Jonathan Gannon

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.

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

Coaching Rumors: Saints, Texans, McDaniel, Giants, Broncos

The Saints began their cycle of head coaching interviews this week, conducting meetings with the following candidates: former Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson (1/30; hired by Jaguars), former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores (2/1), Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (2/2), their current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi (2/3), their current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen (2/4), and Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (2/6).

New Orleans also requested permission to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. There were some early reports that permission had been granted, but that hasn’t been confirmed and nothing has been scheduled, as of yet. ESPN’s Saints’ reporter Mike Triplett also mentioned that current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was offered an opportunity to interview for the position, but Carmichael declined. Despite being a part of Sean Payton‘s staff since Payton’s tenure in New Orleans began back in 2006, it appears Carmichael has no interest in running the show in the Big Easy. Whether he has retirement or another destination in mind or he is just comfortable in his role, Carmichael will not be the Saints’ next head coach.

Here are a few more notes from the ongoing coaching searches and staff changes throughout the NFL, starting with the other head coaching vacancy:

  • Houston recently narrowed their list of head coaching candidates down to three: Brian Flores, former quarterback Josh McCown, and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Well, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson, the Texans are now down to two candidates, with Gannon being informed Saturday that he will not be receiving the head coaching position, leaving Flores and McCown as the two remaining names.
  • New Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel reportedly has interest in holding on to some of the defensive assistants currently under contract in Miami, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This includes current defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who followed Flores to Miami from New England. The lack of staff turnover would be a positive for a defensive unit that played well during the team’s seven-game win-streak in the back half of the season.
  • The Giants were able to add a piece to Brian Daboll‘s new staff while missing out on another today. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeted out that Andy Bischoff will become the Giants’ new tight ends coach. Bischoff followed David Culley from Baltimore to Houston and will make the lateral move over from the Texans with their head coaching position still in the air. Unfortunately, the Giants did not get their running backs coach, as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted out that Deland McCullough has turned down Daboll’s offer, choosing instead to remain the running backs coach at Notre Dame, believing it gives him the best opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
  • New Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett is also looking to fill out his staff. The Broncos are planning to interview Jon Embree who most recently held the position of tight ends coach/assistant head coach in San Francisco. Embree parted ways with the Niners after being asked to take a 60 percent pay cut after San Francisco’s NFC Championship loss. The man who has coached George Kittle since he was drafted in 2017 would be a nice addition to Hackett’s system.

Texans Down To Three HC Finalists

The latest on the Texans’ ongoing search for a new head coach indicates that there are three finalists for the job, including Brian Flores. USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets that Flores, along with former quarterback Josh McCown and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, are the remaining candidates. 

[Related: Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Flores’ inclusion on the list is, of course, the most notable. He filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams earlier this week; among the expected consequences of that action, many feel, is the end to his NFL coaching career. However, he is (at least officially) still in the running for the position, for which, in terms of HC experience, he is the most qualified.

McCown conducted a second interview with the Texans last week, making him the first known finalist for the job. The longtime QB spent his final season in Houston, though he didn’t see any playing time. One year removed from the end of his playing days, the 42-year-old has clearly interviewed well, giving him a good chance of starting a coaching career in the league.

Gannon, meanwhile, has been among the most popular candidates in this year’s hiring cycle. Having also met with the Broncos and Vikings, he interviewed for the second time in Houston one day after McCown. A 15-year veteran on the sidelines, his work in Philadelphia in 2021 – the first in which he held the title of DC – has increased the demand around the league for the 39-year-old.

Anderson also tweets that the Texans have spent the past two days vetting each candidates’ staffing plans for their “viability, availability and fit” within Houston. Finally, she adds that the Texans are “rallying up on their decision”, in part due to the overriding belief that Rams OC Kevin O’Connell (the only other candidate to conduct a second interview with the team) will be named HC of the Vikings after the Super Bowl. A final decision in Houston, then, seems to be getting rather close to being made.

 

Texans Conducting Second Interview With Brian Flores

Another finalist has emerged in the Texans’ head coaching search. Brian Flores is conducting a second interview today, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

[Related: Texans Giving Josh McCown Second Interview]

Like many second interviews this year, this one will be in person, as opposed to being conducted virtually. Overall, though, Pelissero notes that “the sides have spoken multiple times”. The 40-year-old has ties to general manager Nick Caserio dating back to their time together in New England. That Patriots-Caserio connection has, of course, led to both Flores and Pats linebackers coach Jerod Mayo being listed as favorites once they were announced as candidates.

Instead, the two others that have already received second interviews are former quarterback Josh McCown and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Houston is currently the only team to have had interest in McCown so far, while Gannon has also met with the Broncos and Vikings.

The biggest domino in Houston, regardless of the new head coach, is quarterback Deshaun Watson. Many feel that Flores’ hiring would be the only way the maligned signal caller could remain with the Texans, given their desire to work together. While Houston still intends to trade Watson, Flores’ presence as a finalist for the HC job certainly raises the possibility of things taking another turn.

