Patrick Graham

Raiders Announce Finalized 2024 Coaching Staff

When the season ended, the Raiders stayed true to the wishes of many players, hiring interim head coach Antonio Pierce into the permanent role for the 2024 NFL season. Today, Las Vegas officially announced the entirety of the new staff under Pierce, cluing us into some developments that we hadn’t yet reported on. We were aware of the hires of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, offensive line coach James Cregg, senior offensive assistant Joe Philbin, quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, assistant quarterbacks coach Fred Walker, and running backs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams on offense as well as the hiring of assistant head coach Marvin Lewis. Here’s a rundown of the remaining staff updates.

On the offensive side of the ball, with quarterbacks, running backs, and offensive line covered, Getsy made the call to retain Edgar Bennett as wide receivers coach. Bennett has an extensive history with star wideout Davante Adams as the two have spent time together in both Green Bay and Vegas. Last year’s tight ends coach Jerry Schuplinski is now a senior offensive assistant with the Rams, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, so former Bears assistant offensive line coach Luke Steckel has been hired in his place. Steckel previously coached tight ends in Tennessee in 2021 and 2022, mentoring Chigoziem Okonkwo to an impressive rookie season. Steckel will be assisted by newly promoted assistant tight ends coach Mitch Singler, who served the past two years as offensive quality control for the Raiders.

Additionally, pass game coordinator Scott Turner has officially been retained after being considered a candidate for the Patriots offensive coordinator position, and former Bears assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts has been added to the staff with the title of assistant offense. Lastly on offense, we were aware that the new head coach’s son, De’Andre Pierce, would be joining the staff, but whereas his initial position was reportedly going to be offensive quality control coach, we now know that he will be an offensive assistant.

On the defensive side of the ball, we had some idea of the fate of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who had been permitted to take interviews for head coaching jobs but was being blocked from lateral moves, and those ideas are now confirmed as he’ll be retained as coordinator. The team’s announcement shows that defensive line coach Rob Leonard and senior defensive assistant Rob Ryan have been retained, as well. Additionally, Matt Feeney, who has spent the past two seasons as a defensive quality control coach, has been promoted to assistant defensive backs coach.

Also on defense, we knew of the hiring of Mike Caldwell as linebackers coach, but today’s announcement informed us that he’ll hold the additional title of run game coordinator, as well. We also saw initial reports that Ricky Manning Jr. was being brought on as defensive backs coach, but he is officially listed now as cornerbacks coach with former Steelers assistant defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander being hired to coach safeties. Alexander assisted with a secondary in Pittsburgh that included Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, and Keanu Neal. Together, the two will replace Chris Ash, who was not retained as defensive backs coach, and Jason Simmons, who was recently hired as defensive pass-game coordinator in Washington. Also, we had reported the addition of former Jets defensive line coach Andre Carter to the staff, and we now know his new title in Las Vegas to be pass rush specialist.

Lastly on defense, we were informed of the hiring of Marcus Lewis as assistant linebackers coach and Josh Phillips as assistant defense. Lewis has recent experience as a defensive analyst at Arizona State and NFL experience after spending five years with the Bengals as an assistant working with the defensive line and linebackers. Phillips most recently served as head coach at Sarasota HS (FL), leading the team to a 1-9 record in his only season at the helm.

On special teams, we officially received word that both special teams coordinator Tom McMahon and assistant special teams coach Derius Swinton II would both be retained under Pierce. It appears that former NFL wideout Danny Amendola, who had been brought on as a coaching assistant to work specifically with returners, has not been retained, and Kade Rannings has been added to the staff as a second assistant special teams coach.

Lastly, the team announced that former director of football research and strategy Matt Sheldon will be on the sideline in the role of game management coach. Also, Jon Gruden‘s son, Deuce Gruden, is a surprising holdover as an assistant strength and conditioning coach after being retained by McDaniel’s staff following his father’s resignation in 2021.

There you have it. Though, much will remain the same with Pierce taking over the full-time role as head coach, plenty of changes were necessary. After another short head coaching stint by Josh McDaniels, Pierce seemed to rejuvenate a deflated squad to close the season. With a new staff of his own and a full offseason to work together, it will be interesting to see what Pierce will be able to accomplish in Las Vegas in 2024.

