As his first year as an offensive coordinator and play caller wound down, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson garnered plenty of head coaching buzz. He had interviews with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, and one was scheduled with the Carolina Panthers before Johnson pulled the plug to stay with the Lions.
As expected, Johnson reportedly got a healthy raise to stay with the Lions at least one more year. But along with finding the right opportunity, a coordinator's pay cannot compete with what a head coach gets.
If we get down to it, the job openings in last year's head coach hiring cycle weren't all that appealing for whatever reasons-some specific to each, and some that overlap. So Johnson chose to stay a part of what's being built in Detroit. The Lions have one of the top offenses in the league again, as he coaxes the best out of Jared Goff and has navigated around some injury absences.
We know Johnson will not leave the Lions for just any head coaching job. But if a team with a vacancy after this season has intriguing pieces on the offensive side (in particular), that's a job that seems likely to be of some interest to him.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media is out with his annual piece taking a look at young head coaching candidates to watch. Johnson is of course part of it, with a punchline to note from Pelissero.
"Many league sources consider Johnson the most coveted candidate in this hiring cycle."
Johnson will surely be busy, or as busy at he wants to be, on the head coaching interview cycle when teams look to fill openings for 2024. But these five jobs look like legit options he could leave the Lions for.