The Josh McDaniels era is over in Las Vegas after just one and a half seasons, with the Raiders dismissing the head coach alongside general manager Dave Ziegler early Wednesday. It's just the latest tumultuous turn for a franchise that hasn't employed a coach for more than four consecutive seasons since Art Shell (1989-1994) almost three decades ago.
What's next atop their staff? A lot can change between now and the end of the 2023 season, especially if the Raiders find new life under interim Antonio Pierce, the former star Giants linebacker. But here are some other names who figure to be on Las Vegas' radar as owner Mark Davis embarks on yet another search for a new head coach:
7. Brian Flores (Vikings DC)
Davis might be hesitant to go right back to the Bill Belichick tree after McDaniels' quick flameout, but Flores has at least proven he can win as a head man, going 19-14 in his final two seasons as the Dolphins' head coach from 2020-2021. He's been even better running a makeshift Minnesota "D," keeping the Vikings afloat despite key offensive injuries.
6. Dan Quinn (Cowboys DC)
Quinn elected to return to Dallas after interviewing for several top jobs last offseason, and there's a real chance he'll stay put in hopes of one day becoming Jerry Jones' crown jewel. The appeal from the Raiders' end, besides the defensive resume, might be that he's also been there, done that as a head coach, guiding two playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance with the Falcons.
5. Ejiro Evero (Panthers DC)
There might not be a more promising, more well-rounded candidate to hit the cycle in 2024. Just 42, Evero has worked under Wade Phillips, Raheem Morris and Vic Fangio across stints with the 49ers, Broncos and Super Bowl-champion Rams. He's been just as sturdy under Frank Reich with the young Panthers this year, drawing another dose of rave reviews.
4. Brian Callahan (Bengals OC)
Callahan was Zac Taylor's handpicked OC upon the latter's arrival in Cincinnati in 2019, and he's helped shepherd Joe Burrow's growth into one of the game's top QBs. Before that, the ex-Broncos assistant was part of Jon Gruden's original staff with the 2018 Raiders, serving as QBs coach. In Vegas, he'd conceivably get the chance to select his own QB for a rebuild.
3. Ben Johnson (Lions OC)
Johnson turned down head coaching interest to return under Dan Campbell last offseason, but there may never be a better time for him to leap upward, guiding two straight top-five offenses with Jared Goff and Co. He's a young (37), ascending, adaptable offensive mind. The only real holdup is that half a dozen other clubs might be knocking on his door.
2. Frank Smith (Dolphins OC)
If it's groundbreaking offense Mark Davis wants, he could return to the AFC East well, except this time to pluck from the Mike McDaniels tree. Smith was McDaniels' original hire at OC, overseeing Tua Tagovailoa's MVP-level emergence since 2022. And he's got a background with the Raiders, working under Jon Gruden as the tight ends coach from 2018-2020.
1. Jim Harbaugh (Michigan HC)
Harbaugh hasn't coached in the NFL for nearly a decade, but he's flirted with a return in recent years, admittedly interviewing with the Broncos and Vikings since 2022. Now he's in the middle of murky contract negotiations with Michigan amid allegations of a sign-stealing scandal. If he ultimately opts to jump ship after nine years as the face of the Wolverines, the Raiders would make sense. Not only did Harbaugh begin his NFL coaching career with the team back in 2002, but he dominated on the West Coast as 49ers coach from 2011-2014.
Securing him wouldn't necessarily erase potential discipline for his hand in Michigan's alleged wrongdoing, but the Raiders might be willing to wait out a suspension if it meant getting Harbaugh on their sidelines for the next five to 10 years. His arrival would draw both big headlines and justified hopes of a turnaround.