January 22, 2021

2021 NFL Head Coach Tracker: Latest news and rumors on NFL head coaching vacancies

8 min read
Week 17 has come and gone, and Black Monday is in the rearview mirror as...

Week 17 has come and gone, and Black Monday is in the rearview mirror as well. So now, which NFL teams are left without a head coach? Let’s take a look at the NFL head coach vacancies and who is in line to fill them with our 2021 NFL head coach tracker.

To quickly jump around from section to section and team to team, use the “What’s in this article” table of contents box above. 

Note: We will be updating this tracker with more news and rumors when we get them. Want to be the first to hear inside information from PFN Insiders Tony Pauline and Benjamin Allbright? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notifications icon so you can tune in live when our insiders break the latest news and rumors from around the league.

Who will the Atlanta Falcons’ hire to replace Dan Quinn as head coach?

After Dan Quinn was fired on October 12th, the Atlanta Falcons have been looking for potential head coach candidates. In the team time, Raheem Morris was interim head coach, going 4-7. Here are some of the candidates that are rumored to be interviewing or are scheduled to interview with the team. With a lot of contract strife to overcome, the Falcons head coaching role could be one of the less appealing vacancies in the NFL.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Eric Bieniemy – Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
  • Joe Brady – Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator
  • Raheem Morris – Falcons Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris
  • Robert Saleh – San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Requested/Planned Head Coach Interviews

  • Todd Bowles – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator

Potential Head Coach Candidates

  • Arthur Smith – Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator
  • Brandon Staley – Los Angeles Rams Defensive Coordinator
  • Brian Daboll – Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator
  • Nathaniel Hackett – Green Bay Packers Offensive Coordinator

What we are hearing

December 2: At the beginning of December when talking about head coach rumors, Tony Pauline reported that the Falcons were one of the teams in play for Bieniemy. In his December 2nd mailbag, Pauline stated that “the smart money has Bieniemy landing in Houston or possibly Atlanta.”

2021 NFL Head Coach Tracker: Detroit Lions

After going 13-29-1 during his time in Detroit, the Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia after a blowout loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving. The Lions have one of the longest list of potential head coach options of any of the current vacancies.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Darrell Bevell – Lions Interim Head Coach
  • Eric Bieniemy – Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
  • Marvin Lewis – Former Bengals HC and current Arizona State Co-Defensive Coordinator

Requested Head Coach Interviews

  • Arthur Smith – Titans Offensive Coordinator
  • Dan Campbell – New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach
  • Robert Saleh – 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Potential Head Coach Candidates

  • Don “Wink” Martindale – Ravens Defensive Coordinator
  • Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern Head Coach

What we are hearing

January 4: Albert Breer confirmed what both Allbright and Pauline reported in December, Robert Saleh is among the candidates for the Lions role and will interview on Thursday.

December 16: Both Pauline and Allbright have reported that Robert Saleh is a candidate in Detroit. In fact, based on all of the buzz around Saleh, he may be the favorite to land that job.

December 16: The Lions have considered going down the route of a general manager head coach combination.  Pauline reported that the Lions might be looking to go down the path of a defensive coordinator as head coach and then hire an offensive coordinator-QB coach combination to run the offense. The Lions could look to pair Saleh as HC with Adam Peters as GM.

December 16: Another name that Pauline says to keep an eye on for the Detroit Lions head coach vacancy is Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale.

Houston Texans NFL Head Coach Rumors

The Texans didn’t wait until NFL’s Black Monday before making personnel decisions.

When the Houston Texans let go of Bill O’Brien after starting the year 0-4, they opened up positions for both their GM and head coach. O’Brien was the Texans’ head coach for more than six seasons, where they won four AFC South division titles with a 52-48 record.

With Deshaun Watson under contract for the foreseeable future, the Texans are one of the more appealing NFL head coach vacancies heading into the offseason.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Joe Brady – Panthers Offensive Coordinator
  • Jim Caldwell – Former Lions and Colts HC
  • Marvin Lewis – Former Bengals HC and current Arizona State Co-Defensive Coordinator

Requested Head Coach Interviews

  • Matt Eberflus – Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus

Potential Head Coach Candidates

  • Don Martindale – Ravens Defensive Coordinator
  • Eric Bieniemy – Chiefs Offensive Coordinator

What we are hearing

December 29: Allbright reaffirmed his position during PFN Weekly’s December 29th episode, claiming that Bieniemy could be “penciled in” as the next HC of Houston. They continue to do background work on him but he is the clear leader of the clubhouse at this point. Allbright also reported that John Dorsey is on the list for a potential GM position with the Texans.

December 23: Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright recently reported that Bieniemy is the leading candidate for Houston’s head coach position.

Allbright had this to say: “Currently, I think the head coach favorite for [the] Texans is Eric Bieniemy, despite most other teams in the league not being interested. Houston is doing background on him.”

December 23: On the December 23rd Draft Insiders podcast, Pauline informed listeners that if Bieniemy doesn’t land in Houston, the Texans would consider a defensive-minded coach. One such name they would be interested in is Don “Wink” Martindale from the Baltimore Ravens.

Who will take over as the head coach in Jacksonville?

