Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick Expected To Return To NFL In 2025

We’ve written plenty about former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick over the last few months following his departure from his long-time post in New England, and after the extensive recent coverage, it seems that we shouldn’t expect to hear from him for quite a few months. After missing out on the Falcons’ open head coaching position, Belichick is expected to take the 2024 NFL season off in anticipation of jobs that could open up in 2025, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Rapoport reports that, once the Falcons made their decision to hire Raheem Morris, several team owners reached out to Belichick in order to gauge his interest in returning for the 2025 NFL season. This seems questionable, as every team in the NFL currently has a head coach in place, but with a few coaches’ contracts set to expire after next year, those owners are set to make sure they have their bases covered. That’s not to mention owners who may be anticipating a hot seat for their current team leaders.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tells us that, while Belichick was certainly interested in the Atlanta job, a number of factors kept him from being too crestfallen about missing out. The future of general manager Terry Fontenot and the power structure with chief executive officer Rich McKay were both concerns of Belichick’s. Moving forward, next year, those types of factors will be a part of his decision-making process.

Fowler also tells us that Belichick’s reputation as a history buff could factor into his decision-making, offering that the 71-year-old could prioritize historic franchises when picking out his next destination. This lines up with rumors we’ve heard about the Cowboys and Eagles, whose head coaches could be on hot seats after disappointing ends to their 2023 campaigns. This also throws in a franchise like the Bears, who have had four different head coaches since 2012.

We’ll have plenty of time to speculate over the next several months. For now, suffice it to say that Belichick is widely expected to return. He is 15 wins shy of breaking Don Shula‘s all-time wins record (including playoffs) and is reportedly motivated to pass that mark. He’ll just have to wait another year to do so.

Arthur Blank: Bill Belichick Never Asked To Control Falcons’ Football Ops

This offseason brought an unusual development involving a prospective coaching hire. The most accomplished coach to ever land on a carousel exited this year’s ride without a job. Bill Belichick‘s credentials are unmatched, but steady rumblings about what he would do upon taking a job look to have impacted his current free agency status.

A rare instance of power brokers interviewing a candidate and protecting their own job security came out as a reason Belichick is not currently the Falcons’ head coach. This component may well have led other teams to steer clear of the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC, who is believed to have only spoken with only one other team — the Commanders — about a coaching vacancy this offseason. While Belichick is believed to be planning to regroup with an eye on 2025, the Falcons now reside as the “what if?” team regarding the NFL’s second-winningest coach.

[RELATED: Latest On Falcons’ Quarterback Plans]

While calling Belichick’s interviews “excellent,” Arthur Blank said (via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein) Belichick did not ask the Falcons for full control of their football ops department during his interview process. A report indeed suggested the 71-year-old coach was targeting such power, though Belichick and Blank were not believed to have discussed this directly.

I want to be clear really on behalf of Bill, just as a human being and as a storied coach in the history of our league,” Blank said during an appearance on NFL Network’s Super Bowl Live. “Been a coach 49 years in the NFL. Bill, during all of our discussions with him, it was never about power, control, needing people to work for him, etcetera. He was interested in coaching. He definitely wanted a collaborative relationship with personnel, scouting.

He had done his reference checking on our department, had committed to me that he’d be happy to work with our people. In fact, did it in writing through a text message he sent to me at one point.”

Belichick met with Blank in a one-on-one setting before the second summit included members of the Falcons’ brass. Going into the second meeting, Belichick was viewed as the favorite. Following the larger-scale powwow in Atlanta, the team started moving in a different direction. It is natural, then, to assume the reports of Falcons brass steering Blank away from Belichick have some truth to them. GM Terry Fontenot said it was Blank’s call to hire Morris, but the fourth-year GM said (via Rothstein) he led the interview process. This came after a Falcons statement — issued in the wake of Arthur Smith‘s firing — said Blank and CEO Rich McKay would lead the search as Fontenot provided input.

