Leslie Frazier

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

Bills’ Leslie Frazier Books Second Giants HC Interview

Not long after Brian Daboll concluded his second interview with the Giants, the now-Joe Schoen-run team will meet with the Bills’ defensive coordinator a second time.

Leslie Frazier will meet with the Giants for the second time in less than a week, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reporting (via Twitter) this second interview will occur Friday. Frazier previously spoke virtually with the Giants late last week.

Frazier, 62, has previous HC experience, from his time leading the Vikings in the early 2010s, and has attracted interest from multiple other teams during this cycle. Frazier interviewed with the Bears and Dolphins. Despite his early connection to the Bears and history with the franchise as part of their storied 1985 squad, Frazier is not believed to be a finalist for the Chicago HC gig.

Frazier worked with Schoen since their respective Buffalo arrivals in 2017. Daboll arrived in 2018. The Giants have zeroed in on both Bills top coordinators and Brian Flores for their HC job, and New York’s search will continue through at least Friday. Buffalo’s issues containing Kansas City’s high-powered offense in the teams’ historic divisional-round shootout aside, Frazier’s unit ranked first in both points and yards allowed this season. The Bills also deployed a top-three defense in 2019.

Here is how the Giants’ HC search looks as of Tuesday night:

Giants’ HC Search Beginning With Brian Daboll, Leslie Frazier

Newly-hired Giants general manager Joe Schoen is wasting no time in beginning the team’s search for a new head coach. He has already completed an interview with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and is expected to hold another one tomorrow with Buffalo’s defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier. 

According to a team announcement, the Daboll interview has already been completed, just hours after the hiring of Schoen was officially announced. The 46-year-old met via teleconference with Schoen and co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. It should come as a surprise to no one that Daboll, the Bills’ OC for the past four seasons, is the candidate with whom the search process is beginning. It was immediately reported that he would be one of the key targets for the Giants once Schoen landed the GM job.

Meanwhile, Frazier’s name is being linked to the HC vacancy for the first time. As Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports (via Twitter), Frazier is expected to interview with the Giants on Saturday. Again, this is far from a surprise, given the Buffalo connection to Schoen. The 62-year-old has served in his current role for five years, overseeing the Bills’ defensive turnaround. He has already been interviewed by the Dolphins, and is also scheduled to meet with the Bears.

The other factor influencing the immediacy of these interviews, of course, is the fact that the Bills play on Sunday night. As Schwartz points out, any potential second interviews conducted prior to the Super Bowl could only take place if the first round was completed this weekend, something made easier by the fact that Schoen is still in Buffalo. The other two candidates linked to the Giants so far are ex-Dolphins HC Brian Flores and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn.

Dolphins Request Interview With Bills’ Frazier

The Dolphins have requested to interview Bills’ defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, according to a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. 

Frazier has been with Buffalo throughout Sean McDermott‘s five-year tenure, overseeing a Bills defensive resurgence, and would be a second-chance candidate after a four-season run as Vikings HC in the early 2010s. The 62-year-old assistant has been an NFL staffer since 1999, joining the Eagles under Andy Reid after two years with the University of Illinois.

Taking over the Vikings as an interim HC in 2010, Frazier did not enjoy a favorable quarterback situation while in that role. The Vikings used Christian Ponder as their starter for most of Frazier’s run. Frazier has called defensive plays for the Bills and has been connected to a couple of coaching searches in recent years.

Frazier interviewed twice for the Texans job that went to David Culley this year and met with the Colts following the Josh McDaniels about-face in 2018. Bills ownership has pushed for a team to hire Frazier as HC. It would be interesting to see the Dolphins once again go for a defensive play caller from a divisional rival.

