Kliff Kingsbury

Commanders Notes: Kingsbury, Stokes, Staff, Newton, Allen, Sainristil

The Commanders did not end up zagging with their No. 2 overall pick. The team received only one offer — likely from the Raiders — for the selection, and the team went with Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. In reaching a conclusion Daniels was the top player at No. 2, Adam Peters kept his circle small. Only Josh Harris, Dan Quinn and advisor/ex-Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers comprised the new Washington football ops boss’ inner circle, per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, who adds OC Kliff Kingsbury was brought in along the way and at least knew which way the new team braintrust was leaning.

Kingsbury, who coached Caleb Williams last year, was believed to be high on Daniels coming in. Many in the organization — including members of Harris’ ownership group — were not informed which player the team was picking until draft day, Vacchiano adds. Much of the front office and scouting department did not learn definitively it would be Daniels until the Bears went on the clock. While Harris was believed to be more involved than expected, the franchise had dealt with considerable Dan Snyder meddling in past drafts. Given the turmoil associated with Washington ownership and front office for much of the past two decades, this buttoned-up approach marked a change of pace.

Here is the latest out of Washington:

  • Retooling teams often make changes after the draft, as continuity in scouting departments is preferred due to the work done on draft classes in the months prior. The Commanders will make a key change. They are not renewing the contract of senior director of player personnel Eric Stokes, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. Stokes joined the Commanders in 2020, following Ron Rivera‘s arrival, and moved to his most recent title in 2021. The veteran exec should land elsewhere soon, with Stratton adding he his a name to watch in scouting circles. This exit comes after Peters retained Rivera-era bastions Martin Mayhew, who worked with the current Commanders FO boss in San Francisco, and Marty Hurney.
  • Peters said earlier this offseason the team is not planning to trade Jonathan Allen, but ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes some around the league are wondering if the selection of Jer’Zhan Newton will prompt the team to listen on the veteran defensive tackle. Washington, which disbanded its DE contingent at the trade deadline, still has two high-priced DTs — in Allen and Daron Payne — and has used second-round picks on the position in 2022 and ’24. Phidarian Mathis played 203 defensive snaps last season but has yet to make much of an impact; Newton now joins him and does so as a Peters-Quinn-era draftee. Allen, who said last year he was not eager to be part of a rebuild, has come up in trade rumors before and is due base salaries of $14MM and $15.5MM over the next two years.
  • One of the three second-rounders the Commanders chose, Mike Sainristil is expected to begin his NFL run in the slot. Washington is planning to train the Michigan product as an inside cornerback, ESPN.com’s John Keim notes. He will accompany Benjamin St-Juste, 2023 first-rounder Emmanuel Forbes and UFA addition Michael Davis at the position. The Commanders, who lost Kendall Fuller and Kamren Curl from their secondary, will attempt to climb back from a last-place defensive finish.
  • The team will hire a longtime league office exec to be part of its staff. Dave Gardi will come over after 10 years as NFL VP of football operations to take on the title of Commanders senior VP of football initiatives. In-game management and assisting the coaching staff in terms of compliance with NFL protocols will be among Gardi’s duties in Washington, with the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala offering that Gardi will be on headsets during games and concentrate on the coaching side during the season. That will certainly be a shift for a longtime league office staffer.

Jayden Daniels Latest: Commanders, Kingsbury, Harris, Raiders, Visit, Weight

Jayden Daniels remains the favorite to be chosen second overall. The Commanders hold that pick, and they hosted the 2023 Heisman winner — at the same time as a few other quarterbacks — just before the deadline for “30” visits to be conducted. While the LSU and Arizona State product does not have much of a say in where he goes, rumors still point to him preferring another team.

Daniels would “love” to see the Raiders draft him, two GMs told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. During an interview with ESPN colleague Pat McAfee, Adam Schefter noted Daniels has had interest in playing elsewhere from the outset of the pre-draft process. Considering his past with Raiders HC Antonio Pierce and the AFC West team not doing a good job of making it a secret it would want to reunite the two, it is unsurprising Daniels would be more interested in playing in Las Vegas than Washington.

