Mike Vrabel out as Titans head coach, fueling speculation he could replace Bill Belichick in New England

The Tennessee Titans are moving on from head coach Mike Vrabel, the team announced Tuesday, adding an intriguing wrinkle to the NFL coaching market.

Vrabel, 48, led the Titans to a 54-45 record in six seasons as head coach. He won NFL Coach of the Year honors in 2021, when Tennessee finished as the top seed in the AFC.

The Titans posted a losing record in both of the past two seasons, however, after finishing above .500 in each of Vrabel’s first four years. They went 2-3 in five playoff games over that stretch, which included an upset loss as the No. 1 seed to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional round in January 2022.

“Earlier today, I spoke with Mike Vrabel and told him about my decision to make a change at head coach,” team owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “As I told Coach Vrabel, this decision was as difficult as any I’ve made as Controlling Owner. I appreciate Mike’s contributions to the Tennessee Titans both on and off the field. Anyone who has ever met him knows how passionate and genuine he is, and he’s been a strong supporter of the Nashville community.”

The Titans appear poised for rebuild. Second-round rookie quarterback Will Levis started nine games in 2023, while star running back Derrick Henry thanked fans in a postgame speech Sunday following what was likely his final game with Tennessee. The Titans are set to pick seventh in the 2024 draft.

Speculation is already swirling that Vrabel, a former linebacker who won three Super Bowls as a player with the Patriots, could be a fit as New England’s next head coach should the organization part ways with Bill Belichick after a 4-13 season.

On Monday, Belichick made rare comments about his future in New England, stressing he was still under contract and planned to meet with team owner Robert Kraft. Belichick, who began coaching the Patriots in 2000, has won six Super Bowls with New England.

“I’m going to do what I always do, which is, every day, I come in, work as hard as I can to help the team in whatever way I can,” Belichick, 71, said. “As far as any decisions or direction or anything like that for next year, [it] is way too early for that. The end of the year processes I don’t think will be fundamentally any different from the standpoint of how it’s done.”

Vrabel’s firing follows the Washington Commanders parting ways with Ron Rivera and the Atlanta Falcons letting go of Arthur Smith this week. The Raiders fired Josh McDaniels, the Panthers fired Frank Reich and the Chargers fired Brandon Staley during the season.