On the offensive side of the ball, pass game coordinator Kevin Patullo received a promotion, adding the moniker of associate head coach to his title. Also, beneath the head coach, the team has hired Tyler Yelk to serve as assistant to the head coach.
On the defensive side of the ball, a couple of others received promotions. Formerly the assistant defensive backs coach, D.K. McDonald has taken over the position room as the new defensive backs coach. Filling McDonald’s previous role of assistant defensive backs coach will be Taver Johnson, who has experience in the NFL but most recently served as defensive pass game coordinator and safeties coach at Eastern Michigan. Tyler Scudder has become the team’s assistant linebackers coach after serving as a defensive assistant previously. Lastly, Philadelphia has hired Mike Diangelo in the role of defensive quality control.
Here are a few more updates in the coaching ranks of the NFL:
The Buccaneersmade an addition to their staff this week, as well, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports. Tampa Bay brought Sarah Evans into the coaches office to serve in the role of senior manager of coaching operations. She’s been with the team since 2020 in roles concerning player relations and community efforts.
In another update from Tampa Bay, former head coach Bruce Arians will reportedly be taking another step back in 2023, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports. Last year, he stepped down from head coach to senior advisor to the general manager. This year, he remains in that role, and has reportedly still been helpful leading up the draft but hasn’t been nearly as involved as he was last year.
Many have drooled over the elite names joining the Panthers‘ coaching staff this offseason, lauding owner David Tepper on his financial commitment to the staff. Thanks to Joe Person of The Athletic, we have some evidence of that. New defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will reportedly move into the top ten highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL with a three-year contract worth about $9.3MM.
In the Carolina front office, the Panthers’ vice president of football operations, Steven Drummond, has resigned after over 17 years with the organization, according to Person.
As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.
This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.
Drawing a few negative headlines during his five-year run as Panthers owner, David Tepper has seen his team continue a years-long search for a quality quarterback. Carolina will be at it again this offseason. Although Tepper’s multi-offseason push for Deshaun Watson stalled near the end zone, the Panthers came close to acquiring Matthew Stafford in 2021. After negotiations with Lions GM Brad Holmes, team brass left the Senior Bowl convinced it would land the longtime Detroit QB. The Rams subsequently swooped in, and Joe Person of The Athletic notes Tepper mandated his staff slow down on Stafford due to wanting more information on his injury history (subscription required).
At that point, Stafford had only missed games in one of the previous 10 seasons. Though, the rocket-armed QB had played through a host of injuries during his 12-year Lions run. This delay, however, helped allow the Rams time to formulate a trade package that ended up sending the talented QB to Los Angeles and Jared Goff to Detroit. This could have been a moot point, with Stafford indicating he did not want to play for the Panthers, but Carolina did offer its first-round pick (No. 8 overall) and more for a passer without a no-trade clause. The Panthers sent three picks for Sam Darnold soon after. Darnold is a few weeks from free agency.
Here is the latest from the NFC South:
Frank Reich has praised Tepper for his willingness to spend for assistant coach talent. This included what looks to have become a defensive coordinator bidding war. Shortly after the Broncos let Ejiro Evero out of his contract, the hot HC candidate drew interest from the Panthers and Vikings. Carolina outbid Minnesota to land the defensive coordinator, Person adds. The Panthers have also added ex-HCs Jim Caldwell and Dom Capers, along with Josh McCown, to Reich’s staff.
Broncos ownership could also outmuscle teams for assistants. It is not known what kind of interest Joe Lombardi drew, but the new Denver assistant also drew interest from the Saints, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com tweets. The two-year Chargers OC spent 12 years under Payton in New Orleans. The Saints are keeping Broncos OC candidate Ronald Curry on staff as QBs coach, but they were unable to lure Lombardi back to town. Lombardi is set for a coordinator-type role in Denver.
