Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy to interview with Browns, Jets
GREEN BAY – Two teams with young quarterbacks want to interview former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy for their openings, a source confirmed Tuesday.
McCarthy will interview with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. It’s unclear whether that interview will happen before or after McCarthy speaks with the New York Jets.
Both teams expressed interest in speaking with McCarthy not long after the Packers fired him Dec. 2. The Browns already had a vacancy after firing Hue Jackson early in the season, while the Jets fired Todd Bowles immediately after Sunday’s season finale.
The Arizona Cardinals also were interested in interviewing McCarthy for their head-coaching vacancy, but he reportedly declined their request.
ESPN first reported McCarthy’s interview with the Browns. His interview with the Jets was first reported Tuesday by NFL Network.
McCarthy has expressed interest in coaching during the 2019 season, a source said, but he can afford to be selective with his next job opportunity. With one year left on his Packers contract, McCarthy has the option to sit out 2019 and collect a roughly $8 million buyout. But the buyout won’t keep McCarthy from coaching next season if the right job arrives.
The Browns and Jets might be such jobs. Both selected quarterbacks in the top three picks of last April’s draft. The Browns'' Baker Mayfield and the Jets' Sam Darnold showed the potential to be franchise quarterbacks as rookies. Both have the tools to fit well in McCarthy’s West Coast offense.
Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes in 13 starts, throwing for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns with 14 interceptions for a 93.7 rating. After finishing the previous three seasons with a 4-44 record, including 0-16 in 2017, the Browns had a resurgent 7-8-1 record in 2018.
The Jets didn’t win as many games with Darnold, but for a franchise starved for quality quarterback play, his rookie year was promising nonetheless. Darnold completed 57.7 percent of his passes in 13 starts, throwing for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns with 15 interceptions for a 77.6 rating.
With a 4-12 record, the Jets will draft in the top six for the third straight year. The Browns will draft 17th this spring. Both are expected to have ample cap space to maneuver in free agency.
There are other reasons the Browns and Jets could be seen as attractive destinations beyond young quarterbacks and cap space.
Perhaps no rebuild in the NFL would be as meaningful as Cleveland, a franchise that has made one playoff appearance since its rebirth in 1999, and none in the past 17 seasons. The Jets are ideally positioned in the nation’s largest market and, if Darnold develops as hoped, could be positioned to control the AFC East after Tom Brady’s eventual retirement in New England.
So McCarthy soon could have a choice to make. What’s clear is if the Packers' longtime head coach wants a second act, he’ll most likely get one.