NFL coaching changes 2023: Latest firings, hirings and rumors

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Eight NFL teams decided to move on from their head coaches either during or after the 2023 NFL regular season. Six of those jobs have since been filled — most recently Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh decided to return to the NFL as the Chargers’ new coach, the Panthers hired Dave Canales and the Falcons made Raheem Morris their next coach.

The Raiders started the coaching carousel Nov. 1, parting ways with coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. On Nov. 27, the Panthers fired Frank Reich, who has now been fired in back-to-back seasons. Then, on Dec. 15, the Chargers dismissed coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco, while the Falcons dismissed Arthur Smith after their season finale. The Commanders then fired coach Ron Rivera on Monday morning, and on Tuesday the Titans fired Mike Vrabel.

News broke after the season that the Seahawks had relieved Pete Carroll of head-coaching duties but are keeping him in the organization as an adviser. Later in the week after the season ended, the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick agreed to part ways, ending their 24-year run that included six Super Bowl championships. New England shortly afterward promoted Jerod Mayo to be its coach.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest NFL head-coach movement, with news and intel on open jobs, pros and cons for each opening, and candidates who could be in the mix for interviews. Plus, we have updates on offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator openings.

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Commanders | Seahawks
Head coach hires | Coordinator hires
Coordinators who have been fired

Head-coach openings

Former coach: Pete Carroll (fired Jan. 10)
Record with Seahawks: 137-89-1 over 14 seasons

What happened: The Seahawks announced that Carroll will no longer be the team’s head coach after a 9-8 season in which Seattle missed out on the playoffs for the second time in three years, a span in which they went 25-26. Carroll, the most successful coach in franchise history, is ostensibly transitioning into an advisory role with the Seahawks, but he made it clear during his farewell news conference that he wanted to remain Seattle’s coach and that, at 72, he still has the juice for the job. Which suggests he’d entertain another head-coaching job should the right opportunity arise.

Pros of the job: The Seahawks have arguably the best roster of any of the teams that had vacancies at head coach, with on-the-rise young players such as Devon Witherspoon, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boye Mafe and Kenneth Walker III. Receiver DK Metcalf, who just finished his fifth season, is still only 26. They’ve also got a world-class practice facility and perhaps the loudest stadium in the NFL.

Cons of the job: Seattle is no longer flush with draft capital and cap space like it was after the Russell Wilson trade. It has the 16th overall selection but no second-rounder after giving it up for Leonard Williams, who will be a free agent in March. The Seahawks are projected to be a few million over the 2024 salary cap, and while they’ll free up money with cuts and restructures, they probably won’t have enough to be big players in free agency. There’s also a long-term ownership question. Jody Allen is eventually going to sell the team in accordance with her late brother Paul’s wishes, although it’s not expected to happen until 2025 at the earliest.

Latest intel: The Seahawks have been interested in Mike Macdonald even though they didn’t conduct a virtual interview with the Ravens’ DC during wild-card week. Because of that, they had to wait until Baltimore’s season ended in order to meet with him for the first time, which they can now do after the Ravens lost in the AFC Championship Game. Whether Detroit won or lost in the NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks would have been allowed to interview Lions OC Ben Johnson this week because they had virtually interviewed him already. Johnson would be the fifth candidate to get a second interview with Seattle, following their in-person meetings last week with Raiders DC Patrick Graham, Giants OC Mike Kafka, Cowboys DC Dan Quinn and Panthers DC Ejiro Evero. Raheem Morris was slated for a second-interview before he accepted the Falcons’ job. The Seahawks don’t have to wait any longer on Macdonald or Johnson, which means they could have the eighth full-time head coach in franchise history hired by the end of the week.

Former coach: Ron Rivera (fired Jan. 8)
Record with Commanders: 26-40-1 over four seasons

What happened: New Commanders owner Josh Harris made his first major staffing move since buying the franchise last summer, firing Rivera after four seasons with the team. The Commanders finished the 2023 season 4-13 after a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale Sunday.

Pros of the Washington job: Washington has a new owner with a reputation for providing resources and for being patient. The Commanders are in a far better spot under Harris than they were with previous owner Dan Snyder. Also, they have the second overall draft pick and five selections in the top 100. Plus based on early salary cap projections, they’ll have the most space in the NFL.

Cons of the Washington job: Washington needs to rebuild both lines and find a quarterback. The roster needs work, which it can address in the draft. The stadium needs upgrades and the team will be there for at least another six years. The team facility is small and, despite recent improvements, considered outdated. They might not build a new one for several more years.

