Brian Flores

Latest On Brian Flores Lawsuit

Earlier this week, there was another update in the matter of the Brian Flores-led lawsuit against the NFL and six of its teams. As expected, the league attempted to have the matter moved to arbitration

Just as that came as no surprise, Flores and his fellow plaintiffs Steve Wilks and Ray Horton are likewise taking the expected step of trying to stop the league from doing so. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that they made a direct request to the league to provide “certain information… that will be relevant to the issue of whether arbitration is appropriate.”

Since the initial request was denied, the plaintiffs have now asked the federal court overseeing this case to compel the NFL to provide said documentation. A six-page letter they sent includes a detailed list of the particular information requested, ranging from general procedures regarding arbitration and the circumstances necessitating it, to more specific materials detailing commissioner Roger Goodell‘s involvement in previous legal matters.

One of the other interesting requests made includes that for “all documents regarding any statements or communication among NFL senior executives regarding the plaintiffs, the lawsuit, and the allegations in the complaints.” Another is for “all documents supporting or undermining the contention that the plaintiffs agreed to arbitrate their claims with the NFL,” which attempted to use the precedent set by arbitration as standard procedure when making its case to resolve the issue privately.

As Florio details, another aim of the plaintiffs is to question Goodell on the matter of arbitration, including the issue of whether or not he could represent a neutral adjudicator in the case. Given Flores’ earlier remarks, that also comes as little surprise, as it represents a further attempt to keep the matter in public for as long as possible.

With forced arbitration, my case will be litigated behind closed doors, confidentially and without transparency, essentially done in secrecy,” he said in March. If he and his legal team have their way, though, that situation could be avoided.

NFL Attempts To Move Brian Flores Lawsuit To Arbitration

The latest development in the ongoing legal dispute between Brian Flores and the NFL is a notable, if unsurprising, one. The league formally requested a federal court send the matter to arbitration, as detailed by Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic

The move was widely expected, as the NFL clearly stated its intentions of doing so much earlier in this process. As its filing indicates, arbitration is the “preferred venue” for the league to settle disputes such as this one. It argues that little precedent exists for courts to handle the internal matters of sports leagues, which, it further states, is the purview under which Flores’ bribery allegations against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (along with his other claims) should fall.

The league is also attempting to get former coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton – who joined Flores’ suit as co-plaintiffs in April – to “sever their cases and file separate arbitration claims.” Just as those decisions come as little surprise, so to does the response made by Flores himself.

“With forced arbitration, my case will be litigated behind closed doors, confidentially and without transparency, essentially done in secrecy,” he said in March, knowing arbitration would be a strong possibility. Given the scope of his allegations made against the league in general, and the Dolphins, Texans, Giants, Broncos (and, after the addition of Wilks and Horton, the Cardinals and Titans), public proceedings would understandably be the plaintiff’s preferred avenue.

Flores was hired by the Steelers as the team’s linebackers coach in February, less than a month after his lawsuit was filed. Kaplan notes, however, that his contract has yet to be formally signed off by commissioner Roger Goodell, something which is standard practice for NFL employment contracts. He adds that the pact “had a minor adjustment [made to it] shortly before the filing, but nothing that will hold it up.”

As a busy offseason for the league continues with respect to off-the-field issues, this legal battle could take a notable turn in the near future if its move for arbitration is allowed to go through. Even in that event, this appears set to remain a significant storyline.

Brian Flores Amends Lawsuit, Adds Accusations Against Texans

While Steve Wilks and Ray Horton have joined Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit, Flores himself has amended his original complaint. It adds the Texans to the list of teams against which specific allegations are made (the others being the Dolphins, Broncos, Giants and, now, the Cardinals and Titans). 

[RELATED: Wilks, Horton Join Flores’ Suit]

As detailed by ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg, Flores alleges that Houston “retaliated” against him during their recent head coaching search as a result of his decision to file the lawsuit. His amended complaint notes how the team pivoted towards Lovie Smith – whom they ultimately hired – immediately after their decision appeared to be narrowed down to either Flores or former quarterback Josh McCown. As it reads, “the Texans were rightfully concerned that if it hired Mr. McCown over Mr. Flores, it would bolster Mr. Flores’ allegations of systemic discrimination against Black candidates”.

In a statement, the Texans have responded to the accusations. “Brian Flores was among the first candidates we held a formal interview with for the position and he remained a candidate until the very end” it says in part. “It was a very fluid process… we are proud of our decision and will vigorously defend [it].”

