Lovie Smith

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

AFC Notes: Jags, Renfrow, Steelers, Smith

Devin Lloyd notched two six-plus-sack seasons at Utah, being effective on blitzes with the Pac-12 team. The standout Ute finished with seven last season. The Jaguars may be planning to take advantage of the No. 27 overall pick’s versatility early. They aligned Lloyd on the edge during parts of their offseason program, Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com notes. New DC Mike Caldwell plans to use a 3-4 base scheme, but he has been intermittently stationing Lloyd at defensive end on third downs. That opens the door to some possibilities for the Jags, who were aggressive at the off-ball linebacker spots this offseason. Jacksonville gave Foyesade Oluokun a top-five ILB contract and drafted Wyoming’s Chad Muma in Round 3. The Jags are set to feature Josh Allen and No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker as their most prominent edge rushers, though DiRocco describes the 272-pound top pick as a work-in-progress as a 3-4 outside ‘backer. Nevertheless, the ex-Georgia defensive lineman has lined up at that position with Jacksonville’s first-team defense this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Hunter Renfrow‘s two-year, $32MM Raiders extension comes with a $9.18MM signing bonus that will be spread out through five years (two void years, 2025 and ’26) for cap purposes, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Renfrow is due a $4.32MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2023 league year, with Breer adding that day also will see the slot talent’s $6.5MM 2023 base salary become fully guaranteed. Renfrow is set to earn a nonguaranteed $11.2MM base in 2024.
  • New Bears GM Ryan Poles did not retain longtime staffer Mark Sadowski this offseason, but the veteran scout will catch on with another rookie GM. Omar Khan hired Sadowski as the Steelers‘ director of player scouting, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Sadowski was most recently the Bears’ college scouting director.
  • While Sheldon White replaced longtime Steelers director of pro scouting Brandon Hunt, the team promoted Dave Petett to the assistant pro scouting director post, Kaboly adds (via Twitter). Petett, who has been with the Steelers since 2004, will move from the scouting level to a director gig. The Steelers are also promoting Cole Marcoux to director of football administration, a title Khan held for several years in the 2010s. Marcoux joined Khan in working with the Steelers’ salary cap in recent years.
  • Although Lovie Smith‘s fine did not match the penalties handed out to Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera, the new Texans HC will lose $50K because of an OTA violation, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. This stems from a use of a prohibited drill involving linemen.

Texans Expect WR John Metchie To Play in 2022

The Texans added to their receiving corps when they selected former Alabama wideout John Metchie in the second round of the draft. Long before his entry into the NFL, though, it was widely known he would miss considerable time in his rookie season. 

Metchie suffered a torn ACL in the SEC title game this past season, hurting not only the Crimson Tide’s offense but his draft stock as well. Fortunately, it came out days before the draft that both he and Alabama teammate Jameson Williams were making good progress in their respective recoveries. Head coach Lovie Smith recently spoke about his current health status.

“We’re in the process of seeing exactly when John would be ready to go” Smith said, via Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network“Eventually, he will be ready to go. There’s a lot that he can do before that. He’s not 100% yet, but in time he will be.”

Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter) that the team will have a clearer picture of his recovery timetable “in a couple weeks”. Overall, optimism is shared by both the Texans and Metchie himself that he will be available at some point in 2022. The latter stated at the draft that he would be fully healthy by July, which would likely represent an unrealistically hopeful best-case scenario. As long as he is able to get on the field at some point in the fall, he will be able to start showcasing the talent which, before the injury, made him a first-round prospect.

NFL Draft Rumors: Howell, McDuffie, Texans, Eagles

Scouts aren’t wild about this year’s crop of quarterbacks, but North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell tells Albert Breer of SI that he’s not bothered by the negativity.

We all hear it,” Howell said. “I don’t really take it personally. People are going to say what they believe, and that’s what they get paid to do. Whether they’re right or wrong, it doesn’t really matter. I can speak for myself, I truly could care less what anyone says about me. They try to judge all these draft guys before the draft every single year, and then they go in the league and they’re either going to play well or they’re not.”

And they’re going to guess, and 50% of the time they’re going to be right, and 50% they’re probably going to be wrong.”

On that note, here’s the latest buzz from Breer as we head into the 2022 NFL Draft:

  • Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie has impressed throughout the pre-draft process, Breer hears. From coach and scout meetings to his 4.4-second 40-yard-dash, McDuffie seems to have slotted himself as the No. 3 CB in this year’s crop, behind Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr.
  • Texans head coach Lovie Smith has been vocal about his desire to remain his cornerback group and the rest of the league is taking him at his word. Smith, known for running the Tampa 2 defense, may push his club to pounce on a top-end CB with at either No. 3 or No. 13 overall.
  • The Eagles have prioritized wide receivers in each of the last two drafts, but rival scouts and evaluators aren’t ruling out the possibility of Howie Roseman going for three in a row. This year’s WR class is headlined by the likes of Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Georgia’s George Pickens, and USC’s Drake London.

AFC Free Agency Rumors: Pats, Ogbah, Texans, Broncos

After an anomalous offseason that saw the Patriots rank fourth in the NFL in total spending, New England fans have seen a bit of a return to the norm in 2022 with the team currently ranking 21st. Whereas last year saw the Patriots sign Matt Judon, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jalen Mills, this offseason for New England has mainly consisted of a few re-signings, a few trades, and fewer additions of players like Terrance Mitchell, Ty Montgomery, Malcolm Butler, and Jabrill Peppers.

According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, next year could see the Patriots return to a higher priced offseason. Attractive names on the market, along with guarantees from last year’s signings coming off the books, could lead to New England pursuing the strategy of surrounding a young quarterback on their rookie deal with tons of talent.

Here are a few more free agency rumors from around the AFC, starting with a note from Dade County:

  • Emmanuel Ogbah‘s new dream deal to stay in Miami was dangerously close to not happening, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Ogbah signed an enticing four-year, $65MM deal with $32MM guaranteed in mid-March. While the Dolphins always planned on pursuing Ogbah, the offer they originally had in mind wasn’t quite that lofty. Rumors claim that another team was looking to offer Ogbah a deal close to the contract he ended up with in Miami. The Dolphins upped their offer moments before the start of free agency and were able to keep Ogbah in his home of the past two seasons.
  • In a press conference with new Texans head coach Lovie Smith, a question was raised about the team’s cornerbacks room. Smith’s reply was that the play from last year’s group was not good enough. If players were brought back from last year, Smith claims that the team has faith in them to play a role, but that the team is definitely looking to improve their cornerback room. If the team is looking to free agency to do so, there are still some veteran names available on the market such as Joe Haden, Kyle Fuller, and Chris Harris.
  • According to Mike Sando of The Athletic, while the Broncos obviously improved their quarterback room with the addition of Russell Wilson, an executive in the NFL claims that the move should still be considered a miss as the team obviously would’ve preferred Aaron Rodgers. It’s no secret that most teams in the NFL would prefer Rodgers over Wilson and Wilson clearly improves the Broncos’ offense as the best back up plan after missing on Rodgers. Yet the quoted executive seems to believe that the Broncos deserve a little less credit for the move, since it’s essentially the result of missing on Rodgers.

AFC Notes: Bailey, Steelers, Collins, Weeks

Going into the last year of his contract, Patriots punter Jake Bailey was set to earn a base salary of $925,000 for the 2022 NFL season. Due to a proven performance bonus that was triggered when Bailey was selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, Bailey is on track to be the NFL’s highest-paid punter with a 2022 salary of $3.98MM, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.

A knee injury limited Bailey in the 2021 season which saw him struggle to live up to his expected salary. It’s now assumed that the Patriots will begin working towards a contract extension to lessen the cap hit Bailey is posed to hold. In a normal situation, the Patriots might want to see another season of success out of Bailey after a down 2021, but Bailey’s raise puts a little pressure on New England to work out a deal sooner rather than later.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with a note from the Steel City:

  • In an article for The Athletic, Ed Bouchette poses the question: What does Pittsburgh do about their pass-catchers this offseason? The Steelers have long subscribed to the notion that they don’t need to sign a receiver to a multi-year extension (with the exception of Antonio Brown). They can (and do) always just draft another. Now, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud are headed towards free agency. They still have Diontae Johnson (heading into a contract year, himself) and Chase Claypool, but both have had their own issues: Johnson with drops and Claypool failing to improve on an impressive rookie-season. Pittsburgh can (and likely will) turn to the second and third round of the draft to address the thin roster, as usual, but do they break protocol to ensure they have at least three receivers they can trust?
  • After a one-year deal brought him to Houston, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has the Texans hooked. The 3-tech tackle played a pivotal role in now-head coach Lovie Smith‘s defense and the Texans are determined to pluck him off the open market and keep him in Houston. Luckily for Lovie, the feeling is reportedly mutual, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Collins is a strong fit in Houston and embraced his new team and his role on the team. Smith gushed about Collins and his impact, identifying him as the linchpin of their defensive system.
  • We mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Texans were able to re-sign long-time long snapper Jon Weeks on a one-year deal. Details on the contract were provided this week by Aaron Wilson on Twitter. Weeks will stay around the veteran minimum, slightly increasing his base salary from $1.08MM to $1.12MM and slightly increasing his signing bonus from $137,500 to $152,500. Consider it a cost-of-living raise for Weeks who will become the franchise’s longest-tenured player of all time when he reaches his 13th season this fall, passing star wide receiver Andre Johnson for the most seasons in Houston of all time.

