With the 2021 NFL season coming to an end, Black Monday is on the rise. The Dallas Cowboys are headed to the postseason in Year 2 under Mike McCarthy, but other teams could be looking to head in a new direction.
Who else is on the hot seat? Who will receive a pink slip? Follow along with CowboysSI.com for up to date information on who will be looking for a new coach moving into the new year.
APRIL 4 PART OF BOBBY WAGNER CONTRACT DETAILS EMERGE The Los Angeles Rams made yet another splash in free agency last week, when they signed former Seahawks star Bobby Wagner to a five-year, $50 million deal.
The exact details of that deal have still not been revealed, leading many to speculate on the amount of guaranteed money, as well as incentives and the cap ramifications. … and of course leading Dallas Cowboys fans to wonder just why Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said of bringing Wagner to Dallas, “It just didn’t work out.”
What didn’t work out? A $6.5 million cap impact in 2022?!
On Monday, one stipulation in that contract was finally uncovered, with reports surfacing that Wagner is set to earn just $6.5 million in 2022 – a major positive for the Rams, who will be strapped for cap space heading forward in the offseason.
And yes, pending more details, Cowboys fans have earned the right to be a bit frustrated by it all.
UPDATE: Per Ian Rapoport this is “functionally … a two-year deal worth $17.5 mil base with a chance to make $23.5 million with incentives. — He gets $6.5 mil in Year 1 — but $10 mil fully guaranteed.”
So … that’s a commitment of $8.75 million per year for two seasons. That’s it.
APRIL 1 CAP SPACE UPDATE Just over two weeks into free agency, the Dallas Cowboys are still able to spend money. After trading Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and striking out on free agents Von Miller and Randy Gregory, the team still has money to spend.
The team currently sits 14th in the league in terms of cap space, with just over $15 million to spend. The team might use the money to sign a replacement for La’el Collins or Cedrick Wilson, who departed for the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, respectively.
MARCH 30 JOINT CAMP? The Cowboys and Chargers are planning on conducting at least one joint practice this summer, as the Dallas News is first to report.
The Cowboys (and the NFL) are “working toward normalcy,” as one team source told us this week in Palm Beach, Florida at the NFL annual meetings – and a joint practice would be a symbol of that as the league works to deal with the COVID issue.
The workout is expected to be staged at the Chargers facility in Costa Mesa, which is about 100 miles south of the Cowboys training camp headquarters in Oxnard.
These things can get a bit feisty … so from Dak Prescott on the Dallas side to Justin Herbert on the Chargers side, there will need to be boundaries.
But yeah. There will probably still be fights. And CowboysSI.com will be there to bring you blow-by-blow coverage of Cowboys camp.
MARCH 25: STEWART HIRED Rayna Stewart is joining the Dallas coaching staff as a special-teams assistant under coordinator Bones Fassel.
Stewart, 48, was most recently the assistant special-teams coach for the Green Bay Packers, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy’s former team. Stewart, a native of Oklahoma City who grew up in California, was a 1996 fifth-round NFL Draft pick who played five years in the league.
Dallas also this week added Brian Schottenheimer to the fold. Read more about him, his role, and his relationship with McCarthy, here.
FEB 22: RICHARD HIRED With Dennis Allen moving up to head coach in New Orleans, the Saints are promoting two top defensive assistants Kris Richard and Ryan Nielsen, to become co-defensive coordinators, the team announced Wednesday.
All the moves are triggered, of course, by the recent retirement of head coach Sean Payton.
Richard will remain the team’s secondary coach and Nielsen will remain in his his role as defensive line coach in addition to sharing coordinator duties.
The sharing of responsibility is nothing new to Richard, 42, who during his time in Dallas from 2018-19 was so highly-thought-of that coordinator Rod Marinelli essentially made him an unofficial co-coordinator.
Richard was the Seahawks coordinator from 2015-17 before coming to Dallas, when he was for a time thought to be a hot head coach candidate.
That could now happen again for him. It re-starts with a new role in New Orleans.
FEB 21 VIKINGS HIRE AWAY DANIELS The Vikings have hired Matt Daniels as their new special-teams coordinator, as first reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).
