The Wildest Coaching Carousel In Football History: Here’s Who’s Retired, Been Fired, And Hired
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announces he is leaving the team during a press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on January 11, 2024. Belichick, the NFL mastermind who has guided the New England Patriots to a record six Super Bowl titles as head coach, is parting ways with the team after 24 seasons. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images) NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JULY 19: Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks during Day 3 of the 2023 SEC Media Days at Grand Hyatt Nashville on July 19, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick: Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images. Nick Saban: Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images.

It’s the end of a football era.

This week has proven to be arguably the most dramatic round of coaching fires and retirement announcements in the history of the sport. From legendary figures in football to those beloved by their fans to those who (probably) deserved their ouster, the list of head coaching changes in the 2024 football offseason is a long one. 

The Legends Leave Their Posts

The most eye-popping announcements from the week came just hours apart and regarded the two most iconic coaches in their respective leagues. On Wednesday afternoon, reports swirled that Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the seven-time national champion, was retiring. The 72-year-old Saban confirmed the news later, saying that he and his wife Terry had “enjoyed every minute of our 17 years being the head coach at Alabama as well as becoming a part of the Tuscaloosa community.”

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 27-24 in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The legendary coach was happy to call it a career after winning six national titles with the Crimson Tide and one with LSU. At a career record of 292-71-1, Saban was already the number 5 winningest coach in college football history, and with his nine national championship appearances and seven titles, he is widely regarded as the greatest to ever do it at the college level.

The drama didn’t stop with Saban’s news, however. On Thursday morning, a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, 71, will part ways with the team he led to six Super Bowl victories over a 24-year career.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 11: Owner Robert Kraft (L) hugs head coach Bill Belichick (R) of the New England Patriots during a press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2024 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Belichick announced he is stepping down as head coach after 24 seasons with the team. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Belichick’s departure from New England, while less surprising than Saban’s retirement, is just as impactful on the sport. The stern Patriots coach, along with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady, created a dynasty in New England that saw the team dominate the league for a remarkable 20-year period.

Belichick and Saban, who both coached together on the staff of the Cleveland Browns between 1991 and 1994 before both became the gold standards of football success in the 21st century, are out — and a new era has begun.

While it appears that Saban is calling it quits on coaching for good, Belichick is expected to take a job elsewhere. And thanks to numerous firings over the past days and weeks, there are plenty of NFL teams the future Hall-of-Fame coach could lead next year.

Pete Carroll Out As Head Coach Of Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll, another successful coach — at both the collegiate and professional levels — will no longer lead the Seattle Seahawks after 14 seasons. Carroll took the team to two Super Bowls, winning one of them in 2014. The former USC head coach is one of only three coaches to win both a Super Bowl and a college national championship (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer).

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 23: Head Coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the first half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field on November 23, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Carroll, 72, will reportedly remain with the team in an advisory role, although the specifics of that role have yet to be revealed. The Seahawks finished the season 9-8, narrowly missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Over Carroll’s 14-year tenure with the team, the Seahawks reached the playoffs 10 times, winning the NFC West division in five of those seasons. Carroll won back-to-back NFC Conference titles in 2014 and 2015, and went 1-1 in the Super Bowl.

One of the most controversial decisions of Carroll’s career came late in Super Bowl XLIX, an all-time great game against none other than Belichick and the New England Patriots. Down by four points with just 27 seconds to go in the game, Seattle had the ball at the Patriots’ 1-yard line as the team’s dominant running back Marshawn Lynch stood in the backfield alongside quarterback Russell Wilson. With one timeout left, Carroll made one of the most questionable calls in NFL history. Instead of handing the ball to Lynch to attempt to punch it into the endzone, Wilson threw a slant route to receiver Ricardo Lockette, but it was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, ending the game and handing yet another Super Bowl victory to Belichick and Brady.

Las Vegas Raiders Fire Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels, who was on coaching staffs under both Saban and Belichick, became the Raiders head coach prior to the 2022 season. In his first year, the Raiders finished third in their division, posting a 6-11 record. McDaniels was unable to turn the tide in 2023 as the Raiders started the season 1-3. The young coach was fired after a 26-14 loss to the Detroit Lions, which put the team’s record at 3-5. After McDaniels’ firing, former Pro-Bowler Antonio Pierce was named as the interim head coach. Pierce coached the Raiders to a 5-4 finish, which was good for second place in the AFC West. 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Las Vegas Raiders looks on in the second half of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 30, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

Pierce won over the hearts of many Raiders fans and some football commentators who think he deserves a shot as the team’s head coach, but the Raiders have yet to decide on who will lead the team going forward. At least one team, the Tennessee Titans, appears interested in offering Pierce a head coaching job. 

