An NFL coaching hiring cycle that has been one of the most patient in recent memory finally began to percolate Thursday.
As teams such as the Broncos (Nathaniel Hackett) and Bears (Matt Eberflus) fill head-coaching vacancies, it raised the question of where things stand with the Seahawks’ search for a defensive coordinator.
Thursday marked 10 days since the Seahawks fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing-game coordinator Andre Curtis.
As of Thursday afternoon, nothing appeared imminent in terms of a hire for either job.
Four names have been confirmed by sources as candidates for the defensive coordinator job — current defensive-line coach and assistant head coach Clint Hurtt, Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, Denver defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and Dallas secondary coach and passing-game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.
Whether any new names have been added to the list is unclear. But the events of Thursday involving teams for three of the known four candidates might spur some activity.
Hurtt, 43, has also been reported as a candidate for the defensive-coordinator position at the University of Miami, his alma mater, under new coach Mario Cristobal.
It’s known that the Seahawks wants to keep Hurtt, who has been with the Seahawks since 2017 and is the second-longest tenured defensive assistant after linebackers coach John Glenn.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has a history of hiring known quantities for defensive coordinator, in part because Carroll is known to have a heavy say in what happens on defense.
All four of Carroll’s previous Seahawks defensive coordinators were either with the team at the time or had worked for the Seahawks during his time as head coach. The last two — Norton and Kris Richard — were promoted from position coaching jobs.
The Seahawks could well do the same with Hurtt, and the fact that the Miami DC job remains unfilled is telling — the Hurricanes could be waiting to see what happens.
The Seahawks are reportedly interested in bringing back Nick Sorenson as passing-game coordinator. Sorenson was the Seahawks’ secondary coach from 2017-19 and held the title of secondary coach/nickel specialist in 2020 before leaving for Jacksonville in 2020 to serve as special-teams coordinator under since-fired Urban Meyer (Sorenson was also a special-teams assistant with the Seahawks from 2013-16).
Of the three outside candidates, all have situations that remain unclear but with recent moves that might make each more available.
Of the three, Donatell is the only one with ties to Carroll, the two having worked together at the University of Pacific in 1983 and with the Jets from 1990-94.
Donatell, 64, has been in limbo since Denver fired Vic Fangio earlier this month, and he may not have his job to return to now that Hackett has been hired. Hackett is reported to be interested in hiring Ejiro Evero, the Rams secondary coach and pass-game coordinator, as defensive coordinator (Hackett and Evero have known each other since college).
Donatell also has extensive experience as a defensive backs/secondary coach, and if he’s out of a job in Denver he might be available for a non-DC opening as well.
Desai’s future with the Bears is also unclear with Chicago set to hire Eberflus, who had been the defensive coordinator with the Colts.
Eberflus runs a 4-3 defense while Desai, 38, used a 3-4 with the Bears in 2021 in his first year as the defensive coordinator.
Reports have stated that the Ravens and Steelers want to talk, or have talked to, the 43-year-old Whitt about their defensive coordinator opening, as well.
Taking some time to fill a coordinator role isn’t out of the ordinary.
The Seahawks fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on Jan. 12 in 2021 and reached an agreement to hire Shane Waldron as his replacement on Jan. 26, 2021.