Daniels, 32, began coaching in 2018 after a brief career in the NFL. He worked as an assistant with the Rams for two seasons under Bones Fassel, and then came to the Cowboys to work with Fassel once again.
FEB 20 MORE PHILLIPS Wes Phillips is continuing a rich family football tradition, the grandson of Bum Phillips, son of Wade Phillips and former Dallas Cowboys assistant now joining the Minnesota Vikings as their new offensive coordinator under head coach Kevin O’Connell.
Phillips has been on the Rams staff, where McConnell was recently as Los Angeles won the Super Bowl.
Wes, 42, a native of Houston, was in Dallas from 2007 to 2013 in a variety of roles, including time when dad Wade, now 74, was the Cowboys head coach.
Grandfather Bum was of course a legendary former Houston Oilers coach.
FEB 19 FLORES HIRED The Steelers have named Brian Flores as their senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach.
Flores was most recently the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and in the wake of his recent firing – and his job interviews for head coaching positions that did not come to fruition – has filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming racial injustices in the league’s hiring practices.
“I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
FEB 13 PETERSON ARRESTED
All-time NFL running back Adrian Peterson is in trouble with the law on Super Bowl Sunday as he was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge against his wife while aboard an airplane.
Peterson, who had been in Los Angeles for the pre-Super Bowl festivities, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport following an incident with his wife on a plane that was about to take off, according to TMZ.com.
According to the report, the plane had pulled out of the gate and was ready for takeoff when law enforcement officials ordered that the plane turn around and return to the gate, at which point the legendary star Peterson was removed from the plane.
Peterson played in four games this year with the Titans and the Seahawks. He achieved stardom at the start of his career in Minnesota and among his other stops was a time Washington, Saints, Cardinals and Vikings.
Peterson experienced a family violence charge in 2014 when pleaded no contest in a case in which his spanking of his 4-year-old son was argued to be abusive.
FEB 12 2 ON THE MOVE Rod Marinelli, the longtime NFL defensive coordinator and defensive line coach who was with Dallas from 2013-19, is retiring.
Marinelli, 72, is among the most beloved, trusted and successful coaches of his generation. His last stint was with the Raiders, who now have a new coaching staff, leading to the end of the line for Marinelli.
He was a champion in Tampa and was winless as a head coach in Detroit.
But his legacy is secure.
Meanwhile, another former Dallas defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, is being hired as a senior assistant with the Raiders under new head coach Josh McDaniels. Ryan, 59, was with the Raiders before, where he once served five years as their defensive coordinator. And he was in Dallas from 2011-12 in that same role.
FEB 7 PAYTON REPLACED New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is getting the top job, replacing the “retired” Sean Payton.
The Saints have long been leaning toward keeping things in-house when it came to filling Payton’s shoes.
The Saints did look in other directions, including an interview with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. But has been Payton’s righthand man since becoming New Orleans defensive coordinator tag in 2016. Additionally there is apparently support from the players for the elevation of Allen.
FEB 6: DIGGS TAUNTS DIGGS The Pro Bowl is supposed to be fun.
And at the moment, Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs thinks it is.
That Diggs scored a TD. The Dallas Cowboys’ Diggs, Trevon, could do nothing about it … except to accept the taunt.
JAN 26: NEW OWNERSHIP The Denver Broncos franchise is up for sale, with a number of noteworthy potential bidders.
According to Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith, a Colorado native reportedly worth $7 billion, could be among those looking and would to become the first Black owner in the history of the NFL.
Smith famously gave a 2019 commencement address at Morehouse College in which he pledged to pay off the student loan debts of over 400 students.
Three other potential groups are led by, respectively, John Elway, Peyton Manning and the family of the late Pat Bowlen, the former owner.
JAN 26 2 COWBOYS AS BEARS The Bears have lined up second interviews with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and with Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Wednesday – both men of course having Dallas ties.
Quinn, who is likely to leave the Cowboys after one season, is also a finalist for the Broncos job and has had interviews with the Giants, Vikings and Dolphins. Eberflus, who was a top defensive assistant in Dallas before moving to Indy a few years ago, is also scheduled for a second interview with the Jaguars on Thursday.
