Shocker: Hackett Is Back in the Game as Denver’s Search Continues
Denver's search for a new coach has entered another week without news of any finalists or even any scheduled second interviews for any of the eight candidates they've already spoken with.
As gossip and rumors swirl around social media and on TV about the Broncos' next hire, thanks to the insight of several NFL "insiders," one piece of the old puzzle has just fallen into place elsewhere.
Multiple sources are reporting that former Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett has accepted an offer to become the Offensive Coordinator of the New York Jets. Hackett was 4-11 as the embattled HC of the Broncos before being fired with two games left in the regular season, the day after Christmas.
Being hired by the Jets comes as a surprise to many, based on the fact he had such an abysmal tenure with the Broncos in the 2022 season. He was in charge of arguably the least productive offense in the league, and yet has been tapped to lead another one.
His arrival with the Jets fuels speculation that Aaron Rodgers - remember him? - could view New York as a viable location to request a trade from his current team, the Green Bay Packers. Many feel like his time in Green Bay is over and this will be the year he wants to move on, in addition to the team seemingly wanting to move on from him.
The same speculation happened this time last year when Hackett was hired in Denver. Many thought Rodgers would want to follow, but chose to stay in Green Bay and instead the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson to run Hackett's offense. We all know how that tandem played out.
As Hackett has apparently found his new home, the Broncos have yet to find someone to fill his shoes at Dove Valley. The front runners have changed numerous times, from Jim Harbaugh because of his Stanford connections to ownership to Sean Payton, the former Saints coach who would be the splashy hire and is coveted by all teams looking for a new coach this offseason.
But in the last few days, it's sounding more and more like Payton may instead return to the cushy Fox Sports studio rather than prowling the sidelines of Mile High or anywhere else as head coach.
This development - and the fact that the Broncos seem to be stalling on a second round of interviews with any candidates or announcing any hires - could suggest the favorite to be the next head coach in Denver might actually be DeMeco Ryans, the current Defensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Ryans has a lot of connections to a lot of people who have been part of the Broncos franchise over the last couple of decades, so it's a real possibility.
NFL rules prohibit him from participating in any second interviews until after his 49ers play in the NFC Championship game. It's speculated that he's a finalist both in Denver and in Houston - where he was drafted to play.