AFC Coaching Notes: Texans, Browns, Bettcher, Ravens, Gould

The Texans have hired former Dolphins’ coaching assistant Kenyon Jackson in the position of assistant defensive line coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Son of former Pro Bowl tight end Keith Jackson, Kenyon played defensive tackle at the University of Illinois under new Texans’ head coach Lovie Smith.

In what is starting to seem like a trend, Smith also hired Dele Harding as a defensive assistant. Harding also played for Smith at Illinois, serving for two years as a team captain at linebacker.

Here are a few more notes on coaching changes in the AFC, starting with a note from the location of this weekend’s NBA All-Star game:

  • The Browns have hired Jordan Thomas in the role of assistant defensive line coach, according to Wilson. Thomas has coached defensive linemen at San Diego State and spent time at Lamar and Texas A&M University-Kingsville, as well. In addition, the Browns added Jeff Anderson to the staff as a defensive quality control coach.
  • Staying in the Buckeye State, recent 2021 NFL runner-ups the Bengals have made a move to replace former linebackers coach Al Golden. Golden is headed back to the college coaching ranks to become Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former NFL defensive coordinator James Bettcher will fill the role. After time as the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals and Giants, Bettcher spent last season as a senior defensive assistant in San Francisco.
  • Staying in the AFC North, Baltimore brought in former Texans’ offensive line coach Mike Devlin to become the Ravens’ assistant offensive line coach, according to Wilson. Devlin coached big men for the Jets before Houston and at Toledo before that. The Ravens will certainly welcome the help for an offensive line that frequently had quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley scrambling for their lives last year.
  • Lastly, the Chargers have hired 49ers’ kicker Robbie Gould‘s kid brother Chris Gould. The 36-year-old was a former kicker in the Arena Football League and will be the Chargers’ assistant special teams coach, a role he’s held for the past five seasons for the Broncos. Additionally, the Chargers have hired Brendan Nugent as their new offensive line coach. Last year was Nugent’s first year coaching offensive linemen in the NFL in his seventh year with the Saints. He’ll 17 years of NFL coaching experience to Los Angeles.

Texans HC Lovie Smith’s Views On QBs Watson, Mills

The Texans have a new head coach in Lovie Smith, but they appear to be maintaining the status quo when it comes to their quarterback situation. He detailed the desire to handle the Deshaun Watson situation, and also voiced support of 2021 rookie Davis Mills in a conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer

[Related: Texans Hire Lovie Smith As HC]

Smith expressed optimism that a resolution will be coming somewhat soon with Watson. It is already well known that the team intends to trade him before the start of the new league year in March; Smith concurs that dealing him elsewhere would be the best outcome.

When asked about how quickly he wants the matter resolved, Smith answered, “As soon as possible… We’re patient, we’ve waited an entire year and I just feel like this offseason, it’ll come to an end and we’ll get it solved and it’ll be good for both parties, whatever that might be… We have a little bit of time, and we’ll get it done”.

Watson, 26, still has 22 sexual misconduct lawsuits that have yet to be resolved; between that, and his trade request, he sat out the 2021 season. Breer adds that if the three-time Pro Bowler is able to be dealt, there could be “a treasure trove of picks coming Houston’s way”.

With regards to Mills, Smith praised the third-rounder for his performance in 2021. “Of all those guys we played against, Davis played as well as any of those rookie quarterbacks”, he said. “I like his demeanor, how smart he is, and I like that he and [newly-promoted offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton have been together for a year already. Those things should help us”. Mills ranked second amongst rookie signal callers in QBR, despite playing on the AFC’s second-worst team.

While Smith made it clear Mills isn’t assured to be the 2022 starter, he is certainly a supporter of his. Assuming the Watson swap does get done soon, Smith will be well positioned to move forward with, quite possibly, some much-needed continuity at the head coach and QB positions for at least the immediate future.

AFC Coaching Notes: Texans, Browns, Ravens, Jaguars

We heard previously that new head coach Lovie Smith was going to retain defensive play-calling duties with the Texans, and it sounds like the defensive-minded coach won’t even add a DC to his staff. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the Texans won’t be hiring a defensive coordinator.