One of the reports in the wake of the Falcons’ Raheem Morris hire pegged Belichick and McKay as having a less-than-stellar relationship. Despite moving out of the GM role in 2009, McKay has been a key Falcons decision-maker since. The team made a point of announcing the former Super Bowl-winning GM (with the Buccaneers) would step away from involvement in football ops moving forward. Friday, Blank said the experience Morris and Fontenot possess helped lead him to slide McKay toward the business side.

Given McKay’s 30-plus years in front offices and his 20-plus years with the Falcons, it is difficult to imagine he will not retain a voice in football matters — to some degree, at least. But Blank said Friday both Morris and Fontenot will report directly to ownership. Pointing toward Morris’ experience would seemingly represent a dig at Smith, but the former has been in the NFL much longer. Morris’ NFL run includes a three-year stay as Bucs HC and spending much of the 2020 season as Falcons interim HC.

Bill was really focused and is focused on being a great head coach, which is clearly what he has been,” Blank said. “We looked at all the candidates that we interviewed, all the time together, and we felt for a variety of reasons that the best choice for us at this point in our lives, the life of the franchise going forward, is Raheem Morris.”

If Belichick were to book more HC interviews in 2025, teams will naturally want to know the football lifer’s expectations regarding personnel control. He held dual HC/GM roles throughout his Patriots stay. Even if Belichick makes a point of indicating he is fine being only a head coach and not a de facto GM, having someone with his experience in the building and that organization giving someone else final say would be quite the interesting dynamic. After the Falcons passed, it will be a bit before these scenarios resurface.

Bill Belichick Fallout: Falcons, GM Power, Morris, Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots, QBs, Kraft

This coaching carousel’s music has stopped with Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel on the outside looking in. While Vrabel’s prospects of returning to the league figure to remain strong, Belichick’s age — and the developments during this year’s hiring period — inject uncertainty into his prospects of landing another NFL HC job.

No coach in Belichick’s age range has landed a job, with Bruce Arians (66) being the oldest HC hire. Belichick’s age (72 in April) was naturally a factor for the Falcons, who interviewed him twice. But a degree of territory protecting appears to have transpired as well.

Arthur Blank indeed wanted to hire Belichick this year,’s Albert Breer notes, adding that some around the longtime Falcons owner swayed him. Belichick loomed as the early favorite, but after the team expanded its search (including Vrabel and Jim Harbaugh) following his second interview, it signaled a different candidate would be hired. The Falcons hired Raheem Morris, whom’s Adam Schefter notes has a five-year contract.

Morris remained popular with Falcons players, though the bulk of the cogs from his season as interim coach are gone. Had Belichick been hired by the Falcons, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes an organizational “groundshake” — on both the football and business sides — would have taken place. Staffers being concerned about losing their jobs or seeing their roles change dramatically is understandable, and this appears to be a key part of why Belichick is not currently assembling a staff in Atlanta.

Blank and Falcons CEO Rich McKay ran the team’s coaching search, with a team announcement indicating GM Terry Fontenot would provide input. This would suggest a vulnerability regarding the fourth-year GM’s status, but McKay assured following the Arthur Smith firing that was not the case. The Morris hire effectively keeps Fontenot in good standing, and although the Falcons have said the GM will now report to ownership — with McKay being kicked to the business side — The Athletic’s Jeff Howe indicates the latter does not have a good relationship with Belichick (subscription required).

A Belichick arrival would have undoubtedly meant a reduced Fontenot and potentially affected McKay’s, though given the latter’s 21-year tenure with the Falcons, Blank should not have been expected to dismiss his former GM to appease Belichick. Blank remains loyal to McKay, per’s Charles Robinson, who adds McKay’s longstanding relationship with Morris — whom he hired as a quality control assistant in Tampa during his run as Buccaneers GM — played a role in the Rams DC being hired.