[RELATED: How Will Raiders Proceed At QB In Draft?]

In place since the 1930s, the draft system obviously does not cater to players’ wishes. The Raiders are believed to have asked OC candidates about working with Daniels, but that came months ago. As of this week, a Raiders move up from No. 13 into Daniels territory — quite possibly as high as No. 2 — was viewed as impossible. It is also not known if GM Tom Telesco feels as strongly as Pierce does about trading up for a QB, adding more intrigue to a pre-draft process that has featured little known beyond the Bears’ likely Caleb Williams pick.

New Washington OC Kliff Kingsbury is believed to favor Daniels, La Canfora adds, who impressed more as a runner than Kyler Murray did in college. Daniels is coming off an 1,143-yard rushing season, and his improvement as a passer (40 TDs, four INTs last season) at LSU — while targeting the likes of Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas — has rocketed the slender prospect up the board. On the slender subject, however, Daniels’ weight has come up frequently during the draft run-up.

Daniels played at 185 during the 2021 season at Arizona State, a scout told NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. He weighed in at 210 pounds this offseason, after having bulked up some following his transfer. Another scout told The Athletic’s Dan Pompei (subscription required) that Daniels was at 181 with the Sun Devils and played in the 190s at LSU — before ballooning to 210 this offseason.

This issue did not limit the talented QB at LSU, and some NFL coaches view Daniels as a better prospect than even Williams. But Daniels playing south of 200 before adding offseason weight calls into question how big he will be during his rookie season. Considering his playing style — one NFC coordinator told Pelissero that Daniels takes hits like Anthony Richardson, who is 244 pounds — this not an insignificant concern for teams ahead of the draft.

Pivoting back to the Washington side here, Daniels’ camp did not expect (via Schefter) the QB’s visit to come at the same time Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy and Michael Penix Jr. met with the team. Teams generally do not gather QB prospects as a group for “30” visits, staggering them to gain better looks at passers. Considering Washington holds the No. 2 overall pick and is on the cusp of drafting a passer in the top 10 for the first time since trading up for Robert Griffin III in 2012, the team’s group gathering was a bit surprising.

The Commanders’ new regime took shape this offseason, with Josh Harris hiring Adam Peters to run football operations and Dan Quinn to coach the team. In the new owner’s first offseason, however, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicates the Dan Snyder successor has been more involved in the pre-draft process than expected.

Owner involvement — as Washington fans know well — is not too uncommon in the NFL, though it is usually a concern when ownership overreaches as football personnel prepare for major decisions. Harris is believed to have made his stance known about trading both Montez Sweat and Chase Young at last year’s deadline, when the coaching staff did not want to move Sweat. It will obviously be interesting to see how much Harris — who has extensive experience in an ownership role due to his work with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils — impacts how the Commanders proceed next week.

Teams Inquiring On Commanders’ No. 2 Overall Pick

Holding the No. 2 overall pick for a second time in five years, Washington has an opportunity it passed on in 2020. A quarterback should be expected to head to D.C. with that draft slot, but other teams are making early efforts to see if the Commanders are interested in moving the pick.

Multiple clubs have inquired about Washington’s interest in trading down from No. 2, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. Some moving parts exist at quarterback, with some teams that lack top-three draft real estate needing to consider veteran options. But a couple of those teams figure to still need starter solutions — in the long term, at least — exiting free agency. That would naturally make the Commanders’ pick attractive, as this draft holds multiple non-Caleb Williams QB prospects expected to go early.

Heisman winner Jayden Daniels‘ stock is up, with Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest ESPN.com mock draft sending the LSU prospect to Washington. Drake Maye had stood as this class’ top non-Williams option for months, and while the ex-Sam Howell North Carolina teammate’s stock may not have definitively dropped to the point he is a threat to fall out of the top three, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has moved him down on his latest big board. Jeremiah places Maye at No. 5 and Daniels at 6, though QB demand figures to see both going off the board earlier.