Alterations have also been made to Flores’ allegations against the Dolphins. Included among those is a memorandum he wrote in December 2019 to multiple members of the team’s front office, including general manager Chris Grier, related to the “alarming demands to lose games” made by owner Stephen Ross (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). In it, Flores “detailed the toxicity which existed within the organization and explained the unreasonable position he was being placed in”. PFT’s Mike Florio reports that said memo was provided to the league one week ago.

As well, the amended suit accuses the Dolphins of “asserting baseless claims” (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post). One of those is the demand for Flores to repay wages paid by the team because they were given “on the condition that he wouldn’t sue the Dolphins”. Flores denies any such agreement was made during his departure from the team.

Flores initially sued the NFL generally, and the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants specifically in February. He has since been hired by the Steelers as the team’s linebackers coach, but made it clear at the time that he would not drop the suit. Today’s developments confirm that this matter is far from being resolved.

Steve Wilks, Ray Horton Join Brian Flores’ Lawsuit; Allegations Made Against Cardinals, Titans

Two additions have been made to the class-action lawsuit filed by Brian Flores. Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks and former NFL staffer Ray Horton have joined the suit, making allegations against the league, but also the Cardinals and Titans, respectively. 

As first reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Wilks’ allegations stem from his time as head coach of the Cardinals. The 52-year-old held that title for one year, the 2018 season. As the new complaint details, Wilks “was hired as a ‘bridge coach’ and was not given any meaningful chance to succeed” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). It adds that Wilks “was unfairly and discriminatorily” fired after the team went 3-13.

Central to that point is the fact that general manager Steve Keim was away from the team during the preseason leading up to that campaign as a result of a DUI, and has since been given a contract extension. As Florio notes, Wilks also preferred the team trade up to draft Josh Allen that year; it was with the Cardinals’ ultimate selection, Josh Rosen, that Arizona and Wilks had that losing season. The allegation details how his replacement, Kliff Kingsbury, “has been given a much longer leash” during his tenure alongside Kyler Murray, despite the former’s lack of NFL experience and college success.

Horton, 61, alleges that in 2016 he participated in a “sham interview” for the Titans’ head coaching position. He had previously been the defensive coordinator of the team for two seasons, but they hired Mike Mularkey. As noted by the complaint, the latter had already been told he would be hired before the “fake” process of interviews (including with Horton, to satisfy the Rooney Rule) began, and stated as much in a recent podcast interview (audio link via Pro Football Focus’ Ari Meirov). Horton most recently coached in Washington in 2019.

In the aftermath of these developments, Flores (who has himself made changes to his complaint), Wilks and Horton have made brief statements (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). Both the Cardinals and Titans have rebuffed the assertion that their respective decisions were discriminatory.

Steelers Hire Brian Flores As LBs Coach

Less than a month after filing a lawsuit against the NFL and four of its teams, Brian Flores has landed a job. The Steelers announced Saturday they added the former Dolphins head coach to their staff.

Flores will serve as a senior defensive assistant on Mike Tomlin‘s staff, heading up the team’s linebacking corps. Prior to going to Miami in 2019, Flores finished his lengthy New England tenure as the Patriots’ linebackers coach.

I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL,” Tomlin said. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”

Flores is not dropping his suit against the NFL, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Not long after the Giants hired Brian Daboll, Flores filed his racial discrimination suit. The NFL is investigating the Dolphins as a result of Flores’ claim that owner Stephen Ross offered him six-figure bonus payments for losses in 2019. Flores also named the Broncos and Texans in his explosive suit. All four organizations have denied Flores’ accusations.

The three-year Miami HC and 15-year New England assistant was not on Pittsburgh’s interview list for its recently filled defensive coordinator position. The team promoted Teryl Austin to its DC post last month. The Steelers, who are coming off their fifth straight season leading the NFL in sacks, will now feature one of the more experienced defensive staffs in modern NFL history. Flores went 24-25 as Dolphins HC but led the team to back-to-back winning seasons to close out his tenure. The Dolphins have since replaced him with former 49ers OC Mike McDaniel.

The Bears, Giants, Saints and Texans each interviewed Flores for their HC jobs during this cycle, one that came after the Dolphins surprisingly cut his tenure short hours after the team finished a rare sweep of the Patriots. Despite Flores’ lawsuit, the Texans included him among the finalists for their HC position. The team, however, went with an off-the-board hire by announcing Lovie Smith‘s promotion. Flores soon included the Texans as the fourth team in his suit.