Although a coach with Belichick’s credentials being shut out during this year’s cycle points to front office staffers being concerned about job security, it is also believed certain demands from the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC were set to ensue. Belichick and Blank are not believed to have discussed who would hold final say on personnel matters, but Robinson adds the coaching icon believed had he taken the job the Atlanta football ops would need to run through him. Shortly before the Belichick-Patriots separation, the 24-year New England HC expressed a willingness to relinquish some authority to stay. It does not appear that entailed a true commitment to change.

Had Robert Kraft believed Belichick would have been more open to changes — from his front office to philosophy to roster construction — Howe adds the owner would have been more inclined to keep him onboard for the 2024 season. Belichick’s Patriots contract ran through 2024, but Kraft followed through with a long-rumored plan to move on. The contract he authorized for Jerod Mayo in 2023 led to the assistant being quickly promoted.

The post-Tom Brady years in New England have also played an obvious role in Belichick’s extended status as a coaching free agent. Belichick’s handling of his quarterback position following Brady’s 2020 exit has also impacted teams’ view of him, Howe adds, with Mac Jones‘ swoon serving as the crux of this concern. Belichick crafted a bizarre plan to shift Matt Patricia to the offensive side, where he called plays in 2022.

This season brought a significant downturn for Jones, who finished behind only Ja’Marr Chase in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Jones’ regression continued, under a third OC in three years (Bill O’Brien), and his NFL future is suddenly cloudy. Belichick demoted Jones to his third-string quarterback in Week 18, with’s Mike Reiss indicating poor scout-team work leading up to that contest prompted the departing HC to make that move. This marked the final chapter in a steadily deteriorating relationship between Belichick and the passer he chose 15th overall three years ago.

Belichick’s comments regarding Jones — before his 2023 freefall — have also confused some execs around the league, Howe adds. Had Belichick kept his Patriots job,’s Dan Graziano offers that he would have been expected to target a veteran quarterback this offseason. Belichick’s only Patriot-years season with a veteran option featured Cam Newton in 2020; the diminished MVP became a one-and-done in New England. Newton’s limitations in 2020 led to the Jones investment. It will now be on Mayo, and however the Patriots go about restructuring their front office, to solve this latest QB problem.

Belichick the coach continued to churn out stingy defenses, even without key pieces this season, but his GM work left the Patriots with one of the NFL’s worst rosters. Belichick’s personnel acumen previously equipped the Brady-led teams with a number of undervalued gems, aiding the Super Bowl runs. But the near-50-year NFL staffer’s standing has undeniably fallen. Only the Falcons and Commanders are believed to have spoken with Belichick about their HC jobs.

The Eagles and Cowboys, however, may be teams to monitor for the 2025 cycle — one that could conceivably be Belichick’s last chance to land another HC job. Both teams considered Belichick last month, but each NFC East power retained its embattled coach.

The Eagles retained Nick Sirianni, but had the Super Bowl HC not agreed to certain demands regarding his coordinators, the Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard indicated during an appearance on 98.5’s Felger and Mazz (h/t Bleacher Report) a Belichick-to-Philly path is believed to have been viable for 2024. The Eagles likely joined the Falcons in making backchannel contact pertaining to a potential Belichick pursuit, Bedard notes. Unlike Doug Pederson in 2021, Sirianni did fire coordinators. It is safe to place Sirianni, his 3-for-3 rate at leading the Eagles to the playoffs, on a hot seat.

Bedard noted the Eagles were “very interested” in Belichick, pointing to this connection remaining a storyline should Sirianni struggle to reassert himself this season. The Eagles would almost definitely not hand final personnel say to Belichick, given Howie Roseman‘s track record (the 2015 Chip Kelly-driven demotion notwithstanding). That would make this fit interesting, but were Belichick to spend his first season away from the NFL since 1974, it stands to reason he would go into the 2025 hiring period with reduced requests regarding the personnel side.