Los Angeles Chargers Fire Brandon Staley

The Chargers fired head coach Brandon Staley before the NFL regular season was over after an embarrassing loss to their division rival Las Vegas Raiders. Staley took over in L.A. in 2021, a team that boasted a young but talented roster. The 2021 Chargers finished 9-8, barely missing the playoffs, but fans were hopeful as their rookie quarterback Justin Herbert showed incredible potential. A year later, the Chargers were in the playoffs after finishing 10-7. Chargers fans were excited, and Staley was cruising toward his first career playoff win as his team took a 27-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2023 Wild Card round.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on in the fourth quarter of a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 63-21. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Then came a stunning second-half collapse. The Jaguars marched back, outsourcing the Chargers 24-3 in the half, and kicking field goal as time expired to win the game 31-30. Staley’s time with L.A. peaked at halftime of that playoff game and his tumble began with the second-half kickoff. The Chargers, which dealt with a struggling defense and a devastating injury to star QB Justin Herbert went 5-9 in 2023 before Staley, along with General Manager Tom Telesco, were fired after the team lost 63-21 to the Raiders on December 14.

The opening in L.A. now proves to be one of the most coveted head coaching vacancies in the NFL, providing a future coach with plenty of raw talent and the number 5 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Frank Reich Out As Carolina Panthers Head Coach

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Frank Reich of the Carolina Panthers looks on against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Another coach who didn’t even make it to the end of the season was Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich. In fact, Reich didn’t even make it 12 games as a coach of the Panthers as he was canned after a 1-11 start in his first season. Carolina’s struggles continued after Reich’s firing, however, as the team finished with the worst record in the NFL at 2-15. To add insult to injury, Carolina won’t even get the first pick in the 2024 draft, which goes to the worst team in the league, since the team traded its first-round pick and wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears last March.

Carolina has asked for permission to interview coaches such as Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, among others.

Atlanta Falcons Fire Arthur Smith 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 24: Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith looks on during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 24, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Panthers’ division rival Atlanta Falcons also dismissed its head coach Arthur Smith after a disappointing 7-10 season. The 2023 season was Smith’s third year as the Falcons coach. He posted a 7-10 record in each of his three seasons with the team, finishing either last or second to last in the NFC South each year. 

Atlanta was plagued by poor quarterback play over the past season as Smith benched second-year QB Desmond Ridder multiple times throughout the season in favor of Taylor Heinicke after Ridder struggled to protect the ball. Fans were upset with Smith’s apparent failure to utilize the explosiveness of the team’s young running back Bijan Robinson who totaled just 214 carries for 976 yards and scored only four touchdowns. 

The Falcons get the 8th pick in the 2024 draft with some experts predicting the franchise will look closely at drafting a quarterback to help spurn the team’s offense. Atlanta won the NFC championship under QB Matt Ryan in 2017 before infamously blowing a 28-3 lead to Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. 

Currently, the Falcons are seeking to interview Lions OC Ben Johnson, Bengals OC Brian Callahan, and Texans OC Bobby Slowik. 

Washington Commanders Boot Ron Rivera

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - JANUARY 07: Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera interacts with players before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on January 07, 2024 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington fired veteran head coach Ron Rivera on Monday after the Commanders finished 4-13, sitting dead last in the NFC East. Rivera joined the Commanders in 2020 and took the team to the playoffs in his first season, winning the division with a 7-9 record. Sadly for Rivera, he would never post a winning record with Washington and missed out on the playoffs in each of the next three seasons.

At one time during Rivera’s reign, the Commanders boasted one of the most vaunted defensive lines in the league, but similar to the Falcons, Washington was hindered by inconsistent quarterback play, switching between eight quarterbacks in Rivera’s four years with the team. 

The Commanders will get the second pick in the 2024 draft. The franchise is reportedly looking at numerous coaches, including Lions offensive and defensive coordinators Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Ravens assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, among others.

Tennessee Titans Fire Mike Vrabel 

In another shocking move, the Tennessee Titans fired head coach Mike Vrabel on Tuesday after a 6-11 season. Vrabel, a former linebacker for the Patriots, started his head coaching career with the Titans in 2018. The Titans barely missed the playoffs in his first season as coach, but a year later sneaked into the last spot with a 9-7 record. The 2019 Titans became somewhat of a Cinderella story as Vrabel led the team to the AFC championship after beating the Patriots and the Ravens in the first two rounds of the playoffs. While the Titans lost to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference championship game, Vrabel had successfully shifted the culture of the franchise.

NASHVILLE TENNESSEE - JANUARY 07: Head Coach Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Nashville, Tennessee at Nissan Stadium on January 7, 2024 in Houston, Texas. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 28-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

A year later, the Titans were back in the playoffs after winning the AFC South. But the team dropped its first game in the postseason to the Ravens. In 2021, Vrabel led his team to the best record in the AFC at 12-5. The Titans playoffs were cut short, however, after losing in the divisional round to the Cincinnati Bengals. That was the last playoff game of Vrabel’s career with Tennessee as the team missed the postseason in 2022 and 2023. 

Vrabel will likely be one of the favorites for numerous teams looking to fill their head coaching vacancies. 

The Titans, meanwhile, have requested to interview seven candidates, including Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, and Detroit Lions offensive and defensive coordinators Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn. 

New England Patriots Hire Former Team Linebacker Jerod Mayo As Head Coach

The Patriots were without a head coach for only a day as the team reportedly hired its former star linebacker Jerod Mayo on Friday. New England, led by owner Robert Kraft, is expected to formally introduce Mayo at a press conference next week. Mayo, who was on Belichick’s coaching staff as a linebackers coach, played for the team from 2008 to 2015, winning one Super Bowl and being voted to the Pro Bowl in two seasons.

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