NFL salary cap realities all but guarantee the Green Bay Packers are going to lose some top members of their roster this offseason, but it’s also very possible the team will lose one of its best coaches.
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has drawn interest from several of the eight NFL franchises currently interviewing for their vacant head coaching positions, and he was recently named a finalist for an open job in the AFC West Division.
Ian Rapoport, of NFL Network, broke the news on Monday, January 24.
“Things are heating up for the Denver Broncos. They started with almost 10 and now they are down to three, and it’s a pretty good list of candidates — candidates who have several other interviews,” Rapoport said.
The first two candidates Rapoport mentioned were Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who he called the presumptive favorite to win the job in Denver, and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who Rapoport described as “a little more of an under the radar name.”
ALL the latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
“And then the other one, Nathaniel Hackett, the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, done such a good job in helping Aaron Rodgers reach the heights that he has reached,” Rapoport continued. “Also someone who has plenty of experience as a play caller, a non-play caller, he’s kind of done it all in the offensive coordinator role. He is the other candidate. Expect [the Broncos] to take a second look at all of these guys.”
Hackett Lands in Denver For Second Broncos Interview Monday
Hackett touched down in Denver Monday for an interview with the Broncos, per Mike Klis of 9News.
“Broncos head coach candidate Nathaniel Hackett has arrived,” Klis tweeted. “Picked up quickly from private jet by Broncos’ Chip Conway, Ray Jackson.”
Denver’s interest in Hackett as an offensive mind makes sense. The Broncos ranked 24th in scoring offense this season with an average of 19.7 points per game, per Statmuse.
A shift from the defensive-oriented Vic Fangio, who captained the Broncos to a 19-30 record over three seasons, is a logical move considering the talent the team possesses on the offensive side of the football — wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, and tight end Noah Fant, just to name a few.
Hackett Could Be Bridge to Broncos Signing Aaron Rodgers This Offseason
Beyond an offensive strategist though, Denver really needs an upgrade at quarterback. A guy like Hackett may well get more out of Teddy Bridgewater than did Fangio, but the Broncos’ signal caller ranked just 21st out of 37 eligible QBs in overall rating last season, per Pro Football Focus.
To truly capitalize on a roster talented enough front to back to offer a legitimate championship window, Denver needs a new name under center. Rodgers may be looking for a new home this offseason and inking his offensive coordinator, of whom the quarterback has been publicly complimentary, is ostensibly a pretty good start.
Media members questioned Rodgers about his intentions moving forward after the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs Saturday, and the three-time MVP didn’t mince words.
“I don’t wanna be a part of a rebuild if I’m gonna keep playing, so you know, a lot of decisions in the next couple months,” Rodgers said. “I did not think we’d be talking about this after this game.”
Green Bay is going to be saddled with some tough choices on big-time contributors this offseason, including wide receiver Davante Adams and linebackers Za’Darius Smith and De’Vondre Campbell, just to name a few. That is not the case in Denver, where most of the young offensive talent is under contract through 2023.
Rodgers is 38 years old and likely to win the fourth MVP of his career. He hinted after Saturday’s defeat that though he still feels competitive and capable, retirement is a thought that’s at least present in his mind.
The evidence doesn’t point to Rodgers’ retirement being imminent, but his own words indicate he wants to be somewhere with an established roster and legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Green Bay might be that next season. Denver will be that if they add Rodgers, and hiring Hackett to run the team would make for the smoothest of transitions.