Josh McDaniels spurns Colts at the last minute to stay with the Patriots

On Tuesday morning, the Colts announced that they hired Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to fill their head-coach vacancy. By Tuesday night, the Colts were without a coach again.

As first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, McDaniels spurned the Colts to remain in New England. Schefter reported McDaniels hadn't yet signed his contract and was having doubts all along about taking the job. Patriots owner Robert Kraft then sweetened McDaniels' contract to further incentivize him to stay.

La Canfora reports:

ESPN's Mike Reiss reported that "clarity on Bill Belichick's status in New England" and "stability" for his family were the primary reasons for McDaniels' sudden and unexpected change of heart. Reiss made it clear that Belichick is not retiring before the 2018 season. 

Schefter reiterated that point in his story:

McDaniels' decision to stay could spark speculation that perhaps Belichick's tenure is about to end, but those close to McDaniels say that isn't the case -- and if it was, he would have been more inclined to leave, a source told ESPN's Mike Reiss. The bigger factor to McDaniels was that the Patriots, who hadn't addressed his future until the last week or so, made an ultra-aggressive late push to try to entice him to stay. Had that happened a month or so ago, and there was clarity that Belichick was definitely going to be coach in 2018 (which he decisively is), McDaniels might not have pursued other head-coaching jobs as aggressively as he did.

This is an absolute shocker right up there with Belichick's decision to spurn the Jets before he landed in New England. For pretty much the entire duration of the postseason, the Colts-McDaniels marriage was expected. The only holdup was the Patriots' ongoing Super Bowl run, which prevented McDaniels from fully committing to the job. 

Sure enough, two days after the Patriots lost to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII, the Colts made it official, even scheduling a press conference to introduce their new coach. The Colts have since deleted their tweets announcing the hiring. The remnants are below:

So much for that. 

"After agreeing to contract terms to become the Indianapolis Colts' new head coach, New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team," the Colts wrote in a statement. "Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field. The scheduled press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium will not take place tomorrow. More information will be forthcoming."

It's a devastating blow for the Colts, who thought they had their offensive guru to coach franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. By waiting for McDaniels to become officially available during the Patriots' Super Bowl run, the Colts missed out on other top candidates. Now, they'll be left scrambling to find someone to take the job that McDaniels turned down.

The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reported that general manager Chris Ballard has "another candidate in his back pocket" while La Canfora reported that Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub could be in play. The two know each other from their days together in Kansas City. Another candidate could be former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Keep in mind: The Colts already hired assistants who were expecting to work under McDaniels. Now, those assistants will be forced to work under a coach they didn't agree to work for. It's a mess.

It's a huge loss for the Colts, but it's a huge win for the Patriots. Once again, the Patriots have demolished the Colts in a way that leaves the Colts feeling screwed over. The Patriots already lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who left to be the Lions' new coach, and figured to be losing McDaniels as well. Now, their entire offense won't be forced to undergo a period of transition under a new coordinator. Tom Brady gets his beloved quarterbacks coach back. Somehow, two days after losing a heartbreaking Super Bowl, the Patriots are winners again.

As for McDaniels, this likely won't reflect well upon him. Somehow, his second stint as a head coach -- if this even qualifies as a stint -- ended worse than his first stint, when he flamed out in Denver after going 11-17 as the Broncos coach from 2009-10. Schefter reported that McDaniels, 41, still wants to be a head coach at some point in the future, but it might be impossible now to find a team willing to wait patiently during a Patriots playoff run for him to sign a contract while other teams hire away other hot candidates. Is a team other than the Patriots going to trust him again?

Then again, if McDaniels waits long enough in New England, he might just be able to take over when Belichick, 65, eventually retires.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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