As Rapoport details, Smith is operating as if this is “his defense,” so he’ll continue to control that side of the ball for the time being. However, the reporter cautions that the Texans could fill the role eventually, and the team still has a number of “key spots” to fill on their staff.

The former Bears and Buccaneers HC had been in the college ranks for five seasons prior to resurfacing as the Texans’ defensive coordinator last year. Now, Smith will wear two rather important hats for the rebuilding team.

More coaching notes out of the AFC…

  • The Texans are making other changes to their staff. Assistant receivers coach Ben McDaniels has been promoted to passing game coordinator and receivers coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (on Twitter). The brother of Josh McDaniels, Ben McDaniels has bounced between the NFL and NCAA throughout his coaching career, including stints with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Broncos.
  • After leaving for the University of Mississippi earlier this offseason, Chris Kiffin has changed his mind and will return to the Browns, reports Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal (on Twitter). The defensive line coach decided he wanted to continue working in the NFL, and the Browns were more than happy to welcome him back. The son of Monte Kiffin and brother of Lane Kiffin, Chris Kiffin has been the Browns D-line coach since 2020.
  • The Ravens are hiring George Godsey as their tight ends coach, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (via Twitter). Godsey was the Texans offensive coordinator between 2015 and 2016, and he most recently served as the Dolphins co-OC/tight ends coach with Miami. The veteran coach will be replacing Bobby Engram, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin.
  • The Jaguars are hiring former Chicago Bears outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey for the same role, reports Wilson (on Twitter). Shuey had been with the Bear since the 2018 season, but he wasn’t retained following the firing of Matt Nagy.

Latest On Texans’ Coaching Staff

In 14 months, Lovie Smith has gone from being dismissed as the University of Illinois’ head coach to securing a third shot as an NFL HC. The Texans officially hired Smith on Monday, and the veteran defensive-minded coach will pull double duty in his next assignment.

Smith, 63, will retain defensive play-calling responsibilities, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former Bears and Buccaneers HC had been in the college ranks for five seasons prior to resurfacing as the Texans’ defensive coordinator last year. Now, he will wear two rather important hats for the rebuilding team.

GM Nick Caserio said Tuesday that Smith’s hire did not take place because of Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against the NFL, via the Houston Chronicle’s Brooks Kubena. Flores and Josh McCown were believed to be the final two in the running for the job. The longtime quarterback having never coached in the NFL likely played into Smith’s hire, but Caserio predictably indicated the team had not made a decision until it landed on Smith. Caserio did not deny McCown remained in play for another role with the team, though Smith already has his offensive coordinator in place.

Pep Hamilton is in line to call Houston’s offensive plays, being promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. While Hamilton’s rise was on the radar before Smith entered the equation, Smith said keeping the Texans’ QBs coach was “a must.” One of Smith’s first acts as Houston’s head coach was communicating to Hamilton his importance for developing Davis Mills. A year after overseeing Justin Herbert‘s rise to Offensive Rookie of the Year as Chargers QBs coach, Hamilton helped Mills show promise down the stretch.

Pep has an expertise when you look at his background,” Smith said Tuesday. “What he did in Los Angeles with Herbert to where he did with Davis here. He is a fundamental coach who has a defensive mentality on toughness. I am so excited about him being on our staff and to see what he is going to do.”

Smith is moving quickly on his assistants as well. The Texans are hiring George Warhop as their offensive line coach and Hal Hunter as his assistant, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Warhop, 60, has now been employed as an O-line coach by a fourth of the NFL’s teams. From 1996 through last season, Warhop has been with the Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, 49ers, Browns, Buccaneers and Jaguars. Warhop’s Tampa Bay stay began when Smith arrived in 2014. Warhop coached the Jags’ O-lines for the past three seasons.

Hunter, 62, has extensive experience as well, including at the coordinator level. He spent the 2012 season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, moving up to that post after coaching the previous six Bolts O-lines — groups that helped LaDainian Tomlinson secure first-ballot Hall of Fame entry. Hunter was last in the NFL as the Giants’ O-line coach from 2018-19.

Houston is also hiring Tim Berbenich as its tight ends coach, Fox 26’s Mark Berman tweets. This will be new territory for Berbenich, who spent last season as the Raiders’ running backs coach. In 19 seasons as an NFL assistant, Berbenich has primarily coached running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks. He was a Colts staffer during each of Hamilton’s three years as Indianapolis’ OC.