Lions head coach search zeroing in on Saints assistant Dan Campbell

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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Sean Payton’s coaching tree could soon grow a new branch. The Detroit Lions have identified New Orleans Saints assistant Dan Campbell as the favorite among their candidates to replace fired coach Matt Patricia, so much so that the team canceled an interview with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was also interested in the job. Campbell previously interviewed with the Lions virtually, before the hiring of general manager Brad Holmes.

The Lions’ pool of candidates was also thinned down as their options were snapped up by rival teams. San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was hired by the New York Jets, while Tennessee Titans offensive play caller Arthur Smith was offered to work with the Atlanta Falcons.

As reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, league rules dictate that in-person interviews cannot be conducted and new contracts cannot be signed until a coach’s current team has finished their season. That means the Lions want to wait until the Saints have either won Super Bowl LV or been eliminated from the playoffs to seal the deal with Campbell, much like the Falcons are on standby until Saints executive Terry Fontenot is available.

Campbell first got on the NFL’s radar as the Miami Dolphins interim head coach back in 2015, later returning to New Orleans (where he’d once played for Payton) to coach tight ends. He earned the assistant head coach title and now appears close to running his own team soon.

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