The Eric Bieniemy experience has taken a couple of wild twists and turns in the last week, beginning with five head coaching interviews in three days between last Monday and Wednesday.
Since then, reports have surfaced that the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator “wants nothing to do” with the Houston Texans — the lone team with a vacancy not to request an interview with him — and conflicting stories about his meeting with the Atlanta Falcons, though according to NFL Network’s Steve Wyche on Saturday, the 51-year-old remains “very much in the mix” for that job.
However, a new report from NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk is painting a much more skeptical picture of Bieniemy’s pursuit for a head coaching position for the third consecutive year.
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Mike Florio: Eric Bieniemy Could Get ‘Shut Out’ Once Again
Dating back to the 2019 offseason, Kansas City’s third-year offensive coordinator has now interviewed for 11 different NFL clubs, including twice with the New York Jets, and turned down a potential 13th opportunity with the Arizona Cardinals.
After another season helping lead the Chiefs explosive offense alongside head coach Andy Reid, this year’s list of suitors, which features the Jets, Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and division-rival Los Angeles Chargers, appears to be his best shot at a promotion to date.
But according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Sunday, there is a growing perception around the league that Reid’s top offensive assistant may come up empty once again.
Current offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has stalled in that spot for three years, passed over for head-coaching offers after his first two seasons of working directly with quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
A week ago, it seemed inevitable that one of the various 2021 vacancies would go to Bieniemy. Now, there’s a sense in league circles that he could once again be shut out of the process.
Citing a league rule that would ultimately prevent another club from hiring him until the Chiefs are eliminated from the playoffs (which wouldn’t come until next Sunday, January 17 at the earliest), Florio also reported that Bieniemy may be starting to feel the air coming out of his sails.
Bieniemy may sense that his ship won’t be coming in this year. As one league source explained it to PFT, Bieniemy is privately saying that he wants to stay with the Chiefs until he finds the perfect job.
With Chiefs passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka also drawing interest from other teams for the second consecutive year, losing Bieniemy, while not ideal, would provide some benefit to the defending Super Bowl champions.
First, the vacancy would provide Reid and the front office to potentially promote Kafka again in an effort to keep one of Patrick Mahomes‘ right-hand men on staff for at least another season. Secondly, thanks to a new resolution approved by NFL owners in November, the Chiefs stand to gain a pair of third-round compensatory draft picks in each of the following two drafts.
Bieniemy Reportedly Favoring the Jets
While the Texans were once considered the odds-on favorite to land Bieniemy, very few details have emerged on what his preferred landing spot might be — until this week.
According to WEEI’s Christian Fauria last Friday, Bieniemy may have his sights set on the Big Apple in an ideal world.
“Get ready New York Post,” Fauria said on Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on January 9. “[Bieniemy’s] going to be the next head coach of the New York Jets…I’m hearing that Eric Bieniemy wants to be and is going to be the next head coach of the New York Jets.”
The Jets completed their latest meeting with Bieniemy last Wednesday and are slated to pick No. 2 overall in April’s NFL Draft.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!