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 Arranging Second HC Interviews With Five Candidates

Seattle’s first head coaching search since 2010 has seen a number of first interviews take place, and more are coming. A list of candidates set to receive a second look has emerged as well, however.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports Seattle is arranging second interviews with five head coaching candidates: Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Raiders DC Patrick Graham, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Rams DC Raheem Morris and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn. Pelissero adds, though, that the list is likely to grow in time.

Each of those staffers has met with the Seahawks once already. The latter in particular was immediately floated as a top option to replace Pete Carroll given his ties to the organization. Quinn served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator from 2013-14, having also spent a pair of seasons there (2009-10) as the team’s defensive line coach. He has enjoyed regular season success during his time with the Cowboys, and Dallas’ postseason letdown has not taken him out of serious consideration for at least the Seahawks’ gig.

Evero, Graham and Morris join Quinn in having a background on the defensive side of the ball. Evero, like many other staffers on the Panthers, entered the 2023 season with notable expectations given his success with the Broncos. While Carolina struggled mightily on offense, Evero’s unit held up well in certain categories and finished fourth in total defense. He has drawn interest from a number of teams as a result, including the Panthers.

Morris, like Quinn, has NFL head coaching experience. The former took over after the latter was fired by the Falcons, and he also spent three seasons in charge of the Buccaneers. Morris has rebuilt his stock to an extent during his run with the Rams’ defense. He has been connected to four openings other than Seattle’s so far.

Graham’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2009, and he has worked as a DC with the Dolphins, Giants and Raiders. Las Vegas experienced a dramatic defensive turnaround after Antonio Pierce was promoted to interim head coach, and with him now having been given the position on a full-time basis, Graham could very well be on the way out. The 44-year-old held the title of assistant head coach during his time in New York, but he has never led a staff at the college or NFL levels.

As the only staffer with a background on the offensive side of the ball, Kafka’s inclusion on the list is notable. He was reported to be in danger of losing his position during the 2023 season, one in which little went according to plan for the Giants. Kafka has survived, however, and he will remain in New York for 2024 unless his second straight year receiving HC interest lands him an opportunity elsewhere.

Today’s news does not include a first interview being arranged with former Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. That is signficant given the connections made between he and the Seahawks in recent days. Vrabel has interviewed with the Falcons and Chargers, so the Seahawks could have competition for his services if they decide to meet with him. In-person interviews with coaches currently on NFL staffs cannot take place until after the divisional round is completed. Given that rule, and the volume of staffers reciving an extended look, Seattle’s search will likely continue for some time.

Seahawks Request HC Interview With Raiders DC Patrick Graham

Patrick Graham has earned another head coaching interview. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Seahawks have requested an interview with the Raiders defensive coordinator.

[RELATED: Seahawks Request HC Interview With Giants OC Mike Kafka]

The veteran coach worked his way up through the Patriots coaching staff, and following stints with the Giants and Packers, he was named the Dolphins defensive coordinator in 2019. He was recruited to the Giants by Joe Judge to serve in the same coordinator role (plus the title of assistant head coach) in 2020, and despite the change to Brian Daboll, Graham was expected to stick in New York in 2022.

Instead, he joined Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, where he’s spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator. Graham has been credited with an improved defense in 2023. The group finished the season ninth in points allowed, and the defense finished top-12 in most passing defense categories. Thanks to the Raiders’ performance, Graham also got an interview for the Chargers head coaching job.

The Seahawks list of head coaching candidates continues to grow. We learned earlier tonight that the team was eyeing Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and the two newest candidates join five other potential names:

Coaching Notes: Bears, Harbaugh, Graham

We’ve got our first candidate for the open Bears OC job. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Bears are planning to interview 49ers passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak for their vacant offensive coordinator job.

The son of Gary Kubiak, Klint has worked his way up through the coaching ranks over the past few years. After serving as the Vikings quarterbacks coach, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2021 following his father’s retirement. He was added to the Broncos staff in 2022 as their passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and he eventually took over play-calling duties from head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

He was hired as the 49ers passing game coordinator last offseason, and since San Francisco isn’t rolling with a traditional OC, Kubiak has full control over the passing offense. Brock Purdy has had a standout season during his second season under center, and each of Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle finished with at least 800 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The Bears moved on from two-year offensive coordinator Luke Getsy earlier this week. Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, and running backs coach Omar Young were also let go. When asked about the status of offensive line coach Chris Morgan, Bears coach Matt Eberflus told reporters that the team’s new OC will be allowed to choose their own staff (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin).

More coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • A number of teams have been connected to Bill Belichick, including the Commanders. However, the organization doesn’t plan to pursue the iconic head coach, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. We heard earlier today that the Commanders weren’t expected to have interest in Belichick, although it wasn’t a definitive denial. The team isn’t shying away from big names, however. Fowler writes that we should not “totally discount” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh for the open job in Washington.
  • While Patrick Graham is allowed to take head coaching interviews, the Raiders defensive coordinator won’t be allowed to pursue a lateral move. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders blocked an unknown team’s request to interview Graham for their DC vacancy. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean Graham will end up sticking around Las Vegas next season. Per Rapoport, the Raiders next head coach will be allowed to choose who to retain from the existing staff. Graham spent the past two seasons as the Raiders DC, with his unit finishing the 2023 season ninth in points allowed.

Chargers Request HC Interview With DC Patrick Graham

We heard earlier today that the Chargers have requested interviews with four head coaching candidates, and we’ve got another name to add to the list. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Chargers have requested permission to interview Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham for their HC gig.

[RELATED: Chargers Request HC Interview]

Graham got his NFL coaching career started with the Patriots, where he spent seven years. He later had coaching stints with the Giants and Packers before getting recruited by former Patriots DC Brian Flores to be the Dolphins defensive coordinator. He spent one seasons in Miami before former Patriots ST coordinator Joe Judge added him to the Giants staff as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

He was expected to stick in New York when Brian Daboll took over, but he ended up heading to Las Vegas to coach the defense under (you guessed it) former Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. Graham spent the past two seasons in that role, with the Raiders defense taking a step forward in 2023. The unit finished the season ninth in points allowed, and the unit finished top-12 in most passing defense categories.

Graham joins a list of Chargers HC candidates that already includes 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Lions coordinators Aaron Glenn and Ben Johnson, and Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Raiders Not Considering Defensive Changes

Part of the Raiders’ struggles this season has been an underwhelming performance by the team’s defense. Aside from a notable coaching decision made last week, though, no major changes with respect to players or coaches will be coming any time soon.

Las Vegas ranks 28th in the league in both total and scoring defense, despite a number of moves made in the offseason which led to heightened expectations the unit could at least effectively complement the Raiders’ talented array of skill-position players. That included bringing in Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator after he spent the past two seasons in the same capacity with the Giants.

One element of the team’s lackluster performance to date has been its pass rush. Despite having a starting edge tandem of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, the Raiders have registered a league-worst 10 sacks this season. The latter has accounted for just 0.5 of that total, a figure which marks a major disappointment relative to the $52.5MM deal he signed this offseason. Significant alterations to the rotation, or along the sidelines, are not being considered for the remainder of the season, however.

“What’s the alternative?” head coach Josh McDaniels said, via Tashan Reed of The Athletic (subscription required). “I think that’s our job to look at that and consider it that way, but I also think throwing things out there just because you’re frustrated with the results doesn’t necessarily mean that the results are going to change for the better at all. Matter of fact, they could get dramatically worse.”

Eyebrows were raised this past Sunday when three notable defenders were deactivated. Defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell, Matthew Butler and Neil Farrell were each healthy scratches for the team’s 25-20 loss to the Colts. Reed tweets that the decision was made as a result of an unspecified non-football matter.

Amidst the Raiders’ 2-7 campaign, questions have been raised about the commitment level of certain players, a list which may include Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller. McDaniels’ job security has also been a talking point in recent weeks, though owner Mark Davis emphatically put an end to speculation about a change being made in that regard in at least the intermediate future. The same will apparently hold true both on the field and the sidelines for the team’s defense.

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.

Giants Notes: McKinney, Gono, Cunningham, Bonuses

Xavier McKinney enjoyed a career year in his second NFL season, leading the Giants with five interceptions. The former second-rounder figures to remain a bright spot on the team, but some aspects of the defense under ex-DC Patrick Graham were the subject of remarks the young safety recently made.