The Buccaneers will fill their quarterbacks coach post by promoting former NFL passer Thad Lewis, in news reported by Seahawks QB Geno Smith (Twitter link). Lewis and Smith played against each other as Miami high schoolers and have remained close; the free agent-to-be clarified (via Twitter) this was the reason — not a sudden interest in joining the Bucs — for his excitement. The Bucs employed Lewis as their assistant wide receivers coach over the past two years, with the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud adding Bruce Arians had visions of Lewis as a future offensive coordinator (Twitter link). Smith and the Seahawks have begun negotiations.
Tampa Bay hired Dave Canales as OC, from Seattle’s staff, to help fix its league-worst rushing attack. Leonard Fournette did not make the same impact he had in 2021. While the Bucs signed Fournette to a three-year, $21MM deal in March 2022, the running back has changed agents (Twitter link). The seventh-year running back is now with GSE Worldwide.
North Carolina’s tight ends coach, John Lilly will be making an NFL move in the same state. The Panthers will keep Lilly in North Carolina, bringing him in to coach their tight ends, Person tweets. Lilly, who worked on the 2019 Browns’ staff, overlapped at Georgia with new Panthers OC Thomas Brown in 2015. He has 30-plus years’ experience at the college and pro levels.
Former Colts staffer Brian Decker will follow Frank Reich to Carolina. The Panthers announced Decker is now the team’s vice president of development, a role Darin Gantt of Panthers.com notes will involve evaluating and developing players and coaches. A 22-year military veteran, Decker joined the Colts in 2017 and was in on the interviews that produced Reich’s hire.
Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers, Broncos and Texans’ hires, this year’s vacancy count sits at two. 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:
Just one day after being let out of his Broncos contract, Ejiro Evero has found his next NFL opportunity. The Panthers are hiring him to be their new defensive coordinator, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). The team has announced the move.
The 42-year-old helped his stock around the league during the 2022 season, his first in Denver. The Broncos generally held up very well defensively, in spite of the team’s significant struggles on offense. It therefore came as little surprise when Evero was offered the interim head coaching role after Nathaniel Hackett was fired, but he turned down that opportunity in lieu of preparing for a busy offseason fielding interest from around the league.
The Panthers – who interviewed Evero for their head coaching vacancy last month – opted for a more experienced option in Frank Reich. It was reported not long after that decision that Carolina’s target for the DC role was Vic Fangio, but he ended up taking a massive deal with the Dolphins. Evero was quickly named as a potential secondary option, and he is now set to guide a talented unit in Charlotte.
Carolina put up middling numbers across several defensive categories in 2022. They, like the team as a whole, played better down the stretch as the Panthers pushed for the division title in a weak NFC South. Much of the credit for their turnaround was given to interim head coach Steve Wilks; the latter was the players’ preference to be hired on a full-time basis, and interviewed twice for the position. Today’s announcement confirms, however, that he will need to look elsewhere to continue his coaching career.
As for Minnesota, who had been working on setting up an interview with Evero, their attention will now turn to the other presumed finalist to lead their defense. Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport tweets that Brian Flores is the name to watch, adding that the Vikings are “now in a strong position” to hire the ex-Dolphins head coach. Denver, meanwhile, has shown interest in both Flores and Sean Desai for what is now an official DC vacancy. Regardless of what those two teams do, Evero is set for the new beginning he requested.
7:40pm: With Evero no longer a member of the Broncos’ staff, Denver does not have the power to block a lateral move such as one which would see him head to Carolina. An interview with the Panthers at an unknown date has been set up, per Troy Renck of Denver7. To little surprise, he adds that Evero “expects to get” either that DC position, or the one in Minnesota to which he has also been very closely linked. In any case, it will likely not take long before his next NFL gig is in place.
1:58pm: Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero continues to draw considerable interest around the NFL despite the uncertainty regarding his future in Denver. In addition to the Vikings, the Panthers are interested in hiring him via a lateral move.
