Bubba Ventrone

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

Jim Irsay Still Pushing For Jeff Saturday Hire; Eric Bieniemy, Raheem Morris In Mix

The Colts lost seven of their final eight games, finishing 4-12-1. The team had not lost seven games to close out a campaign since its inaugural season in 1953. But Jim Irsay still looks to be pushing to keep Jeff Saturday, the interim head coach he stunned the NFL by hiring in November.

Saturday is going through his second interview Wednesday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, who adds as many as seven candidates will advance to the second round of interviews (Twitter link). That list includes Ejiro Evero, and ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano tweets Rams DC Raheem Morris will receive an in-person meeting. The Colts held virtual interviews with 13 candidates — the most of any HC-seeking team this year — but Irsay was not involved in those sessions. He will be there for the second interviews.

Irsay said in November he hoped Saturday would stay on as a full-time HC, and although no team has made an interim coach a full-time hire since the Jaguars removed Doug Marrone‘s interim tag in 2017, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes Irsay is still pushing for Saturday. More pushback has emerged, however. Just as Irsay confidants attempted to dissuade him from hiring Saturday two months ago, Anderson adds (via Twitter) those close to the owner are again attempting to convince him Saturday is the wrong choice.

Indianapolis should also be expected to meet with Eric Bieniemy and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone for a second time. Each remains in the mix, Graziano adds, though no second interviews with either have been scheduled. Bieniemy has generated extensive OC interest around the league, being connected to open jobs and likely on the radar for some that will soon be available, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes the longtime Chiefs OC is focused on potential HC gigs. Only the Colts, however, have interviewed him for their job.

Some around the league believe this will come down to Bieniemy or Saturday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds. Considering the backlash both the Saturday hire and Bieniemy’s extended time on the HC carousel have each generated, the Colts choosing Saturday in that instance would create more controversy.

Andy Reid has been the Chiefs’ primary play-caller since 2013, and while Bieniemy has been labeled as a poor interviewer at points during his long run as Reid’s right-hand man, the fifth-year OC has been in place in this role throughout Patrick Mahomes‘ QB1 stay. Considering Mahomes is about to win a second MVP award and will do so after the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, that should reflect well on Bieniemy. Judging by the Arizona, Carolina, Denver and Houston searches, however, teams are not closely connecting the Reid lieutenant to such success. Bieniemy and Colts GM Chris Ballard worked together during the latter’s time in the Chiefs’ front office, though Fowler adds the Saturday-Irsay relationship continues to loom over this process.

Ballard ran the first set of Colts HC interviews, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes, adding that Carlie Irsay-Gordon (Jim’s daughter) has played a key role throughout this process as well. Ballard attempted to talk Irsay out of the Saturday hire in November and admitted as much this month. It should be expected the seventh-year GM will keep pushing for a different hire, but Irsay obviously will make the final call. This process should drag into next week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link).

Saturday promised extensive changes if he were to land the full-time job. He offered ex-Frank Reich staffers Scott Milanovich and Scottie Montgomery OC duties, but each turned down the job. That led to assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier receiving the opportunity. The Colts started three QBs during Saturday’s stay (Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger) but only won one game under interim coach. The team’s NFL-record collapse in Minnesota and other shaky performances did not exactly give Saturday momentum coming out of the season. If Irsay bucks staffers’ advice and goes in this direction again, it would make for one of the most interesting decisions in coaching history.

Coaching Notes: Turner, Colts, Cards, Flores

In addition to the previously reported player gripes about the state of the Commanders‘ offense, John Keim of ESPN.com notes others in the organization expressed frustration about the inconsistencies within the team’s offensive philosophy. Washington fired three-year OC Scott Turner on Tuesday, despite having signed him to a three-year extension, and signs point to the team making a more concerted effort to focus on its run game. Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew expressed a desire to run more, even after the Commanders ranked fourth in rushing attempts (538). But Keim adds a litany of complaints surfaced about the nature of the offense — from the team deviating from effective plays to Turner’s scheme being difficult for quarterbacks to digest. Concern about the offense emanated inside the building throughout the year, per Keim, who adds Rivera sat in on offensive meetings at points amid the unrest.

