Mike MacDonald

Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

This year’s HC cycle became the rare carousel to generate more attention around the coaches who did not land jobs than the ones hired. Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel being left out will assuredly generate stories ahead of the 2025 hiring period, and it will be worth monitoring if Pete Carroll is connected to another coaching job.

But eight teams — up from five in 2023 — made the decision to change coaches. Dan Quinn‘s hire filled the final vacancy. While the Commanders’ process generated extensive fallout, teams are now moving forward with staff assembly following their HC hires.

The Commanders look to have gone through a bit of back-and-forth about their interest in Lions OC Ben Johnson. Pushing back on the notion the two-year Detroit play-caller was their top choice all along, Washington will give Quinn a second chance. But the former Dallas DC may well have been Washington’s third choice; the team made an aggressive push to land Mike Macdonald as well. The Seahawks finished that 11th-hour competition by giving the young Ravens DC a six-year deal.

Only Seattle and Washington waited until after the conference championship games to hire their coaches. Macdonald, who is half Carroll’s age, becomes the NFL’s youngest HC (36). (New Patriots leader Jerod Mayo, 37, held that title for several days.) A Ravens defense that carried major questions in the pass-rushing department led the NFL in sacks while leading the league in scoring defense as well. Quinn re-established his value over three years in Dallas, restoring that unit as one of the game’s best. While Quinn has the Super Bowl LI collapse on his resume and went 0-for-3 in playoff berths over his final three seasons in Atlanta, Washington’s new ownership group will bet on the experienced staffer.

Although the Commanders’ search produced a number of headlines, the Falcons introduced this year’s top “what if?” storyline. The only team serious about hiring Belichick, interviewing him twice, the Falcons steered clear of the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC. While Arthur Blank went into the hiring period prepared to hire the 24-year Patriots leader, it appears other Falcons higher-ups — in an effort potentially connected to their own statuses — helped sway the owner toward the Raheem Morris hire.

Morris, whom Falcons CEO Rich McKay hired during his time as Bucs GM in the early 2000s, will make the historically rare move of returning to coach a team years after operating as its interim HC. Morris left Atlanta on good terms in 2021 and comes back after a successful run as the Rams’ DC. Though, Belichick will undoubtedly be tied to Morris during the latter’s second Atlanta stay.

It took a six-year contract for the Panthers to bring in Bucs OC Dave Canales, who parlayed his first coordinator season into a head coaching gig. The Panthers trading the No. 1 overall pick and David Tepper‘s reputation as an impulsive meddler played into Carolina’s search, but the team had long been connected — despite Frank Reich‘s struggles — to pursuing an offense-oriented leader. Carolina also pursued Johnson for a second year but did not wait to make an attempt to interview him in-person. Following his work with Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield, Canales will be charged with developing Bryce Young.

The Titans also went offense with their hire, adding five-year Bengals non-play-calling OC Brian Callahan to succeed Vrabel. Zac Taylor‘s longtime lieutenant probably would have landed a job earlier had he called plays in a Joe Burrow-piloted offense, but the Titans will turn to the 39-year-old candidate to develop Will Levis. Brian Callahan will also technically oversee his father this coming season, hiring well-regarded Browns O-line coach Bill Callahan to the same position. This will be the Callahans’ first time on the same staff.

Las Vegas and New England each went with in-house solutions. The Raiders became the first team in seven years to elevate an interim HC to the full-time position. Mark Davis listened to his players, after expressing regret about not removing Rich Bisaccia‘s interim tag in 2022. But the second-generation owner also passed on interviewing other viable candidates for the job, only going through with required interviews to comply with the Rooney Rule. While Pierce accounted himself well as a leader during the season’s second half, his experience level is quite thin compared to just about every other HC hire in modern NFL history.

Using a Rooney Rule workaround by including language in Mayo’s contract about succeeding Belichick, the Patriots also passed on a true search. Robert Kraft intervened last year, extending Mayo after the Panthers had sought a meeting, and will give the keys to the recent Patriots linebacker. Mayo’s time in coaching does not match Pierce’s, though the former has spent more time as an NFL assistant. The franchise is largely keeping the Patriot Way going, promoting from within to fill the HC position and elevating an in-house staffer (Eliot Wolf) to fill the de facto GM post, only with Belichick no longer involved.

