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The state of the NFL-wide search for GMs and HCs

Let’s catch up on what’s going on across the league.

Los Angeles Rams v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The general manager and coaching search for the Falcons has been busy, to say nothing of what’s going on across the league. Given that, I thought it might be nice to put together a quick rolling list of who has been hired with a few notes. You’ll find that below.

What’s striking so far is that for all the buzz about imminent hirings, only a small handful of spots have been filled. That will likely change when some of the hot candidates (Terry Fontenot, Brad Holmes, Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll) drop out of the playoff picture because their teams either lose or finish the Super Bowl.

Atlanta Falcons

GM: Terry Fontenot (reported to be the favorite)

HC: Not hired

The Falcons are reportedly down to Rams executive Brad Holmes, Saints executive Terry Fontenot, and former Texans general manager Rick Smith for their general manager hires. Two of those executives are still in the playoffs, necessitating at least a small wait.

On the coaching side, Atlanta has interviewed Arthur Smith twice, and the latest buzz is that he is their top candidate. Raheem Morris, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady have also been interviewed, with Brady and Bieniemy taking turns earlier in the offseason being considered a hot candidate for the job. This one has been more muddled, in other words, but Smith is at least a finalist.

Carolina Panthers

GM: Scott Fitterer

The team has reportedly hired Seahawks VP of football operations Scott Fitterer.

Denver Broncos

GM: George Paton

Paton has come up as a candidate over and over again in recent offseasons, and now finally lands a job. The Vikings have consistently been a quality team under his watch, and that experience and track record is what got him the job in Denver. That team needs real help, especially in terms of settling issues at quarterback and in the secondary. Paton was a rumored candidate for the Atlanta job but never got an interview.

Detroit Lions

GM: Brad Holmes

HC: Not hired

Shortly after news leaked that the Falcons consider Terry Fontenot the favorite for their general manager job, Brad Holmes apparently accepted a 5 year deal with the Lions to be their new general manager. Apparently you can hire GMs from playoff teams if the teams are comfortable with it.

The Lions coaching finalists list, meanwhile, reportedly includes Saleh, Bowles, Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell, former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Bieniemy, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell. Arthur Smith is apparently not a hot name for their search at the moment, but if Atlanta wants Bieniemy, Bowles or Saleh, they may have to knife fight Detroit for them.

Houston Texans

GM: Nick Caserio

HC: Not hired

The Texans have had a haphazard, ugly search that culminated in the Caserio hire surprising and alienating Deshaun Watson. Jack Easterby is in a weird spot in the organization’s power structure and he reportedly has become a problem for the organization, given his nebulous role and ability to sway owner Cal McNair.

The Texans appear to be widening their head coaching search, though whether that’s due to Caserio coming on board or trying to appease Watson is unclear. Their candidate list includes Bieniemy (who they now cannot interview until the Chiefs exit the postseason), Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, Ravens assistant head coach David Culley, Marvin Lewis, and Joe Brady. If they’re serious about Bieniemy, this might be the last vacancy to be filled.

Jacksonville Jaguars

GM: Not hired

HC: Urban Meyer (tentatively)

This is the one job on the list where the general manager is likely to be subordinate to the head coach, for all intents and purposes. The Jaguars are reportedly closing in on Urban Meyer as their head coach, and he’s expected to wield significant power in the organization. The Jags job makes life easy for a general manager in 2021 because you have the #1 pick and a ton of money, but between Meyer stepping into this role soon and the owner saying he’ll retain roster control, it may not be the most attractive landing spot for a hot candidate.

Fontenot has interviewed for this job, however, so that’s worth watching.

Los Angeles Chargers

HC: Not hired

The Chargers are casting a wide net. They’ve interviewed Bieniemy, Saleh, Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, Brady, Arthur Smith, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll are on a list that could grow further.

Obviously, there’s considerable overlap between the Falcons list and the Chargers list, which bears watching. With Justin Herbert in the fold and a well-regarded general manager in Tom Telesco, this job has attractive features, and Atlanta could lose a candidate to Los Angeles if they’re not careful.

New York Jets

HC: Not hired

Saleh is considered a finalist for this job, and it’s likely between New York and Detroit for him. Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn and Marvin Lewis are also apparently on the list, along with Bieniemy, Brady, Daboll, Eberflus, Staley, and Arthur Smith. Again, there’s considerable overlap here, but oddsmakers think Doug Pederson will be in the mix and that Saleh and Daboll are also strong candidates. Again, the Falcons could lose a candidate here if they’re not careful.

Philadelphia Eagles

HC: Not hired

This might be the least attractive opening on the market today. The Eagles unceremoniously dumped Pederson and will now be looking for a coach who wants to step into a roiling quarterback controversy with a team well over the cap while working under a general manager who has built a rickety roster and is on his fourth head coach, with that guy working under a notoriously hands-on owner. If the Falcons lose a preferred candidate to Philadelphia, they are selling their head coaching gig wrong.

The shortlist of candidates emerging for the Eagles includes Duce Staley, Brady, Saleh, Bowles, Arthur Smith, and Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Washington Football Team

GM: Not hired

Washington is slow-playing their search here, or at least it’s been quite quiet. Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden and 49ers vice president of player personnel Martin Mayhew are the two names we’ve seen thus far. Neither candidate is in play for Atlanta.