Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

As the Chiefs, 49ers, Lions and Ravens prepare for the AFC and NFC championships this weekend, plenty of other teams are already looking ahead to the 2024 NFL offseason, where a number of key coaching positions are still open. Besides head coaching slots, several contenders, including the Eagles and Steelers, are hot in pursuit of new offensive or defensive coordinators.

With that in mind, here are five outside-the-box candidates who might deserve more attention than they’re getting:

Dennard Wilson

The Giants have been linked to the Ravens’ defensive backs coach, but it’s a wonder a half-dozen teams aren’t knocking at his door. The 41-year-old was highly touted by Eagles veterans after a 2021-2022 run as the club’s secondary coach, during which he helped Philadelphia reach the Super Bowl, and his work with young stars in Baltimore has him on the verge of another title bid.

Grady Brown

Coming off his third year as the Steelers’ secondary coach, a role in which he’s overseen career marks from Minkah Fitzpatrick and learned under Mike Tomlin, Brown also has an extensive college resume that includes coordinator experience. Pittsburgh stalwarts like Cameron Heyward have credited Brown with helping the Steelers stay afloat in 2023 amid injuries.

Keenan McCardell

The Vikings’ wide receivers coach is probably still better known for his 16-year playing career, when he topped 1,000 yards for the Buccaneers and Jaguars. But he’s had a direct hand in the instant stardom of both Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison in Minnesota. Several clubs have eyed him as a potential coordinator, but at 54, it’s a surprise he hasn’t already gotten a shot.

Mike Zimmer

The former Vikings head coach hasn’t held an NFL job since 2021, but he’s hinted at a return after spending 2022 as a consultant for Jackson State, aiding a Deion Sanders staff that went 12-1. He’s also got an extensive defensive background that could make him an attractive coordinator for a team in win-now mode, running the Bengals defense for six years prior to his Minnesota post.

Ron Gould

A big reason for the Rams’ resurgence in 2023 was Kyren Williams’ unexpected takeover as a workhorse back, and Williams did so under Gould’s tutelage. The longtime running backs coach is still fresh on the NFL scene; his Los Angeles gig was his first pro job. But he’s managed a staff before, serving as UC Davis’ head coach from 2013-16, and as running coordinator at California.

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