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Top 10 Head Coaching Options on the NFL Market This Offseason

Nick KostoraContributor IIIJanuary 1, 2013

Top 10 Head Coaching Options on the NFL Market This Offseason

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    The worst of "Black Monday" is behind us, and now it is time to look at the best head coaching options to fill seven vacancies across the NFL.

    Not every coach is right for every situation, but guys like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher will be at the top of most teams' coaching big boards.

    Who else will teams be targeting? Perhaps more importantly, who should they be targeting?

    Let's break down the top 10 head coaching options on the market this offseason.

10. Ken Whisenhunt

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    In a somewhat surprising move, Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the Arizona Cardinals. He is a great offensive coach and sparked a tremendous turnaround in his time with the team.

    The QB carousel in the desert this season undoubtedly led to his demise, but Whisenhunt did lead Arizona to a Super Bowl appearance a few short years ago. And keep in mind that prior to his arrival, the Cardinals had just one winning season since 1985.

    Whisenhunt may not be the first call that teams make, but he will be on many lists.

9. Brian Kelly

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    The first collegiate head coach on our list is the leading man at Notre Dame. Brian Kelly may believe that coaching the Fighting Irish is the top job in all of football, and no one would fault him for that.

    However, his stock in NFL circles may never be higher than right now. Leading Notre Dame to a No. 1 overall ranking and a BCS title game berth in only three seasons is just the latest proof that Kelly can win wherever he goes.

    Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame have all seen great turnarounds with Kelly roaming the sidelines.

    He has not expressed a clear desire to jump to the pro game, but if he wins a national championship, it would not be shocking to see Kelly make the leap.

8. Lovie Smith

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    In one of the more surprising firings of "Black Monday," the 10-6 Chicago Bears parted ways with Lovie Smith.

    Needless to say, Smith will not be on the open market for long. He has been in the NFL since the mid-1990s and had varying levels of success since taking over for the Bears.

    Smith did lead Chicago to a Super Bowl appearance and will be instantly recognized by any fanbase. Chicago has not always been great under Smith, but he has had four seasons with at least 10 wins. That has to be intriguing for the teams currently looking for coaches.

7. Jack Del Rio

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    Remember Jack Del Rio?

    After unceremoniously exiting the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching position after the 2011 season, he joined up with the Denver Broncos as defensive coordinator.

    The results have been impressive, and Del Rio does have all-important experience. A team with a quarterback already in place (perhaps San Diego or Chicago) could do far worse than hiring Del Rio.

6. Bruce Arians

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    It may not be possible for stock to rise any faster than Bruce Arians' has with the Indianapolis Colts.

    He was brought in this season to be an offensive coordinator and quickly found himself leading an 11-5 football team with a rookie quarterback at the helm.

    Granted, that quarterback is Andrew Luck, but Arians is still going to be one of the most hotly pursued coaches on the market in 2013.

    More than a few teams will be making calls to Indianapolis.

5. Mike McCoy

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    For those of you who have never heard of Mike McCoy, it is time to quickly become acquainted with the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator.

    Just don't get used to him holding that position. McCoy has worked with a smorgasbord of quarterbacks, including Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning.

    McCoy has worked with a wide range of offensive styles and succeeded with each of them. Yes, Manning has been the main reason for the Broncos offensive success in 2012, but McCoy's efforts should not be forgotten.

    He will be one of the top names to come out of the coordinator ranks.

4. Chip Kelly

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    Every year, there are at least a few college coaches that float around the NFL market, and Chip Kelly is making the rounds for the second consecutive season.

    While he came close to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job last year, his interest seems to be higher in 2013.

    Kelly's high-flying offensive attack has confused college defenses for years, and at some point the transition is going to be made to the pro level. Will Kelly's style actually work in the NFL?

    That remains to be seen, but there are more than a few cellar dwellers that will be willing to find out. 

3. Bill Cowher

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    Bill Cowher has not expressed any interest in returning to coaching...yet.

    His analyst job on CBS has suited him well for the past couple of years, but teams will undoubtedly inquire about Cowher's availability.

    What makes the 2013 offseason stand out is the fact that so many jobs are available for Cowher to pick from. It is unlikely that so many positions are open at one time in the next couple of years.

    With 22 years of NFL coaching experience in his back pocket and a Super Bowl ring to his credit, Cowher will be one of the most popular coaching options this year.

2. Andy Reid

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    It was clearly time for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles to head in different directions.

    However, a change of scenery may be all that is required for Reid to regain his momentum. He made five NFC title game appearances during his tenure with Philadelphia and is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game.

    Reid has worked with a variety of quarterbacks and could likely tailor any personnel to his game plan. Whether or not he wants to take a year off from football is unclear, but if he is available, then Reid will be a top option for most teams.

1. Jon Gruden

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    There is perhaps no greater head coaching prize this offseason than Jon Gruden.

    Gruden has a Super Bowl ring and plenty of years worth of experience roaming the sidelines. That type of pedigree will be appealing to virtually every team in search of a new leading man.

    Perhaps what makes Gruden so appealing is his clear passion for the game and the fact that players respect him. Now, his current job on Monday Night Football could be a stumbling block, but reports say Gruden does plan to interview for positions (via NFL.com).

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