Teams are wasting no time filling vacant positions ahead of the Super Bowl. Unlike past years we don’t have teams waiting until the season is completely over to bring in new blood, moving quickly to fill vacant spots — without the need to delay their hiring process while coveted coordinators wrap things up.
The flurry of hirings is easy to lose track of who’s gone, who’s been hired, and who is still left available. So let’s take a look at every opening, and every hiring in the NFL so far.
Head Coach hirings
The Falcons are adapting their team to the modern NFL with this hire, and it’s an excellent one. Smith navigated the waters of a tricky shift in the Titans’ offense, moving it to a Derrick Henry run-based team at a time most teams loaded the passing game. This feels like old thinking, but he was adaptable — and that will fair the Falcons well.
Outgoing: Dan Quinn
Quinn was responsible for some of Atlanta’s highest highs, but also their lowest lows. His lack of consistency was hurting the team, requiring a chance.
Former Lions player Dan Campbell returns to the organization after serving as assistant to Sean Payton, and tight end coach in New Orleans. It’s remarkable that in 10 years Campbell went from still playing in the NFL, to now a head coach of an organization. The hiring is a huge departure from past decisions by the franchise, and it’s risky. Another relative unknown, it’ll be interesting to see if he can turn the team around.
Outgoing: Matt Patricia
Patricia inherited the team and progressively made the Lions worse. The defense-minded coach didn’t help in any particular area, ensuring the team remained mired in mediocrity.
No hire at this time.
Outgoing: Bill O’Brien
O’Brien is hugely responsible for the mess the team is in now. He traded away DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, which was the nail in the coffin for this team. They never stood a chance in 2020, and now have to deal with his decisions (and trying to keep DeShaun Watson happy).
The Jaguars were linked to a Urban Meyer for a long time, with many believing the former Ohio State head coach would not return to football. However, after a several week process the Jaguars announced that Meyer agreed to come to the NFL for the first time, and believe he’s the right man to use their eventual pick of Trevor Lawrence, and lead the team to success.
Outgoing: Doug Marrone
Marrone inherited the team from Gus Bradley, and was only marginally better. While he did manage to move the team on from the disastrous pick of Blake Bortles, he didn’t make the team better from there.
The Chargers surprised everyone by going with a defensive coach over offensive, and then to take a big risk on the upside of Brandon Staley, one of the best up-and-coming coordinators in the NFL. Still, it’s a little shocking to see him become a head coach this quickly. The 38-year-old just finished his first season as defensive coordinator for the Rams, who were devastating on defense, but also inconsistent.
Outgoing: Anthony Lynn.
Lynn was one of the more surprising firings this offseason. The Chargers were headed in the right direction, they had the QB they need for the future, so it’s hard to see how the team will do any better.
The Jets decided to move on from the offensive-minded Adam Gase, and switch to defense with the hiring of Robert Saleh. Saleh was responsible for the mammoth defensive overhaul of the 49ers, which turned them into the NFL’s best defense in 2019, taking San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
Outgoing: Adam Gase
Adam Gase is terrible.
An up-and-coming name in coaching circles, the Eagles hired Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirriani. A 39-year-old coach, Sirriani was responsible for building and re-building the Colts, transitioning from Andrew Luck’s shock retirement, to working with Philip Rivers. He’s proven an ability to adjust on the fly and rework teams, making him an exciting choice for the Eagles.
Outgoing: Doug Pederson
The firing of Doug Pederson is a risky decision that puts the blame for the Eagles’ recent failings on the coach alone, and not the rest of the front office. The only way to learn whether that was true is time, but the most-successful coach in recent Philadelphia history is a tough act to follow.
General Manager hirings
The Falcons went inside their division to take Terry Fontenot from the New Orleans Saints, their former director of college scouting. Fontenot was tasked with routinely finding players to support Drew Brees, and did so excellently — notably drafting Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and numerous incredible offensive linemen that made Brees’ job easy. Now he’ll try to revamp the Falcons, and navigate whether it’s time to part ways with Matt Ryan.
Outgoing: Thomas Dimitroff
Dimitroff was a not a bad GM by any means, but had a routine problem of being unable to build on the Falcons’ success. This led to an uneven, inconsistent team, in dire need of a change at the top.
The Carolina Panthers decided to move on from long-time general manager Marty Hurney, who was a guy who liked to have a “feel” for players. Now they are moving more analytically, hiring Fitterer, who served as co-assistant GM under John Schneider in Seattle.
Outgoing: Marty Hurney
Hurney was the on-agin, off-again GM that did a decent job moving the team on from Dave Gettleman, Hurney’s way of thinking was too old for the NFL.
The Broncos opted for upside in hiring George Paton, who has been in NFL circles since 1997. Most recently he was integral in the Minnesota Vikings organization, credited with being responsible for some of the best draft classes in franchise history.
Outgoing: John Elway
Elway remains with the organization in an executive role, but is stepping aside as GM to bring in some new blood. This was unquestionably the right decision, and while No. 7 is beloved, time had come for a change.
The Lions are taking a risky approach for their front office, choosing to hire Holmes who has never had a high-level position in an organization. However, that doesn’t make it a bad hire. He’s been the director of college scouting for the Los Angeles Rams since 2013, and helped bring superstars like Aaron Donald to the team.
Outgoing: Bob Quinn.
Part of the Patriots’ brain trust that built New England’s dynasty, Quinn came in along with Patricia and didn’t make the team better as a result. Changing Patricia necessitated cleaning house.
The Texans continue their desire to be New England with the hiring of Caserio, who was the director of player personnel for the Patriots since 2008. He’s a long-standing front office member who worked with Bill Belichick, now he has to manage the mess unfolding in Houston and try to keep DeShaun Watson happy.
Outgoing: Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien was not a good coach, and an even worse executive. The two sides were inexorably linked, requiring the change.
The Jaguars decided to make their interim GM Tren Baalke permanent, marking his full-time return to the NFL, since leaving in 2016. Baalke was instrumental in rebuilding the 49ers during his time in San Francisco. Baalke and then-coach Jim Harbaugh built some great teams, but the questionable decision to pivot from Harbaugh to Chip Kelly when Harbaugh went to Michigan sealed Baalke’s fate. He has a great mind for football though, and will lead the Jaguars’ rebuild.
Outgoing: David Caldwell.
Caldwell remained from the end of the Bradley era, through Doug Marrone’s — and his tenure was marred with bad draft picks, and failed opportunities. Keeping him would not have allowed this team to progress, especially when needing to surround Trevor Lawrence with more talent.
Washington Football Team
After a bizarre week in which Marty Hurney reportedly got the job, then didn’t — Washington settled on Martin Mayhew to be their general manager. Mayhew has served as a general manager before, for the Lions from 2008-15. He led the ship not only through two playoff appearances, but joined Detroit in the middle of their horrible 0-16 season and was tasked with righting the ship. It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with a more talented team that just went to the playoffs.
Outgoing: Bruce Allen.
It’s a wonder Allen kept his job as long as he did, and probably wouldn’t have if he wasn’t a former team legend. Fans wanted Allen gone for a long time, and finally got their wish in 2019. Ron Rivera took over as defacto GM in 2020 while the team waited to make a move.