This move will also reunite Flores with Minkah Fitzpatrick, whom the Dolphins traded early in the 2019 season. Miami drafted Fitzpatrick in the 2018 first round, prior to Flores’ arrival, and the talented safety clashed with Flores and his staff a year and change into his career. One season remains on the All-Pro defender’s deal, though the Steelers can be expected to extend him this year. The Steelers will also face the Dolphins next season.

Latest On Texans’ Coaching Staff

In 14 months, Lovie Smith has gone from being dismissed as the University of Illinois’ head coach to securing a third shot as an NFL HC. The Texans officially hired Smith on Monday, and the veteran defensive-minded coach will pull double duty in his next assignment.

Smith, 63, will retain defensive play-calling responsibilities, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former Bears and Buccaneers HC had been in the college ranks for five seasons prior to resurfacing as the Texans’ defensive coordinator last year. Now, he will wear two rather important hats for the rebuilding team.

GM Nick Caserio said Tuesday that Smith’s hire did not take place because of Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against the NFL, via the Houston Chronicle’s Brooks Kubena. Flores and Josh McCown were believed to be the final two in the running for the job. The longtime quarterback having never coached in the NFL likely played into Smith’s hire, but Caserio predictably indicated the team had not made a decision until it landed on Smith. Caserio did not deny McCown remained in play for another role with the team, though Smith already has his offensive coordinator in place.

Pep Hamilton is in line to call Houston’s offensive plays, being promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. While Hamilton’s rise was on the radar before Smith entered the equation, Smith said keeping the Texans’ QBs coach was “a must.” One of Smith’s first acts as Houston’s head coach was communicating to Hamilton his importance for developing Davis Mills. A year after overseeing Justin Herbert‘s rise to Offensive Rookie of the Year as Chargers QBs coach, Hamilton helped Mills show promise down the stretch.

Pep has an expertise when you look at his background,” Smith said Tuesday. “What he did in Los Angeles with Herbert to where he did with Davis here. He is a fundamental coach who has a defensive mentality on toughness. I am so excited about him being on our staff and to see what he is going to do.”

Smith is moving quickly on his assistants as well. The Texans are hiring George Warhop as their offensive line coach and Hal Hunter as his assistant, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Warhop, 60, has now been employed as an O-line coach by a fourth of the NFL’s teams. From 1996 through last season, Warhop has been with the Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, 49ers, Browns, Buccaneers and Jaguars. Warhop’s Tampa Bay stay began when Smith arrived in 2014. Warhop coached the Jags’ O-lines for the past three seasons.

Hunter, 62, has extensive experience as well, including at the coordinator level. He spent the 2012 season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, moving up to that post after coaching the previous six Bolts O-lines — groups that helped LaDainian Tomlinson secure first-ballot Hall of Fame entry. Hunter was last in the NFL as the Giants’ O-line coach from 2018-19.

Houston is also hiring Tim Berbenich as its tight ends coach, Fox 26’s Mark Berman tweets. This will be new territory for Berbenich, who spent last season as the Raiders’ running backs coach. In 19 seasons as an NFL assistant, Berbenich has primarily coached running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks. He was a Colts staffer during each of Hamilton’s three years as Indianapolis’ OC.

Saints To Name Dennis Allen As New Head Coach

The final head coaching vacancy has been filled. The Saints have informed defensive coordinator Dennis Allen that he’ll be the team’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

Allen was thought to be the favorite for the gig considering his familiarity with the franchise and the continuity he’d provide in a post-Sean Payton era. As SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan reports (on Twitter), Allen isn’t expected to make many (if any) changes to the coaching staff, while Albert Breer of TheMMQB notes (on Twitter) that the new HC also has a strong relationship with the scouting department.

The 49-year-old’s coaching career started in Atlanta, but he took on a bigger role once he moved to New Orleans, eventually becoming their secondary coach (which saw him earn his lone Super Bowl ring). He later became the Broncos defensive coordinator before getting hired as the Raiders head coach in 2012.

His tenure with Oakland didn’t last very long. Early on in his third season in charge, he was fired, and he finished his tenure as head coach with an 8-28 record. Allen ended up returning to the Saints, and after a brief stint as a senior defensive assistant, he became their defensive coordinator in 2015.

In his seven seasons in the role, Allen rehabilitated his image. He was on the HC radar last offseason, and he was a candidate for the Bears head coaching gig this cycle. Once Payton left New Orleans, he seemed like a natural replacement for the Saints. While he received some strong competition from the likes of Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores (per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter), Allen was ultimately chosen as the 11th full-time head coach in franchise history.

