There’s a story up on The Athletic about the Commanders’ failed pursuit of Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Having been courted by both the Commanders and Seattle Seahawks (among others) for a head coaching job, Johnson opted to stay with the Lions for at least another season. Seattle obviously hired Macdonald, while the Commanders took former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
The Commanders were all ready to meet Ben Johnson face-to-face in Detroit last Tuesday. In a twist, they were reportedly told mid-flight by Johnson’s agent that he’s not leaving the Lions.
Johnson told Washington and Seattle that he pushed the brakes on leaving the Motor City. The rub is that Johnson, who pulled himself out of 2022 opportunities despite his burgeoning hot coach status, and his agent shared their exit plans by texting team officials while the Commanders’ group was on a flight from the Washington, D.C., area to meet in Michigan.
Supposedly, Washington was also supposed to interview Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, but that was clearly a sham.
There’s still the Macdonald option for Washington. After all, Macdonald is already nearby with the Baltimore Ravens and did two interviews with the team. In come the Seahawks and John Schneider...
Once Johnson was out of the running, the Commanders thought they were going to get Macdonald until the Seahawks swooped in with more money, league sources told The Athletic.
The push was strong but futile, and the Seahawks also sweetened the pot by offering up a six-year contract that is reportedly worth the most money for any first-time NFL head coach.
Washington more than checked in before Macdonald committed, league sources confirmed. ESPN and NBC Sports also reported late contact by Washington to Macdonald.
Another indicator: The typical term length for head coach contracts is four to five years. Macdonald agreed to a six-year deal. Leverage is helpful. Also in Seattle’s favor: more defensive talent, a quicker path back to contention and modern practice and game day facilities.
I know the article is about Ben Johnson, and now we’re getting other stories of him reportedly being a “bad interview,” so it’s a full-on PR battle going on and no doubt the Commanders are the ones pushing that. However, his decision may have created a domino effect that resulted in Macdonald taking the Seahawks job.
No victory laps just yet, but something to put in a time capsule to look back on after we’ve seen what lies ahead for Johnson, Macdonald, and whatever the Commanders are doing over the next several years.