As current and new NFL head coaches work to fill out their staffs in the coming weeks, some big-name assistant coaches are set to become free agents.
Many NFL teams roll over assistant coaches’ contracts each year, signing them beyond the coming season and ensuring they have to right to block those who want to leave. (That includes position coaches who are offered coordinator jobs, since all assistant coaches are considered to be on the same tier under the anti-tampering policy.) However, some assistants’ contracts do expire, often by the coach’s choice to not sign the extension, giving them added flexibility to explore their options.
Here are some notable names with contracts that expire after this season, according to league sources:
Dallas Cowboys passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Kris Richard: Changes figure to be coming in Dallas, and the savvy, passionate Richard, 40, could be on the move. Trained under Pete Carroll (who also coached Richard at USC) in Seattle and Rod Marinelli in Dallas, Richard has been a head coaching candidate in recent years, interviewing for five jobs over the past three cycles.
Los Angeles Chargers interim offensive coordinator Shane Steichen: A one-time UNLV quarterback, Steichen coached the position the past four seasons with the Chargers, who handed him play-calling duties when they fired Ken Whisenhunt in late October. It wasn’t enough to spark a major turnaround for the team, but it was good experience for Steichen, 34, who will have opportunities if he doesn’t return to L.A.
Cincinnati Bengals special teams coordinators Darrin Simmons and Brayden Coombs: Special teams has been a bright spot in a dismal season in Cincinnati, ranked No. 1 overall by the analytics website Football Outsiders and with Brandon Wilson leading the NFL in kick return average. Simmons, 46, is respected as one of the league’s best. He interviewed for the Bengals‘ head job a year ago and they’d like to retain him. Coombs, 33, is a rising assistant who has been on other teams’ radars.
Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and special teams coordinator John Fassel: Phillips, 72, says he wants to continue coaching. After a dismal year for the Rams defense, Sean McVay and Co. have a tough decision to make on whether to move on from a legend who helped them reach the Super Bowl just one year ago. Fassel, 45, is another of the most respected special teams coaches out there and figures to draw a lot of interest.
Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo: A two-time Super Bowl champion, DeGuglielmo parted ways with the Colts after one season and became a consultant with the Dolphins, who fired Pat Flaherty four days into training camp and promoted “Guge” to his current post. Miami would like to bring back DeGuglielmo, 51, but there may be other opportunities.
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards: A head coach candidate who interviewed with the Bucs last year, Edwards is in his 22nd season as an NFL assistant, including the past six under Mike Zimmer in Minnesota, where he’s heavily involved in game planning for one of the NFL’s best defenses. Edwards, 52, has previous DC stints in Washington and Buffalo, making him one of the most experienced options available.
San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Joe Woods: A 16-year NFL assistant who was the Broncos‘ defensive coordinator in 2017-18, Woods has played a part in the 49ers‘ success this season. He likely would be a candidate to take over as coordinator if Robert Saleh gets a head coaching job.
Others with expiring contracts include: Chicago Bears inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone, 49ers tight ends coach Jon Embree, 49ers consultant (and longtime OL coach) Chris Foerster, Cowboys safeties coach Greg Jackson, Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones, Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier.