Seattle Seahawks Candidates: Who could succeed Carroll as coach
Jan 10, 2024, 4:28 PM | Updated: Jan 12, 2024, 10:02 am
(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The Seattle Seahawks will be looking at coaching candidates after deciding to move on from Pete Carroll as the franchise’s head coach after 14 years, sliding him into an advisory role.
Carroll went 137-89-1 during his tenure in Seattle, winning five NFC West titles, 10 playoff games and sending his team to two Super Bowl appearances, crescendoing with a championship title in 2013.
Among all of the team’s objectives to tackle this offseason, replacing Carroll now stands as priority No. 1. After having just three coaches over the last 25 seasons, who is going to be the Seattle Seahawks’ next coach?
Here’s a look at the names you can expect to hear in the coming weeks.
Candidates for Seattle Seahawks vacancy
• Dan Quinn (Dallas Cowboys DC)
Quinn has been Dallas’ defensive coordinator for the past three years, spearheading three top-10 scoring defenses in that stretch, including two in the top five in the last two years. Winner of the Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2021, Quinn is a familiar name because he was previously Seattle’s defensive coordinator during the heart of the “Legion of Boom” era in 2013 and 2014. Those two defenses paced the league in yards and points allowed, helping Seattle reach back-to-back Super Bowls.
Quinn left Seattle to become head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, a post he held from 2015-20, working alongside quarterback Matt Ryan each season. Their partnership peaked with a Super Bowl appearance in 2016, where the Falcons lost to the New England Patriots 34-28 in the first, and so far only, Super Bowl to reach overtime.
Quinn was fired from the Falcons after an 0-5 start in 2020, but his history with Seattle and the fact that many coaches have seen their greatest success in the NFL in their second or third tries makes him likely to be on the Seahawks’ list of candidates.
• Mike Vrabel (former Tennessee Titans coach)
Vrabel coached the Tennessee Titans for six years after working with the Houston Texans as a defensive assistant. He was a linebacker in the NFL for 14 seasons, including eight with the New England Patriots where he won three Super Bowls and became the only defensive player to score in multiple Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame last season.
As a head coach for the Titans, he made the playoffs in three of his first four years. In 2019, the Titans reached the AFC Championship game, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs 35-24. Two years later, the Titans claimed the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with the league awarding Vrabel with Coach of the Year honors.
Vrabel was fired from Tennessee earlier this week after the team finished the season with a 6-11 record, the worst in his head coaching career.
• Jim Harbaugh (Michigan coach)
Once a team has a head coach vacancy, Harbaugh rumors tend to quickly follow. All signs point to Harbaugh rejoining the NFL this upcoming season after winning the College Football Playoff National Championship against the UW Huskies on Monday.
Harbaugh has coached Michigan for nine years, winning three bowl games off of an 89-25 record. He was also the head coach for Stanford from 2007-10, turning that program from a four-win team in his first year to a 12-1 team that won the Orange Bowl four years later.
Harbaugh’s lone stint in the NFL was with the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers, who he lead to a 44-19-1 record, winning playoff games with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick as quarterback. He made three straight NFC Championship games in 2011-13, winning in 2012 to make his first and only Super Bowl appearance where the Niners lost to the Baltimore Ravens, who are coached by his brother, John Harbaugh. Bitter rivals with Seattle (and with a rivalry with Carroll that predated their time in the NFL), Harbaugh’s 49ers were the team the Seahawks had to get past in the NFC Championship in 2013 before claiming the franchise’s lone Super Bowl title.
Harbaugh is believed to be one of the most coveted coaching candidates in the league, with multiple teams expected to prepare offers for if (or when) he announces his return to professional football.
• Kalen DeBoer (UW Huskies coach)
After authoring one of the most successful seasons in Washington football history, could DeBoer be tempted to jump to the pros? The Huskies will look very different next fall as UW could set a 21st-century school record for most players drafted into the league from one class.
DeBoer got his start in Division II football as the head coach of the Sioux Falls Cougars. From 2005-09, DeBoer had a record of 67–3 and won three NAIA national championships. He became an offensive assistant for several years before landing his next head coaching job in 2020 with Fresno State. He went 12-6 with the program before becoming UW’s current coach after the 2021 campaign.
With a 25-3 record, two bowl wins and a national championship appearance in just two years with the Dawgs, DeBoer’s time has already been heralded as one of the most successful stints in school history.
• Chris Petersen (former UW Huskies coach)
Chris Petersen spent nearly two decades as an assistant head coach for various college programs, working exclusively on the offensive side of the game. In 2006, he took an offer to become Boise State’s head coach. In eight years, he lost just 12 games while winning 92 (a .885 win percentage) en route to 13 bowl game appearances with the Broncos, winning seven of them.
He parlayed that success into becoming UW’s coach for six seasons from 2014-19. He went 55-26 with the university, ushering in the football program’s most successful stretch in the 21st century prior to this most recent season for the Huskies. UW competed in a bowl game in each season Petersen was head coach, with UW winning two: the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2015 and the Las Vegas Bowl in 2019, which was his last game as a head coach.
While he hasn’t been tempted to return to coaching since his retirement, Petersen holds a leadership advisory role with the UW athletics program and is also an analyst for FOX’s college football coverage.
More on Pete Carroll out as Seahawks coach
• What Pete Carroll said after leaving Seahawks head coach role
• Pete Carroll out as Seahawks coach: Bump and Stacy’s live reaction
• Former Seahawks, others in sports world react to Pete Carroll news
• Seattle Sports’ voices share reaction to Pete Carroll news
• Carroll explains why he’s no longer Seahawks coach, what’s next