Following their Week 17 loss, the Jaguars fired head coach Doug Marrone. The Jaguars became the fifth NFL team to be without a head coach. However, with 11 2021 NFL Draft picks, including the first overall pick, they are one of the most appealing head coach vacancies.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Eric Bieniemy – Chiefs Offensive Coordinator

Requested/Planned Head Coach Interviews

  • Raheem Morris – Falcons Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris
  • Robert Saleh – 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Head Coach Candidates Rumors

  • Arthur Smith – Titans Offensive Coordinator
  • Ryan Day – Ohio State Head Coach
  • Urban Meyer – Former Florida and Ohio State Head Coach

What we are hearing

January 4: Ian Rapoport reported that the Jaguars are looking to move on from Doug Marrone, further confirming earlier reports from Pauline that Marrone is out as head coach of Jacksonville.

January 2: Ian Rapoport confirms what Pauline reported on December 30th, that Urban Meyer is a top target in Jacksonville.

December 30: With Week 17 of the NFL season upon us, the head coach rumor mill is at full steam. One name that is picking up steam over the past couple of weeks is Urban Meyer, who has been linked with the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach role. In the latest episode of the Draft Insiders podcast, Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Tony Pauline shed more light on the situation with Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Here’s more on how Trent Baalke, current Jaguars interim GM, is pushing for Meyer.

December 23: It hasn’t happened yet, but the Jaguars are likely to be in the market for both a GM and head coach following NFL’s Black Monday. During a recent Draft Insiders episode, Tony Pauline said that the Jaguars are showing interest in Titans Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith. Additionally, Smith will likely be a packaged deal with Titans Vice President of Player Personnel Ryan Cowden as his GM.

December 23: Another duo that has been linked with Jacksonville is the combination of John Dorsey and Eric Bieniemy. Early indications are that Jacksonville will be looking to pair up a head coach and general manager familiar with each other.

2021 NFL Head Coacher Tracker: Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers became the sixth NFL team without a head coach after they fired Anthony Lynn on Monday. Back on the December 16 episode of the Draft Insiders podcast, Tony Pauline reported that there was little chance that Anthony Lynn could save his job. A West Coast source had reported there was a 20% chance Lynn kept his job. Another source close to the Chargers organization said Lynn was likely to be fired at the end of the season.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Eric Bieniemy – Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
  • Jason Garrett – Giants Offensive Coordinator

Requested Head Coach Interviews

  • Brandon Staley – Los Angeles Rams Defensive Coordinator
  • Brian Daboll – Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator
  • Joe Brady – Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator
  • Matt Eberflus – Colts Defensive Coordinator

Potential Head Coach Candidates

Additional candidates will be added here as interest becomes known

New York Jets Head Coach Rumors

The New York Jets released a statement on January 3rd officially releasing Adam Gase from his duties as head coach of the team. They became the fourth NFL team to be without a head coach. This did not come as a surprise with both PFN insiders Tony Pauline and Benjamin Allbright having reported that this was likely to happen for a while now. We put together some potential replacements for Gase as soon as the news broke.

Confirmed Head Coach Interviews

  • Eric Bieniemy – Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
  • Robert Saleh – 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Requested Head Coach Interviews

  • Aaron Glenn – Saints Secondary Coach
  • Brandon Staley – Rams Defensive Coordinator
  • Brian Daboll – Bills Offensive Coordinator
  • Matt Eberflus – Colts Defensive Coordinator
  • Patrick Graham – Giants Defensive Coordinator

Potential Head Coach Candidates

  • Arthur Smith – Titans Offensive Coordinator
  • Brian Schottenheimer – Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator
  • Dan Mullen – Florida Head Coach
  • Don Martindale – Ravens Defensive Coordinator
  • Matt Campbell – Iowa State Head Coach

What we are hearing

January 9: FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported on Twitter that Campbell is not expected to interview for the Jets head coach position.

January 7: Tony Pauline said, “From what I am hearing, it’s less than five percent, and even maybe less than one percent, that Matt Campbell is the next head coach of the New York Jets.”

December 23: Pauline reports that one name to keep an eye on in New York would be Don Martindale. Martindale fits the expectation that the Jets are looking for a head-strong head coach, as has been reported previously (December 16) by Pauline.

On PFN Weekly, Ben Allbright also spoke about the Adam Gase situation. From what Allbright is hearing, Martindale is likely the top target for Jets GM Joe Douglas to replace Gase. According to Allbright, the two have been friends for quite some time.

Who is on the hot seat? Head Coach Rumors

The 2020 NFL season has ended, and Black Monday has passed. However, one more NFL team could yet be left without a head coach as one potentially still remains on the hot seat. Which NFL head coach vacancy could we yet be adding to our 2021 NFL tracker?

Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears

January 3: Jay Glazer reported that Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace are not yet considered safe, with the result of Week 17 potentially determining their future.

January 3: According to a report from Ian Rapoport, Matt Nagy is expected to return as Bears head coach next season.

Both Nagy and Pace are on the hot seat heading towards the offseason. On the December 16th Draft Insiders podcast, Pauline reported the Bears would need to go on a run, with Trubisky playing well in order to save both of their jobs.

Pat Fitzgerald is in the frame to replace Nagy as head coach. Pauline reported that George Paton, VP of Personnel and Assistant GM in Minnesota, could be a pairing that the Bears consider as the two have familiarity with each other.

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