Kevin O’Connell

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

After the 2022 offseason produced 10 new head coaches, this one brought a step back in terms of turnover. Five teams changed HCs, though each conducted thorough searches — four of them lasting until at least January 31.

The Colts and Cardinals hired their HCs after Super Bowl LVII, plucking the Eagles’ offensive and defensive coordinators (Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon). The Cardinals were hit with a tampering penalty regarding their Gannon search. Conducting their second HC search in two years, the Broncos saw multiple candidates drop out of the running. But Denver’s new ownership group convinced Sean Payton to step out of the FOX studio and back onto the sidelines after just one season away. The Panthers made this year’s first hire (Frank Reich), while the Texans — running their third HC search in three years — finalized an agreement with DeMeco Ryans minutes after the Payton news broke.

Only one of last year’s top 10 longest-tenured HCs lost his job. A turbulent Colts year led to Reich being fired barely a year after he signed an extension. During a rather eventful stretch, Jim Irsay said he reluctantly extended Reich in 2021. The Colts passed on giving interim HC Jeff Saturday the full-time position, despite Irsay previously indicating he hoped the former center would transition to that role. Reich landed on his feet, and after losing Andrew Luck to a shocking retirement just before his second Colts season, the well-regarded play-caller now has another No. 1 pick (Bryce Young) to mentor.

After considering a Rams exit, Sean McVay recommitted to the team and is overseeing a reshaped roster. Andy Reid also sidestepped retirement rumors, staying on with the Chiefs after his second Super Bowl win. This will be Reid’s 25th season as an NFL head coach.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2023 season:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  11. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  12. Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders): January 1, 2020
  13. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  14. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  15. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  16. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  17. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  18. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  19. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  20. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  21. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  22. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  23. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  24. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  25. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  26. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  27. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  28. Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers): January 26, 2023
  29. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  30. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  31. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  32. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023

Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell Addresses 2022 Roster Approach

2022 marked a new era for the Vikings, since the team had a rookie head coach (Kevin O’Connell) and general manager (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah) in place. Several key players were holdovers from the previous regime, though, which led some to expect a clearing of house during the offseason.

Instead, the team decided against such action, choosing to maintain a core which helped deliver a 13-4 record and an NFC North title. When speaking on the subject, O’Connell noted the value of keeping veterans around in lieu of opening up financial flexibility right away, something which would have allowed for a quicker re-shaping of the roster with players of his choosing.

“Those guys had earned respect for a reason,” O’Connell said, via SI’s Albert Breer“As a young first-time head coach, I wanted to not only engage with them; I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to allow them to have their fingerprints on our team, based upon their experiences and how we put together something we could be really proud of, and do it in Year 1. And in my mind, there really wasn’t a real necessity to say goodbye to a lot of those guys immediately.”

Indeed, it was not until the 2023 offseason that the likes of linebacker Eric Kendricks and receiver Adam Thielen were released in cost-cutting moves. Those decisions came as little surprise given the cap constraints the team found itself in, despite the production the pair demonstrated they are still capable of. Still, Minnesota will be dealing with more than $30MM in dead money this year as a result of those cuts, along with their contract handling of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and the terms of their trade involving edge rusher Za’Darius Smith.

Further questions have been raised regarding the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook. The former’s deal was restructured but not extended, leaving him set for free agency in 2024. The latter, meanwhile, has been the subject of trade speculation and would yield considerable cap savings if released, particularly after June 1.

For now, though, Cousins is in place as the Vikings’ starter at the helm of what was one of the league’s top offenses last year in terms of scoring and yardage. Much of their success, of course, came though phenom wideout Justin Jefferson, who is now eligible for what will no doubt be an enormous extension. As the franchise transitions to a new core centered around Jefferson, O’Connell is confident the now ex-Vikings who contributed last year will reflect on the 2022 season and the team’s handling of the roster fondly.

“It was hopefully as much to their benefit as it was to ours, that they get to have another great year, experience some success, continue to grow in their own right… and get to look back at that year and feel like they had a real hand in it,” he said. “Because they really did.”

Latest On Vikings, Justin Jefferson

With much of the roster-building portion of the offseason done with, many teams are shifting attention to extensions with their top in-house players. In the Vikings’ case, that means a new deal for wideout Justin Jefferson is an obvious priority.

The reigning Offensive Player of the Year has put up the most productive three-year start to a career in NFL history, meaning a second contract will no doubt be a lucrative one. Jefferson could easily command a deal placing him amongst the highest-paid receivers in the league, something which would be particularly noteworthy given the recent surge in the positions’ market.