The highest-profile hire came out of Los Angeles. The Chargers became the team to lure Jim Harbaugh back to the pros. The Bolts gave the accomplished HC a $16MM salary — over five years — and signed off on allowing final say. Harbaugh has won everywhere he has been and held leverage in the form of another Michigan extension offer and a second Falcons interview being scheduled. The Bolts did not let him leave for that meeting and gave Harbaugh significant input into Tom Telesco‘s GM replacement (Joe Hortiz). Harbaugh’s final NFL snaps came with the Chargers, and after hiring three first-time HCs under Telesco, the team will make a bigger bet to turn things around.

Which team ended up doing the best with its 2024 hire? Why did Belichick fail to land a job? Will he and Vrabel be back in 2025? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s HC market in the comments.

Latest On Commanders’ HC Search, Mike Macdonald Pursuit

The Commanders became the eighth and final team to hire a head coach this offseason, bringing in former Cowboys DC Dan Quinn. Further details have emerged on Washington’s search, one which included a number of turns before its eventual conclusion.

[RELATED: Commanders Spoke With Belichick About HC Job]

Once Adam Peters was installed as general manager, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson became the candidate most closely associated with Washington’s HC vacancy. That remained the case until late in the search process, when signs pointed to the Commanders carrying a more open-minded approach. Indeed, SI’s Albert Breer notes how Peters, owner Josh Harris and hiring committee member Rick Speilman were “rankled” by the widespread outside perception the job was Johnson’s to lose.

The latter elected (as he did in 2023) to withdraw from head coach consideration for the Commanders and Seahawks. The timing of that decision – which Washington’s front office became aware of while flying to Detroit – has not gone over well, and Johnson has become the subject of reporting pointing to poor interviews and a high asking price. With him out of the running, Washington and Seattle both turned their attention to Mike Macdonald as a top target.

As Ben Standig and Dianna Russini of The Athletic report, the Commanders were keen on the ex-Ravens defensive coordinator until the Seahawks “swooped in with more money” (subscription required). As they note, Macdonald received a six-year contract with Seattle – standard practice in the NFL being four- or five-year agreements for coaches – something which no doubt factored into his decision to head to the Emerald City.

The Athletic report also corroborates others from last week which stated the Commanders offered their HC position to Macdonald around the same time he was finalizing his agreement with the Seahawks. That has led to concerns that Quinn, whose run at the helm of the Falcons included a 43-42 record, was no higher than third on Washington’s priority list. The 53-year-old’s leadership traits have, on the other hand, earned considerable praise in Dallas and elsewhere during Washington’s vetting process.

Quinn is in place (along with his offensive and defensive coordinators) as the Commanders aim to move forward from a disappointing final campaign under Ron Rivera. With the dust having settled on the HC cycle, both Washington and Seattle can proceed with their respective coaches, although the process undergone by the former in particular to arrive at this point is certainly noteworthy.

Mike Macdonald Received HC Offer From Commanders?

After a succesful two-year run as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, Mike Macdonald was one of the top head coaching candidates around the league. He took the Seahawks’ HC position on Wednesday, but that does not appear to have been the only offer on the table.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the Commanders offered their head coaching position to Macdonald. The timing in this matter is critical, given the involvement of Lions OC Ben Johnson in both Washington’s and Seattle’s searches. Florio notes the Commanders’ offer was made after Johnson made it known he was electing to remain in Detroit for at least one more season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds (via Earl Forcey of 106.7 The Fan) that Washington contacted Macdonald while he was en route to Seattle to inquire about his continued interest in the position.

That certainly points to Macdonald being the team’s preference over its eventual hire, Cowboys DC Dan Quinn. For much of the hiring cycle, Johnson appeared to be the Commanders’ top choice, with his decision forcing the team to move in a different direction. As Schefter’s colleague John Keim reports, however, Johnson was not seen as a unanimous top choice at any point in the vetting process. No offers had been made to Johnson (or any other candidate) before the highly-acclaimed OC bowed out of the running, Keim adds.

Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik also agreed to take himself out of the picture after receiving head coaching interest, although Keim notes he was never considered a likely hire for Washington. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Dan Graziano adds that while Johnson was considered by many around the league to be the Commanders’ top choice, Macdonald may have actually been the team’s No. 1 option.

The 36-year-old led the Ravens to a first-place finish in a number of defensive categories in 2023, and he will be tasked with overseeing a turnaround on that side of the ball with the Seahawks. Offensively, however, Seattle offers much more in the way of known commodities compared to Washington. The latter team has an unsettled QB situation which will likely be addressed with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, along with plenty of room for improvement along the O-line. The Commanders’ defense also bottomed out late in the 2023 season, and it will be a focus for free agent and draft moves. Macodonald’s decision to forgo the Commanders in favor of the Seahawks – if he did indeed have such an opportunity – is thus reasonable.

Quinn will be at the helm moving forward in the nation’s capital, and the ESPN piece notes how his leadership traits were well-received in his interview process. The beginning of his tenure with Washington will, however, likely be marked with the belief he was not atop the team’s pecking order for coaching candidates.

NFC Coaching Notes: Martindale, Macdonald, Gruden, Saints, Canales, Bucs, Bears, Eagles

The Packers went off the board with their defensive coordinator hire, bringing in Boston College HC Jeff Hafley. Matt LaFleur has looked to the college ranks during each of his DC searches, wanting to hire then-Wisconsin staffer Jim Leonhard in 2021. Hafley’s hire comes after the Packers squeezed in another interview with a seasoned NFL coordinator. Don Martindale met with the Pack about the gig, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tweets.

Martindale resigned his two-year post as Giants DC after a turbulent second season with Brian Daboll; he has since interviewed with the Jaguars for a job that went to Ryan Nielsen. Martindale has been accused of going rogue at points in New York, with the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz adding another footnote here. Ahead of the Giants’ Christmas game against the Eagles, Martindale is believed to have requested the equipment staff change linebacker Tomon Fox‘s number from 49 to 94 due to the DC’s plans of having him bumped up from the practice squad. That change was made without Daboll or GM Joe Schoen‘s approval.

As the Giants’ DC search continues, here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • The SaintsJon Gruden connection persists. Although Gruden is not on the radar — at least, as far as we know — for the Saints’ OC job, a GM informed the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora the former Raiders and Buccaneers HC should be expected to have a bigger role with New Orleans in 2024. Gruden worked as a consultant last summer and met with Saints officials recently. The GM suggested the possibility Gruden could eventually replace Dennis Allen, which would be quite the development considering the circumstances surrounding Gruden’s Las Vegas exit. For now, Gruden, who is still suing the NFL, remains without an NFL job.
  • Unsurprisingly, Mike Macdonald confirmed he will start his Seahawks tenure as the team’s defensive play-caller. Though, the new Seattle HC said (via SI.com’s Albert Breer) he is open to that changing at some point. Michigan’s 2021 DC, Macdonald called plays for the Ravens over the past two years and became one of this year’s most popular HC candidates as a result. Although Pete Carroll carried a defensive background, he did not serve as the Seahawks’ defensive play-caller.
  • The Buccaneers have lost much of their offensive staff to Carolina, seeing one-and-done OC Dave Canales take three staffers (receivers coach Brad Idzik, run-game coordinator Harold Goodwin, O-line coach Joe Gilbert). Tom Moore, however, will be staying in Tampa, per Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager. Moore, 85, has been with the Bucs since Bruce Arians‘ 2019 arrival. The former Colts OC, who is now 85, has served as a consultant for the NFC South team. This will be Moore’s 47th NFL season.
  • Baker Mayfield finished last in QBR in 2022, seeing his Panthers stay responsible for that dismal result. Canales helping the inconsistent QB recover from what happened in Carolina represents a key reason for his HC hire, ESPN.com’s David Newton notes. A Canales selling point hinged on the Bucs’ downfield passing, with Newton adding Tampa Bay went from 24th in that area (6.9 air yards per attempt) in Tom Brady‘s final season to third in 2023 (8.4).
  • The Eagles have permitted quarterbacks coach Alex Tanney to explore opportunities elsewhere, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. During the period between Brian Johnson‘s exit and the Kellen Moore OC hire, Tanney asked the team for the opportunity. The Eagles are moving on, per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. Tanney received interest from the Colts last year, and McLane points to Indianapolis under ex-Eagles OC Shane Steichen as a potential landing spot.
  • The Bears have hired three more assistants. Chad Morton is signing on as running backs coach, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser, while ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin adds Chris Beatty is coming in as wide receivers coach. Most recently with the Chargers, Beatty coached D.J. Moore at Maryland. A former NFL return man, Morton is following OC Shane Waldron from Seattle. Morton was the Seahawks’ RBs coach from 2017-23. Chicago also hired Jason Houghtaling as assistant O-line coach, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero adds; Houghtaling was Tennessee’s O-line coach in 2023.

