitter), Bisaccia “remains with the team at this time.”

Texans Interview Brian Flores For HC Job

Barely a day after the Texans fired David Culley, they interviewed one of the frontrunners to succeed him. Brian Flores completed a Houston HC interview Friday, the team announced.

Flores and Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo have been mentioned as the favorites for this post, but the recently fired Dolphins HC was the first name to come up here. Flores and Texans GM Nick Caserio worked together in New England for over a decade. Flores, 40, also completed an interview with the Bears on Friday.

The Texans do need to interview at least one more minority candidate to satisfy the NFL’s current Rooney Rule requirements. This process could move fast, given Flores’ connection to Caserio. With the second-year GM pulling the plug on Culley so quickly, it is fairly clear he has a candidate in mind.

Josh McDaniels was most frequently linked to Caserio during previous hiring periods, but Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 reports the Patriots OC will not interview during his team’s playoff run. McDaniels also might not be interested in Houston’s job, Wilson notes. That would narrow the field of notable Patriot assistants or ex-Patriot staffers, opening a wider path for Flores. The Patriots had Flores on staff from 2004-18, and he ran their defense during their most recent Super Bowl-winning season. Caserio was in Foxborough throughout Flores’ stay.

Despite taking over what was almost certainly the NFL’s worst roster in 2019, Flores won five games in Miami that season. He then reeled off back-to-back winning seasons over the past two years. Flores’ tenure included a 4-2 record against the Patriots, with the Dolphins becoming the first team to sweep the Pats since Bill Belichick‘s first season with the franchise (2000). However, clashes with management and Tua Tagovailoa are believed to have soured the Dolphins on Flores.

A Houston landing would certainly be interesting because of the team’s quarterback situation. Flores spent months deflecting Deshaun Watson questions leading up to the trade deadline. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was believed to be behind the team’s Watson push, but the quarterback was interested in playing for Flores. Watson is expected to keep his trade request in place, regardless of the Texans’ HC choice.