The Commanders, of course, have hired Williams’ most recent position coach — Kliff Kingsbury — as OC. Some around the league believe Kingsbury brings strong Williams support, per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, though that would not exactly matter barring a seeming Bears course change. For weeks, it is believed Chicago would need to receive a historic offer to part with the No. 1 pick for a second straight year. With all signs pointing to the team trading Justin Fields and going with Williams, Kingsbury’s interest in a reunion would be a moot subject.

None of the quarterbacks Washington chose in the first round in its modern history — Heath Shuler, Robert Griffin III and Dwayne Haskins — panned out, but it would still surprise to see a new regime pass on filling its QB need at No. 2. New football ops president Adam Peters is indeed likely to authorize a quarterback choice at 2, Vacchiano adds.

The team could collect a haul for that draft slot, as teams like the Giants, Vikings, Broncos and Raiders — mentioned as being interested in Daniels — being among those who would stand to be interested in coming up for a passer. Though, it would be rather astounding if the Commanders did business with the Giants involving a pick this high. By trading down with anyone, the Commanders would be passing on a clear window to upgrade at the game’s premier position if they took the trade route. Early on, the 2025 class does not appear to be a QB-rich group. Even with Peters playing a role in the 49ers’ Trey Lance trade-up, the ensuing Brock Purdy flier probably should not be taken as an indication the new boss believes a quarterback can be a later-round addition.

As for the Commanders’ 17-game starter from last season, Vacchiano adds Howell will likely draw trade interest from several teams if Washington made him available. Peters spoke highly of Howell this week, and the 2022 fifth-rounder’s age (23) and contract status (two rookie-deal years remaining) would naturally make him appealing — even as a host of bridge- or backup-level QBs are set to be available soon. For now, Howell appears positioned to be the Commanders’ backup in 2024 — or at best likely to lose his job once the No. 2 overall pick is ready to play.

Washington passed on drafting a QB in 2020 due to having chosen Haskins 15th overall the year prior. The team left Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert on the board that year, choosing eventual Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. It does not seem likely the NFC East franchise would make a similar move with the second overall choice this time.

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

After a crowded carousel previously stopped, the 49ers opened their defensive coordinator position. Here is how the NFC champions’ search looks:

Updated 3-2-24 (10:00am CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

  • Gerald Alexander, safeties coach (Raiders): Interviewed 3/1
  • Daniel Bullocks, defensive backs coach (49ers): Interviewed 2/28
  • David Merritt, defensive backs coach (Chiefs): To interview
  • Nick Sorensen, defensive passing game specialist (49ers): Promoted
  • Brandon Staley, former head coach (Chargers): Interviewed

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Joe Whitt To Call Commanders’ Defensive Plays; Magic Johnson Helped Sway Kliff Kingsbury

Dan Quinn will step back from the play-calling post he held in Dallas, indicating Monday his new defensive coordinatorJoe Whitt — will run the show on gamedays. This will be a move up for Whitt, who spent the past three seasons as the Cowboys’ secondary coach.

The Cowboys wanted to retain Whitt, who had a pre-Dallas history with both Quinn and Mike McCarthy. Whitt’s past with the latter is far more extensive; Whitt was on McCarthy’s Green Bay staff for 11 seasons (2008-18). He joined Quinn’s Falcons defense in 2020, but Quinn’s October 2020 ouster prevented the two from coaching together much. Quinn brought Whitt to Dallas, however, and will entrust him with the defensive play calls in Washington.

One of Whitt’s former Packers coworkers is also on the Commanders’ radar. The team is interested in hiring Jason Simmons, with ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler indicating the Commanders sent the Raiders an interview request. Las Vegas granted the request. Simmons spent the past two seasons as the Raiders’ DBs coach and pass-game coordinator, being a Josh McDaniels hire. While some McDaniels hires are in line to stay, others have already been fired or left for other positions.