The Commanders’ issues at quarterback and on their O-line, a unit full of veterans, hamstrung Turner’s unit. So did injuries, as the team planned to have Brian Robinson play a major role from the start. The two gunshot wounds he sustained in August derailed those plans, and Carson Wentz barely ended up playing with the third-round rookie this season. While outside candidates will be interviewed, Keim adds the Commanders generally like their offensive scheme. QBs coach Ken Zampese, a second-generation NFL assistant who was previously the Bengals’ OC, will likely be an in-house candidate.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • The Cardinals fired Kliff Kingsbury after four seasons and did so less than a year after signing him to an extension that ran through 2027. While Kingsbury firing rumors had been brewing for months, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes (via Twitter) the young HC did not appear to be expecting it. When a “surprised and distraught” Kingsbury addressed his staffers, he mentioned some of them could be retained. One of them might be DC Vance Joseph, who has been connected to a possible promotion. The former Broncos HC served as Kingsbury’s DC throughout his four-year tenure.
  • One of Frank Reich‘s Colts staffers earned an interview for the team’s HC vacancy. Special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone met with Jim Irsay and Co. about the position Wednesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Ventrone, 40, broke into coaching after 10 NFL seasons as a player. After spending time on Bill Belichick‘s staff, Ventrone joined Reich’s staff in 2018 and has been in position as Indy’s ST coordinator since. This is his first interview for a head coaching gig. The Colts can interview their own staffers, unattached coaches and Eagles or Chiefs staffers this week but must wait until midway through next week to begin meeting with candidates from teams playing on wild-card weekend.
  • Although Brandon Staley guided the Chargers to the playoffs, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com does not get the sense the second-year HC’s job is 100% safe. A loss to the Jaguars may prompt Chargers ownership to change course. Sean Payton lurking may well affect Staley’s standing, should the Jags prevail. The Bolts job came up several months ago for Payton, who already lives in Los Angeles, and this potential partnership has been a poorly kept secret in NFL circles.
  • Brian Flores will interview for the Browns‘ DC job Thursday, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets, though the Steelers linebackers coach is believed to have other teams interested. Flores’ discrimination lawsuit is ongoing, but the former Dolphins HC just wrapped a season on Mike Tomlin‘s staff. The Browns are also interviewing Jim Schwartz and Sean Desai, with a Jerod Mayo request out there as well.
  • Two more Panthers assistants have left to join Matt Rhule at Nebraska. Rob Dvoracek and Garett McGuire have left the Panthers to become the Cornhuskers’ linebackers and wide receivers coaches, respectively, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Both were in low-level assistant roles with Carolina and each played for Rhule — Dvoracek at Temple, McGuire at Baylor. These exits follow Terrance Knighton‘s; Knighton departed the Panthers in-season.

Coaching Rumors: Jets, Cowboys, Giants

Josh McDaniels‘ decision to break his agreement to become the Colts’ next head coach could hypothetically push the NFL to change its hiring rules, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Currently, teams aren’t allowed to formally hire coaches who are still employed by playoff clubs, but that hadn’t been an impediment given that no presumptive head coach had backed out of a reported deal. Had McDaniels been able to be officially offered the Indianapolis job several weeks ago, the Colts may have been aware of his wariness at the time. The NFL discussed a possible hiring rule change in 2017, but tabled the discussion, per Florio.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Jets announced that Jeremy Bates, who was recently promoted to offensive coordinator, will also retain his role as the club’s quarterbacks coach. While Bates will have two jobs, he’ll be able to rely on the expertise of assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi and longtime NFL offensive coordinator — and new New York offensive line coach/run game coordinator — Rick Dennison. Bates & Co. will likely be working with at least one new signal-caller in 2018, although the Jets are open to re-signing veteran passer Josh McCown.
  • Former Patriots assistant Ray “Bubba” Ventrone will be hired as the Colts‘ new special teams coordinator, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Ventrone, who played for four NFL teams, had been a New England staffer since 2015, but this will be his first run as a coordinator. Indianapolis is also expected to hire ex-Lions defensive backs coach Alan Williams for the same role, per Marvez, while Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) former Buccaneers assistant Dave Borgonzi will become the Colts’ next linebackers coach.
  • The Cowboys have finalized their 2017 coaching staff by hiring Doug Colman as their assistant special teams coach, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Colman spent the past four seasons in the same role for the cross-state Texans. He’s expected to be the last major hire on Jason Garrett‘s staff after Dallas promoted Keith O’Quinn to ST coordinator and hired Doug Nussmeier as tight ends coach.
  • Florida Atlantic University defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin is joining the NFL ranks, as he’s agreed to become the 49ers‘ pass rush specialist, according to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated. Kiffin comes from a long line of NFL coaches, as he’s the brother of Lane Kiffin and the son of Monte Kiffin. In San Francisco, he’ll work with young defenders Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, and DeForest Buckner.
  • The Giants have announced new head coach Pat Shurmur‘s staff, and the new list of assistants contains several holdovers. Rob Leonard (assistant linebackers), Ryan Roeder (offensive assistant) and Bobby Blick (defensive assistant) will all stick around.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Revis, Tannehill, Pats

