NFL To Delay HC Interviews Until After Divisional Round

OCTOBER 17: The NFL will greenlight this in-season rule change, with’s Albert Breer reporting it passed 32-0. HC-seeking teams will not be able to meet with candidates in-person until after the divisional round. This will present fewer candidates with complex itineraries — like the one DeMeco Ryans navigated ahead of the 49ers’ divisional-round matchup with the Cowboys earlier this year — and allow for these assistants to focus on their teams’ postseason matchups.

This rule only applies to coaches on other teams’ staffs, with unemployed coaches and college coaches free to meet with teams earlier. This field-leveling attempt by the league will also see internal candidates not subject to this rule change, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

OCTOBER 16: The hiring process for NFL head coaches could again be delayed starting with the 2024 cycle. The league is giving thought to pushing back in-person interviews with candidates still under contract until after the divisional round of the playoffs, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports.

Making such a move official – which could happen as soon as this week’s league meetings in New York – would give head coaching candidates an extra week before potentially lining up a move to a new team following their current club’s elimination. As things currently stand, in-person interviews cannot take place until after the wild-card round of the postseason.

As Jones notes, virtual interviews would still be allowed prior to the end of the divisional round under the proposed changes. Coaches not under contract, along with in-house candidates, could also be brought in for in-person interviews at any time as teams gauge their options before the start of the new league year in March. Owners are expected to vote on the proposed changes in the coming days.

Passing them would lengthen the overall hiring process, something which has already taken place since the 2021 alteration which pushed in-person interviews back. The current changes under consideration would still leave the issue of certain candidates taking time during preparation for conference championship games to meet with their prospective new employers, but the pool of staffers for which that would be the case would at least again be decreased.

Jones adds that the alterations being considered would apply only to head coaches, not to general manager interviews. It remains to be seen if the requisite support is in place to push through the proposal, but the league sent a memo to all teams last year detailing the money spent on fired coaches and executives, a potential deterrent to rushed hiring processes. Those may become lengthier by a margin of one week as early as 2024.

Brian Flores Joins Finalists For Cardinals HC Job

9:45pm: In the newest update, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that “the Cardinals have informed several head coaching candidates that they are out of the running.” The three candidates who have been announced to be involved in the second round of interviews (Flores, Anarumo, and Kafka) are reportedly the team’s finalists for the position.

The three candidates who have not been included in the second round of interviews yet (Joseph, Glenn, and Callahan) are among those who have been informed that they are no longer being considered.

5:49pm: The Cardinals made it known that they had at least two candidates who would be advancing to a second round of interviews for their vacant head coaching position yesterday. Now Steelers defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores will join Lou Anarumo and Mike Kafka as a finalist in Arizona, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

This is the first name we’ve seen that lines up with an earlier report from last weekend. That report implied that, if the Cardinals were unable to bring in Sean Payton, whose rights were traded to the Broncos this past week, the team would be moving forward with Flores, Aaron Glenn, and Ejiro Evero for a second round of interviews. After yesterday’s announcement for Anarumo and Kafka, Flores’s inclusion is the first name that doesn’t come as a surprise.

Arizona is moving relatively slowly compared to the other franchises who have been working to hire a new head coach this offseason and, as a result, have missed out on a few promising candidates. Of the 10 candidates interviewed by the Cardinals, four are no longer available. Besides Payton, Dan Quinn made the decision to remain in Dallas as defensive coordinator, Evero has been hired as the defensive coordinator in Carolina, Frank Reich has been hired as the Panthers’ head coach, and DeMeco Ryans, who actually cancelled his interview, has taken the head coaching position in Houston.

That leaves Arizona with its three finalists (Flores, Anarumo, and Kafka), the rumored finalist who has not been announced as a candidate for a second interview (Glenn), Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who interviewed this week, and their own defensive coordinator for the last four seasons, Vance Joseph. Anarumo is set to meet virtually with general manager Monti Ossenfort on Friday, while Kafka’s virtual interview is expected to take place on Tuesday.

Flores is expected to interview for the Cardinals’ job on Wednesday. The day before, Flores is expected to interview for the Broncos defensive coordinator position under Payton. He is also a top candidate for the Vikings defensive coordinator job.