Jerry Jones also made headlines by saying he could work with Belichick, saying (via Yahoo’s Jori Epstein) there is “no doubt” he could coexist with the towering sideline presence. Jones openly saying he’d be fine with another (more accomplished) coach than is own is telling, but Mike McCarthy remains in place for a fifth season. The Cowboys are not extending McCarthy’s contract, making him the rare lame-duck HC in the modern NFL. This will naturally keep Belichick on the Dallas radar. How Belichick would navigate a setup in which ownership runs the personnel would be interesting, though Jones did cede more power to Belichick mentor Bill Parcells during the latter’s four-year stay in the 2000s.

As for this season, Jonathan Jones points to Belichick taking a TV job as the most likely 2024 path. The 29-year HC veteran was planning to be selective about a third HC destination, with Jones adding the goal will remain for personnel power to be involved in a 2025 pursuit. The clock is ticking on that front, with only four coaches in NFL history coaching a game beyond age 71.

Although Belichick’s football knowledge will obviously far surpass anyone he attempts to work with moving forward, the Patriots’ post-Brady years — along with potential consequences for in-house staffers on HC-needy teams — have him in the penalty box for now. With no retirement plans, Belichick’s potential re-emergence in 2025 will be a major NFL storyline over the next several months.

Commanders Spoke With Bill Belichick About HC Job

While multiple reports came out suggesting the Commanders were not interested in Bill Belichick, the longtime Patriots HC may have spoken to two teams about HC positions this year.

The Commanders are believed to have spoken with Belichick about the job, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. Some internal support existed for a hire, though not too much appears to have developed on that front. Five teams went with defense-oriented candidates this year, making it even more interesting the greatest defensive coach in NFL history does not have a job.

[RELATED: Commanders Expected To Retain Martin Mayhew]

Belichick met with the Falcons twice about their job and was viewed as the early favorite. But that prospective partnership fizzled, leading to Raheem Morris landing the Atlanta job. Both the positions to which Belichick was connected went to candidates who served as Falcons HCs in 2020; Morris succeeded Dan Quinn in the interim that year. Quinn became the team’s Ron Rivera successor Thursday morning.

Although a brief Belichick-Commanders connection formed as the regular season ended, Russini’s report runs counter to what came out when the Patriots and Belichick parted ways. The Commanders were not believed to be interested in the Maryland native for their job, and a Wednesday follow-up indicated the team expressed issues with Belichick’s age and how he would fit on a rebuilding team. Belichick’s willingness to work alongside new football ops president Adam Peters is also believed to have come up during the Washington search.

It is possible the above-referenced concerns developed after the Commanders discussed the job with Belichick, though no official interview was ever reported. The Falcons reported both their meetings with the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC. Ben Johnson appeared positioned as the favorite for the Washington job, but the Detroit OC — just before his second interview with the Commanders — informed both the Commanders and Seahawks he was staying with the Lions. It is unclear if Quinn served as a consolation prize, but given the smoke surrounding Johnson, assuming that is the case would not be a stretch.

Belichick joins Mike Vrabel and Pete Carroll as longtime HCs out of the mix for the 2024 season. The 24-year New England leader has not been connected to retirement, sitting 14 wins shy of Don Shula‘s all-time record. Belichick and Vrabel’s statuses stand to make the 2025 coaching carousel fascinating, as that could conceivably represent the former’s last chance to land another NFL HC job. At 48, Vrabel obviously has more time. Belichick, 72 in April, has been an NFL staffer in every season since 1975. He has not worked as an assistant since being the Jets’ defensive coordinator in 1999.

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Commanders Not Considering Adding Bill Belichick, Mike Vrabel To HC Search

Two Commanders HC candidates dropped out of the race Tuesday. Ben Johnson, the presumed favorite, informed the Commanders and Seahawks he would stay with the Lions. Bobby Slowik, who interviewed with Washington twice, is sticking with the Texans.

This could conceivably prompt the Commanders to expand their search. The Cardinals made this move last year midway through their search. Two big names remain available, in Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel. The Commanders have not interviewed either candidate, being rumored early during this year’s carousel spin to be steering clear of Belichick. That has not changed, per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, who adds no indications have surfaced that Vrabel will be an 11th-hour candidate.

