Welcome to another edition of the NFL coaching carousel. Like last year, there are several intriguing candidates who could be lead men in 2023, such as Sean Payton, Jim Harbaugh, DeMeco Ryans, Shane Steichen, and Ben Johnson. While there is no shortage of interesting candidates, what open job would they choose if it was their decision?
There are currently four open head coaching jobs in the NFL following Carolina's hire of former Colts head coach Frank Reich. There are pros and cons that come with each. Some have their quarterbacks in place, others don't. Some have cap space and young talent, while others do not. Let's take a crack at ranking the open jobs in the NFL.
Salary cap figures taken from Over The Cap
What a dramatic season for the Colts. The AFC South preseason favorites finished 4-12-1, fired head coach Frank Reich and benched offseason addition Matt Ryan. Interim head coach Jeff Saturday will get serious consideration, but the Colts could hire a different coach for 2023.
Like the Panthers gig before it was off the table, this job is intriguing because of the division Indy resides in. The Houston Texans are still in a rebuild, and the Tennessee Titans may be resetting in more ways than one this offseason. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the uptick, but they aren't Super Bowl contenders just yet. The Colts are a better team than their record has indicated over the past few years. It's the quarterback position that has held them back. The Philip Rivers addition worked out better than I expected, although it was just for one year, but I'm not surprised the fliers on Carson Wentz and Ryan did not work out.
You look at some of the pieces the Colts have -- Michael Pittman Jr. is a solid receiver, you hope Alec Pierce takes a step forward in Year 2, Jonathan Taylor is a top back, Quenton Nelson is a top offensive lineman and defensively, the Colts have talent in Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner and Shaquille Leonard just to name a few. The Colts have $17.5M in cap space, and hold the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Jim Irsay's questionable decisions rubbed the NFL world the wrong way this season, but I maintain the Colts are a better team than what they've showed. Figure out the quarterback position, and you're very much on the right track.
My guess is the Broncos job will be attractive to some, and unattractive to others. For one, they reside in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and then there's the Russell Wilson situation.
Wilson's contract makes it virtually impossible to move on from him this offseason. He deserves blame for how the 2022 campaign went, but Nathaniel Hackett deserves the majority of said blame. There are going to be head coaching candidates that fully believe they can get more out of Wilson in 2023. Also, I say it's a plus just knowing who the quarterback will be this upcoming season. Denver has $14.2M in cap space, which ranks No. 19 in the NFL, and while the Broncos don't have a top pick, they do have a late first-rounder thanks to the Bradley Chubb trade.
The best is yet to come for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, Greg Dulcich is an intriguing tight end and the defense was a top unit before ultimately falling apart towards the end of the year due to injuries and having to spend the majority of games on the field week in, week out due to the anemic offense. Many claimed the Broncos were a franchise quarterback away from being a contender. Maybe it's more accurate to say they are a head coach away. If I'm general manager George Paton/ownership, I'm looking for an offensive-minded guy this offseason.
Similarly to the Broncos, it's a plus knowing Kyler Murray will be your quarterback moving forward. However, you have to imagine he's going to miss some time in 2023 due to his torn ACL, and then there's the question of how good is he actually. Where would Murray rank if we were power-ranking quarterbacks?
Put simply, the Cardinals are starting over. General manager Steve Keim is gone, and DeAndre Hopkins could be too. Arizona has work to do on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals are top 10 in projected cap space and hold the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft.
I don't see this as an incredibly attractive job, as the Cardinals have never had a head coach last longer than six years in their century of existence, but Sean Payton is someone I would call with an offer of extra organizational power to help fast-track this reset.
4. Houston Texans
Another year, another Texans head coach. When I look at this franchise, I see indecisiveness mixed with instability. Last year, I believe they wanted to pull a "Jeff Saturday" before the Colts pulled a "Jeff Saturday" in regards to Josh McCown, but they didn't have the courage to do so. Instead, they just promoted Lovie Smith, and ended up cutting him loose less than a year later. I wonder how much they really wanted Smith in the first place.
In my head coaching interview with the Texans, I'd ask general manager Nick Caserio if he would fire me after one season if I didn't secure the No. 1 overall pick or make the playoffs. Then, I'd look at owner Cal McNair and ask if I'd be fired once Caserio is removed, or if I should just revisit with him next year when he has his new general manager in place.
You could easily make the argument that Houston looks appealing with its top pick and cap space, but the decision-makers need to figure out what they want. The Texans haven't shown any patience for the rebuild they need. Maybe that changes this time around.