Pete Carroll - Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll enjoyed a long tenure in Seattle that resulted in him finishing his run as the winningest coach in Seahawks history with a record of 137-89-1 in 14 seasons. In his time in Seattle, Carroll has coached in multiple Super Bowls and has even walked away with one of his own in 2013. He’s regarded as one of the best coaches of his generation and instilled a culture in Seattle that established legendary careers and heralded units like the ‘Legion of Boom’ who will go down as perhaps the best defensive backfield of all time. Though he’s known for the high energy he brings to the game (just watch him chew gum), Carroll was sneaky the second oldest coach in the NFL at 72. It seems that the Seattle ownership wants to lead the organization in a new direction. The first step in that process was relieving Carroll of his duties, but there’s rumors that he’ll stick around in a fluffier role as an advisor.
Pete Carroll will likely receive inquiries from teams to fill their current coaching vacancies, but I think we’ve likely seen the last of Carroll in an active coaching role. If he wanted to he could probably start running an organization tomorrow and make it a winner, however with his success and age at this point in his life what more is there to prove? He’s been in Seattle for 14 years and lived on the West Coast for 8 years prior while coaching USC and he established winning cultures in both places. Carroll is one of the best coaches in college and NFL history and that’s how he should be remembered. The likely path for Carroll is that of an advisor to the Seahawks front office. He’s known winning for most of his career as a head coach and now he can find a head coach and help show them what it takes to win in that city. Who better to lead that search? Much like when he coached, I expect him to be a winner in whatever role he takes on.
Frank Reich - Carolina Panthers
Frank Reich had a short-lived, disaster tenure as the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers. Reich was fired after 11 games with a league-worst record of 1-10. The Carolina Panthers are an organization embracing a lot of change and prior to this season the organization had the newest owner in the NFL in David Tepper. Tepper seems like a lot to deal with and way too hands on for his own good. He started his tenure off by firing Ron Rivera who was the team’s coach from 2011-2019. He also saw Christian McCaffery go to San Francisco in a trade that didn’t even notch the team a first round draft pick which seems unfathomable now. The newest decision after moving on from Matt Rhule, who was hired as the head coach in 2020 and was let go in the middle of the 2022 season, was to bring on Frank Reich who is a former Carolina Panthers QB. Sounds like the perfect fit for a team likely looking for their new franchise QB in the 2023 draft. They “found” that answer in Bryce Young after trading up with the Chicago Bears to acquire at the #1 overall pick. After 11 games with no real output and Young looking like a bust not meant to be on an NFL field, the organization decided to fire Reich and go another direction. It’s also been reported that Reich wanted to take probably Offensive Rookie of the Year and potential future all-pro, CJ Stroud over Young because of David Tepper. Sounds like a fun guy to work for. Now without their first overall pick that they have to give to the Bears, the Panthers will now be scrambling for a new Head Coach and GM at a time when other organizational vacancies are much more appealing.
I don’t foresee Reich being hired for a Head Coaching position anytime soon, however, I could see him potentially being hired as a QB coach or OC. He’s had success as a coordinator in the past and if he still has some juice left in the tank, it might work out in the right situation. I worry that tank might be on E though. His head coaching tenure hasn’t been the best (41-43 record), but he definitely has an understanding of the NFL passing game and would provide great experience and veteran coaching leadership for a team looking to make coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball. Some teams I’d keep an eye on who might have Reich on their radar are the Steelers or Jaguars. The Steelers OC job could be a good fit for Reich with the established culture of Mike Tomlin, however, the ties to Jacksonville can’t be denied with Reich spending time coaching with Jags HC Doug Pederson in Philadelphia. I expect this won’t be the last time we see Reich coaching in this league, but there’s a chance he enjoys the paid vacation and says bye to the NFL.
