While the Buffalo Bills announced that defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Leslie Frazier was stepping away for the 2023 NFL season, the ’85 Bears legend is not exactly taking the year off.
Frazier won’t be on the sidelines coaching, but he will be on TV giving expert analysis. The NFL Network revealed in a memo on Tuesday, September 5, “Frazier will appear on various NFL Network studio shows, including NFL GameDay Live. A former Super Bowl champion cornerback for the Chicago Bears, Frazier brings over 30 years of coaching experience to his new role with NFL Network.”
Frazier made some preseason appearances with NFL Network last month. He’ll be joining five other new analysts in the studio, Gerald McCoy, Chase Daniel, Pep Hamilton, David Shaw, Robert and Turbin.
While there was initial confusion over whether Frazier would return to Orchard Park after his one-year sabbatical, his participation in the NFL’s Coach Accelerator program in late May indicated that he was committed to making a comeback to the NFL as a head coach, and his offseason activities strongly suggest that the 64-year-old will not be back on the Bills’ sidelines.
CBS Sports analyst Josina Anderson reported in June that Frazier spent two days with the Green Bay Packers after attending the NFL’s Coach Accelerator program, followed by two days with the Washington Commanders, and a visit with the New York Giants “to maintain dialogue,” as he has close relationships with head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen from his six-year tenure in Buffalo.
The Buffalo News‘ NFL insider Jay Skurski wrote in his mailbag column that visiting different teams during the offseason “is not something a coach with any intention of returning to his old role would do. I also don’t think the Bills would be cool with Frazier spending time with other teams if they had any idea he’d return in 2024.
“His stated goal is to become a head coach again, but spending a year out of football at 64 years old, when by his own admission, teams continue to hire younger head coaches could make that a tough sell.”
Leslie Frazier Said He Left Buffalo for the ‘Right Reasons’
Three months after his surprise exit from Buffalo, Frazier opened up to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer to discuss the mysterious departure. “I think my reasons for stepping away were the right reasons; I feel good about it,” he said.
After five years as a player for the Chicago Bears, nine seasons as a college coach, and 24 seasons coaching in the NFL, Frazier said that adjusting to life without an incredibly demanding job was not easy.
“Man, early on, this is the third month. So for me, that first month or two, it was hard, man, just trying to find my rhythm and getting used to having free time,” Frazier said. “It’s been so long — more than 30 years — since I haven’t been on a schedule this time of the year. So it was a challenge just trying to figure out what to do with myself.
“But over the last three or four weeks, things have gotten a lot better as far as me being organized in how I want to spend my time. And I’m thankful for it, just very, very thankful that I can do this. I’m so grateful that I’m in a position where we can step back and not be sweating about finances. So, just very thankful.”
Leslie Frazier Is ‘Hoping’ an Owner Gives Him a Shot at Head Coach
As for whether he gets hired to be a head coach next year, Frazier told Breer that he’s at peace either way. “I really feel good about where I am.”
“Hopefully, an owner will give me a chance to talk to him about an opportunity,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen, I’m good. I’ve had a good career. I’m good. My goal is to be a head coach. I know I don’t have much time left. I’m at an age where it seems like owners are going younger and younger, but I think I have some things I can bring to the table. We’ll see what happens.”
Frazier didn’t comment on the possibility of returning to his old job, or accepting an offer to become a team’s defensive coordinator for what would he 25th season coaching in the NFL.
In 2010, Frazier became the interim head coach for the Minnesota Vikings after Brad Childress was fired, a position he held through December 2013. Frazier told ESPN in September 2022 that despite his success with the Bills, he believes his experience as a defensive coordinator has been a deterrence.
“I don’t want to say that I’m OK with it where it doesn’t matter anymore,” Frazier said when asked young coaches with offensive backgrounds getting hired over veteran coaches with defensive backgrounds. “You’re disappointed that people get that narrow-minded and only believe that I gotta hire this young offensive mind to lead my team because I’ve got this young quarterback, but [it’s the owner’s] team.”