Simmons, 47, spent nine years with the Packers, overlapping with Whitt from 2011-18 in Wisconsin. Both coached Green Bay’s DBs at points during that span, with their final year together featuring Whitt as the Pack’s pass-game coordinator and Simmons in the DBs coach post. Simmons served as the Panthers’ pass-game coordinator under Matt Rhule and doing the same under McDaniels and Antonio Pierce in Las Vegas. With Whitt in place as the DC, it would seem the Commanders are targeting Simmons for another pass-game coordinator role.

Shifting to the higher-profile Commanders coordinator choice, Kliff Kingsbury is indeed bound for D.C. after initially committing to the Raiders. Contract length represented a sticking point for Kingsbury and the Raiders, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds Commanders limited partner Magic Johnson was in the USC assistant’s ear during the hiring process.

Johnson is believed to have informed Kingsbury the Commanders would be interested if his Raiders talks broke down. Soon after, Kingsbury had a deal in place with the Commanders. This probably will not go over well with the Raiders, who have since moved on to Luke Getsy as their offensive play-caller. But after the Commanders were unable to land their top choices as head coach, their OC position enticed Kingsbury to bail on a Vegas pledge.

Johnson aligned himself with Josh Harris when he attempted to buy the Broncos in 2022, and the NBA legend did so again during the 76ers owner’s successful push to acquire the Commanders. The Kingsbury about-face also has not prompted the Raiders to block a Simmons interview, potentially indicating the latter was not firmly in their 2024 plans.

The Commanders wanted an experienced play-caller to team with Quinn, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero adds. Kingsbury fits the bill, having run the show on offense at Texas Tech and then with the Cardinals. After a season as Caleb Williams‘ position coach, Kingsbury is likely to coach a rookie quarterback five years after mentoring No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. Washington is unlikely — barring a Chicago trade-down — to be in position to take Williams, but a Commanders future with Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels is firmly in play. The team now has Kingsbury readying to lead this likely development effort.

Commanders Hire Kliff Kingsbury As New OC

After reports yesterday that former Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was a leading candidate in Washington after deciding not to take the job in Las Vegas, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Kingsbury has agreed to become the next offensive coordinator for the Commanders. The team has now announced the hire.

Three days ago, the NFL world was under the impression that Kingsbury would become the next offensive play-caller in Las Vegas. That story changed yesterday with Kingsbury informing multiple people in the Raiders organization that he would not be joining the team. After a reported “contractual hang-up,” the Commanders swooped in, setting Kingsbury in their sights. Reportedly, Kingsbury was aiming for a three-year pact, and the Raiders only made a two-year offer. Per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, Washington awarded Kingsbury the three-year contract he desired.

New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn was one of five defensive-minded coaches to assume a new head coaching role this offseason. With the former offensive coordinators who took head coach jobs in Tennessee and Carolina planning to call plays for their respective offenses, it only made sense that Kingsbury would set his focus on the five other teams. With the Falcons and Patriots already having filled their roles, that left Vegas, Washington, and Seattle.

Another reason Washington makes sense is because, though it seems like an uphill battle right now, there’s still an outside chance that USC quarterback Caleb Williams could end up in DC with Kingsbury. Williams has long been considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall in this year’s draft. Though Chicago currently holds the rights to the top pick in the draft, the Commanders brass have made it clear that they have an interest in acquiring Williams. With Kingsbury’s most recent position being as a senior offensive analyst at USC over Williams, the new play-caller could be manifesting a reunion in Washington with his former college quarterback.

If not, Kingsbury will be tasked with righting the ship in Washington. Second-year quarterback Sam Howell was deemed the starter coming into 2023. For a team that spent a good amount of time behind, the Commanders depended a lot on Howell’s arm, resulting in the young passer leading the league in pass attempts. Unfortunately, the one-dimensional nature of the team’s offense led to Howell also leading the NFL in sacks taken, interceptions thrown, and pick sixes.

In Washington, Kingsbury will hope for better health in 2024 as he works to improve a porous offensive line. Antonio Gibson is set to be a free agent, but Brian Robinson and rookie running back Chris Rodriguez are both set to return for Kingsbury. Two of the team’s top receivers, Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, will be back with a potentially re-tooled supporting cast as Curtis Samuel, Jamison Crowder, and Byron Pringle are all set to test free agency.

