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How to Evaluate the Best Open NFL Head Coaching Jobs

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How to Evaluate the Best Open NFL Head Coaching Jobs
NFL

The 2024 NFL head coaching hiring cycle officially kicked off on what has traditionally been known as “Black Monday,” although only two head coaches were dismissed during what is typically a significant day of change in the league. The Atlanta Falcons wasted no time in letting go of Arthur Smith shortly after midnight, while the Washington Commanders parted ways with Ron Rivera on Monday morning.

NFL
NFL

However, this year’s NFL coaching carousel had already begun spinning weeks earlier, with the Las Vegas Raiders parting ways with Josh McDaniels, the Carolina Panthers moving on from Frank Reich, and the Los Angeles Chargers cutting ties with Brandon Staley. Panthers General Manager Scott Fitterer also found himself unemployed six weeks after Reich’s departure. It’s worth noting that both the Raiders and the Chargers have open positions for general managers as well.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans added to the growing list of coaching vacancies by parting ways with Mike Vrabel.

While there are currently six head NFL coaching positions that are vacant, this number may increase in the coming days and weeks as other franchises, such as the New England Patriots or the Chicago Bears, evaluate their coaching staff. Some teams may also reassess their situations depending on how their playoff runs unfold – a notable example being the Dallas Cowboys.

A Guide to Ranking the Top Open Head Coaching Jobs in the NFL

Let’s take a closer look at the attractiveness of the current coaching openings, ranked from most to least appealing:

1. Los Angeles Chargers

The mere presence of Justin Herbert NFL, who is under contract through the 2029 season, makes this job incredibly enticing. Despite some ups and downs in the 2023 season, largely due to injuries, Herbert remains one of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks. If OC Kellen Moore returns, Herbert will work with his fourth coordinator in Year 5. The potential for Herbert’s growth and development is immense, possibly reaching the caliber of an Aaron Rodgers-type quarterback.

The backup quarterback situation is a consideration, with Easton Stick having shown promise but both Stick and Will Grier out of contract.

Roster

The Chargers boast a roster NFL filled with high-quality starters in key positions, including Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Eric Kendricks, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Rashawn Slater. Despite this talent, the team fell short of playoff expectations, partly due to injuries. The development of young talents like OL Zion Johnson, WRs Josh Palmer and Quentin Johnston, and CB Asante Samuel Jr. will be crucial to the team’s success. Additionally, Cameron Dicker is emerging as one of the league’s top young kickers.

Salary Cap

One factor that could temper the allure of the Chargers’ coaching job is the salary cap situation. According to OverTheCap, the Chargers need to trim nearly $35 million to comply with the 2024 salary cap. Key pending free agents like Ekeler and TE Gerald Everett are unlikely to be re-signed, and players like Mack, Bosa, Allen, and Williams carry hefty cap hits, making it challenging to retain them all. The new coaching regime may need to make significant roster cuts to create room for targeted free-agent acquisitions.

In summary, the Los Angeles Chargers offer an appealing coaching opportunity primarily due to the presence of Justin Herbert, a talented roster, and the potential for growth. However, the salary cap constraints pose a significant challenge that the new coaching staff will need to navigate effectively.

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