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Seahawks Hire Mike Macdonald As HC

Scheduling two interviews with Mike Macdonald in a two-day period, the Seahawks effectively displayed their interest in the two-year Ravens defensive coordinator. That proved to be telling for the franchise’s future.

The Seahawks are hiring Macdonald as their next head coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The team will go from employing the league’s oldest active HC, in Pete Carroll, to the youngest. Macdonald is 36. Wednesday’s second meeting became themed around a hire, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who notes Macdonald has since agreed to the deal. After a report Tuesday pointed to Macdonald and Giants OC Mike Kafka being firmly in the mix, the Seahawks will go with a defense-based candidate.

Baltimore’s AFC championship game loss to Kansas City removed any restrictions Macdonald would have had regarding interview scheduling, but Rapoport adds the Seahawks were willing to wait on him if the Ravens held seed and qualified for Super Bowl LVIII. That did not prove necessary, and Macdonald can get to work on assembling a staff. As Macdonald-Seahawks conversations continue today, coordinator candidates are undoubtedly coming up. With the team in that phase, the Commanders are now the only club with a coaching vacancy remaining.

Being a year younger than Sean McVay and Jerod Mayo, Macdonald is 36 years younger than Carroll, who became only the fourth coach to lead an NFL team at age 72. Carroll had announced intentions to stay for a 15th season. Even as Carroll pushed to keep his job in the days following the season, the Seahawks moved on. GM John Schneider, who now wields full personnel control for the first time, will go with a candidate who was on many teams’ lists this year. Dan Quinn emerged as the first name in the mix to succeed Carroll, but the Dallas DC — and Seattle’s DC during both 2010s Super Bowl seasons — is down to the Commanders or staying with the Cowboys.

Macdonald will sign a six-year contract with the NFC West franchise, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports. While this is not a rebuilding situation, the Seahawks will still show a long-term commitment to their young HC. Four- and five-year deals are a bit more common in the NFL, though some six-year pacts have emerged in the recent past. Kyle Shanahan signed one as the 49ers were rebuilding. So did Dan Campbell in 2021. The Panthers just gave Dave Canales a six-year deal. Carroll did not leave the Seahawks in need of an overhaul, however, making this term length interesting.

The Seahawks’ investment comes after Macdonald displayed his value during his second Ravens stint. Baltimore’s defense ranked first this season, which came after a third-place finish in scoring defense in 2022. The Ravens ranked in the top 10 in yardage in each of Macdonald’s two seasons in charge. Baltimore’s defense has been one of the NFL’s most reliable units during the 21st century; Macdonald continued this run, one that helped the team secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the second time in franchise history. Don Martindale‘s DC successor interviewed for the Commanders, Chargers, Falcons, Panthers and Titans’ HC jobs.