Parts of this article were contributed by Sam Robinson

Bears Request Interviews With Bills DC Leslie Frazier, OC Brian Daboll

While the Bears seem to prefer to hire a GM before they add a new head coach, that won’t stop the organization from interviewing coaching candidates. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano (via Twitter), the Bears requested an interview with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and are planning on interviewing former Eagles HC Doug Pederson (link). ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Chicago has also requested an interview with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

[RELATED: Bears Fire HC Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace]

Frazier has been with Buffalo throughout Sean McDermott‘s five-year tenure, overseeing a Bills defensive resurgence, and would be a second-chance candidate after a four-season run as Vikings HC in the early 2010s. Frazier also has clear ties to the Bears, having played for the team in the 1980s. A starting cornerback on the famed 1985 squad that finished 18-1 and routed the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, Frazier intercepted 20 passes in five seasons with Chicago.

Pederson had Carson Wentz playing at an MVP level through the first 14 weeks of the 2017 season, up until his fateful ACL tear. Then, with backup QB Nick Foles under center, he guided the Birds to their first ever Super Bowl ring. Pederson’s final Philadelphia season ended with a 4-11-1 mark, but he remains an attractive candidate nonetheless. This offseason, he’s already interviewed for the Jaguars HC vacancy.

Daboll started his NFL coaching career back in 2000 with the Patriots. He got his first coordinator gig with the Browns in 2009, and he’s since held the same role with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and the Bills (along with Alabama). He was a popular candidate last offseason, with the Jets and Chargers eyeing the offensive coordinator.

Matt Eberflus, Jerod Mayo Could Be Candidates For Bears HC

Matt Nagy could be coaching his final game with the Bears tomorrow. If that’s the case, the focus will pivot to his replacement, and we’re already starting to hear some chatter about potential candidates. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo would be in the mix if the Bears HC gig opens up.

Breer also acknowledges that Chicago has been connected to bigger names like Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton, but he can’t envision the organization getting into a bidding war for either coach. Breer also notes that former Bears cornerback (and current Bills defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier could be a logical option.

During their last HC search, the Bears were focused on adding “quarterback-developers.” However, that won’t necessarily be the case this time around. While the organization will obviously want to hear the candidates’ plans for QB Justin Fields, Breer believes the Bears are instead focused on hiring a “leader-of-men” coach.

Eberflus served as a linebackers coach for almost a decade with the Browns and Cowboys, but he finally got a shot at a DC gig in 2018. In Indy, the 51-year-old has been credited with establishing a culture built on hustle and discipline, and his defenses have mostly been up to the challenge. Eberflus’s defenses have consistently been ranked in the top-half of the NFL for their ability to stop the run, and the team has ranked top-10 in takeaways during each of his four seasons at the helm.

Mayo had a standout career with the Patriots, with the former 10th-overall pick earning two Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring during his eight seasons in New England. Mayo rejoined the organization as their linebackers coach in 2019. While New England is currently operating without a true defensive coordinator, Mayo (along with Steve Belichick) are assumed to be atop the defensive coaching depth chart.

Bills’ Leslie Frazier On Bears’ HC Radar?

While the smoke about a Matt Nagy post-Thanksgiving firing did not produce anything, the fourth-year Bears HC is likely coaching out the string. The Bears appear to have a familiar name on their radar ahead of the hiring process.

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is believed to be a name to monitor regarding the Bears’ eventual HC search, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes (ESPN+ link). Frazier has been with Buffalo throughout Sean McDermott‘s five-year tenure, overseeing a Bills defensive resurgence, and would be a second-chance candidate after a four-season run as Vikings HC in the early 2010s.

Frazier also has clear ties to the Bears, having played for the team in the 1980s. A starting cornerback on the famed 1985 squad that finished 18-1 and routed the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, Frazier intercepted 20 passes in five seasons with Chicago. He suffered what turned out to be a career-ending knee injury in that Super Bowl. The 62-year-old assistant has been an NFL staffer since 1999, joining the Eagles under Andy Reid after two years with the University of Illinois.