We’ve been told that Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is the front-runner for the Jags job, and that Quinn is a front-runner for the Denver job.
Bucs defensive boss Todd Bowles is in the mix in Jacksonville, and ex-Miami boss Brian Flores remains a top candidate across the board.
JAN 25 ALL ABOUT PAYTON Sean Payton’s departure from New Orleans has major NFL ramifications and Cowboys storyline ties as well. Read all about ’em here.
Meanwhile, we are also reporting that Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is unlikely to get a top job in this cycle and figures to be staying with the Cowboys.
JAN 24: AIKMAN, PAYTON AND TV The coaching carousel has in recent days included the name of Sean Payton.
To the Dallas Cowboys, as the head coach in place of the suddenly beleaguered Mike McCarthy?
Or to FOX Sports, in place of the desired-by-Amazon Troy Aikman?
Front Office Sports is reporting that FOX Sports is eyeing at New Orleans Saints coach Payton as the replacement for Aikman should the Hall of Fame take a job doing games for the new “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon.
The Payton news comes on the heels of NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reporting that the Saints’ iconic and long-time boss has not committed to returning to the team. And of course mixed into the rumor mill is another Cowboys connection beyond Aikman’s legendary ties to Dallas, as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ unwillingness to announce his public support for McCarthy feeds the idea of him possibly flirting with hiring Payton, a former Cowboys assistant who maintains a close relationship with the Joneses.
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JAN 24: QUINN IN NY, THEN DENVER The Dallas Cowboys wisely continue to brace for an eventual hiring of a new defensive coordinator to head coach Mike McCarthy’s staff as the Denver Broncos continue to “zero in” on a top contender to be their next head coach.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be traveling to Denver for a second interview this week.
Quinn is, as one source has put it to us, “the hottest candidate in the cycle.” He is in high demand around the NFL, having interviewed for multiple head-coaching vacancies. He is in the midst of a Monday visit with the New York Giants – the hometown team of the New Jersey-born 51-year-old.
Quinn is the former Atlanta Falcons head man who led that team to a Super Bowl berth. Before that, Quinn was a Super Bowl defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. He arrived in Dallas this season and oversaw a complete turnaround of the Cowboys defense, which became a top-notch play-making unit as part of Dallas’ 12-5 playoff season.
Read more here. … including the three top names who could replace Quinn.
JAN 20: DOLPHINS UP Miami is interviewing Cowboys assistants Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn today for its head-coach spot. Our profile of the two coordinators’ strengths and weaknesses, in video style, here …
JAN 17: KELLEN, QUINN and FLUS Go here for the play-by-play of the Broncos’ DFW visits with Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn … and go to Jacksonville for the latest on an old pal, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, working his way to being a strong candidate for the Jaguars head coaching job. Eberflus will have a second interview with the Jaguars on Thursday. That will be his second visit, essentially meaning the 51-year-old Eberflus, a former Dallas assistant, is a finalist for that job.
By the way: Want deep background into why Flus left Dallas? It’s here.
Also today, another old linebacker-related pal in the news as the Seahawks have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Norton spent the past four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, and of course was a standout Cowboys player in the early 1990’s.
JAN 14: VIKINGS DESIRES Minnesota has added both Dallas coordinators Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore to its head coach interview request list. For Quinn? Well, that’s almost every team with a vacancy expressing interest in who we’re told is “the hottest candidate in the cycle.” For Kellen? There is buzz that he’s attracted to the Vikings. But Minnesota will end up with a lengthy interview list that includes names like Doug Pederson and Todd Bowles.
JAN 13 McCLAY TRUTHS – by Fish This is going to keep coming up, every offseason.
And someday, it might even come true.
But Will McClay’s commitment to the Jones family is a rock-solid one, based on loyalty, but also on authority (without the title of “GM,” as Will is a “vice president”) and, as I understand it, right now without quite the salary of a GM, too – though that changes almost every offseason when another team even flirts with trying to lure McClay from Dallas.