Latest intel: The Commanders will have second interviews next week with Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and Ravens’ associate head coach/defensive line Anthony Weaver. They also interviewed Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik Jr., in person last week. Washington spoke with its offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy two weeks ago, but he would be a longshot candidate. Multiple league sources said they anticipate Johnson getting the job, but the Commanders have been mum throughout the process. Washington hired general manager Adam Peters two weeks ago to lead the search. The Commanders also have former NBA executive Bob Myers and former NFL general manager to assist in finding the next coach. — John Keim

Head-coach jobs that have been filled

Former coach: Arthur Smith (fired Jan. 7)
New coach: Raheem Morris (Jan. 25)

What happened: Atlanta hired Morris as its coach on Thursday, making him the first former NFL head coach owner Arthur Blank has hired in his 20-plus-year tenure. He’s also the first full-time Black head coach in the franchise’s history.

Morris’ hire comes after an extensive search that featured 14 candidates, including former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and ex-Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel.

This marks a return to Flowery Branch, Georgia, for Morris, who was Atlanta’s interim coach for 11 games in 2020 after it fired Dan Quinn midway through the season. Morris went 4-7 but was not given the full-time job. Instead, the Falcons hired Arthur Smith. — Michael Rothstein



Why McAfee’s excited for Raheem Morris and the Falcons

Pat McAfee explains why he’s excited to see where Raheem Morris can take the Falcons as their new coach.

Former coach: Frank Reich (fired Nov. 27)
New coach: Dave Canales (Jan. 25)

What happened: The Panthers have hired Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as head coach, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not announced, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the contract is for six years.

The Panthers hope Canales, 42, can do for Bryce Young what he did for quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. — David Newton

Former coach: Brandon Staley (fired Dec. 15)
New coach: Jim Harbaugh (Jan. 24)

What happened: Harbaugh is leaving the national champion Michigan Wolverines to coach the Chargers, the team announced Wednesday. Harbaugh’s deal is for five years, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Chargers fired coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco on Dec. 15, following a 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15. The Chargers held an extensive search after firing Staley, interviewing a league-high 15 candidates.

As a collegiate coach, Harbaugh has a 144-42 record, winning three Big Ten championships and Michigan’s first national title since 1997.

Harbaugh also spent four seasons (2011-14) as the coach of the 49ers, where he was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year in his first season. Harbaugh led the 49ers to the Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Ravens who were coached by his brother John.

Harbaugh left the 49ers after the 2014 season with a 44-19-1 regular record. — Kris Rhim



Stephen A.: Chargers made the smart move to hire Harbaugh

Stephen A. Smith explains why he sees Jim Harbaugh as the right hire to be the head coach of the Chargers.

Former coach: Mike Vrabel (fired Jan. 9)
New coach: Brian Callahan (hired Jan. 22)

What happened: The Titans fired Vrabel, who led Tennessee to four consecutive winning seasons after arriving in 2018. But the Titans experienced back-to-back frustrating seasons in 2022 and 2023, finishing multiple games under .500 both times. They finished 6-11 this past season, resulting in Vrabel’s dismissal.

According to a league source, they are hiring Callahan, who has served as the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator the past five seasons. Callahan becomes the sixth coach for the Titans’ franchise since it moved from Houston to Tennessee prior to the 1997 season.

In five seasons as the Bengals offensive coordinator, Callahan helped establish an offense that fueled Cincinnati to two AFC North Division championships and a Super Bowl appearance following the 2021 season.

He broke into the NFL as an offensive assistant for the Denver Broncos in 2010. Callahan served in various roles including coaching assistant, offensive quality control coach and offensive assistant through 2015, when Peyton Manning quarterbacked the Broncos to a Super Bowl-winning season. He’s also worked with Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Joe Burrow and will be tasked with helping develop young Titans quarterback Will Levis. — Turron Davenport

Former coach: Josh McDaniels (fired Nov. 1)
New coach: Antonio Pierce (hired Jan. 19)

What happened: The Raiders fired McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler one day after losing 26-14 at Detroit on “Monday Night Football,” their second consecutive defeat in which the team’s offense could get no traction. With the defeat, the Raiders dropped to 3-5.

The Raiders named linebackers coach Pierce as their interim coach and assistant general manager as their interim GM. Raiders players bought into Pierce’s leadership style, with All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams saying he would “run through a wall for that man.” Three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who had a career-high 14.5 sacks this season, also voiced support for Pierce. Pierce led the Raiders to a 5-4 record as an interim coach, highlighted by a Christmas Day win at the Chiefs. The Raiders’ defense led the league in fewest points allowed per game (16.0), most defensive touchdowns (4) and fewest penalties received (31) after Pierce took the reins.