Carolina has requested a DC interview with Evero, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). That news comes less than one month after the Panthers met with the 42-year-old for their head coaching vacancy, which has since been filled by Frank Reich. Despite not landing a HC role so far in the 2023 cycle, Evero is expected to lead an NFL staff in the very near future.
Not long after Reich’s appointment, it came out that the Panthers were eying Vic Fangio for their DC position. The latter eventually chose to head to Miami instead, though, leaving them to turn elsewhere in their search. It comes as little surprise they have their eyes on Evero, who drew notable praise for his work with Denver’s defense in 2022, his first campaign in the Mile High City. Whether he stays there for the upcoming sesason or not remains to be seen, however.
The Broncos have not yet given the Vikings permission to interview Evero as their Ed Donatell replacement, per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). He adds that Evero would be Minnesota’s preferred choice if a sit-down were to be arranged, though that may be unlikely. It was reported earlier this week that the Broncos wish to keep Evero in place as a top assistant under new head coach Sean Payton; Breer notes that the pair have spoken to discuss their (potential) future together.
In a follow-up, Breer also tweets that the Rams could be a team to keep an eye on should they find themselves in need of a new DC. Raheem Morris is one of many candidates remaining for the Colts’ HC position, so the possibility remains that he winds up in Indianapolis in the near future. Evero would represent a logical replacement candidate for Morris, since he spent five years in Los Angeles prior to his arrival in Denver this past year.
Amidst all this uncertainty, the Broncos have requested DC interviews of their own with Seahawks defensive assistantSean Desai and Steelers linebackers coachBrian Flores. That leaves much to be answered with respect to Evero’s immediate future, but if he does end up outside of Denver in 2023, he will have no shortage of suitors.
The future of Ejiro Evero could become clearer in the near future. The Broncos have let their defensive coordinator out of his contract, freeing him to interview with other teams for a new opportunity under the same title, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).
Mike Klis of 9News corroborates that report, adding that Evero preferred to move on from Denver (Twitter link). The 42-year-old was close with ousted head coach Nathaniel Hackett, something which left plenty of doubt in the wake of his firing before the regular season had ended. Evero was offered the interim HC role for the final two games of the campaign, but kept his attention on his DC duties in preparation for a busy schedule of interviews during the 2023 coaching cycle.
In spite of the Broncos’ wishes to keep Evero in place, new head coach Sean Payton is moving on from the former with this decision. As a result, Evero can now meet with the Vikings, who requested an interview with him yesterday. It remained very much in doubt whether or not Denver would block that request – as they previously had done with the Falcons. Now, though, Minnesota is working on scheduling a sit-down for early next week, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweets.
As Klis notes, “all signs point to” Evero landing the DC position with the Vikings once that interview takes place. He has been a hot commodity this offseason as one of the league’s fastest-rising coordinators, even receiving head coach consideration from the Panthers last month. Carolina also has an interview request in with Evero for their DC vacancy, as Frank Reich begins to piece together his new staff.
An NFL staffer since 2017, Evero has spent time with the Buccaneers, 49ers, Packers and Rams in a number of capacities. His lone DC spell came this past season with the Broncos, who put up impressive statistics in several categories despite the team’s well-documented struggles all year long. That showing had led to the expectation that Evero will be an NFL head coach not far down the road.
Payton and the Broncos, meanwhile, will now squarely turn their attention elsewhere to fill the DC opening. Denver has interview requests in with Sean Desai and Brian Flores, but more names could be added to the list of their targets with the knowledge that their highly-acclaimed assistant will be heading elsewhere.
FEBRUARY 3: The Vikings have put in a request to interview Evero, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). That comes as little surprise, given their interest already shown in him, but it remains to be seen if the Broncos will allow him to meet and discuss what would be a lateral move. If they do, Minnesota would presumably become a leading contender for the highly sought-after staffer’s services.