And it’ll likely change again. In fact … it just did. McClay has a new deal to stay at The Star.
He has security. He has family. He has money. He doesn’t have to take the PR bullet for mistakes, as Jerry Jones takes those (along, of course, with the credit). He is more than just a former player and a former coach and a former scout and now an exec: McClay is “The Unifier,” a unique conduit who deals seamlessly with the Jones, with the scouting department, with the coaching staff, and even with the locker room.
What he says to me on an almost annual basis, essentially in this exact words:
“‘I’m very happy with my role with the Cowboys. It is a family and I want to be a part of building a string of successful championship teams. One of my goals is to be a part of something that helps Mr. Jones win a Super Bowl here really soon. I love it here. I love the organization and the things that we do.”
My video from earlier this week – in advance of the sudden surge of gossip from New York – breaks it down in great detail. Get the gossip out of the way. Get the facts here.
And if the McClay/Jones bond ever changes? We’ll let you know.
JAN 12 JAGS PROBLEM We are told that three of the “top candidates” in this head-coach search cycle will decline offers to take the job with the Jaguars if that organization continues to retain general manager Trent Baalke.
Baalke has been involved in a series of controversies, many of them clashes inside his own building. There is a thought that Jacksonville ownership will come to this realization and make a change. But for now, Baalke’s remains in place and is helping to conduct interviews.
But watch: There will end up being three interviews he is unable to get.
And no, we have not specifically been informed that the GM is the reason Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn – the “hottest” of them all – has so-far declined a Jags invite. But it does make sense.
JAN 11 JUDGED The “Clown Show” is over.
In a seeming reversal of plans, the New York Giants fired head coach Joe Judge after just two seasons on the job. Judge, 40, went 10-23 in his two seasons while overseeing a program that made it all the more outrageous when he pinpointed Washington, an NFC East rival, as a “clown show organization.”
JAN 11 MORE QUINN The Bears have put in a request to interview Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for their head coaching vacancy. Also on Chicago’s list: fired Dolphins coach Brian Flores and former Dallas assistant Matt Eberflus, now the defensive coordinator in Indy. Eberflus, per NFL Network, is also scheduled for a Jags interview.
By the way, we’ve got NFL people who think the Broncos are zeroing in on Quinn as the head coach, with Denver GM George Paton interviewing guys like Luke Getsy of the Packers and Jerod Mayo of the Patriots to eventually settle in and serve as Quinn’s coordinators in Denver.
And … add the Dolphins to the list of teams that want to visit with Quinn … a list that pretty soon is going to read, “All of ’em.”
JAN 10: GIANTS KEEPING JUDGE? New York coach Joe Judge’s job is safe, reports Josina Anderson – this despite a record – and his quotes – that make him seem rather clownish.
If true? Washington, Dallas and Philadelphia folks are not displeased.
JAN 10: FLORES FINISHED WITH DOLPHINS In a shocker, the Miami Dolphins have fired head coach Brian Flores following a win over the New England Patriots Sunday. Miami finished the 2021 season with a 9-8 record after starting the year off 1-7.
Flores, 40, spent the last seasons at the helm for the Dolphins, posting a 24-25 record. Last season, Miami finished 10-6, but failed to make the playoffs. The Dolphins were expected to be large players this offseason in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, but perhaps the firing of Flores changes that.
JAN 10: BEARS START FRESH AT HEAD COACH AND GENERAL MANAGER
The Chicago Bears have fired both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Nagy, 43, won the NFL’s Coach of the Year award after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Following a hot start, he couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.
Nagy finished his four-year run in Chicago with a 34-31 record. With three different quarterbacks in 2021, the Bears stumbled to a 6-11 record, finishing third in the NFC North.
Pace, 44, was hired as the Bears GM in 2015. He is perhaps best known for his infamous 2017 selection of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 selection over names like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
JAN 10: VIKINGS NIX TOP TWO NAMES The Minnesota Vikings have fired head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman following the 2021 season. The news was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Zimmer, 65, served as the Vikings coach since 2014. During his eight-year run, Minnesota posted a 71-56-1 record, making the postseason three times with an appearance in the NFC Championship in 2018.