Macdonald managed to coax a monster season from contract-year defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, who smashed career highs with 13 sacks and 33 QB hits. The Ravens also received steady production from edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, despite both veterans’ late arrivals. Clowney signed with Baltimore in August, while Van Noy did not arrive until late September. The two vets combined for 18.5 sacks this season, helping the Ravens lead the league with 60. Baltimore will not lose both coordinators, however, with OC Todd Monken not in contention for the Washington job.

Carroll’s final years brought a defensive regression in Seattle. The Seahawks ranked 30th in total defense this season and 26th in 2022; two-year DC Clint Hurtt left to become the Eagles’ defensive line coach. The Carroll-led defenses have trended down since the Legion of Boom-driven apex produced back-to-back Super Bowl berths. While the Seahawks became the first team since the 1950s Browns to lead the NFL in scoring defense in four straight seasons (2012-15), they have not ranked in the top 10 in this area since 2016.

A Ravens position coach before spending 2021 as Jim Harbaugh‘s DC at Michigan, Macdonald reviving the Seahawks’ defense would go a long way toward helping the team become a legitimate contender again. Although Geno Smith did not match his 2022 work, the journeyman passer did again display starter-caliber chops after re-signing last March. The Seahawks also have veteran wideouts Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf under contract, along with two young running backs and two 2022 draftees at tackle (Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas). Inconsistency plagued the Seahawks on offense this past season, but the team has Smith on a low-end — for a veteran QB — contract; that three-year, $75MM deal runs through the 2025 season.

Macdonald becomes the Seahawks’ third consecutive hire with a defensive background. Carroll replaced Jim Mora Jr. in 2010, guiding the franchise to its zenith. The Seahawks had plateaued during Carroll’s later years. As the Legion of Boom splintered, the team became a Russell Wilson-dependent operation. The second half of Wilson’s Seattle tenure featured steady growth as a passer and will go a long way toward his Hall of Fame case, but the Seahawks struggled to build a reliable roster around the since-traded QB. They appeared to fare better on this front after re-signing Smith last year, giving Dre’Mont Jones a $17MM-AAV deal and trading for rental piece Leonard Williams. The team also used a No. 5 overall pick — obtained in the Wilson swap — on Devon Witherspoon. The Illinois alum’s Pro Bowl season points to him being a key piece under Macdonald going forward.

After back-to-back 9-8 seasons, the Seahawks will now bet on their young HC investment elevating this operation. It will be interesting to see if the team makes an investment in a young quarterback this offseason or continues to build its roster around Smith. With Seattle not blocking its assistants from exploring other jobs, three-year OC Shane Waldron signed on to be Chicago’s play-caller. Macdonald will be tasked with bringing in a replacement soon.

Seahawks To Bring In Mike Macdonald For Second HC Interview

Mike Macdonald‘s itinerary will now include two Seahawks meetings in a two-day span. After waiting until Tuesday to meet with the popular candidate, the NFC West team will squeeze in a second meeting.

The second Macdonald-Seahawks summit will take place today, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Macdonald-to-Seattle buzz has intensified over the past 24 hours; news of a second meeting will further drive speculation about the two-year Ravens DC being a frontrunner for this job.

A report Tuesday indicated Macdonald and Giants OC Mike Kafka were candidates to watch for the Seattle job. The Seahawks skipped the virtual interview opportunity with the young defensive coordinator, but the team had him on its radar during the process. Tuesday’s meeting took place in Baltimore, per Pelissero. This one will occur in Seattle, per the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta.

The Seahawks went through a second interview with Ben Johnson on Monday, but the two-year Lions OC informed both HC-needy clubs — Seattle and Washington — he no longer wishes to be considered. Hours after Johnson bowed out of a second HC carousel, Texans OC Bobby Slowik followed suit. Slowik, however, had not been connected to a second Seahawks interview. He had met with the Commanders twice.

Johnson removing himself from consideration keeps the door wide open for Macdonald to land one of the two remaining jobs. Though, the Commanders have not met with Macdonald a second time yet. His first interview with the NFC East team took place Monday. The Ravens’ AFC championship game loss clears Macdonald’s interview schedule.

