RANKING THE OPEN NFL HEAD COACHING JOBS
BY ADAM GREENE
1. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
There are a lot of arguments for the Jaguars here, but the Chargers already have their QB, Justin Herbert, who set multiple new rookie QB records; passing TDs (31), total TDs (36), completions (396), 300 yard games (eight), most games with a passing touchdown (10). The dude was 39 yards away from setting the all time single season rookie yardage record.
They’re loaded at the offensive skill positions with Austin Ekelar and Keenan Allen both on new contracts and Mike Williams playing on his fifth year option. On defense, they’ve got a solid core beginning with Joey Bosa who is already under a long term contract. This is a squad so talented they went 7-9 with Lynn as head coach. Someone is walking into a playoff team and one that will seriously contend with the Chiefs for the next decade.
2. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
This is a depleted team, but one with tons of cap money to spend, the No. 1 overall pick to grab your franchise quarterback and a second first rounder thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade with the Los Angeles Rams last season. They have two second rounders too.
In all, they have seven picks in the draft’s first five rounds. Not only can they take Trevor Lawrence at one, but they can pick up offensive line and skill position help all through the opening portions of the draft. The free agent class will deep this year, even if the NFL doesn’t fix its low overall cap problem caused by a drop in revenue from COVID-19.
With their current available cap number($74.422 million) this Jacksonville job could be the closest any NFL general manager and head coach could get to starting a new franchise mode on Madden.
3. HOUSTON TEXANS
The Texans are third only because they’re without any picks in the 2021 drafts first two rounds and the second highest salary cap total in the league. Any new coach and general manager will be more limited in what they can do. That being said, they have Deshaun Watson, one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, under long term contract and J.J. Watt on defense. Watt is in his waning years, but he’s still one of the league’s best.
In spite of fired general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien’s best efforts, Houston still has tons of talent around Watson and a solid defense to build on. This team fielded a playoff roster this year and it was just horrible coaching from O’Brien and interim Romeo Crennel, that kept them in the basement.
4. ATLANTA FALCONS
For some reason punditry is down on this job and I don’t see it. This team is a few moves and a head coach away from being right back into the NFC South mix. While some might look at Matt Ryan’s contract as a detriment, I see a franchise quarterback locked in and playing relatively well all things considered.
While they don’t have a lot of cap flexibility, they do hold the No. 4 pick in the 2021 draft. A draft, in which, QBs could go 1-3 and, even if they don’t, that fourth pick then becomes solid trade bait.
If they keep it, you’re telling me a guy like Gregory Rousseau out of Miami added to that defense doesn’t make you just a little excited? Add in a Najee Harris out of Alabama in the second round and suddenly this Atlanta job is looking pretty damn good to me.
5. NEW YORK JETS
I got to tell you. Justin Fields’ performance in the College Football playoff made this job look a hell of a lot better than it did just the day before. There’s no question Fields is the pick for them and they’ve got some trade bait with Sam Darnold, who wasn’t complete garbage over the last month of the season. They can recoup a little draft capital by moving him.
Outside of that, they have another first round pick this year (via the Jamal Adams trade with the Seattle Seahawks ) and two first rounders next year. They also have the second most available cap space in the draft and play in the NFL’s biggest market. A market that is absolutely starving for a good team to root for.
6. DETROIT LIONS
Why is this job at the bottom? Because no one knows what it’ll really look like come 2021. There’s talk all over that the team might want to move on from Matthew Stafford, which means a complete rebuild. Picking at No. 7, they could be out of the mix for a shot at any of the draft’s top quarterbacks if they did do that. And while I like Florida’s Kyle Trask, I don’t like him with the seventh overall pick.
But picking there does give the Lions some options. It’s not so far down the list that the Miami Dolphins, picking at No. 3, wouldn’t listen to a solid trade offer if Detroit was in love with BYU’s Zach Wilson. Frankly, in spite of what you might read today elsewhere, I don’t think the Dolphins are taking a QB so unless they trade the pick, Wilson could fall right into the Lions’ lap.
A total rebuild might not be a bad idea, but there’s not a lot of ammunition in Detroit with which to do it. Former general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia decimated the talent on this team and they don’t have the draft capital or salary cap to do a whole lot to fix it. Certainly not to make wholesale changes.
I say keep Stafford. As long as he’s healthy, Stafford has the talent to drag a team to a winning record with a little help. Draft Trask as the heir apparent in the second round and build with what you can.
But, because of that, the salary and roster limitations, the Lions will struggle to land one of the top tier available head coaches in this year’s class.