14 wideouts average $20MM or more per season on their current contracts, while Miami’s Tyreek Hill became the league’s first ever $30MMM-per-year player at the position in 2022. Talks between the Vikings and Jefferson will likely be centered around where he fits in he receiver pecking order given not only his statistical achievements, but also his age (23) relative to the league’s other highly-paid WRs.

“I don’t know if I’d put a timeline on it,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said of a Jefferson extension, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio“I just know that, you know, we very much are looking forward to having Justin play here for a really long time… I look forward to when we get that done and we can move forward knowing that Justin’s going to be here for the long term and we will get that done. Justin knows, his representation knows exactly how we feel about him.”

Those comments echo ones made by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah earlier this offseason on the topic of getting a new deal done with Jefferson this offseason, the first in which one can be signed. The LSU alum has one year remaining on his rookie contract, and Minnesota made the obvious decision of picking up his fifth-year option (worth $19.74MM) for 2024.

While that will keep Jefferson on the books for the short-term future, a mega-deal being finalized in the coming weeks or months would come as little surprise. The Vikings currently find themselves in worse cap shape than all but the Buccaneers at the moment, but clarity could emerge next offseason when quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ deal expires. By that point, Jefferson could very well find himself as the league’s highest-paid receiver.

Vikings’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell Address Potential QB Addition

The Vikings will enter the 2023 season with stability under center, but questions regarding the future beyond the coming campaign. The uncertainty surrounding starter Kirk Cousins has led to plenty of speculation that Minnesota will draft a quarterback this month to eventually succeed the veteran.

When speaking on the subject, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah declined to confirm one way or the other if he would be targeting a signal-caller at some point in the near future. He did say, however, that it would be “ideal” for the long-term Cousins replacement to be on the roster one year before taking over. That time could very well be the fall of 2024, since the Vikings restructured (rather than extended) Cousins’ contract last month.

As a result, a number of pundits have pointed to Minnesota as a destination for one of the second- or third-tier quarterbacks in this year’s class. The top four (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis) are widely expected to be off the board by the time the Vikings turn in their top selection, No. 23. The next group of passers, led by Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, could be a list of targets, however.

Connections have already been made between the former Volunteer and the Vikings, who could represent Hooker’s floor in terms of draft stock. The 25-year-old is recovering from a torn ACL, something which will limit his availability in his rookie campaign. His level of play before suffering the injury leaves him with notable upside, though, and landing in Minnesota could give him a relatively straight path to playing time in quick fashion.

“Ideally you would like to have that person in that role developing behind a great player like Kirk, but I don’t think you ever sacrifice it being the right player,” head coach Kevin O’Connell said, via Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper, when asked about drafting a quarterback. “Regardless of the when, where, why, how, you can’t sacrifice that. You have to have ultra belief and connection on making that decision because it is such an important decision.”

Adofo-Mensah confirmed that discussions within the organization are “ongoing” with respect to adding a passer. Other options will be available after round one, of course, but waiting to add a developmental option would add to the uncertainty concerning their depth chart at the position beginning next season. Cousins, 34, is on the books at a cap hit of $20.25MM this season. Backup Nick Mullens is under contract for the next two years after re-signing last month. Whether the Vikings look to add to that group at the draft will be a storyline worth watching.

Vikings Express Support For Kirk Cousins As 2023 Starter

The Vikings’ early playoff exit came as a surprise to many given the team’s success in the regular season, and it has already led to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. While plenty of questions remain for his former unit, the team’s offense has plenty of pieces in place to give them optimism for repeated success in 2023.

One key member of the offense, quarterback Kirk Cousins, is on the books for next year and received a vote of confidence from the team’s new power brokers at their season-ending press conference regarding his status heading into next year. The 34-year-old’s financial situation could change in the near future, but he is slated to remain at the top of the depth chart.

“It’s our expectation that he’ll be our quarterback,” general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press“I can’t say exactly how [his contract status] would look. Again, we have everything at our disposal. We’ll consider all those things just like we would with everyone else on the roster

Cousins inked a one-year, $35MM extension last March to keep him signed for the 2023 campaign. The deal helped lower his cap hit dramatically, though the new figure ($31.42MM) still ranked third amongst all players this season. As a result of the new contract, Cousins is slated to count for $36.25MM against the cap in 2023, and another $12.5MM the following season through a void year.

The four-time Pro Bowler earned a second straight all-star game selection this season, one in which he threw for 4,547 yards (the second-highest total in his career), and 29 touchdowns. His play helped lead the team to a 13-4 record (including 11-0 in one-possession games), making the first season under head coach Kevin O’Connell a success.