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon Gets Second Texans Interview

Jonathan Gannon is getting another look in Houston. The Texans are hosting the Eagles defensive coordinator on his second visit today, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

This is the second finalist to emerge for the Texans HC vacancy, with QB Josh McCown also getting a second interview. Rapoport notes that other names could emerge as finalists. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets that Gannon is a strong candidate for the gig, with the reporter citing the coach’s connections to Texans GM Nick Caserio.

Gannon has spent 15 years as a coach and scout. Following a three-year stint as the Colts defensive backs coach, he was hired as the Eagles defensive coordinator last offseason. During his first season in the role, the Eagles defense ranked top-10 in yards allowed, with Philly’s rush defense showing particular promise.

The 39-year-old has been a popular name on the coaching circuit this offseason. Gannon was also connected to jobs with the Broncos and Vikings.

Vikings Request Interview With Rams’ DC Raheem Morris

Another name has been added to the list of potential head coaching candidates in Minnesota. The team has requested an interview with Raheem Morris, the current Rams defensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Peter Schrager). 

Morris, 45, has an NFL coaching background dating back to 2002. He has spent time primarily as a defensive backs coach, serving in that role in Tampa Bay (on two different occasions, including the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning squad) and Washington. However, he also took over as the Bucs’ head coach after the firing of Jon Gruden in January of 2009. He had an encouraging year in 2010, posting a 10-6 record, but the one preceding and following that campaign saw the team put up a combined record of 7-25.

After a three year stint in Washington, Morris got his next prominent coaching positions in Atlanta. He served as an assistant head coach and pass game coordinator from his arrival in 2015 to 2019. Then, in 2020, he became the team’s DC until taking over as interim HC following Dan Quinn’s firing. He interviewed to remain in Atlanta on a full-time basis, but the team ultimately went with former Titans OC Arthur Smith.

This past offseason, Morris was hired by the Rams to take over for now-Chargers HC Brandon Staley as the team’s defensive coordinator. His work in L.A. has prompted many to expect more head coaching opportunities, so it was surprising this is the first request he has received in the 2022 coaching cycle.

The news brings the total number of candidates linked to the Vikings’ HC vacancy to ten. Here is the updated list:

 

Texans Request Interview With Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

Jonathan Gannon is turning into a popular name in the HC circuit, and the defensive guru has now received interest from a third team. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Texans requested permission to interview the Eagles defensive coordinator.

Gannon has spent 15 years as a coach and scout. Following a three-year stint as the Colts defensive backs coach, he was hired as the Eagles defensive coordinator last offseason. During his first season in the role, the Eagles defense ranked top-10 in yards allowed, with Philly’s rush defense showing particular promise.

The Broncos and Vikings have already requested permission to speak with Gannon. The 39-year-old will now have plenty of time to interview after Philly was bounced from the postseason.

In Houston, Gannon joins a growing list of candidates that already includes:

Vikings Request Permission To Speak With Six More Coaches About HC Job

And like that, we’ve got a growing list of candidates for the Vikings HC job. Following news that the Vikings requested permission to interview Todd Bowles for the gig, we’ve learned that the organization requested permission to interview six additional coaches:

  • Jonathan Gannon, defensive coordinator (Eagles) (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator (Packers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter)
  • Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator (Rams) (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter)
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)

Five of those coaches have already been connected to other HC vacancies, but this is the first reported interview request for Ryans. The former NFL linebacker has been on the 49ers coaching staff since 2017, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator last offseason after Robert Saleh left for New York. During his first season in the role, the 49ers defense ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

Of course, the Vikings may not be sticking with only seven candidates. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweets that the Vikings have also explored the candidacy of Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Per Pelissero (on Twitter), the Vikings are hoping to find a replacement for former GM Rick Spielman before they hire a replacement for former HC Mike Zimmer. However, considering the anti-tampering rules, the Vikings only have until Sunday to interview coaches on byes, so they have reason to speak with someone like Hackett ASAP. The Vikings plan to kick off their GM interviews on Sunday, with Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort first in line.

Broncos Request Three Interviews For HC Vacancy

The Broncos moved on from head coach Vic Fangio earlier today, and they’ve naturally started eyeing potential replacements. Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter links), the Broncos requested interviews with Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos have also requested an interview with Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.

[RELATED: Broncos Fire HC Vic Fangio]

Gannon, 39, has spent 15 years as a coach and scout. Following a three-year stint as the Colts defensive backs coach, he was hired as the Eagles defensive coordinator last offseason. During his first season in the role, the Eagles defense ranked top-10 in yards allowed, with Philly’s rush defense showing particular promise.

Glenn had a 15-year career as a cornerback, and he’s transitioned to coaching in recent years. He had a long stint as the Saints defensive backs coach before getting hired as the Lions DC in 2021. While the Lions defense left plenty to be desired this past season, the 49-year-old is still highly regarded in coaching circles.

O’Connell has been a popular name since taking over as Rams offensive coordinator in 2020. Following an impressive first season in Los Angeles, the Rams offense took a small step back in 2021, although this was mostly due to an inconsistent rushing attack.