Regarding Belichick, Vacchiano indicates the team is leery about the six-time Super Bowl winner’s age (72 in April) and status working alongside a football ops president (Adam Peters) who has roster control. Belichick operated as the de facto Patriots GM throughout his 24-year tenure, and personnel power was believed to be an issue for the Falcons, the only team to interview the coaching icon during this cycle. Although Belichick is a Maryland native, internal questions as to whether he would want to oversee a rebuild have also emerged.

The Commanders’ reasoning for avoiding Vrabel is less clear, but the six-year Titans HC — who had been mentioned for weeks as a trade asset — looks likely to join his former coach in being shut out this year. Vrabel, 48, is well regarded around the league. But he has not interviewed for either of the two remaining HC jobs. The Seahawks have been connected to being interested in Vrabel, but they are now well into their second interviews. It would appear Seattle has determined to look elsewhere as well.

After Johnson and Slowik dropped out, only one candidate with an offensive background — Eric Bieniemy — remains in the mix for the Washington job. The 2023 Commanders OC is not viewed as a serious HC candidate, according to Vacchiano. After Bieniemy’s failure to land a head coaching job became a lightning-rod NFL topic during his Kansas City run, only Washington interviewed him this time around. The team’s offense struggled down the stretch, finishing with an eight-game losing streak and worse rankings worse than it did during Scott Turner‘s final season calling the shots.

That said, some around the NFL have wondered if the Commanders are still gauging Bieniemy’s fit with the next coach as an OC, Vacchiano adds. It would surprise if Josh Harris were to saddle his next HC hire with the OC Ron Rivera brought in, but Bieniemy does bring considerable experience to the table.┬áRegardless of his shortcomings in HC interviews, the five-year Chiefs OC worked as Andy Reid‘s right-hand man during one of the NFL’s prolific offensive stretches. It would not surprise to see Bieniemy become a candidate to keep his job, but ownership insisting on him staying seems unlikely.

Many in the NFL expected Peters to pursue an offense-oriented coach after seeing how Kyle Shanahan revived the 49ers, Vacchiano adds, noting the team is likely to draft a quarterback at No. 2 overall. As it stands now, a defense-geared coach will be mentoring Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels — should the Bears stay on course and select Caleb Williams atop the draft — in 2024, while Belichick and Vrabel ponder their next moves.

As of Wednesday, no more interviews are scheduled. The Seahawks are interviewing Mike Macdonald for a second time today, while Dan Quinn is also a candidate for the Seattle job. Here is how the Commanders’ search looks:

Falcons Hire Raheem Morris As HC

The only team to interview Bill Belichick this month, the Falcons are heading in a different direction. The team is closing in on hiring Raheem Morris as its next head coach,’s Tom Pelissero reports.’s Adam Schefter reports the Falcons plan to make the hire.

This comes after CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reported the Rams’ defensive coordinator impressed during his second interview this week. Morris had a Seahawks interview scheduled; this Falcons hire will nix that. Morris spent six seasons in Atlanta prior to moving to Los Angeles, finishing that Falcons tenure as interim HC replacing Dan Quinn. The Rams will pick up third-round picks in 2024 and 2025 for seeing a minority assistant hired as a head coach.

[RELATED: Latest On Falcons’ Leadership Structure]

While Belichick overshadowed this search, the Falcons conducted a wide-ranging process to replace Arthur Smith. The team met with Mike Vrabel on Wednesday and conducted second interviews with Panthers DC Ejiro Evero and Texans OC Bobby Slowik. The Falcons also met with Ben Johnson, Aaron Glenn, Anthony Weaver and Mike Macdonald virtually, but due to the Lions and Ravens staffers being tied to teams in the conference championship round, Atlanta could not meet in-person with those candidates this week. The NFC South franchise will move forward with Morris.

