Black Monday came and went in the NFL, despite it being New Year’s Day. Now, after five firings and a retirement, six of the leagues’s 32 head coaching jobs are up for grabs.
Naturally, the feet-dragging Cincinnati Bengals are the only team that has yet to confirm whether its coach will be back or not, so we’ll include that as an opening with an asterisk for now as we list the gigs from least to most attractive.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Quarterback Carson Palmer is probably done and there isn’t an heir apparent in place for a team that is coming off back-to-back non-winning seasons and has taken steps backward on both sides of the ball. Bruce Arians still walked away with his head held relatively high, which only puts more pressure on his successor in a division that could be the best in football for years to come. Up against the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers, the Cards might be forced to rebuild soon.
6. Cincinnati Bengals*
The cheap-ass Bengals don’t invest in free agents and have the league’s smallest scouting department, which explains why they hardly ever find diamonds in the draft rough. They have a clear-cut ceiling, especially while fighting the more hungry Steelers and Ravens in the AFC North, and it’s pretty apparent that Andy Dalton isn’t going to suddenly lead them to a Super Bowl. They’re a mediocre team coming off back-to-back losing seasons that might also want to rebuild soon. But it remains possible they’ll still inexplicably bring Marvin Lewis back.
UPDATE: The inexplicable has indeed occurred. Lewis has signed a two-year extension with the Bengals. We can scratch them off this list.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 2, 2018
5. New York Giants
What’s with this obsession with Eli Manning? The washed-up, overrated 36-year-old has been one of the worst regular starting quarterbacks in professional football for more than half a decade, and yet it sounds like new general manager Dave Gettleman wants to keep riding with him under center. Combined with a high-priced, aging defense, that makes this job look like a foregone failure. The Giants will have to rebuild soon, but whoever takes over this year won’t likely last long enough to experience that.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Any job that gives a new coach a quarterback like Andrew Luck in his prime is primo, but the Colts lose some points for being the Colts. Bad defense, poor pass protection for Luck and an infamously dysfunctional front office. How long before the new coach finds himself in a power struggle with owner Jim Irsay and/or general manager Chris Ballard? The atmosphere in Indy often appears toxic, which could cause strong personalities to avoid this job.
3. Chicago Bears
The Bears are at least rebuilding as we speak, so if general manager Ryan Pace and his bosses are willing to be somewhat patient, this job would be great for anyone willing to focus on turning the talented Mitchell Trubisky into a franchise quarterback. There are some solid pieces in place on both sides of the ball here, and the Bears will have money to spend in free agency.
2. Detroit Lions
They have a healthy franchise quarterback. Enough said, right? Matthew Stafford hasn’t quite gotten there yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he were to make some Super Bowl runs in his 30s. He certainly has that ability, and the Lions also have solid pieces in place on both sides of the ball, as well as money to spend in free agency. They could be a playoff team next season, just as they were last season.
1. Oakland Raiders
Same deal here. The Raiders regressed (unsurprisingly) this season after a breakout 2016 campaign, but franchise quarterback Derek Carr wasn’t healthy after missing the offseason due to a broken leg and breaking a bone in his back early in the year. If he’s healthy again in 2018, Oakland will have a strong chance to win the AFC West. This team is more like the one that won 12 games in 2016 than the one that lost 10 in 2017, meaning its new head coach will likely be in the right place at the right time.