“It’s legendary,” Crosby said after the season finale. “When you have the right culture, a guy like A.P. that embraces the history of the Raiders, it’s special. … A ton of legends [visit] consistently because the amount of respect they have for him. So it makes you, as a player, want to go out there and show who you are. You know what I mean? You want to be at that level one day.”

Many saw the removal of the interim tags from Kelly and Pierce as a fait accompli, with their public appearance during Las Vegas’ MLK Day Parade further signaling they would be hired full-time. — Paul Gutierrez



Orlovsky: Raiders keeping Pierce a ‘no-brainer’

Dan Orlovsky and Mina Kimes break down the Raiders’ decision to make Antonio Pierce head coach after his interim stint.

Former coach: Bill Belichick (agreed to parts ways Jan. 11)
New coach: Jerod Mayo (hired Jan. 12)

What happened: Moving swiftly one day after parting ways with Belichick, the Patriots hired Mayo as his successor and the 15th coach in franchise history, the team announced. Mayo, 37, will be the youngest coach in the NFL, taking over a title that Sean McVay has held since being named Los Angeles Rams coach in 2017; Mayo is a month younger than McVay.

A linebacker for the Patriots from 2008 to 2015 after being selected in the first round of the draft out of Tennessee, Mayo joined Belichick’s coaching staff in 2019, serving as linebackers coach. The Patriots were able to forgo the standard NFL hiring process and immediately hire Mayo because they established a succession plan in the contract extension he signed last offseason, similar to what the Baltimore Ravens did with their general manager position when Eric DeCosta succeeded Ozzie Newsome in 2019.

Coordinator openings

Former offensive coordinator: Dave Canales (became Panthers HC)

The Panthers hired Canales as their head coach, leaving a vacant spot for the Buccaneers at offensive coordinator.

Former defensive coordinator: Vic Fangio (parted ways on Jan. 24)

Fangio is out after just one season with the team. Under Fangio, the Dolphins’ defense improved from 18th in yards allowed per game in 2022 to 10th this season. Miami was one of the best defensive teams in the NFL during the second half of the season, notably after the return of CB Jalen Ramsey.

Former offensive coordinator: Shane Waldron (hired as Bears’ OC on Jan. 22)

With Carroll’s departure as coach, the future of the Seahawks’ entire coaching staff is unclear. Typically when a new coach is hired, they form their own staff. Waldron didn’t wait for a new coach to be hired before he took the Bears’ offensive coordinator job after three years in Seattle.

Former offensive coordinator: Pete Carmichael Jr. (fired Jan. 16)

Carmichael was the longest tenured offensive coordinator in the NFL and had been with the Saints since Sean Payton hired him as part of his first staff in 2006. Carmichael was a key part of the Saints’ Super Bowl in the 2009 season and the most successful offenses in franchise history. However, the offense has faced inconsistency since Carmichael took over as playcaller following Payton’s departure after the 2021 season. The team struggled in the red zone for a large part of the season and had trouble getting the offense on the same page as quarterback Derek Carr.

Former defensive coordinator: Wink Martindale (parted ways Jan. 10)

A source had told ESPN on Monday that Martindale was expected to resign from his job. That decision came after the team fired two of his closest assistants, moves that prompted Martindale to curse out coach Brian Daboll, a source confirmed to ESPN. Martindale is free to sign elsewhere without restrictions, a source told ESPN. The Giants will keep the $3 million he was owed, according to the agreement by both parties, the source said.

Former defensive coordinator: Jack Del Rio (fired Nov. 24)

The Commanders fired Del Rio after a 45-10 loss to the Cowboys, which was their eighth loss in 10 games. They had hoped the defense would be a consistent force, but instead, the defense became an albatross, as the team ranked worst in points allowed. Coach Ron Rivera took over the defensive playcalling for the rest of the season.

Former offensive coordinator: Matt Canada (fired Nov. 21)

Citing offensive inconsistencies and lack of improvement, the Steelers fired Canada, who had been the Steelers’ offensive coordinator since 2021. Pittsburgh’s offense struggled through Canada’s tenure as offensive coordinator, never eclipsing 400 yards of offense in his 45-game career, including the playoffs. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner took over offensive coordinator duties, but quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will take the “bulk” of the playcalling responsibilities.

Former offensive coordinator: Mick Lombardi (fired Nov. 1)

When the Raiders parted ways with coach McDaniels and general manager Ziegler, they also fired Lombardi, with quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree being promoted to offensive coordinator. At the time, the Raiders had the No. 31 total offense in the NFL, ranked No. 32 in rushing yards per game (70) and ranked No. 30 in points per game (15.8).