The Belichick piece is obviously significant here, as this represented the longtime Patriots leader’s most likely landing spot, but this also provides a true second chance for Morris. Now 47, Morris was hired as Buccaneers HC back in 2009 at just 32. Morris lasted three years as Tampa Bay’s HC but did not prove ready for the job. (Although the 2010 Bucs won 10 games, Morris went 17-31 in Tampa.) After leaving the Falcons on good terms for L.A. in 2021, Morris collected a Super Bowl ring. Sean McVay and Rams brass offered endless praise for Morris, who will become the latest in a line of Rams staffers to land promotions elsewhere.

Another Rams piece lingers here, too. Zac Robinson, McVay’s QBs coach, has emerged as a lead candidate to follow Morris and become the Falcons’ next OC, Jones reports. This would be interesting due to the volume of interview requests in Robinson’s inbox. Robinson has interviewed with the Patriots, Saints and Bears and received requests to meet with the Steelers and Raiders. After the Bengals took Dan Pitcher off the board Wednesday, Robinson following Morris to Georgia would further deplete the OC candidate pool.

Arthur Blank targeted Belichick early, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, but some internal persuasion looks to have swayed the owner. While Belichick’s accomplishments lap every other candidate in this year’s cycle, Morris also checks the experience box Blank sought — now becoming the first retread HC hire in the owner’s 22-year run — due to his Tampa Bay tenure and 2020 stay as the Atlanta interim boss.’s Albert Breer indicated this week the non-Blank sect of Falcons brass may not have been as interested in Belichick, and it is worth wondering if the prospect of the six-time Super Bowl champion HC shaking up Atlanta’s power structure played a role in the organization passing.

Belichick, 71, is five years older than anyone ever hired to be a full-time NFL head coach. The Bucs’ 2019 Bruce Arians hire still leads the way here, and this offseason would represent one of the most interesting carousels in league history if it leaves Belichick without a chair. Reports last week pegged Belichick — the first coach to meet with the Falcons twice — as the clear favorite, to the point he had the right of first refusal and was in a way interviewing the Falcons about a fit. As the days passed since Belichick’s Atlanta meeting, it started to look like Belichick was losing ground. The Falcons ended up meeting with 14 candidates.

Throughout Belichick’s Patriots tenure, he held personnel power. The Falcons had Blank and CEO Rich McKay running this search, but the team still has GM Terry Fontenot in place. Fontenot arrived as Morris exited in 2021; the two are now set to work together. The prospect of Belichick ultimately answering to McKay could have also been a red flag for the legendary HC, and Fontenot’s role would likely have been impacted by a Belichick hire. The Falcons also passing on Belichick bringing back a host of ex-Patriot staffers, including the likes of Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, also could have served as a dealbreaker for the team.

After Morris and Dave Canales (Panthers) agreed to terms in the NFC South today, only two teams — the Commanders and Seahawks — are looking for HCs. Neither have met with Belichick, and neither is believed to be interested. Rumblings about teams with HC vacancies being open to Belichick have surfaced, but unless a team were to fire its coach and create a late vacancy, it is looking like the 2024 season will be the first without Belichick in a head coaching role since 1999.

Belichick has been either a head coach or an assistant in the NFL each year since 1975. Beginning with his native Baltimore Colts, Belichick initially landed on the HC radar after winning two Super Bowls as Giants defensive coordinator. A Browns partnership in the early ’90s did not produce consistent success, but after Belichick teamed again with Bill Parcells with the Patriots and Jets later in the decade, Robert Kraft brought him back as head coach. That union (with a heavy assist from Tom Brady) produced one of the great HC runs in sports history, but the Pats have moved on after a 4-13 season, hiring heir apparent Jerod Mayo.

Will Belichick — 14 wins shy of Don Shula‘s all-time record — be willing to take an assistant job somewhere to continue his career? Belichick made a public comment indicating a willingness to relinquish authority in New England, but it worth wondering if other teams were leery about giving him the keys after recent struggles on the GM front in Foxborough. This Morris hire represents good news for Fontenot, who was tasked with a rebuild upon being hired in 2021. He appears set to continue that work with a second head coach.