In conversation with Steve Serby of the New York Post, McKinney noted a marked difference in practices since the arrival of Graham’s replacement, Don Martindale, particularly in the level of communication between players and coaches. “We didn’t really have much of that these last two years, and that was a big problem,” he said. “That came with obviously a lot of like everything didn’t look organized. Even defensively there were times we played good, but sometimes the communication wasn’t there, and that’s because everybody was kind of on different… it was a lot of different things going on.

“[Under Martindale] we don’t have to worry about making a mistake on a third down or a fourth down or something like that… and I think that’s what we’ve missed obviously the past two years… I think everybody could tell you on the defensive side everybody was so afraid of being the one to make the mistake instead of just actually going out there and playing.”

The Giants ranked 21st and 23rd, respectively, last season in terms of yards and points allowed per game last season – something McKinney will look to help the team improve on moving forward, and which could be made easier with a new voice on the sidelines. Graham is now the Raiders’ DC.

Here are some other notes concerning Big Blue:

  • Earlier this week, the Giants placed offensive tackle Matt Gono on the exempt/left squad list due to an undisclosed injury. It turns out that the neck injury which caused that absence is likely to end his career (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan). The 26-year-old missed all of last season after having neck surgery, so the return of symptoms in practice would make it challenging for him to make his way back onto the field. Scheduled to be the Giants’ swing tackle, his absence could lead to a larger role for 2020 third-rounder Matt Peart, or require the team to find a depth option in free agency.
  • Staying on the theme of offensive lineman, Korey Cunningham will try to earn a roster spot at his natural position, per Dan Duggan of The Athletic (subscription required). The previous coaching staff experimented with a move to tight end for the six-foot-six, 305-pounder, but the new regime led by Brian Daboll will keep him as an o-linemen. The absence of Gono could help him secure a place at the backend of the roster.
  • Earlier this week, Duggan also relayed (on Twitter) that quarterback Daniel Jones and left tackle Andrew Thomas received roster bonuses of $3.2MM and $2.7MM, respectively. 2022 is seen as a make-or-break year for Jones, whose fifth-year option was declined, whereas Thomas could make that same decision easier on the team with a strong performance this campaign.

Raiders, Chandler Jones Agree To Deal

The Raiders will land one of the top players on this year’s market. They have agreed to terms with Chandler Jones, Tom Pelissero of tweets. The sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $52.5MM, Ian Rapoport of tweets, adding that the deal includes $34MM guaranteed.

This will reunite the former All-Pro with Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham, who were both in New England during the first chapter of Jones’ career. After breaking through to the All-Pro level in Arizona, Jones will relocate to Las Vegas and join Maxx Crosby atop their edge-rushing stable.

For barely a minute, a Raiders reality with Crosby, Jones and Yannick Ngakoue existed. But the team is trading Ngakoue to the Colts. This will clear out some money for a Raiders squad that now has a Pro Bowl edge partnership. Jones bounced back after a biceps injury halted his 2020 season early; he registered 10.5 sacks in his sixth Cardinals season. Cards owner Michael Bidwill expressed a desire to re-sign Jones, who then tweeted laughing emojis after the owner’s comments. Unsurprisingly, the Cards were not closely connected with Jones during the legal tampering period.

Jones, 32, began the 2021 season as a disgruntled Cardinal, having requested a trade after voicing frustration about his contract. Several pass rushers had surpassed Jones’ 2017 extension — a $16.5MM-per-year pact — but he played out the deal. Jones is not exactly leaving the desert, with the Raiders now in Las Vegas, but his Cardinals chapter is over. He has agreed to similar terms with the Raiders. Jones appears to have missed his window to land a $20MM-plus-year-year accord, but he has still done quite well for himself during his prime.

The Raiders recently gave Crosby a $23.5MM-per-year extension. They are now fully loaded at the edge spot. Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2017 — a year after the Patriots dealt him to Arizona — and posted a 19-sack slate in 2019. Making Pro Bowls with both the Pats and Cards, Jones will attempt to aid the Raiders in an AFC West suddenly flush with pass rushers. Jones, Khalil Mack and Randy Gregory are each with AFC West teams now, creating a division stacked at both quarterback and players paid to pursue QBs.