From banking to unemployment lines, NFL head coaches have tough jobs.
There are only 32 head coach positions in the NFL, so the guys can’t be too picky about the situation. While the 2021 job openings may have offered several interesting jobs, the choice of litter in 2022 is not that ideal.
There are currently six spots available, with a seventh to come (if the Raiders leave Rich Bisaccia) or potentially an eighth, depending on what happens with David Culley in Houston.
So out of the half-dozen openings in the NFL right now, here’s how desirable they are, from least to most:
6. New York Giants
N / A
(~ $ 3 million)
This could be the worst state the Giants franchise has been in in quite some time.
They have plenty of draft picks to start a new era, but their cap position is not ideal, the offense is broken, and the defense is costly and just above average.
With Dave Gettleman retiring and Joe Judge receiving the Big Blue boot, the Giants will have to take a hard look at their organization and hit the reset button, something they haven’t done in a long time.
There are so many, so many questions for the next GM to answer:
- What will they do with Daniel Jones?
- What will become of Saquon Barkley?
- How long will this rebuild take?
The Giants have two top-10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, so whoever takes the seat at GM’s office will have a lot of work ahead of them, in what will be, and should, be Year 1 of a total reconstruction.
Jones’ question is the most pressing: While Jones has shone and shown signs of being a good quarterback, his injury and turnover woes over three seasons in the league don’t paint a particularly promising picture going forward. Any GM who comes in would be smart to look at the rival Jets across town and the Sam Darnold situation for inspiration.
The Jets? Set an example?
That’s the state of New York soccer, folks.
5. Minnesota Vikings
N / A
(~ $ 14 million)
Vikings are not necessarily a quick or easy fix. To that end, the opening may be the worst of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad job, necessarily.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings could be a winning team now with a winning coach now in 2022, but after that, a full rebuild could be on the horizon. It starts with the Viking cap situation: Minnesota has lived in cap hell for most of the past five years. With Rick Spielman out, it will be the next general manager who uncovers the Vikings salary cap situation, which is easier said than done, even with big deals on the books.
At the top of that list is quarterback Kirk Cousins: Cousins, who will be in the final year of his two-year, $ 66 million extension, which is fully guaranteed. Cousins is set to make $ 35 million next season, which includes a $ 10 million signing bonus. There is no real way to avoid paying you a lot of money. They will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this offseason, and the new head coach (and general manager) will be very busy.
The new coach will have a chance to push the Vikings to the playoffs for one more year before they need to figure out the future, creating a difficult situation for any potentially untested product.
4. Miami dolphins
~ $ 75 million
Surprisingly, the Dolphins, leaving Brian Flores behind, open up a rather attractive position in South Beach.
The closet isn’t exactly empty: Jaylen Waddle proved to be an outstanding wide receiver in year 1 and Tua Tagovailoa apparently earned the trust of the owner and general manager in year 2. While owner Stephen Ross has been candid about his wish. By avoiding Deshaun Watson, whether it’s Watson at the end of the tunnel or Tua, Miami’s new head coach won’t have to worry about a passer.
Instead, the next head coach will have to decipher the rest of Miami’s offense and take advantage of a promising 8-1 finish that Brian Flores had to close out the 2021-22 campaign. Those are tough shoes to fill.
3. Denver Broncos
~ $ 48 million
The Broncos are a ready-to-win organization right now. Well, aside from a tiny, tiny problem …
… Who is the quarterback?
Vic Fangio was fired at the end of the regular season, in part due to the poor performance of Denver’s offense with quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. The Broncos have too much offensive talent to be stuck in the bottom third of the league in most major offensive categories.
The Broncos have plenty of room under the cap before any pending cost cuts in the coming months, putting them in a very good position to keep their competitive window open. It will be up to Paton and the next head coach to determine the quarterback job, something they can address in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. Chicago Bears
N / A
~ $ 43 million
There are several reasons why the Bears job is one of the hottest in the NFL right now.
First: an almost total organizational reset. A new general manager who elects his own employee instantly brings good synergy to the building. While they won’t be able to pick their own quarterback (unless something goes very, very wrong with Justin Fields’ evaluation), the guy they have in the building has a lot of potential to make potential candidates salivate.
The biggest hurdle right now is the lack of a first-round draft pick, which was sent to the Giants in the trade that landed Fields. If Fields turns out to be the real deal (2021 was something of a wash for him, given the situation), then that lost first round won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
On defense, the Bears have plenty of playmakers and enough room under the cap to try and attack them this offseason. They have work to do to bring legitimate talent to the skill position, but they are not as far off as the Matt Nagy era may have us believe.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
~ $ 72 million
Do the Jaguars have the best job available two seasons in a row? What world is this?
While owner Shad Khan is usually a patient guy when it comes to head coaching, he removed Urban Meyer’s Band-Aid mid-season, starting the search for his new coach.
The Jaguars’ next hiring is absolutely crucial for the next five years or more of what will happen in Jacksonville: With Trevor Lawrence in place, the new boss will have to reset the QB and clean the stench of Meyer from the organization. That’s not an easy task, but at least they will have all the resources to do it, whether in free agency or the draft.
The small hurdle the next head coach will have to overcome is having the general manager already in place. Baalke has a mixed reputation in the league, and being hired after Meyer in 2021 means he may have been the choice of the unemployed former coach, which still leaves a bit of that strange dysfunction in Jacksonville.