Barring a surprise firing/parting of ways (Doug Pederson in Philadelphia stands out as the only realistic possibility), the six NFL head coaching vacancies for 2021 look set. While, as usual, some of the franchises with openings are organizations that have struggled in recent years, there’s a ton to get intrigued about for these available jobs. A lot of it comes down to coaching style and preference; but overall, what are the top open NFL head coach positions this offseason?
1. Los Angeles Chargers
The main reason these six job opening are so appealing is the presence of quarterbacks or the opportunity to draft a quarterback this spring. Coming off a sensational record-breaking rookie year, 22-year-old Justin Herbert is probably the top guy to build around among teams with quarterbacks (so Trevor Lawrence likely landing in Jacksonville aside). Also, the Chargers have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Joey Bosa, and Derwin James. The AFC West is tough, but LA can be very good very quickly—and for a long time with Herbert under center.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Armed with nearly a dozen draft picks, massive salary cap space, and the likely opportunity to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, you can make an easy case for the Jags being the most desirable opening for a head coach. There’s a reason Urban Meyer has been linked to Jacksonville, and many coaches would probably love the opportunity for an owner that sounds set to make a long-term hire with patience in mind. Working with Lawrence is the primary selling point.
3. Atlanta Falcons
For a team looking to win next season, the Falcons may be at the top of the bunch ahead of the Chargers. Matt Ryan is a former league MVP that has plenty left in the tank, and he has two phenomenal receivers to deal the ball to in All-Pro Julio Jones and emerging star Calvin Ridley. The concern is that most will agree that the Falcons seem somewhat cursed with the way they’ve given up leads dating back to Super Bowl LI, but coaches aren’t going to have that in their mindset when interviewing for the job.
4. New York Jets
Depending on Sam Darnold’s value around the league, the Jets can go in one of two directions with the quarterback position this offseason; and either way—trading Darnold or trading the No. 2 overall pick—could potentially present a prime opportunity to rebuild the team with a treasure trove of assets. A new head coach would likely be intrigued by a solid first draft for general manager Joe Douglas last year, and Jets ownership is another group that should be patient knowing there’s a lot of work to do.
5. Detroit Lions
Former Lions linebacker and newly installed front-office executive Chris Spielman is 100% a “football guy”, so all coaches would likely jump at the chance to work with him to help turn the Lions around. However, there’s a lot of work to do, and the solution is not easy with longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford. You can trade Stafford, but you better hit on the replacement at the game’s most important position. Furthermore, Detroit has added a number of players that former head coach Matt Patricia felt were a fit for his system, so there may be a lot of roster turnaround over the next few years.
6. Houston Texans
The Texans are in a really tough spot entering the offseason. The Dolphins own Houston’s No. 3 overall pick in the draft, making it more challenging to add a young blue-chip player to the roster. Franchise stalwart J.J. Watt might not be long for Houston, and there isn’t much of an identity within the organization from the outside looking in. The talent of Deshaun Watson helps, but the Texans look like the worst job of a very strong group of six openings.
NOT THE JAGS. THEIR OWNER WANTS FINAL SAY OVER THE GM.
The Chargers are stacked.