Arthur Smith - Atlanta Falcons
Arthur Smith leaves Atlanta after a frustrating tenure if you ask Falcons fans. He finished with a record of 21-30 over 3 seasons with Atlanta. Finishing every season with the exact same record of 7-10 can definitely be defined as frustrating, although impressively consistent in their mediocrity. This is especially true with the team spending the last 3 seasons drafting skill players in the first round (Kyle Pitts - TE, Drake London - WR, Bijan Robinson - RB). All of these players have had flashes of greatness and were being underutilized by an “offensive-minded” head coach. During Smith’s time as head coach, they never had a real answer at the quarterback position. The departure of Matt Ryan was also the departure of anything resembling consistency at the position. The roster construction was no crutch for Smith, but an indictment of his own failures. When the Falcons flash they pop off the screen, but their lack of consistency on offense proved why he doesn't deserve to stick around. On the whole they had an impressive season at times with the offensive line group finishing ranked in the top 10 and some of the brightest offensive players in the NFL’s future. Arthur wasn’t the right cook in the kitchen of this roster. That much became clear.
I think we won’t see Smith embrace an OC role in the league right away unless it’s the right situation. The under-utilization of the talent on roster would probably be seen as a concern for team’s looking to fill OC vacancies and have that side of the ball running as efficiently as possible. I could see Smith embrace a position coach or Offensive Run-Game Coordinator position with a team as that’s where his offensive strengths lie. Smith’s old friend Mike Vrable is looking for a new head coaching job himself and could definitely use some familiarity in his staff wherever he ends up. The pair made a nice team in Tennessee while they were together. I think that would likely be a perfect situation for Smith coming off of his run as a first time HC who’s probably seeking some stability and seamlessness in taking on his next role. Any organization that is looking to improve their overall rushing attack should hire Smith immediately. He may not use the star back in every big moment, but he’ll turn your rushing attack into a top 10 unit in the league if you’ve got the front to run the show. It’s likely Smith will find himself with an organization that hires a defensive minded HC.
Ron Rivera - Washington Commanders
Ron Rivera was brought into Washington to try and change the culture of a failing franchise who’s owner at the time was credited with being the worst owner in the league for too many reasons to list right now. Rivera was tasked with turning around a once proud organization that had become a joke, and it was a battle for Rivera to say the least. In his 4 seasons with the organization Rivera tallied an overall record of 26-40-1. All while going through a change in ownership, a change in the organizations’ identity and a personal battle with Cancer which Rivera was diagnosed with during the 2020 season. Despite his best efforts Rivera was unsuccessful in fully reshaping my favorite team into a winner. The team never surpassed 8 wins with Rivera in charge and made a lone playoff appearance in the 2020 season as a 7-9 NFC East division winner. At least we can hang our hats on that. As good of a man as Ron Rivera is, Washington is not more of a winner after his tenure. Rivera started his run with the second overall pick in the draft which he used to draft Chase Young. He will now be exiting as head coach the same season they traded Young to the San Francisco 49ers and now a new Head Coach will be drafting for Washington with the second overall pick in this upcoming NFL Draft.
I don’t think we’ll be seeing Ron Rivera coaching in the NFL again. He has spent so much of his time in his NFL career as a Head Coach and has had success that at this point it feels like he wouldn’t accept a coordinator position. He would probably rather walk away from his coaching career to pursue a position as an analyst or a media personality. Rivera will also still be a very involved member on league boards and groups that look toward the advancement of the league’s success. Riverboat Ron will walk away from his career and will be remembered as a 2-time Coach of the Year and a very respected man around the league.
Brandon Staley - Los Angeles Chargers
Brandon Staley took over as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Chargers after having success as the Defensive Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams by leading their unit to 1st in the league in defensive points allowed and total defense rankings. In his time with the Chargers, Staley totaled a record of 24-24 over 3 seasons with the team, which came to an end in week 14 of the 2023 regular season. His defensive struggles with one of the most highly touted, and highest paid, defensive units in the NFL was glaring especially at the end of his tenure. The other reason for his exit is likely his biggest criticism, the lack of positive production and winning results for Justin Herbert, whom the organization doesn’t want to waste years of his career with losing results and a lack of postseason opportunities when they possibly have their generational franchise QB. After numerous choke jobs, the most famous of which was the Chargers Wildcard exit to the Jaguars in the 2022 season, Staley saw his exit from an organization that has spent so much money on their roster that they don’t have time to wait around and waste careers.
