5. Carolina Panthers
If Johnson had gotten on the plane and interviewed for the Panthers job, he might be the head coach in Carolina right now. Would their record be better than 1-8 right now though? That's hard to say. But it's fair to say uncertainty at quarterback, in terms of who the Panthers would take No. 1 overall last April, may have diminished Johnson's interest in the job.
Why leave the Lions for that?
Of course the Panthers, good or bad, now have Bryce Young as their quarterback of the present and (likely) immediate future. There are those who never thought he'd be a capable NFL quarterback, or at least not as good as C.J. Stroud, and while it's still early to declare anything the Panthers may have gotten it wrong.
Frank Reich is a fine football coach who got a raw deal when the Colts fired him last season. But Panthers owner David Tepper wants to have a winning team on the field, and that starts with getting more out of Young over the rest of this lost season.
The Athletic's Dianna Russini reported this week there are concerns about Reich's ability to develop Young. So if Young doesn't improve down the stretch, regardless of wins and losses, Reich might be one-and-done in Carolina.
Tepper clearly wanted Johnson before hiring Reich, and was surely prepared to make an offer that would have been hard to refuse to come be the Panthers' new head coach.
If Reich is done after one year, a pivot back toward Johnson makes plenty of sense for Carolina. The questions would then become if Johnson wants to go through with an interview this time, and what other head coaching opportunities he'll have.