NFL head coach candidates: Top names to know for the eight available openings around the league

Here are the eight NFL coaching vacancies that will need to be filled in the coming weeks and months: Browns, Packers, Jets, Broncos, Dolphins, Buccaneers, Bengals and Cardinals. It's one thing for teams to fire coaches they're unhappy with, it's something else entirely to identify the replacement who can fix everything that went wrong.

Below we've assembled a partial list (in random order) of some of the names to know, from the well-worn to up-and-comers, to the college coaches who have made their way onto the NFL's radar.

These guys have been around the block

Mike McCarthy. Fired by the Packers in early December, McCarthy was 125-77-2 in 13 seasons that included nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title after the 2010 campaign. The 55-year-old will be in demand in the coming weeks; he's already passed on an opportunity to interview for the Cardinals' job and he'll reportedly interview with the Jets and Browns. McCarthy is a former offensive coordinator who called plays in Green Bay.

Jim Caldwell. He went 9-7 in back-to-back seasons with the Lions before he was fired after the 2017 campaign. Caldwell went 36-28 in four seasons in Detroit, and was 26-22 with the Colts in the three years prior to that. He led both teams to the playoffs twice where he was 2-4. He'll reportedly interview with the Jets and Packers. The 63-year-old has worked on the offensive side of the ball his entire NFL career.

Adam Gase. Just 40 years old, Gase will be in demand this offseason. He was fired by the Dolphins after three seasons; he led the team to the playoffs in 2016 but back-to-back losing seasons, along with his inability to turn Ryan Tannehill into a franchise quarterback, cost him his job. Still, Gase had success with Peyton Manning in Denver and Jay Cutler in Chicago and is still considered something of a quarterback whisperer. He'll reportedly interview with the Cardinals as well as at least two other teams, according to Cleveland.com, which adds that the Browns are not one of those teams.

Todd Bowles. Fired by the Jets after a 10-6 start followed by three straight losing seasons, Bowles is the rare defensive-oriented coach who will get interviews in the coming weeks. The New York Daily News' Manish Mehta mentioned the Cardinals, Browns and Packers as possibilities, though those teams could more likely be targeting a coach with an offensive background. Bowles will also be in demand as a defensive coordinator, where he excelled before landing with the Jets.

Vance Joseph. Fired by the Broncos after just two seasons, Joseph went 11-21 and Denver had back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 46 years. Considered a up-and-coming coaching candidate after serving as the Dolphins' defensive coordinator in 2016, Joseph is expected to interview with the Bengals, where he was a secondary coach from 2014-2015.

Hue Jackson. Fired midseason by the Browns, Jackson went 3-36-1 in Cleveland. He joined the Bengals a few weeks later and served as assistant to Marvin Lewis. He was previously a successful offensive coordinator with the Bengals and Raiders, where he also served as coach in 2011 when he lead Oakland to an 8-8 record. Jackson is expected to interview for the Bengals job.

Vic Fangio. He has been the Bears' defensive coordinator since 2015, and he's been an NFL coach since 1986 (save 2010, when he was with Stanford). But the 60-year-old has drawn strong interest after leading Chicago's defense, which is the league's best. He'll reportedly interview with the Dolphins and Broncos in the coming days.

Bruce Arians. Arians retired after the 2017 season to join the broadcast booth but he said during the season that he'd only entertain the Browns job though he has since backed off that claim now that the Buccaneers reportedly want to talk to him. I know Jason (Licht). So, I would listen," Arians told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

Dirk Koetter. He lasted three seasons in Tampa Bay, where he started 9-7 before consecutive five-win seasons sealed his fate. Koetter spent the previous nine seasons as an offensive coordinator -- in Jacksonville, Atlanta and one year in Tampa -- and he could end up in a coordinating role in 2019 if another head-coaching opportunity doesn't arise.

Marvin Lewis. The Bengals and Lewis parted ways after 16 seasons. He's the team's all-time winningest coach with a 131-122-3 record. Lewis led the team to seven playoff appearance though he never won. Would he be interested in coaching again in 2019, or might he take a job in the Bengals' front office? These are questions he'll need to answer in the coming days.

Gregg Williams. Williams did a fantastic job with the Browns, replacing Hue Jackson as the interim coach. He inherited a 2-5-1 team that finished 7-8-1. And while the organization has interviewed him for the full-time gig it appears to be going in another direction. But would another team be interested? The defensive coordinator also coached the Bills from 2001-03 where he went 17-31.

Up-and-coming assistant coaches

Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive offensive coordinator. He's made his name as Bill Belichick's offensive coordinator, which during his first stint landed him the Broncos' job. That didn't last two seasons; McDaniels went 11-17 in the 2009 and 2010 seasons before returning to New England in 2012, where he's been ever since. McDaniels backed out of the Colts job at the 11th hour last offseason. Still, he remains a favorite to get another shot should he so desire. The Packers have reportedly requested an interview though other teams could follow.

Brian Flores, Patriots (de facto) defensive coordinator. Flores has been with the team since 2004 when he was a scouting assistant. His stock has risen in recent years and he's reportedly set to interview with the Packers.

Eric Bienemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator. The Andy Reid coaching tree is impressive and Bienemy is the latest Reid assistant poised to make the jump. He's already interviewed with the Jets and he's set to meet with the Buccaneers, Dolphins and Bengals, though he turned down an opportunity to meet with the Cardinals.

Matt LaFleur, Titans offensive coordinator. He served as the Rams' offensive coordinator under Sean McVay in 2017. The Packers are expected to interview him.

Zac Taylor, Rams quarterbacks coach. On the Rams' staff since 2017, the former Nebraska quarterback is the latest member of the nascent Sean McVay coaching tree to garner interest around the league. He's expected to interview with the Cardinals, Broncos and Bengals.

Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator. In his second season as the Colts' defensive coordinator, the unit has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 campaign. The Browns have requested an interview, perhaps an indication that if they stick with a defensive-minded head coach it will be someone other than be Gregg Williams.

Kevin Stefanski, Vikings interim offensive coordinator. Replacing John DeFilippo, who was fired in December, Stefanski has been with the team since 2006. He's expected to interview with the Browns.

Kris Richard, Cowboys defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator. Richard joined the Cowboys in 2018 after spending the previous eight seasons in Seattle. The Jets and Dolphins are reportedly interested but Richard won't interview prior to the Cowboys' wild-card game on Saturday.

Todd Monken, Buccaneers offensive coordinator. He joined Dirk Koetter in Tampa Bay and is expected to interview with the Jets.

Freddie Kitchens, Brown interim offensive coordinator. Took over for Todd Haley after he was fired midseason and helped jumpstart a flailing offense. Seemed to have a good rapport with Baker Mayfield. The Browns are expected to interview him for the head-coaching job.

George Edwards, Vikings defensive coordinator. He's been with the Vikings since 2014 where he's worked under Mike Zimmer. The Buccaneers are expected to interview him.

Mike Munchak, Steelers offensive line coach. The former Titans coach has been in Pittsburgh since 2014. He's well regarded around the league and turned down chances to interview last offseason. The Packers, Dolphins and Broncos have requested interviews.

College coaches on the radar

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern coach
Matt Campbell, Iowa State coach
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma coach
Kliff Kingsbury, USC offensive coordinator

Of this group, Fitzgerald and Riley have announced they are staying put, and Campbell reportedly declined an interview request from the Jets. Kingsbury, who was fired by Texas Tech late in the season, recently joined USC's staff, is reportedly set to interview with the Cardinals and Jets.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories