NFL Head Coach Opening Predictions: Sean Payton, the Hot Name

There are currently five head coaching openings across the NFL, with an abundance of well-qualified candidates vying for some of the sport’s most coveted positions. Teams like the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys could also have openings depending on their playoff results, but we’re picking out our predictions for the five open positions. 

Arizona Cardinals: Sean Payton

In November, verifiable reports surfaced that Sean Payton strongly liked potential jobs with the Cardinals, Chargers, and Cowboys if he were to get back into coaching. The Cardinals have the only current opening of that bunch, and Arizona needs to go all in with its hire. They have nowhere to pivot if Kyler Murray does not work out, so getting a proven offensive mind and winner like Payton is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Note for the Cardinals: don’t let Jerry Jones fire Mike McCarthy first.

Denver Broncos: Dan Quinn

It’s fair to say that anyone is an improvement over Nathaniel Hackett. Could it get worse than bringing in an additional assistant coach just to manage the clock after only two games? Enter Dan Quinn. One of the league’s top defensive minds who has made the Super Bowl as a head coach with the Falcons. He’d bring a calming presence to an organization with its back against the wall. Quinn shares a history with Russell Wilson when he served as the defensive coordinator during the Legion of Boom era. He’d be a decent shot at getting Russ back to a fraction of what the Broncos mortgaged their future for.

Indianapolis Colts: Jim Harbaugh

There is lots of speculation about Jim Harbaugh’s potential move from Michigan back to the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl with the 49ers in 2012. Where could he be better situated than the team he had his best years as a player? GM Chris Ballard and Owner Jim Irsay have preached urgency to bring the Colts back into contention. Bringing in someone with Harbaugh’s pedigree makes sense to match their speed. Harbaugh could pick a quarterback of his choosing and is familiar with the organization.

Carolina Panthers: Shane Steichen

Steichen has turned the Eagles’ offense into one of the most dynamic forces in the league, ranking third in total yards and points scored per game. Overseeing the growth of Jalen Hurts into an MVP candidate, Steichen would be an ideal fit for a Panthers team that ranked fourth worst in the league in generating yards in 2022 and looking for a quarterback. Also serving as the Eagles’ play-caller, Steichen’s value is much higher on the coaching circuit. 

Houston Texans: Ben Johnson

The Texans will likely select their franchise quarterback with the second overall pick in this upcoming draft, so pairing a bright offensive mind with their new franchise cornerstone will be the best move Houston can make. Johnson interviewed with the Texans on Thursday and awaits interviews with the Colts and Panthers. Bolstering a once lackluster Lions’ offense, Johnson aided the revitalization of Jared Goff and created one of the league’s most explosive offenses in 2022. Getting him in the building with likely either CJ Stroud or Bryce Young will set the Texans on a much-needed new path.