Coordinator jobs that have been filled

Former offensive coordinator: Brian Johnson (fired Jan. 23)
New OC: Kellen Moore (Jan. 28)

Former defensive coordinator: Sean Desai (fired Jan. 22)
New OC: Vic Fangio (Jan. 25)

The Eagles are hiring former Chargers and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore as their offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The move comes two days after the Eagles hired Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator in the first move of a coaching staff overhaul by Nick Sirianni.

Moore, 35, leaves Los Angeles after just one season. Before that, he was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator from 2019 to 2022, with his offense ranking in the top four in points per game (27.7), yards per game (391) and third-down conversion percentage (44%) in that span.

Fangio left as defensive coordinator of the Dolphins, who announced they “mutually agreed to part ways” with the veteran assistant coach after one season.

Fangio, 65, worked with the Eagles for two weeks last year as a consultant, helping them prepare for Super Bowl LVII, before eventually joining the Dolphins.

Former offensive coordinator: Dave Ragone
New OC: Zac Robinson (Jan. 28)

The Falcons are bringing over more than just their new head coach from the Rams. In one of the first hires for new Falcons coach Raheem Morris, he is tabbing Robinson to be the team’s offensive coordinator, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Robinson, 37, had been the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the Rams for the past two seasons as he worked his way up the coaching ranks there.

Former offensive coordinator: Alex Van Pelt (exited Jan. 17)
New OC: Ken Dorsey (Jan. 28)

Dorsey was the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons before being fired in November. He will replace Van Pelt, who mutially parted ways with the Browns earlier this month. It is unclear if Dorsey will call plays for Cleveland but head coach Kevin Stefanski has been the team’s primary playcaller since taking over before the 2020 season.

Former defensive coordinator: Jerod Mayo (became head coach)
New DC: DeMarcus Covington (Jan. 27)

The Patriots are moving forward with plans to promote defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington to defensive coordinator, a source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday. The Patriots have informed other candidates that Covington is the choice, a source relayed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The move was expected as Covington, 34, enters his eighth season with the Patriots. He has worked closely with first-year head coach Jerod Mayo, first as outside linebackers coach in 2019 and the past four seasons as defensive line coach.

Former offensive coordinator: Brian Callahan (became Titans HC)
New OC: Dan Pitcher (Jan. 24)

The Bengals didn’t wait long to fill an important vacancy, promoting Pitcher to offensive coordinator, the team announced Thursday.

The promotion was made one day after Callahan, who previously held the position, was announced as the Titans’ new head coach.

Former offensive coordinator: Ken Dorsey (fired Nov. 14)
New OC: Joe Brady (elevated from interim OC role Jan. 28)

Brady, who was elevated from his role as quarterbacks coach when Dorsey was fired, had his interim tag removed as expected one week after Buffalo’s playoff road ended against the Chiefs.

Brady, who received high marks for his work with an attack that was consistent during a season-saving, six-game winning streak, also received an endorsement from quarterback Josh Allen. “I love Joe. I love what he brings to this team, to our offense, the juice that he has, the passion he has for football … he’s got my vote,” Allen said last week.

Former defensive coordinator: Mike Caldwell (fired Jan. 8)
New DC: Ryan Nielsen (Jan. 22)

One day after the Jaguars failed to make the playoffs after starting the season with an 8-3 record, they fired Caldwell. The Jaguars are now set to hire Ryan Nielsen as their new defensive coordinator, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Nielsen spent the past season as the Falcons’ DC after spending the previous six seasons with New Orleans as a defensive line coach, assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator.

Former defensive coordinator: Alan Williams (parted ways Sept. 20, Matt Eberflus called plays rest of season)
New DC: Eric Washington (hired Jan. 27)

Washington has spent 20 seasons as an NFL coach, including the past four with Buffalo. He comes to Chicago after serving as the Bills’ assistant head coach and defensive line coach during the 2023 season. Buffalo’s defense allowed the fourth fewest points (18.7) per game and generated the fourth-most sacks (54) in 2023.

Former offensive coordinator: Luke Getsy (fired Jan. 10)
New OC: Shane Waldron (Jan. 22)

The Bears’ offense showed improvement in Getsy’s second season in Chicago, but it was ultimately not enough for the team to move forward with the 39-year-old offensive coordinator. Chicago’s offense ranked 17th in offensive points per game (20.4), which is its highest mark since ranking 11th in 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Bears are finalizing a deal to make Waldron their next offensive coordinator, a source confirmed to ESPN. He comes to Chicago after spending the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Seahawks.