The Falcons gave Morris the interim job in October 2020; he went 4-7 in that span, finishing off a 4-12 season for the team. Atlanta has since finished 7-10 in each of the past three seasons, with ugly late-season losses ending Smith’s run. In Morris, the Falcons have a familiar face who was part of Quinn’s Super Bowl LI staff. Morris also showed versatility during his first Atlanta stint, being the rare coach to work on both sides of the ball for the same franchise. The Falcons employed Morris as their wide receivers coach from 2016-19, shifting him to defensive coordinator in 2020.

Morris replaced Brandon Staley as Rams DC and served as the top defensive voice in the building for a Super Bowl champion. Riding an Aaron DonaldVon MillerJalen Ramsey veteran nucleus, Morris helped that defense crest at the right time. That said, the Rams ranked first in scoring and total defense under Staley in 2020; they never placed higher than 15th in either category under Morris. But the latter also displayed his coaching acumen this year, seeing several Super Bowl pieces stripped from the roster. The Rams still found their way back to the playoffs, with third-rounders Kobie Turner and Byron Young providing vital Donald support during what was initially labeled a rebuilding season.

It is still interesting the Falcons hired a Quinn staffer to be their next HC, and the Morris move also marks new territory in modern NFL history. Although 12 teams have elevated interim HCs to the full-time post in the 21st century, this is the only post-2000 occurrence of a team bringing back its interim leader after he subsequently coached elsewhere.

Morris will be tasked with leading a team Fontenot has indeed upgraded but one that appears in need at quarterback. The Falcons are expected to pursue an upgrade on Desmond Ridder, and Morris will be expected to use his defensive background to enhance that unit’s capabilities as well. The Falcons have not made the playoffs since 2017; they will bet on Morris over Belichick to become a better long-term leader.

Latest On Falcons’ Leadership Structure

The Falcons turned a lot of heads when they made the decision to give Raheem Morris his first official head coaching gig in 13 years instead of hiring Bill Belichick, who many see as one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. A report from Dan Graziano details a situation that saw a difference of opinion on how the team’s executive structure should be shaped.

According to Graziano, multiple sources have been saying for weeks that team owner Arthur Blank came into the hiring process wanting Belichick. Unfortunately for Blank, Falcons chief executive officer Rich McKay has a hand in the day-to-day operations of the team and has a say, as well. Apparently, that role concerned Belichick, who inquired about McKay’s impact should he be hired. Belichick seemed to want structural power, similar to what he had in New England.

In the eyes of the organization, Belichick “was seen as a short-term play.” He’s got plenty of rings and is only 15 wins away from passing legendary coach Don Shula for the all-time record of most wins by a head coach. In order to grant Belichick the powers he sought within the organization, extensive overhauling would be required in the leadership structure; overhauling that would then need to be done a second time upon Belichick’s departure in the near future. In the end, it just made more sense to keep the broad structure in place and hire a coach with a greater aspiration for continuing to coach well into the future.

Additionally, though, the team made the call to ultimately move McKay away from the day-to-day operations of the team. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, while McKay will remain CEO of Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) and will continue “to represent the team on league matters and the NFL’s Competition Committee,” McKay will focus more on soccer, away from football operations. Instead, Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot will report directly to Blank.

Commanders, Seahawks Not Expected To Make HC Hires This Week

With the Falcons bringing back Raheem Morris and the Panthers luring Dave Canales from the Buccaneers, the NFC South now has four head coaches again. That leaves just two openings remaining; neither is likely to be filled this week.

The Commanders and Seahawks are expected to wait a bit longer, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter noting both teams are planning to delay their searches until next week. NFL rules will dictate these delays. Staffers on a team preparing for a conference championship game cannot meet with teams about a coaching job.

Despite the Chiefs and 49ers’ continued success, these delays pertain to the Lions and Ravens’ coordinators. Ben Johnson, Aaron Glenn, Mike Macdonald and Anthony Weaver are in the mix for jobs. Other coaches remain in the running for the Seattle and Washington gigs, but the non-Detroit or Baltimore-affiliated candidates are free to conduct in-person interviews now.