The latter echoed Adofo-Mensah’s support of Cousins, saying he was impressed with his “ownership” of the team’s new offensive system. That will inevitably lead to expectations for a repeat of this season’s performance and efficiency on that side of the ball – the Vikings ranked top-10 in both scoring and total offense – with Cousins no doubt playing a large role in the unit’s level of play.

Of course, any moves Minnesota makes this offseason will come not only against the backdrop of Cousins’ deal, but also that of Justin Jefferson being eligible for an extension. Adofo-Mensah added that preliminary talks have taken place regarding what will no doubt be a monster deal for the star wideout. Regardless of the progress made on that front in the near future, both Jefferson and Cousins will be in place to lead Minnesota’s offense in 2023.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022

NFL Coaching Notes: Rams, Brown, Bengals, Texans

While the Rams have lost Kevin O’Connell and Wes Phillips to Minnesota, it appears they won’t see their entire offensive staff dismantled. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, assistant quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson is expected to stay with the team with a bit of a promotion in title.

The Rams still have an offensive coordinator position up for grabs. Currently, the favorite to land the job is University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen. Coen worked on the Rams’ offensive staff for three years before spending last year in Lexington. He’s turned down multiple job offers recently to remain at Kentucky, but the opportunity to rejoin Sean McVay in Los Angeles may be too good to pass up.

Here are a few more coaching notes from the NFL starting with another note from the Super Bowl LVI champions:

  • Rapoport also reported that Rams’ running backs coach and assistant head coach Thomas Brown is expected to return to Los Angeles. Brown received head coaching interest from Miami and was a candidate to join O’Connell in Minnesota as offensive coordinator before Phillips was announced earlier today. Brown’s presence will provide McVay with some much needed continuity to his offensive staff.
  • The Bengals have hired Charles Burks from the Dolphins to become their cornerbacks coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. No word yet on the status of the Bengals’ cornerbacks coach from last season, Steve Jackson.
  • The Texans’ have hired Ted White with the official title of offensive assistant-quarterbacks. White had recently accepted the position of offensive coordinator at Grambling State University under head coach Hue Jackson, but Jackson will have to find someone else to fill the role. White has molded quarterbacks at Texas Southern, Southern, his alma mater of Howard, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Prairie View A&M. He’ll be tasked with the development of second-year quarterback Davis Mills.

Vikings Hire Kevin O’Connell

It’s officially official. On Wednesday, the Vikings officially announced the hiring of Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach. 

We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach,” said Vikings owner Mark Wilf. “He is a strong leader, an innovative coach and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin’s direction.”

The Vikings shook hands with O’Connell two weeks ago, though they had to wait as his Rams went on to win the Super Bowl. As LA’s OC, O’Connell guided the unit to place No. 9 in total offense (372.1 yards/game). Meanwhile, his veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp both enjoyed career years. Even when Odell Beckham Jr. was taken out of the championship game, the Rams’ offense still had enough juice to top a tough Bengals team and win it all — that’s a testament to the team’s remarkable depth, as well as O’Connell’s coaching.

O’Connell will be the Vikings’ first offensive-minded head coach since Brad Childress.The past two HCs — Mike Zimmer and Leslie Frazier — were known for their defense but did not deliver the desired results in Minnesota.

Although O’Connell is respected all around the NFL, he’s only been a play-caller for a three-month stretch, doing so after Washington fired Jay Gruden early in the 2019 season. Sean McVay kept the laminates in Los Angeles, but he’s always been a huge advocate of O’Connell, encouraging other clubs to consider him for head coaching jobs. That surely helped his case in Minnesota, though the Vikings didn’t need much convincing.

As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success,” said new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. “He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment.”

Vikings To Interview Thomas Brown For OC Job

Following a Super Bowl win on Sunday, Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown is now eyeing a potential promotion. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Brown will interview with the Vikings for their offensive coordinator job.

[RELATED: Vikings Plan To Hire Rams’ Kevin O’Connell]

Former Rams OC (and new Vikings head coach) Kevin O’Connell will surely recruit some of his fellow Rams coaches to Minnesota, and it appears that Brown is on his list. Only 35, Brown has made a rapid rise through the coaching ranks. Following a nine-year stint in the NCAA, Brown has spent the past two years with the Rams. After starting as RBs coach in 2021, Brown also earned the title of assistant head coach in 2021.

Thanks to his success in Los Angeles, Brown was considered for the Dolphins HC gig this offseason. According to Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network (on Twitter), Brown impressed the Dolphins brass, and the coach is considered a “respected offensive mind” around the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are finalizing their deal with O’Connell to be their new head coach, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). An announcement is coming, and the press conference is expected to take place on Thursday.

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