FEBRUARY 1: The Vikings are treading lightly with their defensive coordinator search just in case one of their preferred candidates becomes available. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert (on Twitter), the Vikings are waiting to see if they can get an interview with Broncos defensive coordinator EjiroEvero. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler hints on Twitter that Evero would be a top candidate for Minnesota’s DC vacancy.
The Vikings have been seeking a new defensive coordinator after moving on from Ed Donatell after the season. Seahawks defensive assistant SeanDesai, Steelers linebackers coach BrianFlores, Vikings defensive assistant MikePettine, and Saints co-defensive coordinator RyanNielsen (who has since landed in Atlanta) have been mentioned as candidates for the vacancy. There haven’t been many developments regarding the interview process for a week.
Minnesota may be hard pressed to coax the Broncos into granting an interview. Denver previously blocked Evero from interviewing for the Falcons defensive coordinator gig since it would have been a lateral move. That was before the Broncos had clarity at head coach, and with Sean Payton now running the show, it remains to be seen if Evero will still be sticking around Denver.
For what it’s worth, we heard earlier today that Broncos brass was pushing Payton to keep Evero on the coaching staff. Besides the blocked interview with the Falcons, the Broncos organization has continually shown how much they value the coach. After being brought on to lead the defense last year, he was offered the interim HC role following the firing of Nathaniel Hackett. Evero declined that role out of respect for his ousted good friend, but it’s still clear that the front office values the coach.
Despite injuries and the loss of Bradley Chubb, the Broncos defense still ranked 10th in defensive DVOA and seventh in total defense this past season. As a result, the 42-year-old became a hot name on the head coaching market, and Evero ultimately interviewed for all five HC vacancies. He’s still still a candidate for the Colts and Cardinals head coaching jobs, moves that the Broncos wouldn’t be able to block.
Five years after their Josh McDaniels-to-Frank Reich pivot, the Colts are again conducting a rather interesting head coaching search. This process may well produce an unusual stage.
Indianapolis potentially planning a third round on HC interviews, after holding 12-hour meetings — in some cases — with candidates during the second round, adds a memorable wrinkle to its search to replace Reich. A third round of a coaching search has not happened in at least 40 years, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. GM Chris Ballard has run the search, but Jim Irsay will make the call. Where will this search end up?
Almost everyone involved in this Indy journey has been mentioned as a finalist or scheduled a second interview. Dan Quinnhopped off the ride midway through, doing so hours after he scheduled a second meeting about the position. Ben Johnson backed out after his virtual interview, staying with the Lions. Giants OC Mike Kafka also has not been mentioned as being summoned for a second meeting. DeMeco Ryanscancelled his virtual interview and chose the Texans over the Broncos. Jim Harbaugh was mentioned as a candidate in December, but the ex-Colts QB did not interview. Otherwise, this search remains one of the most wide open in memory.
Rich Bisaccia, Brian Callahan, Ejiro Evero, Aaron Glenn, Don Martindale, Raheem Morris, Jeff Saturday and Shane Steichen have either gone through a second interview or will do so soon. Eric Bieniemy and Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone have also been mentioned as potential finalists, though neither is believed to have scheduled a second meeting.
This search has produced the rare mix of all three phases, with Bisaccia and Ventrone representing the special teams wing. Ventrone, 40, was Reich’s ST coordinator throughout the latter’s HC tenure, while Bisaccia, 62, is the rare interim HC to have guided his team to the playoffs. The Raiders passed on Bisaccia, leading him to Green Bay. Could he join John Harbaugh as a former ST coordinator to become a head coach?
Irsay went offense twice in 2018, hiring McDaniels and then Reich. This year’s lot of OCs in contention includes Andy Reid‘s right-hand man. Ballard and Bieniemy worked together in Kansas City for four years, and since Ballard left for Indiana, Bieniemy has become Reid’s top lieutenant. Of course, that has famously not led to a head coaching opportunity. Both Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy earned HC chances as Reid’s HC, but teams have paused on Bieniemy, 53. After this latest Chiefs attack led the NFL in offensive DVOA despite trading Tyreek Hill, will the Colts be the team that goes with the oft-bypassed candidate?