Kingsbury will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to turn around an offense that finished 25th in points scored and 24th in yards gained. He may have the benefit of working with some new faces, but regardless, he should have a decent arsenal of weapons to help Quinn win some games in DC.

Kliff Kingsbury Now Leading Candidate For Commanders’ OC Job; Latest On Raiders’ Options

Quickly following news that the Raiders would not be closing the deal to make former Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury their next offensive coordinator under now official head coach Antonio Pierce, rumors are circulating that Kingsbury is now the leading candidate for the same position in Washington, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. After spending 2023 as a senior offensive analyst at USC, Kingsbury’s return to the NFL seems inevitable at this point.

Two days ago, the NFL world was under the impression that Kingsbury would become the next offensive play-caller in Las Vegas. That story changed this morning with Kingsbury informing multiple people in the Raiders organization that he would not be joining the team. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, there was “a contractual hang-up” that prevented Kingsbury from following through on those initial reports, and as a result, the Commanders have swooped in, setting Kingsbury in their sights. Arizona Football Daily‘s Mike Jurecki adds that the Raiders offered a two-year contract, whereas Kingsbury was aiming for a three-year pact.

Washington makes sense for Kingsbury for a number of reasons. The Commanders recently landed on former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as their replacement for former head coach Ron Rivera. Quinn being a defensive coach puts the Commanders in a different situation than teams like the Titans or Panthers, whose offensive-minded head coaches will be calling plays over their respective offensive coordinators. Kingsbury will be handed the keys to a young offense, something he has experience with from his time in Arizona.

The Commanders also make sense because there seems to be a very real chance that the team could draft a former pupil of Kingsbury’s in USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Though Williams has long been rumored to be the No. 1 overall pick and the Commanders sit at No. 2, rumors have picked up recently that the Bears, who hold the top pick, will not be trading down. While that could mean Williams is headed to Chicago to try and displace Justin Fields as the starting quarterback, there have been an equal number of rumors stating that Williams wants nothing to do with the Bears, meaning he could slip down to No. 2 and end up a Commander being coached by his former mentor.

Kingsbury reportedly interviewed with the Commanders and Quinn recently, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, and though neither side seems to have settled on an agreement, both sides seem to be moving in the right direction.

As for Vegas, their search for their next play-caller under Pierce continues. UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, who had been a name to watch in Washington before this most recent news of Kingsbury’s prospects, and former Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy are names to watch, according to Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS. Getsy was considered a top candidate for the position when Kingsbury was originally announced, and Kelly may shift focus to the Raiders if the Commanders do indeed shift theirs to Kingsbury.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN mentions that Las Vegas recently spoke to former Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, amounting to what could essentially be considered a coordinator exchange should Bieniemy land in Vegas and Kingsbury be hired in DC. He also mentions that the team spoke with former Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton but includes that Hamilton may just be in consideration for a position coaching job.

So, today’s breaking news from Vegas does create a bit of a shuffle, but both the Raiders and Commanders seem to have reacted quickly in the fallout. As a result, Washington could be closing in on their new play-caller, while Las Vegas continues to explore their options.

Kliff Kingsbury Won’t Take Raiders’ Offensive Coordinator Job

It sounds like Kliff Kingsbury won’t be heading to Las Vegas after all. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kingsbury has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Raiders offensive coordinator job. It was reported earlier this week that the Raiders were set to hire the former Cardinals head coach for the role.

[RELATED: Raiders Expected To Hire Kliff Kingsbury]

Per Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the agreement between the two sides was believed to be all but done. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports reports that contract negotiations became “undone” over the past 24 hours, and Kingsbury informed multiple members of the organization this morning that he wouldn’t be joining the coaching staff.

Following a one-year stint at USC, Kingsbury seemed prime for a return to the NFL. Besides the interest from the Raiders, the coach also interviewed for the Bears and Eagles offensive coordinator vacancies. While both of those franchises decided to go in different directions, it was still clear that Kingsbury was back on the coordinator radar.