The NFL rule change last year prevented any coach on an NFL staff from conducting an in-person interview with a team until after the divisional round. As a result, Glenn, Johnson, Macdonald and Weaver have only interviewed virtually. Last year’s hiring period involved lengthy waits as well, with the Cardinals and Colts not making their hires until after Super Bowl LVII. Eagles staffers Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen signed on to fill those positions, needing to wait until after the Super Bowl due to league rules. If the Ravens or Lions advance that far this season, their assistants would need to wait until after Super Bowl LVIII to be hired.

Washington has been connected to Johnson for a bit now. Both the Panthers and Commanders were believed to have the second-year Lions OC positioned as the favorite in their respective searches. Johnson spurned Carolina last year and may not have given indications he was interested this year, either. Though, Johnson did interview with David Tepper‘s club. Johnson interviewed with both the Commanders and Seahawks virtually, joining Glenn and Macdonald.

Johnson and Glenn are expected to meet again with the Commanders. Macdonald interviewed virtually with Washington, but only Weaver has a second Commanders interview arranged among Baltimore staffers. The Ravens could see both their coordinators return, which represented an unlikely scenario given the team’s success this season. Macdonald has not interviewed with the Seahawks, and OC Todd Monken has not been connected to either of the remaining openings. The Seahawks are believed to be interested in Mike Vrabel, though they have not interviewed him. No Vrabel-Commanders connections have emerged.

Bill Belichick is not believed to be on either NFC team’s radar, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reinforces. Belichick, 71, had only met with the Falcons about their vacancy. Although Arthur Blank initially targeted the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC, the Falcons changed course and hired Morris. The latter met twice with the Commanders and was set for a second Seahawks interview Friday. Unless another team fires its head coach, Belichick is likely to find himself shut out — from HC positions, at least — in this cycle. The 29-year HC veteran is 14 wins shy of Don Shula‘s career record. He has been on an NFL sideline in every season since 1975.

Falcons’ Bill Belichick Pursuit Losing Momentum?

Bill Belichick was considered the favorite for the Falcons head coaching job, even as the team continued to add candidates to their interview process. While some assumed the organization was simply biding time before ultimately hiring Belichick, that may not be the case.

[RELATED: Bill Belichick Viewed As Top Falcons HC Candidate]

Josh Kendall of The Athletic writes that the “Belichick candidacy has lost momentum” over the past week, with sources telling him that the organization’s “Belichick or bust” mentality was inaccurate.

As Kendall details, there were plenty of worthy reasons to assume Belichick was the front runner. For starters, he’s the only known candidate to meet a second time with the organization (the team has requested second interviews with other candidates), and the iconic head coach hasn’t taken any reported meetings with other teams. Those factors, coupled with owner Arthur Blank‘s penchant for big-name hunting and the organization’s decision to let defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen leave for the Jaguars, made it seem like Belichick was a shoo-in for the job.

On the flip side, the Falcons have cast the widest net in the NFL as they search for their next head coach, with 13 candidates interviewing for the job (and a 14th, Mike Vrabel, set to interview this week). You could explain away some of the initial candidates as placeholders until Belichick’s situation in New England was resolved. But the Falcons have continued to add candidates to the list, even after Belichick’s second interview.

So, since the Falcons may not be waiting around for an inevitable Belichick addition, their head coaching search will continue indefinitely. Kendall cautions that a move probably won’t be made this week, and he adds that the search could extend beyond the Super Bowl if the Falcons are targeting a conference-winning coach.

As for Belichick, it doesn’t sound like the Falcons will be his only option. In fact, Mike Florio of passes along that “multiple” teams are considering making a run at Belichick. This includes one team that currently has an opening, a grouping that includes the Panthers, Chargers, Seahawks, and Commanders. Interestingly, Florio notes that a team considering a Belichick pursuit is still employing a head coach, a potential twist in the sweepstakes.