Vance Joseph

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Flores, Evero

By far the biggest name on this year’s coaching carousel, Sean Payton looks to have seen his momentum stall a bit. While Payton is interviewing with the Cardinals today, his candidacy has not produced a second interview anywhere yet. The Panthers met with Payton this week but just hired Frank Reich. While the Texans remain on the radar for the longtime Saints HC, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com does not get the sense much momentum is present for such a partnership. The Broncos have been connected to other names recently as well, but that path may be dwindling as well. There might not be a place for Payton — as odd as that sounds, given his track record — on this year’s market, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com offers (video link)

Trade compensation being required to land the Super Bowl XLIV-winning HC, with the price varying from a first-rounder and other early picks to two first-rounders, has affected teams’ plans here. Payton, 59, has also been mentioned as waffling on this year’s lot of jobs. Returning to FOX for another year and surveying the 2024 market, when two jobs he has long been connected to (Chargers, Cowboys), could be available might be what comes out of this run of interviews. Payton remains in this year’s mix, but buzz has died down.

Here is the latest from the coaching landscape:

  • Regarding the Cardinals‘ search, Brian Flores remains firmly in the mix. GM candidates received the impression Arizona is high on the three-year Miami HC-turned-Pittsburgh linebackers coach, Fowler notes. Previously mentioned as a frontrunner — due partially to the Cards hiring ex-Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort as GM — Flores may have a right-hand man on defense lined up. Some around the league expect the ex-Dolphins HC to bring Gerald Alexander, Miami’s defensive backs coach for the past three years, with him to Arizona, per Fowler. With the Dolphins looking for a new DC, Alexander may be on the move anyway. While ESPN colleague Dan Graziano points to Vance Joseph and Aaron Glenn remaining strong candidates, Flores has generated the most buzz to this point. Flores has also interviewed for the Falcons and Vikings’ DC posts.
  • Raheem Morris booked a second HC interview with the Colts and also met with the Broncos and Texans. Should the Rams‘ DC land a second HC opportunity, Albert Breer of SI.com notes Ejiro Evero is the team’s top candidate to replace him. The Denver DC is no lock to be available. He is under contract with the Broncos, who blocked a Falcons DC interview, and has gone through second HC interviews with the Colts and Texans. Denver could pass on retaining Evero by hiring a defensive-minded coach, of course. Evero came to Denver from Los Angeles; he spent five years on Sean McVay‘s staff.
  • The Browns considered bringing in Vic Fangio for a DC interview, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, but they stood down and ended up hiring Jim Schwartz. Cleveland having run a 4-3 defense in recent years may have been a reason for passing on a Fangio meeting, Cabot offers. Fangio has remained quite popular still, having interviewed for three DC jobs — the Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers — already.
  • The Bills are making a change to their defensive staff. They fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com tweets. Salgado had been on McDermott’s staff throughout the head coach’s six-season tenure.
  • Giants DC Don Martindale is attached to a three-year contract, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Giants thought enough of the veteran coordinator, whom the Ravens did not bring back last year, they gave him the three-year deal as opposed to the more common two-year pact. Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey also received extensive interest from other teams, with Duggan adding the Chargers joined the Panthers in offering him their ST coordinator jobs. McGaughey, who has been with the Giants since 2018, turned down a Bears interview and opted to stay and work for Brian Daboll.

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-23 (6:03pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Cardinals To Interview Vance Joseph For HC Job

Rumors of Vance Joseph being on the radar for a promotion in Arizona circulated last week, and the Cardinals are indeed interested in seeing what their defensive coordinator could provide the team as a head coach.

The Cardinals plan to interview Joseph for their HC job next week, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Joseph, who has been Arizona’s DC since the team hired Kliff Kingsbury in 2019, has been an interviewee elsewhere since being fired as the Broncos’ HC following the 2018 season.

Although the Cardinals have a history of promoting from within at their GM position — a blueprint that may still be in place — the team has reached outside the organization for its head coaches. That common path has included mostly offense-based HCs this century. The Cardinals have gone offense (Kingsbury, Bruce Arians, Ken Whisenhunt and Dennis Green) with four of their past five HC hires. Only Steve Wilks, whom the team made a one-and-done after the 2018 season, came from the defensive side of the ball over the past 19 years.