The Jets have been involved in “serious internal discussions” about the possibility of bringing back cornerback Darrelle Revis, with owner Woody Johnson very much involved in those talks, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The Jets’ interest in Revis is hardly news, but the closer we get to March 9 without an agreement in place between the Patriots and the star cornerback, the more likely it is that he reaches the open market next week.

Let’s round up a few more items related to the Jets and their AFC East rivals….

  • While there have been rumblings in recent weeks suggesting the Jets could target C.J. Spiller in free agency, the team would like to bring back Bilal Powell and will make a “sincere effort” to re-sign him, writes Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. Cimini estimates that Powell will land a deal that averages between $1.5MM and $2MM per year.
  • Brian Costello of the New York Post examines how new Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan will approach the team’s hole at cornerback this offseason.
  • Former Packers wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, who recently visited the Patriots, is working out for the Jets today, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Visits with the 49ers and Chiefs are next up on Dorsey’s schedule.
  • Ryan Tannehill said today that he has yet to sit down with the Dolphins to discuss a contract extension, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. There’s no real rush for the Fins to get anything done, since Tannehill has one more year left on his rookie contract, and the club holds a team option for the 2016 season.
  • As Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com details, Patriots safety Devin McCourty spoke to ESPN’s Josina Anderson yesterday after the team announced that it was franchising kicker Stephen Gostkowski, rather than McCourty. The veteran safety didn’t say anything too noteworthy in addressing his contract situation, but acknowledged that not being tagged made it more “realistic” that he could end up somewhere besides New England.
  • The Patriots hired former 49ers special-teamer Bubba Ventrone today as an assistant special teams coach, as first reported by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter). Ventrone, who began his NFL career with the Pats, is just 28 years old, so the move from playing to coaching is a little surprising, but he hadn’t been under contract for the 2015 season.

49ers Place Boone, Ventrone On IR

5:18pm: Boone has a torn meniscus and will require surgery, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

1:52pm: The 49ers have placed Alex Boone and Bubba Ventrone on IR, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter). Filling their spots will be wide receiver Trindon Holliday and cornerback Cameron Fuller, who have been signed to the 53-man roster.

Boone’s knee injury is not considered to be serious, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter). The team placed him on injured reserve only to open up a roster spot for the final game of the season.

Boone had reworked his contract after an extended holdout this past offseason, that resulted in language in his contract that precluded the team from using the franchise tag on him when he is set to become a free agent at the end of next year. Assuming Maiocco is correct in his assessment of the injury, it should not affect his ability to be on the field in 2015.

Ventrone is a special teams ace who has played with four teams since coming into the NFL in 2005. He is set to be a free agent this offseason.

Minor Moves: Saturday

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the latest updates at the top of the list:

  • The Raiders are set to activate cornerback D.J. Hayden, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The No. 12 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Hayden played in eight games as a rookie and started two. The club has filled their other remaining vacancy by signing defensive end Denico Autry to the active roster, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The Rams placed Brandon McGee on the injured reserve with a foot injury while replacing him with Jemea Thomas from the practice squad, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. McGee hasn’t played since Week 2.
  • The Dolphins announced (on Twitter) that they have waived wide receiver Damian Williams to make space for Jordan.
  • The Dolphins are moving defensive end Dion Jordan to the active roster today, tweets Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. There’s no word yet on a corresponding move, but they’ll have to cut someone to make space. Jordan was recently reinstated from his six-game suspension.
  • The Cardinals signed wide receiver Solomon Patton to their practice squad while cutting fellow WR Jalen Saunders, tweets Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
  • The Ravens waived tight end Ryan Taylor and promoted fellow tight end Phillip Supernaw from the practice squad, tweets Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
  • The Lions announced that they have suspended defensive tackle C.J. Mosley for two weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and subsquently sent him home from London earlier today. To fill his spot, Detroit has signed safety Jerome Couplin from the practice squad, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (on Twitter).
  • In addition to center Daniel Kilgore, the 49ers have also placed cornerback Chris Cook on the injured reserve. The team has signed safety Bubba Ventrone to fill one of the two roster spots.
  • The Jaguars have cut wide receiver Tavarres King and signed cornerback Peyton Thompson, tweets Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. The writer adds that the move was made as insurance in case injured cornerback Dwayne Gratz can’t play this weekend.
  • Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot tweets that center Nick McDonald was activated from the Browns‘ non-football injury list. To make room on the roster, the team waived tight end Gerell Robinson.