Staley could definitely pick up a job as a coordinator for any team that may require someone to fill the position. Though there’s some confidence lost in his ability as a DC due to his poor production when taking over defensive play calling responsibilities during the 2023 season. Staley still has the mind of a DC who just needs to really focus on his personnel’s strengths and try to recapture a little bit of the magic he had in LA in 2020. LAR could be looking for a new DC if Raheem Morris is hired to be a HC, if that’s the case I’d have to imagine Staley will be one of the first in line for the job. Don’t be surprised if a team like the New York Giants or Jacksonville Jaguars come calling for his services.
Josh McDaniels - Las Vegas Raiders
After receiving one of the largest head coaching contracts in the league and totaling a record of 9-16 after not even completing his second full season as HC. McDaniels was fired after 8 regular season games and a 3-5 start. There was a lot that went into play with this decision. A few of which were the sizable the financial investment into Davante Adams and Jimmy Garroppollo both of which hadf a lack of volume and production. McDaniels has a reputation of being a brilliant offensive mind when it comes to the X’s and O’s and having his team as prepared mentally as much as possible every week. However the other side of the coin is that he’s not much of a player’s coach and perhaps lacks a bit of passion or energy that some players thrive off of in winning organizations. What I mean by that is that his uninspired team was tired of how the organization was run and so the players took to having Antonio Pierce replace McDaniels as Interim HC after 8 weeks and since then a new life has inspired the Raiders players to the point where Pierce may end up as the team’s next HC.
McDaniels is well respected around the league and has the superbowls to show for it. That being said, I only see one true destination that makes perfect sense and that’s in New England to take on the OC responsibilities under newly hired HC Jerod Mayo where the transition for both coaches would be seamless as they both have great ties to the organization and coaching with one another. Once more OC vacancies become available, look for McDaniels to be a top OC candidate for any veteran coaching staffs looking to hire at the position.
Mike Vrabel - TEN
One of the most surprising firings of the off-season, Mike Vrabel exits his head coaching tenure with the Tennessee Titans totaling a record of 54-45 while putting together 2 AFC South Titles and an appearance in the 2019 AFC Championship game where they came up short to the Kansas City Chiefs. Vrabel is a respected coach around the league for his love of the game and his natural ability to lead a group of men while trying to instill a winning culture. The end of his tenure in Tennessee showed to be too much of a change for Vrabel. Despite him doing a good job holding the team together during a mostly losing season that saw the first change in a season with a new GM and key pillars of the roster who were released or traded prior to the 2023 season, Vrabel still ended up losing his job despite doing all he could and faults that were out of his own control. I frankly think the organization made a mistake, but perhaps when you’re living off of the back of 3 years worth of divisional domination and aren’t seeing clear results now, it’s time to make a change to the organization.
Vrabel will be one of the top candidates for most organizations looking for a new Head Coach. Vrabel is defensive minded, however he’s the exact type of veteran coach that can come into an organization and show them what it takes to win right away. A fresh start for Vrabel could be a great thing, especially now that he can rebuild a new team and have a chance to win somewhere else. Vrabel will be a top candidate for jobs including HC positions in WAS, LAC, SEA, or LV.
Bill Belichick - New England Patriots
The greatest coach in NFL history has finally seen his time in New England come to an end. His reign of terror is over. I think this an appropriate time for something new in the organization. Bill is coming off his worst season as HC in New England and the team finishes the season holding the 3rd overall pick in the draft, aka a fresh start for a Patriots team that is looking to find a new direction for the first time in 2 decades. His record is 302-165 overall to go along with 6 Super Bowl titles will go down in history as some of the most impressive coaching statistics you’ll ever see, that some may never even come close to. Bill was the oldest coach in the league and will always be remembered as a winner, but it’s time for Bill and the team to go in different directions.
Bill will be one of the hottest names for this entire head coach hiring cycle. I’d imagine he’ll be requested to interview for most every job opening. Bill is one of the best minds the league has ever seen, so it’s hard for me to assume it’s over, plus what else would this guy do if he wasn’t a Head Coach? He’s looking to break the all-time wins record and someone is going to give him that chance. I see him getting a large contract this offseason to lead a new organization for the first time in 23 years, perhaps a team like the Atlanta Falcons is one to really keep an eye on.