With three finalists named for the position so far, here is the updated breakdown of the Cardinals’ interview process:

Patriots Rumors: Interviews, McCourty

The Patriots coaching staff are currently in Nevada for the East-West Shrine Game, and they plan on conducting a few interviews for a vacant spot on their staff while they’re there, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. New England will interview Bills assistant offensive line coach Ryan Wendell and Oregon Ducks associate head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach Adrian Klemm in Las Vegas this weekend.

Wendell played for the Patriots for eight years, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2014. The undrafted lineman out of Fresno State was a starter for them that season for the third straight year. He joined the Bills’ staff in 2019 as a coaching assistant and was promoted after a year to his current position.

Klemm was also an offensive lineman for the Patriots, wearing the red, white, and blue from 2000-04. Klemm was never a full-time starter but served as an important backup who started in multiple spots for New England over the years. Klemm’s coaching career has been much longer than Wendell’s and has mostly been in the collegiate ranks with stints at SMU and UCLA before his jump to the NFL. In 2019, Klemm accepted the assistant offensive line coaching position for the Steelers, eventually getting promoted to offensive line coach in 2021. Klemm left the team that year, though, with two games remaining in the regular season to join the Ducks in his current role.

Here’s one more rumor about the Patriots as they begin their offseason:

  • Veteran Patriots safety Devin McCourty is considering joining his brother, Jason, in retirement, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. He said recently that he isn’t “sure either way.” He reportedly has a family vacation on his mind right now and may address his future after that, but it’s up in the air right now. The 13-year veteran has spent all of his career in New England and hasn’t missed a start since 2015. He has stayed a consistent contributor over the years with four interceptions this past season and 14 in the last four years.

Ravens Request OC Interview With Vikings’ Brian Angelichio

The Ravens continue to cast a wide net in search of their new offensive play caller. In addition to considering Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, Browns wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, and Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales, Baltimore has requested to interview Vikings passing game coordinator and tight ends coach Brian Angelichio, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Angelichio has been a tight ends coach in the league since 2012 when he followed Greg Schiano from Rutgers to the Buccaneers. Since then, he’s had some bad luck finding head coaches who have stayed in their jobs long term, bouncing around to Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington, and Carolina before his most recent position in Minnesota. Angelichio joined the Vikings’ staff this year with first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, who granted him the new added moniker of passing game coordinator.

Angelichio has a few notable coaching performances on his resume. In 2015, he coached veteran tight end Gary Barnidge to a career 1,043-yard season in which he caught nine touchdowns. He’s also coached some of the NFL’s best recent tight ends, overseeing Jimmy Graham with the Packers as well as Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis in Washington. With Angelichio as passing game coordinator, the Vikings ranked fifth in the NFL in passing yards gained and tied for fourth in the league in passing touchdowns this year.

Angelichio has now had his name added to the ever-growing list of candidates to become the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator, alongside Robinson, O’Shea, and Canales. Fowler added that there are a number of other names he’s hearing as potential candidates including former Colts head coach Frank Reich, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

In addition to the many outside candidates, the Ravens also have at least two in-house candidates in wide receivers coach Tee Martin and quarterbacks coach James Urban. Martin is a recent addition to the NFL coaching ranks, joining the Ravens in 2021 after years as a passing game coordinator and play caller for multiple Power 5 programs in college football. Urban has been with the team since 2018, coaching Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson since his rookie season. He’s never called plays, but he’s been in the NFL since 2004 and worked alongside Ravens head coach John Harbaugh for much of that time.

Baltimore is doing its due diligence with its search for a new offensive play caller. The team has doubled down on their intent to center the offense around Jackson, going as far as to allow him as much input into the coaching search as possible. Angelichio becomes one of many names for Jackson, Harbaugh, and company to consider.

Bears Request Interviews With Commanders’ Chris Harris, Packers’ Jerry Gray

The Bears requested interviews yesterday with two names that have been brought up in defensive coordinator searches recently. They requested permission to interview Washington defensive backs coach Chris Harris for an unspecified position on the defensive staff, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS similarly reported that Chicago requested permission to interview Packers defensive pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray for an “as-yet-undefined” role on the defensive staff.