Joseph, 50, is well-liked in the Cardinals’ building and, Kingsbury ties aside, may be one of the frontrunners for the position. Of course, Joseph almost certainly would not outflank Sean Payton. The Saints granted the Cards permission to interview Payton on Wednesday, generating intrigue regarding this year’s hottest coaching free agent. But the team will explore its options, as Payton is far from a lock to agree to terms with Arizona.

After helming back-to-back double-digit loss seasons in Denver, Joseph oversaw a last-ranked Arizona defense in 2019. The team showed considerable improvement in 2020 and ’21, however, ranking in the top 13 in both points and yardage in each campaign. This year’s Cards defense regressed, ranking 31st in points per game allowed (26.4) and slotting 24th in DVOA.

Michael Bidwill said he hopes to replace Steve Keim before landing on a head coach. A host of GM candidates have emerged for the team, including in-house staffers Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson. In the wake of Keim stepping away from the team, Harris and Wilson shared his responsibilities. It would be interesting to see if the Cardinals, given the turbulent year they just had, would legitimately consider an in-house GM and a holdover HC.

Cardinals DC Vance Joseph Favored To Replace Kliff Kingsbury?

January 8: Owner Michael Bidwill has not told Kingsbury about his plans one way or another, as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report. While Bidwill is doing his homework on coaching candidates, he no longer has Keim as a trusted sounding board, and the NFL.com duo suggest that a Kingsbury firing is not a sure thing. After all, Bidwill will already have to replace Keim, and an accompanying coaching change could be too much turnover, unless he can be sure he is getting an upgrade.

That is to say nothing of the fact that he would have to pay Kingsbury and Keim through at least 2026 while also paying his new coach and GM (previous reports indicated that the recent extensions that Bidwill greenlighted for Kingsbury and Keim ran through 2027, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Kingsbury’s deal is guaranteed through 2026, with 2027 being an option year).

Rapoport and Pelissero name Sean Payton as a possible candidate to replace Kingsbury, and Florio notes that the Saints are expecting to hear from Arizona about the possibility of acquiring Payton’s rights. New Orleans has already granted the Broncos permission to interview Payton, and those two clubs appear to have trade compensation — which features a first-round draft choice — largely in place.

January 7: With the NFL’s regular season set to come to a close, ‘Black Monday’ has nearly arrived. One move which would, given recent reporting, come as little surprise would be the Cardinals parting ways with head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The 43-year-old signed an extension this past offseason, one in which general manager Steve Keim and quarterback Kyler Murray each inked long-term deals of their own to remain in Arizona. Things have not gone according to plan on the field or in the front office this season, however, to the point where it is something of an “open secret” that Kingsbury will be fired this Monday. Such a decision would reflect the team’s regression in 2022, but also invite questions with respect to his replacement.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reports (via Johnny Venerable of the PHNX Cardinals Podcast, on Twitter) that Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is expected to be “a lead candidate, if not the lead candidate” to succeed Kingsbury. Promoting the former would represent a level of internal maneuvering which would run counter to what many feel the organization should be aiming for.

Keim – who is currently away from the team – is also thought to be on his way out of Arizona, a departure which (if coupled with the firing of Kingsbury) would clear the way for a total re-tooling on the sidelines and in the front office, should ownership be inclined to move in that direction. Joseph, on the other hand, would be a familiar face to take on the HC role, as he has served in his current capacity since 2019. The Cardinals’ defense has seen two years of above-average ranks during that span, but the unit has taken a step back this year.

Heading into the final week of games in 2022, Arizona sits 29th in the league in terms of points allowed per game (25.7). The team has struggled in particular against the pass, and has been unable to establish a consistent pass rush during the campaign. In spite of that, Joseph, 50, has reportedly boosted his stock heading into the 2023 coaching cycle. His time in Arizona came after a two-year stretch as the Broncos’ head coach in which the team went 11-21.

That period, in turn, was preceded by one year spent in Miami as a DC in 2016. The Dolphins interviewed Joseph for their head coaching vacancy last offseason, before ultimately hiring Mike McDaniel. It will be worth monitoring how much outside interest he generates for HC (or at least coordinator) openings in the coming days and weeks should he hit the open market at all.

Coaching Rumors: Evero, Bevell, Downing

Ejiro Evero profiles as one of the more unusual coaching candidates in recent memory. The first-year Broncos defensive coordinator has delivered in his first season up from the position-coaching level, with Denver overcoming a stream of injuries — and the Bradley Chubb trade — to stay on course as a top-three scoring defense. Evero has come up on multiple teams’ HC radars, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The Broncos might even be interested in talking to him about their job, Fowler adds, with Nathaniel Hackett barreling toward becoming this century’s 14th one-and-done coach. But Denver’s 3-7 record could delay a potential Evero ascent.

Evero, 41, spent the previous five years on Sean McVay‘s Rams staff but has been a longtime Hackett friend. The two played together at UC-Davis. The Broncos attempting a Hackett-for-Evero swap might be difficult, especially since the organization’s new owners would presumably like to start fresh considering how poorly this season has gone. But teams are monitoring Denver’s up-and-coming DC, who will almost certainly not have to worry about the playoffs scuttling any interview plans.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Todd Downing‘s DUI arrest will undoubtedly have a significant effect on his near-future aspirations to become a head coach. Establishing some momentum during his two-year Titans OC stay — which has featured the 2021 team earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed without Derrick Henry available for the stretch run and this year’s squad move to 7-3, most recently after the team’s best offensive performance of the year — Downing should not expect to be on teams’ interview lists in 2023. A GM discussing this process told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora the arrest will remove him from HC consideration during the upcoming cycle. Downing’s arrest has brought an NFL investigation and an internal probe, putting his status with the Titans on unsteady ground.
  • Darrell Bevell is a Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator and a two-time interim head coach, and CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes the Dolphins quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator is gaining momentum for a possible run as a full-time HC gig (Twitter link). The Dolphins’ offensive success may earn both Bevell and OC Frank Smith looks. Bevell, 52, has not been on the HC interview radar in many years, bouncing around in assistant roles since the Seahawks fired him after the 2017 season. The Bills did interview Bevell in 2015, and the Lions gave him an interview after his 2020 interim stay. Aided by the arrivals of Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill, Tua Tagovailoa has taken a major step forward this season. The third-year southpaw still leads the league in QBR. It will be interesting to see if Bevell ends up receiving interview consideration soon as a result.
  • Cardinals DC Vance Joseph has rebuilt his stock to the point he should be expected to land more interviews in 2023, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano adds. Joseph’s name has come up recently, despite his defense’s production dipping this season. Although the Cardinals have shown flashes defensively, they rank 31st and are coming off a nationally televised 38-10 loss to the 49ers. Joseph, who coached in Denver for two seasons, booked a Dolphins HC interview last year. With Kliff Kingsbury‘s Arizona staff potentially set to splinter, Joseph would at worst be a coordinator candidate elsewhere in 2023.

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

Vikings Request Permission To Speak With Six More Coaches About HC Job

And like that, we’ve got a growing list of candidates for the Vikings HC job. Following news that the Vikings requested permission to interview Todd Bowles for the gig, we’ve learned that the organization requested permission to interview six additional coaches:

  • Jonathan Gannon, defensive coordinator (Eagles) (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator (Packers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter)
  • Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator (Rams) (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter)
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)

Five of those coaches have already been connected to other HC vacancies, but this is the first reported interview request for Ryans. The former NFL linebacker has been on the 49ers coaching staff since 2017, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator last offseason after Robert Saleh left for New York. During his first season in the role, the 49ers defense ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

Of course, the Vikings may not be sticking with only seven candidates. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweets that the Vikings have also explored the candidacy of Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Per Pelissero (on Twitter), the Vikings are hoping to find a replacement for former GM Rick Spielman before they hire a replacement for former HC Mike Zimmer. However, considering the anti-tampering rules, the Vikings only have until Sunday to interview coaches on byes, so they have reason to speak with someone like Hackett ASAP. The Vikings plan to kick off their GM interviews on Sunday, with Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort first in line.

Dolphins Request HC Interviews With Cardinals’ Vance Joseph, Cowboys’ Kellen Moore

Vance Joseph has enjoyed some eventful years since leaving Miami in 2017. The Dolphins, however, are interested in bringing the veteran defensive coach back to south Florida.