Since the 2018 season, the Vikings have failed to win the NFC North. Zimmer has posted a 33-31-1 record with only two winning seasons. Minnesota finished 8-9 in 2021 despite high expectations following last year’s NFL free agency and the NFL draft.
Spielman, 59, was hired as the team’s GM back in 2012. Prior to his tenure as the head of the front office, Spielman served as Minnesota’s Vice president of player personnel from 2006-11.
What’s next for Zimmer? A Cowboys connection looms.
JAN 9: MO’ PROBLEM? Kellen Moore is just 33, but he’s considered quite accomplished already as the Cowboys offensive coordinator. Dan Quinn, at 51, is the Dallas defensive coordinator and is more been-there/done-that.
Maybe that’s why Quinn, as reported on the Saturday national ESPN telecast, spent time giving Moore some interview pointers before Kellen’s Friday ZOOM visit with the Jaguars. (In other words, it’s not like Quinn, who will soon be doing interviews himself, needed guidance from Kellen.
But one NFL source – who is a fan of Moore’s – cites to CowboysSI.com a problem with Kellen’s candidacy.
“Teams are going to see him as ‘young,’ and maybe ‘too young,” the source said. “They are therefore going to want to see Kellen ‘command a room.’ And besides the fact that ‘commanding a room’ isn’t Kellen’s strength – how is he going to ‘command a room’ on ZOOM?”
JAN 9: TEXANS AND McDANIELS? TexansDaily.com sources have indicated that the Houston organization is leaning toward retaining head coach David Culley. But at the same time, an NFL source has told us to keep an eye on Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Texans should the club’s deep examination of the work of Culley lead to a change. Full story here.
JAN 9: BRONCOS FINISHED WITH FANGIO The Denver Broncos are parting ways with Vic Fangio following three seasons. The Broncos finished 7-10 in 2021 with a 28-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fangio, 63, has been regarded as a top-tier defensive coordinator during the past two decades before being hired in 2019. Taking over for Vance Joseph, Fangio finished with a 19-30 record. Denver’s best season under his direction was back in 2019 with a 7-9 record.
“This morning, George and I informed Vic of the decision to part ways with him as head coach of the Denver Broncos,” President and CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement. “For the last three seasons, Vic put his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos. I want to thank Coach Fangio for giving his maximum effort to our organization since the day he was hired.
The firing of Fangio now makes Denver the third open position this offseason. Both the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars have begun their searches after the resignation of Jon Gruden and firing of Urban Meyer.
The Jags search, by the way, will include a visit with former Texans boss Bill OBrien. (See below.)
Fangio will be one of the more sought-after coordinators this offseason after his success with the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and other teams.
JAN 8: RHULE’S REIGN CONTINUES
The Carolina Panthers will retain Matt Rhule as head coach for the 2022 season. In two years with the Queen City franchise, Rhule has posted a 10-22 heading into Sunday’s season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rhule’s first job this offseason will be to find the Panthers’ next offensive coordinator. The team fired Joe Brady during its bye week. Brady, who is best known for his time with Joe Burrow during the 2019 national championship season run with LSU, never wanted to commit to the run game, which was deemed a problem by Rhule.
Panthers owner David Tepper gave Rhule a seven-year, $62 million contract following the firing of Ron Rivera. In addition, Tepper committed to paying $6 million to buy out Rhule’s deal at Baylor.
JAN 8: QUINN IN? NFL sources tell CowboysSI.com that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be a “top candidate” in Denver as Fangio moves on. That full story here.
JAN 7: BOB BACK? Sources tell us that the Jaguars are serious about including Bill O’Brien in their search for a new head coach to replace the disgraced Urban Meyer. O’Brien is the offensive coordinator at Alabama, with the title game on Monday night, and will interview with the Jags following that game. More info here.
JAN 7: KELLEN VISITS Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore conducted a two-hour Zoom interview on Friday while in Philadelphia for the Jags job. Sources tell us Bucs coordinator Byron Leftwich might have the inside track there. Story here.