Harris is a former All-Pro safety who began his NFL coaching career immediately after retiring as a player. He started off as a defensive quality control coach for the team that drafted him in Chicago. Harris was not retained after the firing of then-head coach Marc Trestman, and he joined the Chargers as the assistant defensive backs coach, moving with the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. When Ron Rivera was hired as head coach in Washington, Harris was granted a promotion to defensive backs coach, a position he’s held for the past three seasons with the Commanders.

The past couple of years have seen Harris participate in a few interviews for defensive coordinator positions. He was reportedly a finalist for the Packers coordinator job two years ago and interviewed with the Colts last year. Harris’s name came up today when Tennessee also requested to interview him. If he were to join the Titans, it’s presumed that he would come into the role of passing game coordinator, in addition to his usual position coaching gig.

Gray has actual coordinator experience from his time with the Bills and Titans. The 60-year-old coach was also requested to interview for the defensive coordinator position in Atlanta a week ago. After the Falcons’ former defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, announced his retirement, Gray’s name quickly came up as a replacement candidate. Gray’s defensive units have put up middling results over the years, but his experience calling plays makes him an attractive candidate to replace Pees, who has been doing so since 2012.

With defensive coordinator Alan Williams still in the position for the Bears, neither Harris nor Gray are likely being interviewed for his role. More likely, they are being considered for the role of passing game coordinator. Harris makes the most sense, considering his history with the franchise, but Gray has more experience in larger roles. The Bears should get to talk with both in the days to come.

Panthers Request Interviews With Three Offensive Coordinators For Head Coach

9:45pm: Carolina has added a third current offensive coordinator to their requests, this time one from the AFC. Rapoport reports that the Panthers have requested to interview Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey for their open head coaching position.

Dorsey’s rise as a coach has been fairly quick. After joining the Panthers organization initially as a scout in 2011, Dorsey quickly transitioned to quarterback coach, mentoring quarterback Cam Newton during the seasons in which Newton won MVP and led his team to the Super Bowl.

Dorsey was a casualty when the Panthers fired former offensive coordinator Mike Shula and was hired a year later to be the Bills’ quarterback coach under Sean McDermott. Dorsey’s success coaching second-year quarterback Josh Allen led to multiple teams reaching out about hiring him as their offensive coordinator. When Brian Daboll was hired to coach the Giants, Dorsey was promoted to offensive coordinator in Buffalo for the 2022 season.

After one season at the helm of the offense, Dorsey is getting his first interest for a head coaching position. Coincidentally, that interest just happens to be coming from the franchise that broke him into the coaching ranks of the NFL 10 years ago.

9:26pm: The Panthers’ search to replace former head coach Matt Rhule continued this evening as the organization requested interviews with Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, as reported separately by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. The two have become popular names in the 2023 head coaching market. Both Steichen and Johnson had received requests from the Texans and Colts today, as well. This makes six candidates who appear to be in the running for the open head coaching position in Carolina.

Steichen, formerly the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, took over as Philadelphia’s play caller when Nick Sirianni was named head coach in 2021. Steichen has played a crucial role in the development of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Together, in only their second season of work together, the two led a third-ranked Eagles offense to the NFC’s top seed.

Johnson is a holdover assistant coach in Detroit from the Matt Patricia-era to the Dan Campbell-era. Campbell was so impressed with Johnson he promoted the former tight ends coach to offensive coordinator this past offseason. Johnson excelled in the role, helping turn the Lions’ season around from a 1-6 start to a 9-8 record despite sporting the league’s worst scoring defense. Johnson helped the offense fire around quarterback Jared Goff and coached a rushing attack that saw running back Jamaal Williams break Barry Sanders record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 17.

Carolina is also expected to interview former Colts head coaches Frank Reich and Jim Caldwell, who more recently coached the Lions, and interim head coach Steve Wilks will get an opportunity to state his case after just falling short of a division title despite a disastrous start to the season. University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has been in contact with the team, as well, to discuss the position.

