Two weeks later, no coaching vacancy has been filled

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Three coaches were fired during the season. Two joined them on Monday, January 9.

In 15 days since then, no one has made a hire.

We’ve seen how it happens in the past. Once the first domino falls, others follow. For now, the process generally is shifting from a broad wave of first interviews to a more narrow set of second interviews. Then, decisions will be made.

Some ultimately may wait to make a hire until after the Super Bowl, like the Vikings did a year ago with Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. If someone wants 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, or Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, that could be the case.

The biggest name in the current cycle, of course, is available to be hired at any time. And four of the five teams (Broncos, Texans, Cardinals, Panthers) have interviewed or will interview Sean Payton.

It’s unknown what Payton wants. He could choose to go to the Broncos, a team that has a great fan base, a strong tradition of winning, ownership with chasm-deep pockets, and a quarterback situation that won’t be blamed on Payton if he can’t rectify things in 2023. Which basically gives him a redshirt year.

Payton could end up with the Panthers, if he prefers a clean slate at quarterback — and if owner David Tepper is willing to dig deep financially and to give the Saints the enhanced package they’ll want for Payton’s rights. One real attraction in Charlotte comes from the fact that, while the AFC West is one of the best divisions in football, the NFC South currently is not.

Payton also could land in Houston. That’s the closest approximation to New Orleans. A team with very limited success in 20 years of NFL football. Payton could become the same kind of hero there that he is in New Orleans.

Arizona seems like a longer shot, given that they’ve already hired a G.M. And there’s a lingering vibe that Brian Flores is the favorite there, especially since new General Manager Monti Ossenfort (like Flores) has Patriot Way DNA.

The presence of entrenched General Managers in Denver, Charlotte, and Houston also becomes a factor. They naturally won’t want to have their status diminished, and potentially their employment jeopardized, if Payton shows up and takes over. That could give the likes of George Paton, Scott Fitterer, and Nick Caserio, respectively, an interest in trying to nudge the process away from Payton.

Still, Payton is the key. Once he lands with a team, the others likely will begin to fall into place.

Along the way, someone may decide to take a look at Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, who continues to do an excellent job against some of the better offenses in the NFL. If the Bengals can neutralize Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and company on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, maybe one of these five teams should wait until the day after the Super Bowl to bring Anarumo in for an interview.

Two weeks later, no coaching vacancy has been filled originally appeared on Pro Football Talk