On Tuesday, NFL owners agreed to make a big change to the way the NFL's hiring cycle plays out. Finally, assistant coaches will be allowed to take a promotion elsewhere without permission from their employer.
As first reported by NFL Media's Jim Trotter and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, NFL owners voted to approve a resolution that will allow assistant coaches to interview for coordinator positions. To put it another way, teams will no longer be able to block a position coach from interviewing for a coordinator position with another team. Furthermore, according to The MMQB's Jenny Vrentas, teams will not be allowed to include restrictive contract language -- like the right to match. Lastly, as Trotter pointed out, the rule also pertains to employees in the personnel department, meaning that they can interview for an assistant general manager position.
All of this is tremendous news for assistant coaches. It also makes a ton of sense, namely because the old rules never made any semblance of sense. Why couldn't a quarterbacks coach interview to be an offensive coordinator elsewhere? Why couldn't a linebackers coach interview to be a defensive coordinator elsewhere? It was always overly restrictive to prevent assistant coaches from taking promotions.
Moving forward, teams won't be able to do much of anything if their star quarterbacks coach is offered an offensive coordinator position. As Jones reported, teams will also be required to submit what essentially are depth charts for their coaching staffs. In the event of a dispute, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will make the final decision.
The NFL will now require all teams to submit in writing its coaching organizational structure and job description. If there's a debate when it comes to someone interviewing for another job, Goodell will decide— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) May 19, 2020
"We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL Owners' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL," said Steelers owner and chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee, Art Rooney II, in a statement. "The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations. We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country."
The new rule will obviously affect all 32 teams, but the first team that came to mind in the immediate aftermath of the news was the San Francisco 49ers. For one, they're one of the league's best teams with a premier offense and defense, which makes it likely that teams will want to poach coaches from their staff. That's just the way the NFL works -- just look at how many coaches have been hired away from Bill Belichick and Andy Reid's coaching staffs over the years. And two, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has already prevented offensive assistants Mike LaFleur (the passing game coordinator) and Mike McDaniel (the run game coordinator) from interviewing for offensive coordinator positions.
Under the new rules, it certainly seems like they'd be free to leave for the right opportunity.
On what qualifies as a "bona fide" coordinator job and thus exempt from blocking interviews, this line from the resolution NFL owners approved today is important: "Must play a role in the development of the game plan but is not required to call the plays during games."— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 19, 2020
So … because neither LaFleur nor McDaniel has sole game-planning or play-calling duties, I’d assume they cannot be blocked for future “bona fide” offensive coordinator positions.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) May 19, 2020
Also on Tuesday, the NFL made modifications to the Rooney Rule -- requiring teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching positions, at least one minority candidate for any coordinator position, and at least one external minority candidate for the general manager or senior football operations position -- while
"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," Goodell said in a statement. "While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."