Despite the Chiefs and 49ers advancing to Super Bowl LVIII, it is the Ravens and Lions’ coordinators who have drawn attention during this year’s hiring period. None of the three San Francisco or Kansas City coordinators (Steve Wilks, Matt Nagy, Steve Spagnuolo; the 49ers do not employ a traditional OC) are candidates for the Seattle or Washington positions. Here is how the Seahawks’ search looks as January winds down:

Latest On Pete Carroll’s Seahawks Exit, Team’s HC Search

Hours after the Seahawks closed the regular season with a win over the Cardinals, Pete Carroll said he was ready to return for a 15th season in charge. Two days later, the Seahawks officially announced other plans, moving on from the Super Bowl-winning HC.

Carroll may not have been resolute on returning, however. During the season, the longtime Seattle HC informed some team decision-makers he was moving toward retirement and was interested in staying with the team in a different capacity, Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline notes. That path came to fruition, though it is not known what role Carroll will play going forward. He is not part of the committee searching for his own replacement.

The apparent Carroll backtracking did not sway Seahawks management, per Pauline, as team higher-ups were ready to move in a different direction. Carroll, 72, said he lobbied to keep his job and expressed frustration he was forced to convince non-football staffers. That said, GM John Schneider — effectively Carroll’s right-hand man for 14 years — has since assumed full control of the Seahawks. The veteran GM is leading the HC search.

This proved to be a disappointing season for the Seahawks, who faced higher expectations after a 9-8 2022 slate and a busy offseason. Seattle used two first-round picks, gave Dre’Mont Jones a $17MM-per-year deal and brought back Bobby Wagner. The team also traded for Leonard Williams, sending the Giants second- and fifth-round picks at the deadline. The Carroll- and Clint Hurtt-run defense struggled, finishing 30th in points allowed and 28th in DVOA. The team rallied back from its 6-7 place, but the mini-surge was not enough to qualify for the playoffs — even in a weak NFC wild-card chase. Hurtt is now with the Eagles, having agreed to become their D-line coach.

With Ben Johnson off the board, the likelihood of Ravens DC Mike Macdonald landing one of the two remaining jobs increases. Macdonald remains in the thick of the Seattle derby, ESPN’s Dan Graziano relayed on NFL Live (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta), but Giants OC Mike Kafka has also emerged as a name to watch here. Bobby Slowik has joined Johnson in bowing out and agreeing to keep his current job.

It would surprise if Kafka landed this job, if only because the Giants are coming off a rough follow-up to their surprising 2022 divisional-round run. The Giants tumbled to 30th in points scored and in offensive DVOA. Granted, Daniel Jones‘ injury changed the equation for the Giants, who have employed Kafka as their play-caller over the past two seasons. Jones, however, was not playing well before his ACL tear. And tension between Kafka and Brian Daboll ran high at points, leading to the head coach yanking play-calling duties during games. Rumblings about Kafka being out of the picture in New York surfaced, but he remains on staff. Kafka is not in contention for the Washington job.

Here is how the Seahawks’ HC search looks:

Latest On Commanders’ HC Search

Ben Johnson loomed as the favorite for the Commanders’ HC job for over two weeks, but a curveball looks to have disrupted the NFC East franchise’s search process.

Despite being interested in the North Carolina native since last year and being prepared to pursue him for a second straight offseason, the Panthers did not wait for the Lions’ season to end, instead hiring Dave Canales last week. That seemed to be a prelude to Johnson’s Washington arrival, but the prominent HC candidate has once again pledged to stick with Detroit. This creates uncertainty for Josh Harris‘ club.

Although ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicates Johnson did not appear a slam dunk for the Washington job, he mentions Commanders brass was en route to Detroit to interview Johnson and Aaron Glenn when word emerged the Lions’ OC was bowing out of another search. Johnson’s decision surprised many, per Schefter, even though the young play-caller made the same move last year.

The Commanders indeed had Johnson installed as the frontrunner here, per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano. As for who is most likely to land the job now, Vacchiano indicates Dan Quinn and Mike Macdonald have been viewed as sleepers during this process. These two have been sought-after candidates, but the “sleeper” label appears to have been applied because Johnson was viewed as a borderline prohibitive favorite to become the next Commanders HC.

Quinn has interviewed twice with the Commanders, Macdonald once. Both are in consideration for the other HC vacancy. A Seahawks-Quinn reunion became rumored immediately after Pete Carroll‘s ouster, while Macdonald is interviewing with the team today.

Johnson, 37, received a raise to stay in Detroit last year. Another pay bump is not believed to be forthcoming, Schefter adds, noting Johnson’s current Lions deal runs through the 2025 season. The Lions should again be expected to field a quality offense. Jared Goff is signed through 2024, though he is on track to become a higher-paid QB before next season. Pass-catching pillars Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta remain on rookie deals, though the former is a clear extension candidate in 2024. Three of Detroit’s five O-line starters — Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell — are under contract for 2024 as well.

More attractive jobs could also open up in 2025. The Cowboys and Eagles spent time deliberating about their head coaches, and although Mike McCarthy and Nick Sirianni are returning, they are going to do so on hot seats (McCarthy especially, as he is a lame duck). The Jaguars’ patience with Doug Pederson could wear thin as well, given the disappointing season the team just completed. Although no head coach has been fired following a playoff berth since Mike Mularkey (Tennessee) six years ago, the Bills just became the third team in the home-field advantage era (1975-present) to lose back-to-back home divisional-round games. Sean McDermott‘s seat has likely warmed as well, though it might not rival the two coaches overseeing NFC East powers presently.

As the Commanders continue their search, they do still have Texans OC Bobby Slowik in the mix. While Slowik has only been a play-caller for one season, he joins Adam Peters in having spent extensive time in San Francisco. Here is how the Washington search looks following Johnson’s surprise exit:

Seahawks Schedule Second HC Interview With Ben Johnson; Team To Meet With Mike Macdonald

The Commanders and Seahawks saw a number of the top remaining candidates for their head coaching vacancies become available via their team’s respective losses on Sunday. Washington’s intentions remain clear, but Seattle will also speak with the names most frequently connected to its own opening.

The Seahawks are set to interview Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson tonight along with Ravens DC Mike Macdonald tomorrow, SI’s Albert Breer reports. In the former’s case, this summit will be a second interview which comes amidst expectations he is the top choice of the Commanders. The latter, meanwhile, has not yet taken part in a Seahawks meeting.

In spite of that, it was reported during the weekend that the Seahawks were interested in speaking with Macdonald. The Ravens and Lions were eliminated on Sunday, leaving their staffers free to interview with and accept offers from teams prepared to offer a head coaching position at any time. Both Johnson and Macdonald have been amongst the most sought-after candidates in this year’s cycle, and their futures could become clear in the coming days.

The Panthers were prepared to (once again) make a push to land Johnson, one of the top young offensive minds in the league. He was tapped as Carolina’s top choice, but the same is true of Washington. With the Panthers having moved on to Dave Canales, the Commanders are in pole position to land the 37-year-old.

Johnson would be a welcomed addition to any staff, but the Seahawks will have other options if he does take the Commanders gig. Macdonald, like Johnson, has only been an NFL coordinator over the past two years, but his work with Baltimore’s defense has quickly upped his head coaching stock. Prior to tomorrow’s sit-down with the Seahawks, he will meet today with the Commanders.

Of course, another name looming over the Seattle vacancy is Dan Quinn. The current Cowboys defensive coordinator has elected to turn down HC interest in the past, but a chance to succeed Pete Carroll in Seattle could await him. Quinn is among the staffers to have already conducted a second interview with the team, and Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes Quinn could presently be considered a “slight favorite” for the job. However, Seattle is high on Macdonald, he adds.

Indeed, NBC Sports’ Peter King confirms Quinn’s history with Seattle (having previously served as the team’s DC) is unlikely to represent a deciding factor in the team’s ultimate decision. Plenty is still to be determined as the Seahawks enter the next phase of their coaching search. Both they and the Commanders will be worth watching closely as the HC cycle approaches its end.