2023 NFL The season flew by but 2024 NFL The offseason has started slow, with some big names potentially disrupting the training move. But that didn't last long, with some big breaking news in the last 24 to 48 hours.
Wednesday saw Pete Carroll retire as Seahawks coach, then Alabama announced that Nick Saban would be leaving the program. The next domino was clear and happened Thursday morning with Bill Belichick and the Patriots “separating.” It's absolutely crazy to think about Belichick leaving the Patriots after hitting rock bottom in a post-Tom Brady world, but it's also a reminder that the NFL waits for no one.
With Belichick gone, we currently have eight openings in the NFL. Maybe we're done? Who's saying? I think it's likely we'll get additional changes, but for now let's rank and discuss the current eight slots.
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With Pete Carroll's surprising news —And moving into a consulting role in Seattle – the Seahawks job trumps the leaders job for me. This is a 9-8 team with a lot of talent on the roster and a chance to be a playoff/Super Bowl contender with just a few moves.
The quarterback is technically a long-term “problem,” depending on what current free agent coaches (or employees?!) think about Geno Smith and Drew Lock. But the Seahawks used the Russell Wilson trade to completely retool their organization and restock them with talent on both sides of the ball.
John Schneider is as good a general manager as there is in the NFL. There are young pieces on the offensive line and a sick trio of wide receivers in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jackson Smith-Njigba. Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet round out a truly stacked offense. Defensively, there's a lot going on as well, especially with the way young guys like Devon Witherspoon and Boy Maffei have developed this year.
The biggest downside may be the obvious coaching candidate for this gig: Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn took the Falcons to power In his first run as head coach. Atlanta hired him because of his work as Carroll's defensive coordinator. He crushed it in Dallas and was patient waiting for his next opportunity. It will make the transition at the Seattle border smooth. Both Mike Vrabel and, dare I say it, Bill Belichick would be great candidates for this gig if they were interested as well.
For nearly 25 years, Dan Snyder has made Washington's mission a disaster. It would attract big-name candidates, because coaching in Washington was a big deal. This has been one of the biggest franchises in the NFL for decades and Snyder has made it almost untouchable. Enter Josh Harris, who did a simply amazing job He does the opposite of Dan Snyder. To wit: Harris did not fire Ron Rivera during his first season as owner and handled the entire situation with aplomb. He then nabbed Bob Myers and Rick Spielman to become part of his search committee and there was hope again in Washington. Things could change (David Tepper looked like a good owner early on) but for now the leaders are at the top of this list due to a new owner who seems patient in charge and a clear commitment to winning while upending the toxic culture that has prevailed at Ring Road for years.
Washington has the No. 2 overall pick, which doesn't hurt either. (Maybe they can draft Drake Maye, pair him with Sam Howell, hire Mack Brown and guarantee themselves eight wins a year just like the Tar Heels!) Trading away Chase Young and Montez Sweat midseason isn't great, but it boosts the investment capital of the incoming coaching staff and who By avoiding handing out contracts to former candidates in the first round, freeing up plenty of room in the salary cap.
There's an opportunity to land a quality midfielder here, with potentially strong ownership, a great fanbase hungry for quality football, and potentially a new stadium on deck. The Washington job has returned to being quite attractive.
Two words: Justin Herbert. It's amazing what a difference a superstar, franchise quarterback makes when ranking potential job opportunities, because the Chargers would be at the bottom of the list without Herbert. I would put the Chargers at No. 4 if they didn't have Herbert, primarily because of concerns about ownership and management. A caveat applies here if the Chargers land someone like Jim Harbaugh or Bill Belichick, because carrying that kind of gravitas into the building changes the power dynamic between ownership and the coaching staff/front office. but Go read John Spanos' bio on the Chargers website – The owner's son is basically praising himself for the Chargers' rise to prominence (which is quite the claim; might as well update it and stop bragging about hiring Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley?).
I'm very concerned about the front office/coaching staff dynamic here based on this situation, but Herbert's skill set can overcome all issues with the right coach hired. The Chargers also have some roster issues to deal with. Although there is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, it is quietly aging and bloated from a contractual standpoint. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams aren't really guaranteed to be on the roster, and Khalil Mack/Joey Bosa aren't spring chickens either. Austin Ekeler's return is certainly in question as well… There's a little more uncertainty about this roster than you might think when you glance at the depth chart.
Good idea, but I'll listen to anyone who says the Falcons should be the number one job here. This is a team that earned another top-10 pick after going 7-10 and may just be a quarterback away from dominating the NFC South. Being in a bad division is a big plus, because winning 10 games is a dead lock for a division title in the NFC South these days. Offensively, there are weapons for the QB as well: Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson combined with a very decent, safe offensive line could turn someone like Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins, or Jayden Daniels into a dynamic signal caller very quickly.
