The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be closing in on hiring their next head coach.
Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the Jaguars have been discussing contract terms with Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Jaguars owner Shad Khan and other team executives met with Leftwich for roughly eight hours on Tuesday night. The two sides are expected to come to an agreement “barring an unexpected breakdown.”
Leftwich has been viewed as a logical candidate for the Jaguars job since the team fired Urban Meyer. The former quarterback was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round back in 2003 and started 44 games for the Jags. He has spent the last two seasons working with Tom Brady, which has boosted his resume significantly. The Jaguars are searching for a coach who can help develop Trevor Lawrence, so it makes sense that they have reportedly chosen Leftwich.
At least one top candidate is said to have turned down the Jaguars. The good news for Leftwich or whoever else Jacksonville hires is that things can’t get much worse than they were under Meyer.
Leftwich, 44, has no previous head coaching experience. He began his NFL coaching career as a quarterbacks coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017. He was then promoted to interim offensive coordinator in 2018, and Bruce Arians hired him as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2019.
Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not finished with their search for a new head coach, despite reports to the contrary.
The Jaguars are going ahead with a second interview with Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, according to Eugene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union. That means that, even if the Jaguars are leaning toward Byron Leftwich as their choice, his hiring is not a done deal.
Reports emerged earlier Wednesday suggesting that the Jaguars had already begun contract negotiations with Leftwich. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator has long been linked to the job and is clearly a favorite, but the job is clearly not filled yet.
There had been rumors that the Jaguars would struggle to land top coaching candidates, and most of the hottest names on the market have not been linked to them. Still, they appear to have at least two interested candidates, with one clear favorite.
Vic Fangio was fired by the Denver Broncos earlier this month after three seasons with the team, but he may already have a shot at another head coaching job.
Fangio has interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars job, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Jaguars appear to have another candidate at the top of their list, but they have yet to make a hire.
Fangio went 19-30 in three seasons with the Broncos. He was fired after the team finished 7-10 this year. He had a surprisingly blunt response about Denver’s quarterback situation toward the end of the year, so he might be intrigued by the possibility of working with Trevor Lawrence.
It’s hard to imagine Fangio is at the top of the Jaguars’ list. They are likely just trying to keep all options open.
Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Byron Leftwich is viewed as the favorite to be named the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he may want them to make a major front office move before he signs on the dotted line.
A report earlier this week claimed Leftwich was close to finalizing a deal with the Jaguars. Those talks have since stalled, and that may have something to do with general manager Trent Baalke. First Coast News sports director Chris Porter reported on Thursday morning that Leftwich wants the Jaguars to fire Baalke and hire Arizona Cardinals executive Adrian Wilson as their next GM.
Leftwich has a relationship with Wilson from Leftwich’s time with the Cardinals. Prior to being hired as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leftwich was an assistant coach in Arizona for two seasons.
Leftwich may have gotten his way. According to Mike Jurecki of the Cardinals’ official website, Jacksonville is working toward hiring Wilson as GM and Leftwich as head coach.
Baalke is extremely unpopular in Jacksonville. Thousands of Jaguars fans dressed in clown costumes for the final game in the regular season to show the team how unhappy they are with the job Baalke has done. There have been reports that some candidates would only have interest in the Jaguars head coaching job if Baalke were fired.
It would appear Leftwich is one of those coaches. The 42-year-old is suddenly drawing interest from another NFL team, but he has ties to the Jags organization. Leftwich was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round back in 2003 and started 44 games for the Jags.
Before he joined the Jaguars’ front office in 2020, Baalke’s previous job was as GM of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016. The Niners enjoyed great success early in Baalke’s tenure with the team, but he has been criticized for forcing Jim Harbaugh out. It would hardly be a surprise if Leftwich didn’t want to work under him.
Photo: Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke during Friday afternoon’s press conference at TIAA Bank Field. After his arrival in Jacksonville, Florida Friday morning, April 30, 2021, Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Trevor Lawrence along with team owner Shad Khan, head coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke held a press conference in the afternoon inside TIAA Bank Field. They were also joined by the Jaguars 25th pick in the first round of the draft and former Clemson teammate of Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]