Minor Moves: Tuesday

We’ll track today’s 53-man roster signings and cuts from around the NFL right here, adding the latest moves to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • The Seahawks claimed tight end Brett Brackett off waivers from the Titans, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The Saints signed guard/center Eric Olsen, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (on Twitter). That could indicate that they’re preparing to be without center Jonathan Goodwin for some time.
  • The Browns cut Jonathan Krause from injured reserve, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks cut tight end Rashaun Allen, according to Wilson (on Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • Linebacker Marshall McFadden has replaced wideout Austin Pettis on the Rams‘ 53-man roster, tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The move leaves two openings on St. Louis’ practice squad, so the team will likely add some new players there soon.
  • In what’s becoming a weekly ritual, the 49ers have re-signed quarterback Josh Johnson and released safety Bubba Ventrone, the team announced today (via Twitter). The team made the same pair of transactions last Tuesday, then re-signed Ventrone to replace Johnson later in the week.
  • Running back Antonio Andrews announced (via Twitter) that he has been promoted to the Titans‘ roster from their practice squad, filling the opening created yesterday when the team cut tight end Brett Brackett. Per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Andrews had an offer to sign elsewhere, perhaps with the Bills, so the Titans made the move to avoid losing him.
  • The Browns have confirmed a move that was reported yesterday, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve cut defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel. Tight end Gerell Robinson takes his spot on the team’s 53-man roster.

49ers Re-Sign Ventrone, Cut Josh Johnson

The carousel that is the 49ers’ 53rd roster spot continued to spin today, as the 49ers re-signed safety Bubba Ventrone to a one-year contract, cutting quarterback Josh Johnson to clear room (Twitter account). The Niners released Ventrone on Tuesday when they re-signed Johnson.

Johnson has been serving as the 49ers’ third quarterback, but with both Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert healthy, he hasn’t needed to be active on game day, and now the team has gotten into the habit of removing him from the roster entirely on the weekend. The veteran signal-caller will likely be re-signed next week for practice.

Assuming he’s active on Sunday against the Broncos, Ventrone, who turns 28 next week, will likely play exclusively on special teams, so it wasn’t absolutely necessary for the Villanova product to be with the team this week during practice.

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Tuesday is typically a busy in-season day for NFL transactions, so we expect to add several more moves from around the league to this list as the day goes on. For now, here are the the day’s minor transactions relating to clubs’ 53-man rosters:

  • For now, to replace linebacker Danny Trevathan, the Broncos will promote Shaquil Barrett from their practice squad, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • The Seahawks have tweaked the back of their roster, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has cut safety Steven Terrell and signed defensive end Greg Scruggs.
  • With the roster opening created by Ventrone’s release (noted below), the 49ers have re-signed quarterback Josh Johnson, who was cut a few days ago, the club announced today in a press release.

Earlier updates:

  • The Browns have placed defensive lineman Armonty Bryant on injured reserve, signing another defensive lineman, Sione Fua, to take his spot on the roster, the team announced today (Twitter link). Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Fua was signing with the Browns.
  • The Ravens have a roster exemption for previously-suspended safety Will Hill, which will last until next Monday, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. By that point, Baltimore will have to either waive Hill or cut someone else on the roster, creating space for the safety.
  • A week after re-signing him to their active roster, the 49ers have released defensive back and special-teamer Bubba Ventrone, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Ventrone spent last season on San Francisco’s roster, but was cut prior to the 2014 regular season.
  • Having lost cornerback Trumaine McBride during Sunday night’s game against the Eagles, the Giants are set to promote cornerback Chandler Fenner from their practice squad to the active roster, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Fenner, cut in July by Seattle, has shuffled back and forth between New York’s practice squad and active roster since the regular season began.