The Panthers will have plenty of routes to choose from in their search. Whether they decided they prefer the experience of veteran coaches like Caldwell or Harbaugh, they decide they would like to see more out the small samples provided by Wilks and Reich, or if they decide they want to give a debut opportunity to the younger coordinators, Carolina will do their due diligence in their search.

NFL Nixes Early HC Interview Period, Will Not Apply Rooney Rule To Interim Hires

Around this time last year, teams with head-coaching vacancies were permitted interview candidates on other staffs. Those interviews could take place during the final two weeks of the regular season, but the guinea pig franchise here — the Jaguars — encountered mixed results regarding early interview summons.

The Jaguars were the only team with a vacancy at this point last year, and they did end up speaking to a few HC candidatesKellen Moore, Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles — before the regular season ended. Other candidates — like Dan Quinn, Nathaniel Hackett, Matt Eberflusopted to bypass the early interview circuit. Hackett and Eberflus waited to interview with the Jags until after their teams’ regular seasons ended; Quinn did not interview. The NFL will pass on this option this year.

The Colts and Panthers will not have a chance to speak with candidates currently on staffs, with CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reporting owners voted not to renew the process. Last year, the Jags were allowed to request interviews and meet with candidates — so long as the assistants’ teams OK’d it. The Panthers and Colts will need to wait until the regular season ends to conduct interviews with coaches currently under contract.

Carolina and Indianapolis can interview coaches not in the league presently. The Jaguars ended up finding their current HC this way. Doug Pederson interviewed with Jacksonville during Week 17 of last season. Jim Caldwell also met with the team in-season. Jacksonville’s search process ended up lasting into late January, featuring some twists and turns, but Pederson landed the gig.

It will be interesting to see if the Panthers or Colts try to conduct interviews before their interim hires’ auditions end. Steve Wilks and Jeff Saturday are believed to be true candidates to take over on a full-time basis, though no interim HC has earned such a promotion since the Jags changed Doug Marrone‘s title nearly six years ago.

Saturday’s interim appointment generated considerable pushback from the coaching community and media, and the Fritz Pollard Alliance called on the NFL to move interim hires under the Rooney Rule umbrella. That will not happen, at least not this year. Although the NFL has steadily expanded the Rooney Rule in recent years, Jones tweets the league is sticking with its current setup. Teams will not have to interview a minority candidate before naming an interim coach. Teams will still need to meet with two external minority candidates before making a full-time hire, however.

Steelers To Conduct Second GM Interview With Doug Whaley

Another candidate for the Steelers’ general manager position has emerged. The team will be conducting a second interview with Doug Whaley, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Steelers To Hold Second Interviews With Cowden, Spytek]

Whaley began his tenure in NFL front offices with the Steelers. He was hired by Pittsburgh in 2000 as a pro personnel coordinator, beginning years of tutelage under outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert. One decade later, he joined the Bills under the titles of assistant general manager and director of pro personnel, which he held for three seasons before becoming general manager.

Whaley’s tenure at the helm in Buffalo saw plenty of roster and coaching staff turnover. In 2015, he was part of the group that hired Rex Ryan as head coach – a stint which lasted less than two full seasons. More encouragingly, he was also involved in the hiring process for Ryan’s replacement, current HC Sean McDermott. It was during the latter’s first season that the team matched its best record under Whaley at 9-7.

Despite the lack of team success on the field – a result, in part, of decisions like trading up to draft Sammy Watkins fourth overall and signing Marcell Dareus to a lucrative contract – Whaley received an extension after the 2016 season. That came amidst speculation regarding his job security, ultimately becoming a moot point one year later. He was fired immediately after the 2017 draft.

That was the last time Whaley worked in an NFL front office. After a brief stint as a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he was hired as a part of the re-started XFL. After the announcement of another re-booting of the league, it was announced in November he would regain his role working alongside the likes of Russ Brandon and Marc Ross.

With the news of a third second-interview candidate in Pittsburgh, here is an updated look at their search:

Steelers To Hold Second GM Interviews With Ryan Cowden, John Spytek

With the draft over, longtime Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s tenure in that role has officially come to an end. As a result, the team’s search for his replacement is now front and center. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (on Twitter) that second interviews will be conducted with Ryan Cowden and John Spytek, among others.