Texans Moving Towards Hiring Lovie Smith As Head Coach

One day after his name was added to the list of finalists for the job, defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is close to being officially hired as the head coach of the Texans. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (via Twitter), Houston is “moving towards” hiring Smith. 

[Related: Texans Considering Lovie Smith For HC]

The 63-year-old has gone from being out of the picture with regards to the vacancy to the likely hire in a matter of hours. While it was believed that the three finalists for the position were former Dolphins HC Brian Flores, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and recently retired quarterback Josh McCown, it came out recently that the latter two were out of the running for the position.

The presence of Flores as a finalist came, of course, with the fact that his lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams was ongoing. Flores has made it clear he would carry on with the suit even if he had been hired by Houston or any other team. That won’t be the case, in Houston at least, as the Texans are sticking with an internal candidate to replace David Culley.

Smith brings a wealth of experience to the table, having been a head coach for 16 of the past 18 years between the NFL and NCAA ranks. His longest stint on any one sideline was as HC of the Bears between 2004 and 2012. That stretch included a Coach of The Year award, along with a Super Bowl appearance not long after. From then on, though, his time in Chicago generally went downhill; an unsuccessful two years as the HC in Tampa Bay (which came after interviewing in Houston) certainly didn’t help his chances of another opportunity to lead an NFL team. 2021 was his first and only season as the DC in Houston, a year in which the defense did show signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, Rapoport’s colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that McCown could still find himself on the Texans’ sideline this year. While that is a “possibility”, he adds that “those talks have yet to really happen”. He also states that Pep Hamilton is expected to remain on staff, becoming the new offensive coordinator.

With Smith seemingly in place, here’s what appears to be the final look at the Texans’ HC search:

 

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

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

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Texans Considering Lovie Smith For HC

Despite reports that the Texans had narrowed their list of candidates down to journeyman quarterback Josh McCown and former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores, Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that current defensive coordinator and associate head coach Lovie Smith is now in talks with Houston about potentially becoming their next head coach. Smith interviewed with the team earlier tonight, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. This is the second time Smith has been considered for the Texans’ head coach position, the first time being when he interviewed with the team in December 2013 prior to accepting the head coaching job in Tampa Bay. 

Smith has spent 16 of the last 18 years as a head coach at some level. After three years of coaching at the high school level, Smith spent the next 13 years bouncing around the NCAA as a position coach with stops at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio State. He accepted a job as the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach in 1996 and, after five seasons in Tampa Bay, was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Rams. Smith took the St. Louis defense from a league-worst 29.4 points per game to seventh in the league allowing 17.1 points per game in his first year leading the defense.

Smith soon earned the head coaching job for the Bears in 2004. Despite losing starting quarterback Rex Grossman to injury for most of the 2005 season, the Bears would get a first round bye in the playoffs as the NFC’s number two-seed in Lovie’s second year as head coach, winning Smith the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. In 2006, the Bears were the NFC’s number one-seed, owning the NFL’s second-ranked scoring offense and fifth-ranked overall defense. In his third season as an NFL head coach, Smith became the first Black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl, and the second minority head coach after Tom Flores.

The next six years saw the Bears miss the playoffs five times despite only two losing seasons and never finishing with a record worse than 7-9. Smith was fired after failing to reach the playoffs in the 2012 season despite finishing with a record of 10-6, the last winning season the Bears would see until 2018.

After a year hiatus from the NFL, Smith was brought in to replace Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers went 2-14 and 6-10 in Smith’s first two seasons and Smith was fired with three years remaining on his contract.

After Tampa Bay, Smith accepted the job of head coach at the University of Illinois. A perennial basement-dweller in the Big Ten, Smith amassed a 17-39 record in five seasons at Illinois. In 2019, he did lead the Fighting Illini to their first bowl game appearance since 2014, but was fired the next year after starting the season 2-5.

Following his stint in college football, Smith was hired by Houston in March of 2021 in his current role under rookie head coach David Culley, returning to the NFL after a 5 year hiatus. Smith did improve the Texans’ defense from ranking 30th in defensive DVOA in 2020 to 23rd in 2021, but Houston was not one of the league’s better defensive units.

Schefter reported that Smith was always included in the Texans’ discussions, but his candidacy for head coach didn’t start gaining momentum until very recently. The consensus in the media is that, along with this revived interest in Smith, McCown is no longer being considered for the position, as Schefter, Rapoport, and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero have all tweeted as much.

It looks, for now, as if Brian Flores and Lovie Smith are the two candidates the Texans are focusing on for the position moving forward, unless any more surprise candidates find their way into contention. Be sure to follow our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker to keep up with updates to the remaining open positions.