As of this writing, there are six NFL coaching vacancies. What the hell – let’s rank em.
If I were an up-and-coming coach, I’d value the following in a new opportunity: quarterback situation, cap-space, and the first round pick in the upcoming draft.
As such, let’s take a look at each team with these factors included, from least desirable to most.
#6 Detroit Lions
Quarterback situation: There seems to be a common sentiment that the 32-year old Matthew Stafford has played his last game for Detroit.
Cap space: $6.5M (18th in NFL)
Pick in draft: #7
This team is a disaster. The defense was one of the worst in the entire NFL this year, and they are potentially losing one of the lone bright spots on their offense in free agent WR Kenny Golloday. The offensive line is likely the one building block of this team – this will be a multi-year rebuild attempt for whoever takes the job.
#5 Atlanta Falcons
Quarterback situation: Matt Ryan is getting up there, the Falcons may look to move on from the 12-year veteran.
Cap space: $-32.4M (30th in NFL)
Pick in draft: #4
Ryan is still playing well, but it’s nearing time to make a decision on whether to turn the page. The team does have some juice at the receiver position in Calvin Ridley and an aging Julio Jones, but the defense and offensive line are both below average.
#4 Houston Texans
Quarterback situation: Deshaun Watson is a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, in my eyes.
Cap space: $-20.3M (27th in NFL)
Pick in draft: No first round pick – traded to Dolphins
Bill O’Brien really did a number on this franchise, left without a first round pick thanks to a trade with the Miami Dolphins. Besides Watson, this offense doesn’t have much of anything. I put them higher than Atlanta because Watson is a star entering his prime, but Will Fuller is a free agent, and this defense was abysmal all year.
Without ammunition to take a game-changer talent, this poor year was for naught.
#3 New York Jets
Quarterback situation: With the #2 pick, the Jets are likely to take one of Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. There’s a chance they stick with Sam Darnold, but I wouldn’t expect it.
Cap space: $62.9M (third in NFL)
Pick in draft: #2, Seahawks first round pick
The cap-space, two first rounders and a likely rookie quarterback make the Jets an intriguing landing spot. The team doesn’t have much on the roster as currently constructed besides a strong run defense, but that sometimes makes a job more attractive.
This is a tough division to hop into though. The Bills are just getting started, the Dolphins have the #3 and #18 pick after going 10-6, and Bill Belichick isn’t going away. Still, this is one of the best ‘fresh-start’ organizations you can join as a new coach.
#2 Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback situation: Justin Herbert had a strong rookie season and seems poised for a long career. It helps he’s on his cheap rookie deal for three more years
Cap space: $22M (11th in NFL)
Pick in draft: #13
Herbert had a great rookie season and looks to me to be a future star quarterback. There is no better recipe for a Super Bowl window than a quarterback playing at an elite level on his rookie contract. Look at some of the previous Super Bowl winners/participants: Mahomes, Goff, Wentz (Eagles sans Wentz).
Having money to build a strong team around your passer is pivotal for a team aiming to compete ASAP, and the Chargers, with Herbert, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler, have the pieces to make a big jump in 2021.
#1 Jacksonville Jaguars
Quarterback situation: With the top pick in the draft, it’s a safe assumption that Clemson star Trevor Lawrence is headed to Jacksonville, regarded as an Andrew Luck-style can’t miss prospect.
Cap space: $77.3M (most in NFL)
Pick in draft: #1, Rams first round pick
This is an easy one. Trevor Lawrence is a generational talent, who again, will be on a cheap deal for four years, and the Jaguars pockets are loaded.
Tack on an extra first round pick, intriguing pieces in James Robinson, Laviska Shenault, DJ Chark, and linebackers Josh Allen and Myles Jack – this team would be my top choice, if I were a hotshot coaching candidate.Unfortunately, I am not. But – I am breaking down all the Wild Card games this weekend. Join me on Twitter, @griffybets, for breakdowns of every game. Thanks for reading!