There is some stability in Atlanta despite not having a big win. Arthur Blank gave his coaches plenty of chances to win, with Mike Smith having seven years, Dan Quinn having six, and Arthur Smith having three years of seven wins before being let go. You won't run out of town very quickly if you keep your head above water in Atlanta. I actually think potential outside interest in the job may have hastened Smith's departure.
This defense was really good last year. If this continues and the Falcons find a quality offensive coach and quarterback, there is some serious upside here for Atlanta.
And it appears that this position may be somewhat limited to a few candidates, although that changes dramatically depending on what Mark Davis does with the vacant general manager position as well.
The quarterback is also an issue here, with the Raiders' Jimmy Garoppolo gambit failing (largely because Josh McDaniels failed). Aiden O'Connell showed some things in the second half, but this is clearly a team looking for its next quarterback. The stadium is very attractive, as is the high-profile nature of the team now that it is in Las Vegas.
There have been many changes for the Raiders in the past five years as head coach, but you can definitely argue there were extenuating circumstances — Jon Gruden was going to get the length of time he wanted in Las Vegas before the email scandal forced him to resign. McDaniels simply tried to create a Patriots West and likely iced out Davis while he tried to take control of the organization a la Bill Belichick. In other words, the next Raiders coach will be given some leeway, especially if he's a big name. I'm looking at you, Jim Harbaugh.
Antonio Peres certainly complicates matters. The interim coach is beloved in the locker room and in the fanbase, so the Raiders will have to be a little cautious about recreating the latest situation with a popular coach. Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams are superstars. The division is a big old problem, just like with the Chargers, except there's no quarterback here yet.
6. New England Patriots
This doesn't mean I'm saying the Patriots job is bad. it's a great job. It sounds like it would be great to work for Robert Kraft. This is a legendary privilege. But just like the Alabama job, this is a situation where you're following Bill Freaking Belichick. Look no further than the Patriots quarterback situation. Even with Cam Newton as a buffer, Mac Jones is still competing with Tom Brady. The next Pats coach will have Super Bowl banners highlighting him every time he catches a glimpse of him.
From a menu perspective, this isn't the greatest setup either. The offense is a hot mess – there are no skill position guys to really talk about outside of Rhamondre Stephenson (maybe you can defend Tyqan Thorton or DeMario Davis?). Mac Jones and Billy Zappe don't seem to be the answer. Defensively, there are a lot of really fun players, but injuries ravaged the Patriots last year and Belichick's coaching helped hold them together; Can the next coach produce a top-notch defense like Belichick did with the Pats? This is asking a lot.
The No. 3 pick is very nice, but it's also not the No. 1 or No. 2 pick, where you feel most comfortable about taking a quarterback.
The Giants surprised everyone— There are a lot of potential places for him and he should find a job quickly — but there has been a lot of heated chatter about whether Vrabel will stay in Nashville. With Vrabel gone and Ryan Tannehill/Derrick Henry set to become free agents, this is a complete rebuild in Tennessee.
GM Ran Carthon, who has been in charge for less than a full year, has won a power struggle with the former AP Coach of the Year (2021) who led this team to an AFC Championship game and made the Titans the No. 1 seed in the AFC at the time. what. Suffice it to say that Carthon has the ear of Amy Adams Strunk and a lot of power in this training research.
Because of this, I expect to see guys from the San Francisco coaching tree (Carthon worked for Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch for years with the 49ers) identified for the job. Frank Smith and Bobby Slowick seem to make a lot of sense from the start.
But this is not an easy task. There simply aren't a lot of building blocks. There is no certainty at quarterback, as Will Levis has shined but is not a guarantee as a “franchise” quarterback with his second-round pedigree. DeAndre Hopkins is also likely gone. Jeffery Simmons is the star offensive lineman on the defensive end. There are a top 10 selection available. Ownership and the front office will have to show a lot of patience in trying to build things back up.
In a way, the division is no longer a plus – CJ Stroud is a problem, the Jaguars are not a speed bump and the Colts appear to be rebuilding things again.
My position on the situation in Carolina is well documented:. Fortunately for Tipper, he has plenty of money and can continue to spend money on the problem.
Credit the Panthers for being more transparent and open about this coaching research than the last two. Unfortunately, the remnants of the previous two regimes still remain. Specifically, the Panthers are trading No. 1 overall in 2024 NFL draft to the Bears, plus DJ Moore, plus additional picks for Bryce Young.
Young can still be a good quarterback, but having his rookie season on tape may limit the candidates. Additionally, it's hard to look beyond Matt Rhule and Frank Reich, between whom he spent nearly three years.
Carolina seems to be following the “young offensive mind” model with the idea of fixing Young, and it's not a bad idea. But this is a really senior employee who needs to work better – or at least longer – than the last two employees. The Panthers don't have a first-round pick, there are too many holes on the roster and too many questions about the management's stability in place.
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