Taking over the Vikings as an interim HC in 2010, Frazier did not enjoy a favorable quarterback situation while in that role. The Vikings used Christian Ponder as their starter for most of Frazier’s run. The Bears, of course, have struggled on this front as well for quite some time. Frazier has called defensive plays for the Bills and has been connected to a couple of coaching searches in recent years.

Frazier interviewed twice for the Texans job that went to David Culley this year and met with the Colts following the Josh McDaniels about-face in 2018. Bills ownership has pushed for a team to hire Frazier as HC. Given Buffalo’s defensive success, it will be interesting if Frazier becomes a more popular candidate during the 2022 hiring period.

Texans Interview Leslie Frazier, David Culley

WEDNESDAY: Frazier’s second interview took place Tuesday, according to veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (on Twitter). Culley met with Texans brass Wednesday morning but was called back to continue his second interview later this afternoon, per Anderson and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (Twitter links). This has become a “neck and neck” race, according to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.

While Eric Bieniemy has been in this process for a bit now, the Texans cannot bring him back for an interview until after Super Bowl LV. The Texans were seeking a second Bieniemy meeting but may well have a coach by the time he would be permitted to interview again.

MONDAY: The Texans have arranged second interviews with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Ravens assistant head coach David Culley as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Both are now eligible to interview for the Texans’ top job in person since their teams are out of the playoffs. 

Frazier served as the Vikings’ head coach for three-seasons-and-change, up until his dismissal in 2013. His 2012 team made the playoffs before falling to the Packers, but the rest of his run wasn’t all that successful. All in all, the Vikes went 21-32-1 with Frazier at the helm. Since then, he’s spent the past four seasons as the Bills’ DC, overseeing one of the league’s best defenses.

Culley, 65, got his coaching start at FCS program Austin Peay all the way back in 1978. Culley has never even been a coordinator at the NFL level, so it would be a pretty remarkable story if he’s able to land his first head coaching job in 2021. It’s worth noting that Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been a vocal supporter of Culley, who has a chance to secure the league’s last vacancy.

Whether it’s Culley, Frazier, or another coach, the Texans’ next HC will be tasked with getting the buy-in of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Texans Seeking Second Interviews With Leslie Frazier, Eric Bieniemy

Jan. 24: Houston is indeed expected to request second interviews with Frazier and Bieniemy, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Both men believe they have a real chance of landing the job and have begun putting together potential staffs.

Jan. 23: The Texans’ coaching search has brought the most twists and turns of this cycle, but the team may be on the homestretch in its hiring process. They are at the second-interview stage.

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is “very likely” to meet with the Texans again next week, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The parties met shortly after Buffalo’s divisional-round win over Baltimore, and Cal McNair came away from that summit impressed with the veteran coordinator and former Vikings HC’s leadership acumen, per JLC.

Frazier has not been a head coach since the Vikings fired him following the 2013 season. He has spent the past four seasons as Buffalo’s DC, overseeing one of the league’s best defenses in that span. The Texans cannot hire Frazier until the Bills’ season ends. They would be permitted to hire some of the other coaches they have interviewed at any point.

His Sunday opponent, Eric Bieniemy, may remain in the picture as well. He also cannot be hired until after his team’s season ends. Due to the patient (occasionally turbulent) nature of Houston’s search process, many around the league expect a second Bieniemy meeting as well, La Canfora adds. To recap, the Texans have gone from planning to interview Bieniemy (pre-Nick Caserio) to leaving him off their candidate list to changing course and speaking with him this week to potentially making him a finalist.

A Frazier hire would be interesting given the Texans’ Deshaun Watson situation. While Watson has also advocated for Bieniemy, he has shown support for OC Tim Kelly to stay as well. Bieniemy arriving would likely mean Kelly heads elsewhere, but Frazier being a defensive coach would keep a reality where Kelly continues to call Texans plays in play. The Texans blocked other teams from speaking with Kelly this week.

Here is how Houston’s HC search looks as of Saturday afternoon, via PFR’s tracker.