The former NFL quarterback was once considered one of the brightest offensive coaching minds in the sport. That offensive acumen helped him earn the Cardinals head coaching job back in 2019. The team took steps forward in each of Kingsbury’s first three years at the helm, including a 2021 campaign where the Cardinals won 11 games. However, the Cardinals dropped to 4-13 in 2022, and Kingsbury was let go.

The coach seemed to lose a bit of his shine last offseason, leading to him taking a gig as senior offensive analyst/quarterbacks coach at USC. It wasn’t the most taxing job; after all, Kingsbury was tasked with guiding former Heisman Trophy winner and top quarterback prospect Caleb Williams. The signal-caller didn’t do anything to hurt his draft stock this past season, with Williams finishing the campaign tossing 30 touchdowns vs. five interceptions.

Former Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was fired back in October, and Antonio Pierce has clearly put an emphasis on experience as he looks for his next offensive leader. We heard recently that the organization was eyeing Hue Jackson for a role on the staff, and the team also reportedly gave a long look at Chip Kelly for their offensive coordinator vacancy. Kingsbury was expected to lead this group, but the Raiders will apparently have to pivot in a different direction.

While the Raiders cast a wide net to fill their OC vacancy, many of their candidates have already taken jobs elsewhere. Besides Kelly, the Raiders could still turn to former Bears OC Luke Getsy, Buccaneers QBs coach Thad Lewis, or Steelers quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

As for Kingsbury, it will be interesting to see where he lands next. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports points out that Kingsbury had been discussed as a potential OC option for the Commanders. With Dan Quinn now in place, that might be an idea that Washington circles back to.

Raiders Expected To Hire Kliff Kingsbury As Offensive Coordinator

Kliff Kingsbury is back in the NFL. The Raiders are expected to hire the former Cardinals head coach as their new offensive coordinator, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

[RELATED: Latest On Raiders’ OC Vacancy]

Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston reported earlier today that the Raiders were considered the front runner for Kingsbury’s services. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo adds that the two sides still haven’t officially agreed to a deal, although it’s expected to get done eventually.

Kingsbury spent the 2023 campaign at USC, where he served as the senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach. He worked extensively with top QB prospect Caleb Williams, guiding the former Heisman Trophy winner to a 30-touchdown, five-interception campaign. While Kingsbury obviously isn’t entirely responsible for Williams’ NFL future, the coach didn’t do anything to hurt the QB’s draft stock.

Thanks to his relative success at USC, Kingsbury seemed to brush away some of the concerns surrounding him following his disappointing end in Arizona. It was the coach’s offensive acumen that helped earn him the Cardinals head coaching job back in 2019. The team took steps forward in each of Kingsbury’s first three years at the helm, culminating in an 11-win season in 2021. However, following a 2022 campaign that saw Arizona drop to 4-13, Kingsbury was relieved of his duties.

Following his one season in the college ranks, Kingsbury returned to the coaching cycle this past offseason. He also interviewed for the Bears and Eagles OC vacancies, although both organizations decided to go in different directions. Ultimately, he managed to secure a coordinator job under Antonio Pierce in Las Vegas.

Former offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was fired back in October, but the team waited until they had a full-time HC before making a move. A number of candidates have been connected to the open gig, but we’re still learning of other coaches who were apparently interviewed for the job. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former Eagles and 49ers head coach Chip Kelly interviewed at least twice for the Raiders OC job.

We heard a few weeks ago that Kelly could be a candidate for an offensive coordinator role, although there weren’t any definitive teams connected to the veteran coach. Kelly has served as UCLA’s head coach since the 2018 campaign.

Pierce is clearly focused on adding experienced coaches to his staff. Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has already caught on with the organization, with Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily revealing that Lewis has officially been named the Raiders assistant head coach. Further, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Raiders are also eyeing former Browns head coach Hue Jackson for an offensive coaching job. This would be a return trip for Jackson. Prior to his defining stint in Cleveland, Jackson enjoyed a one-season stint (2011) as Raiders HC, finishing 8-8.