[RELATED: Colbert Officially Steps Down]

Cowden has been with the Titans since 2016. After 16 years in Carolina, Tennessee hired him to work in the player personnel department, and he has played a key role in the team’s recent success. As a result, he has generated interest in recent GM searches, including an interview with the Giants earlier this year for their opening and his first meeting with Pittsburgh one month later.

Spytek has followed an almost identical recent career path to Cowden. He too was hired in 2016 (after spending time as a scout with the Browns and Broncos) and has served as first director, then vice president, of player personnel for the Buccaneers. Likewise, his contributions to the team’s success has caught the attention of other clubs. He interviewed with the Vikings and Raiders before doing so with the Steelers this offseason.

As Garafolo notes, the list of candidates to be interviewed a second time will grow longer than these two. For now, though, here is an updated look at Pittsburgh’s search:

  • Morocco Brown, college scouting director (Colts): Interviewed
  • Ran Carthon, director of player personnel (49ers): Interviewed
  • Ryan Cowden, vice president of player personnel (Titans): To conduct second interview
  • Ed Dodds, assistant general manager (Colts): Interviewed 2/4
  • Joe Hortiz, director of player personnel (Ravens): Interviewed
  • Brandon Hunt, pro scouting director (Steelers): Interviewed
  • Omar Khan, vice president of football and business administration (Steelers): Interviewed
  • Dan Morgan, assistant general manager (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Jerry Reese, former general manager (Giants): Interviewed
  • Louis Riddick, former director of pro personnel (Eagles): Interviewed
  • Rick Spielman, former general manager (Vikings): Interviewed
  • John Spytek, director of player personnel (Buccaneers): To conduct second interview
  • Andy Weidl, vice president of player personnel (Eagles): Interviewed
  • Doug Whaley, vice president of player personnel (XFL): Interviewed
  • John Wojciechowski, co-director of player personnel (Packers): Interviewed
  • JoJo Wooden, director of player personnel (Chargers): Interviewed by 2/4


Draft Notes: Remaining QBs, Jets, Vikings, Burks, Johnson

One of the main storylines from last night’s first round was the fact that only one quarterback came off the board. The Steelers have their preferred choice in Kenny Pickett, but the other top options likely won’t have to wait long to hear their names called.

Jeff Howe of the Athletic reports (via Twitter) that “several teams” are trying to move up in the second round. As a result, there is “anticipation that a QB run could be on the way”. A number of teams could be interested in adding the likes of Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral as intriguing developmental options.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer names the Titans, Falcons, Seahawks and Commanders as teams to watch for. He reports that “Ridder’s name has been consistently connected to Tennessee”, who now holds the 35th overall pick. The other teams have done significant work on signal-callers as well. Perhaps eyeing a passer, the Seahawks have made “exploratory calls” about moving up tonight, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes looking back on last night:

  • The Jets, as it has been reported, were willing to part with the No. 10 pick for Deebo Samuel. They almost made a different deal with that selection, though, as detailed by ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). New York wanted to swap with Seattle for No. 9 to avoid a team leapfrogging them to select Garrett Wilson. Both teams were able to successfully stand pat, ultimately getting Charles Cross and Wilson, respectively.
  • Not long after the top-10 was complete, the Vikings ceded the 12th overall pick to the Lions. With their second first-rounder, Detroit selected Jameson Williams, who may have been the pick at that spot had Minnesota kept it. Breer reports that the Alabama receiver “was very much in play ” for the Vikings, who added Lewis Cine and two Day 2 picks as a result of the deal.
  • Another of the top receivers to be taken last night was Treylon Burks, whom the Titans selected as a replacement for A.J. BrownWhen speaking to Pat McAfee, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Arkansas alum “was the guy Aaron Rodgers wanted” (video link). With him off the board, the Packers extended their streak of not using a Round 1 pick on a wideout, but he reports that they are a candidate to trade up for one tonight (video link).
  • One of the most surprising fallers on Thursday night was pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Part of the reason he was still on the board for the Jets at No. 25, Breer notes, was poor interviews with teams in the pre-draft process. Thought by some as a top-10 pick, he ended up with the Jets anyway, and figures to serve as a notable boost to their pass rush.