It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the NFL. Hope is in the air for those looking for a new job – the coaching carousel is almost here.
This year’s carousel brings a lot of intrigue. The NFL is packed with young, innovative coaches ready for their first shot at the top. As of now, five jobs have already opened, or are sure to open at the end of the season, with another three or four possible openings on the board (there’s always a wild card) depending on how the playoffs play out.
Here’s a ranking of how potential vacancies stack up in terms of attraction for candidates.
1) Los Angeles Chargers
A job is only as good as the team’s starting quarterback, or the ability to land one. Over time, a team can come out of poor defense or insufficient offensive line. Some teams have even managed to bypass nosy bad owners to achieve sustained success. But you can’t build a long-term winner without a good quarterback.
By accepting the Chargers job, a coach is betting that Justin Herbert will be the best quarterback to coach on teams with a vacant position, in terms of talent, skill and age. A league average to a great quarterback with a cheap rookie contract is the best market inefficiency in the sport. Herbert has four years left on his contract and is already playing at league-average level with flashes of stardom.
There are problems in Los Angeles. The status of the team’s salary cap is doubtful. The age profile of the list is not great. Even before Covid, the Chargers struggled to attract fans. But when in doubt, bet on the quarterback. And while no young quarterback is safe, Herbert is so close to a safe bet that it doesn’t matter.
Why accept the job? Justin Herbert.
2) New York Jets
Yes, the Jets are the Jets. Yes, the culture is rotten. Yes, equipment problems are likely to persist with current owners. But the Jets’ new coach should have the assets to build something in his own image.
The jackpot: No. 1 overall pick (warning: the Jets could still get a win and gift this to the Jaguars). Any coach who walks through the door will have a choice between Trevor Lawrence of Clemson or Justin Fields of Ohio State. Or they could swap the selection. Or they could take someone else. Or they may believe in resurrecting Sam Darnold’s career. Regardless, whoever takes the job (and it may depend on them picking Lawrence because of the Jets’ noises) will likely have the most valuable asset in football waiting for them.
And there’s more: The Jets will have $ 76 million in cap space this offseason.
Now the Jets have wasted money before, but new general manager Joe Douglas has been smart during his short tenure by checking the strings of the team’s pocket. If they’re smart, the Jets can manipulate the cap to advance deals this offseason to preserve cap space going forward for when they have figured out the quarterback situation and are competitive.
The Jets are essentially a blank canvas with soccer’s best asset, loads of maneuverability in free agency and the commercial market, some good young players (Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, Quinnen Williams and Ashtyn Davis), four picks. first-round picks over the next two years (thanks to Jamal Adams’s trade with the Seahawks) and the ability to add more talent, perhaps by sending Darnold.
Why accept the job? Lid space and (probably) the first overall pick.
3) Houston Texans
Texans are a mess: the list is getting old; the power struggle between Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby, the team GM shepherd / shadow, has robbed the franchise of a host of top draft picks, DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney, and seeded divisions throughout the organization; Heading into the offseason, the team is $ 13 million over the ‘effective’ salary cap, which means that unless trades are involved, they automatically go over the cap with this miserable roster.
Quite simply: no team has lacked more vision than the Texans in recent years.
But then there’s Deshaun Watson, a top-tier quarterback who’s talented enough to prop up even the most tireless coach for a year or two. Watson will make a bad coach look decent and a good coach look great.
Perhaps the Texans could be creative in the market and offer some of their biggest stars, like JJ Watt, in hopes of lowering the average age of the team’s starters and adding more, if not better, pieces.
Whatever the new vision for the franchise, it will be hard work. But for the head coach: If in doubt, bet on the quarterback. And, at Watson, a coach would bet on one of the best in the sport.
Why accept the job? Deshaun Watson provides job security.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are expected to end the Doug Marrone era once the season is over. played. Like the Jets, the Jaguars represent a blank canvas for anyone who walks in. They could still end up with the No. 1 overall pick, have plenty of cap room, and at Gardner Minshew there will be a quality bridge for whatever quarterback the team chooses. the next draft.
The only downside: The coach probably won’t be able to pick his preferred quarterback, and the Jets will likely pick No. 1 overall.
Why accept the job? The freedom to build from scratch.
5) Detroit Lions
Unless the Lions opt for a candidate from the New England Patriots’ coaching school (and that’s hard to imagine given Matt Patricia’s experience), this will be a tough list to sell to a coach candidate. It has been constructed in a specific way for a specific ideology, an ideology that is unlikely to suit any offensive-minded coach that the Lions will inevitably pursue.
There are only two saving graces. In his prime, Matthew Stafford is an outstanding quarterback, and the team has the ability to pull out of many of his current contracts and open up salary cap space.
Why accept the job? Things can’t get much worse.
6) Atlanta Falcons
There are two ways the next 24 months in Atlanta can go: the Falcons engage in a crushing rebuild or go all-in for a final trip with the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones-led core.
There is no middle ground. Heading into the offseason, the team will have $ 37 million above the salary cap, an appalling number given the production of the last two seasons. It gets even worse when you consider that $ 104 million of the salary cap is committed to four players: Ryan, Jones, Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews.
That leaves the new boss in Atlanta with a couple of different road maps. They can get past Matthews, Ryan and Jones (the latter two are tougher in contract terms) and start a serious rebuild. Or, they rework those players’ current deals (Jarrett’s is now closed) and create minimal room to add reinforcements this offseason for a (much less sexy) edition of The Last Dance Falcons.
Why accept the job? A choice between two road maps.
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Bucs can’t make the playoffs with their all-in approach, or Tom Brady declares that Bruce Arians’ system is a too bad fit, the coach will likely be left out. And while the Bucs’ roster is old and Brady is approaching 45, he would still be among the most coveted jobs on the market.
– Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia may pass Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson after a disastrous year. But who will want the job? Carson Wentz’s move from potential MVP to contract albatross has made the Eagles one of the league’s most despondent franchises. Wentz will control 18% of the Eagles’ cap in 2021; No player, not Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, has led his team to a Super Bowl while swallowing that percentage of the salary cap. Wentz is unlikely to do so from the bank. Any coach thinking of a start in Philadelphia will want to be the man after the man. As in, once the Wentz contract is off the books.
– Chicago Bears. If the Bears dump Matt Nagy, expect this job to top many of these lists. They have an excellent depth chart with no quarterbacks, the theory goes. But be careful. The Bears only have 35 players under contract for next season, they are already scheduled to be $ 10 million over the limit, and the situation of not having a quarterback is a big problem. The defense is unreliable year-over-year, so as good as the Bears’ non-quarterback quarters are now, league attrition could affect those groups as early as next season.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.