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Rules On Hiring NFL Coaches


With my ongoing series on possible replacements (if he's fired) for Ron Turner to coordinate the Bears offense under way, (click here for Charlie Weis and here for Mike Martz) I thought I'd throw out some hiring rules for coaches in the NFL.  We are all aware of the Rooney Rule in regards to hiring Head Coaches or senior football operations positions, but there are some restrictions in hiring other members of your staff as well.

The only possible coaches that can be hired with no delay are the coaches that are currently unemployed.  If you are looking to "steal" away a coach from another NFL team, there are restrictions that limit what you can do.  It's not as cut and dry as locating a candidate, offering him more money, and hiring him.  If the coach is under contract with another NFL team there are rules that teams must follow. 

*  You can't hire a coach away from another team if it's a lateral move.  You can only hire a contracted coach away if he'll receive a promotion.

You can't hire one team's offensive coordinator to be your offensive coordinator.  If the Bears wanted to steal away a team's offensive coordinator, then he could only be hired as Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator.  For those of you thinking the Bears already have an Assistant Head Coach in Rod Marinelli so they couldn't possibly go this route, you may be mistaken.  The Houston Texans currently have two coaches on staff with the Assistant Head Coach title.  I'm not sure how many you can have, but apparently two is allowed. 

If the Bears wanted to hire away a team's contracted quarterbacks coach to run their offense, there would be nothing that could stop them, because going from a QB Coach to an Offensive Coordinator would be a step up.

For example; If Chicago had their eye on Pittsburgh Steelers QB Coach Ken Anderson, they could hire him to be their new Offensive Coordinator, but not as a QB Coach (no lateral moves)Another example; If the Bears were interested in Kyle Shanahan, current offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, they wouldn't be able to hire him as their new OC unless they added the Assistant Head Coach title in addition to his coordinator duties.  Now if either of these two have their contracts expire after the 2009 season they'd essentially be free to sign with any team for any position.

*  Lateral moves are only permitted if both teams agree.

If the Bears really wanted to hire away an offensive coordinator currently under contract they could always work out compensation with that team.  Either with some draft picks or some money changing hands.  But with the limited supply of draft picks the Bears have next year and with everyone knowing how cheap they are, this isn't really an option.

*  Hiring away a coach under contract to a college is permitted.

On the NFL end there is no rule disallowing this, however if a contracted college coach chooses to interview with an NFL team it could very well piss off the school.  Former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski interviewed with the N.Y. Jets last year and was subsequently fired by B.C. athletic director Gene DeFillippo.  Hiring away a college coach that is a position coach or a coordinator usually comes with less drama, but you never know.

For example;  If the Bears looked to a successful college program, like USC, and wanted to interview someone on their staff, like Jeremy Bates the Assistant Head Coach of the Offense/Quarterbacks Coach and former QB Coach of the Denver Broncos,  they should probably inform the school of their intentions (to avoid drama), however there would be nothing that would stop them from making such a hire.

It's looking like a sure thing that at least one coach (possibly more) currently employed by the Bears will be out of a job.  Who that is exactly...  we'll have to wait and see.  But one thing is for certain, the next guy better be able to get the most of of the franchise QB, otherwise this team could be set back another 5 years.