Callahan and Steichen are the only other offense-based candidates linked to having paths to the job. Steichen is just 37 and worked with Reich during the future Colts leader’s time as Chargers OC. Ex-Reich lieutenant Nick Sirianni gave Steichen the play-calling reins midway through last season, and it made a major difference in the Eagles’ trajectory. Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing in 2021 and has produced a top-three attack this year, as Jalen Hurts has made considerable strides as a passer. Callahan, 38, does not call plays in Cincinnati but is a candidate for both the Colts and Cardinals’ HC gigs. Joe Burrow is primed to book one of Zac Taylor‘s assistants a promotion, and Callahan is this year’s candidate.
Evero, 42, leads the league in connections to jobs during this year’s cycle, being summoned by all five HC-seeking teams for interviews and being pursued for DC gigs. It appears the Broncos’ DC will land on his feet, despite Nathaniel Hackett‘s one-and-done, and Denver remains interested in keeping him. The Rams also have Evero in mind as a Morris contingency plan. Morris, 46, would be a second-chance HC, but the ex-Buccaneers leader’s first chance came more than 10 years ago. He has rebuilt his stock in Los Angeles, helping the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI win, and Sean McVay staffers are quite popular on coaching carousels. Morris also has a near-three-month run as an interim leader under his belt, having replaced Quinn with the 2020 Falcons.
Martindale, 59 is believed to have interviewed well in his second meeting (the Irsay stage), and he played a key role in the Giants making a surprising surge to the divisional round. He coached the Ravens to three top-five defensive finishes in four DC seasons. Glenn, 50, started late in coaching due to his playing career spanning 16 seasons. The ex-cornerback joins Evero and Callahan as Cards candidates.
Sean Payton‘s team has requested a DC interview with Flores, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This comes on the heels of a multi-day discussion with Ejiro Everoabout staying on as Denver’s DC. While the Evero path may not be closed, the Broncos are now considering outside options as well. Evero indeed remains in the running for the position, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, but Payton is also exploring outside hires.
The Broncos and Flores have a unique past, which could complicate a hire. Flores included the team in his ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit. The former Dolphins HC included the Broncos as one of the original teams in the suit, alleging then-GM John Elway arrived for his 2019 HC interview an hour late and hungover. The Broncos called Flores’ account “blatantly false.”
The moving parts here certainly supply intrigue. Evero has interviewed for all five HC positions, but Broncos management wants him to remain the team’s DC. With Nathaniel Hackett hire still under contract, the Broncos blocked him from joining Flores in interviewing for the Falcons’ DC post. Ex-Payton staffer Ryan Nielsen has since filled it. Evero also joins Flores in being on Minnesota’s DC radar, but the Broncos could block that interview as well. Payton passing on Evero, of course, would open the door to that Vikings meeting going through.
Bill Belichick‘s de facto DC in 2018, Flores played a lead role in the Patriots securing their sixth Super Bowl championship. The Pats held the Rams to three points in Super Bowl LIII, becoming the second team to keep a Super Bowl opponent out of the end zone. This performance paved the way to Flores’ Miami hire. That produced two winning seasons and a rather notable 5-11 campaign — after the Dolphins gutted their roster amid a rebuild effort — that became the subject of an NFL investigation after Flores alleged Stephen Ross offered bribes for 2019 losses.
The league did not punish Ross as a result of Flores’ allegations, but it did strip the Dolphins of first- and third-round picks for attempting to replace Flores with Payton. The Payton-Tom Brady tampering scandal could conceivably loom as a factor in a Flores-Broncos partnership as well, adding another wrinkle to what would be one of the more interesting DC interviews in recent memory.