The Dolphins requested a head-coaching interview with Joseph, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. This follows the team’s interview summons for Brian Daboll, Mike McDaniel, and Dan Quinn. Joseph, however, has more familiarity with the franchise. This marks Joseph’s first connection to an opening this year.

In addition to the Joseph inclusion, the Dolphins sent out a request to meet with Cowboys OC Kellen Moore, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Prior to taking the Broncos HC job, Joseph spent the 2016 season as the Dolphins DC. That did not go particularly well, with Miami ranking 29th in total defense that year. Nevertheless, Joseph impressed enough to beat out Kyle Shanahan to become Denver’s HC. The Broncos fired him after two years, however. Joseph went 11-21 in Denver, starting the franchise’s run of sub-.500 seasons. Joseph, 49, has run the Cardinals’ defense since 2019. Following two relatively mediocre seasons, Arizona’s defense has turned it around in 2021, including them ranking seventh in passing yards allowed.

Moore inked a three-year extension with the Cowboys towards the close of the 2020 season, but he’s remained a hot name in coaching circles. The rival Eagles requested an interview with him in January of 2021 before ultimately going with Nick Sirianni.

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury Clears COVID Protocols

Oct. 24: Kingsbury has cleared COVID-19 protocols and will be on the sidelines for today’s game against Houston, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Cards are in search of a 7-0 start, and they are heavily favored to defeat the one-win Texans.

Oct. 16: The Cardinals are looking to improve to 6-0 tomorrow, but they won’t have their head coach on the sideline. Kliff Kingsbury has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t coach tomorrow’s game against the Browns, per NFL.com.

[RELATED: Chandler Jones Land On Reserve/COVID-19 List]

According to the team, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will share head coaching duties during tomorrow’s contest. Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), Kingsbury will “script as much as he can” prior to the game, but the organization will be relying on a collaborative approach when the script inevitably goes awry. Garafolo notes that QBs Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy will even have a say on offensive play calling.

We heard earlier this week that edge rusher Chandler Jones had tested positive, and he’s unlikely to play tomorrow after showing symptoms. The team will also be without GM Steve Keim, who tested positive and won’t make the trip to Cleveland. QB coach Cam Turner and defensive tackle Zach Allen also tested positive and won’t travel with the team.

As a result of the positive tests, the Cardinals are now dealing with “enhanced COVID-19 protocols,” but the NFL doesn’t have any intention of rescheduling or postponing tomorrow’s game.

Browns, Colts Did Not Match Cardinals’ J.J. Watt Offer

The Cardinals came out of the J.J. Watt sweepstakes a surprise winner. It took a two-year, $31MM deal, with $23MM guaranteed, for Watt to head to the desert. This was not the only offer the former Texans great received.

A report indicated the three-time Defensive Player of the Year turned down more money from the Browns and Colts. However, that may not be the case. Both 2020 playoff teams did not top the Cardinals’ offer, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot and The Athletic’s Stephen Holder (on Twitter).

The Browns were viewed as an early Watt finalist, and while the team may well have been in it until the end, Cabot notes Cleveland’s offer did not reach the $15MM-AAV place. The Browns’ proposal likely landed in the $12MM-per-year range, per Cabot. Under Chris Ballard, the Colts are known for their patience with free agency and trades — as was the case with the team’s Matthew Stafford talks — and Holder wonders if the team was even a high bidder for Watt.

Watt targeted a team with a sound quarterback situation. The Cardinals have that box checked in Kyler Murray, with Watt indicating Tuesday that his belief in the young dual-threat star helped lead him to Arizona (Twitter links via ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss). Cardinals DC Vance Joseph, who was with the Texans during Watt’s early years in Houston, is believed to have led the Cards’ recruitment effort, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Watt confirmed Joseph was a key factor in his decision to head west.

Cleveland still intends on adding a major piece to team with Myles Garrett, while Indianapolis currently resides in the top five in cap space. The Browns and Colts, respectively, have Olivier Vernon and Justin Houston on track for free agency. The Colts have not ruled out re-signing Houston — whom they gave a two-year, $24MM contract in 2019 — but he will turn 32 this year.