After being axed in Arizona, there hasn't been as much interest as originally expected for the 52-year-old coordinator, but that could soon be changing.
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 18, at 2:35 p.m. ET by Pete Schauer
According to NFL: Around the League, Ray Horton has officially been released from his contract with the Arizona Cardinals and could be on his way to another organization:
Ray Horton officially released from his Cardinals contract. Expectation is he lands in Cleveland.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) January 18, 2013
---End of Update---
The Cardinals hired Bruce Arians on Thursday evening, ending their head coaching search without promoting from within. Horton was considered one of the strongest candidates remaining for the position, and even figured to have the edge based on the remaining field.
According Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Horton is out as defensive coordinator and Todd Bowles will take over in his place.
I'm told Ray Horton is out as Cardinals defensive coordinator and will be replaced by Todd Bowles. Source who knows. Bad vibes all around.— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) January 18, 2013
Horton wasn't happy with the Arians hire, and made sure new general manager Steve Keim knew about it before he took his box of belongings to his car. Mike Jurecki had the report on Twitter:
For those asking abt Ray Horton I was told he had a heated exchange w/ Steve Keim, thought he was the guy when McCoy took the Chargers job.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 18, 2013
USA Today's Mike Garafolo certainly doesn't blame Horton, per his response to Jurecki's tweet:
Yup, he's pissed. Can't blame him. RT @mikejurecki: Ray Horton had a heated exchange w/ Steve Keim, thought he was the guy when McCoy to SD.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 18, 2013
McCoy is Mike McCoy, the new San Diego Chargers head coach. He was one of the finalists in Arizona, and when he accepted the Chargers' head coaching position, Horton apparently believed the road had been paved for his first-ever NFL head coaching job.
Keim, the new general manager of the team that was hired on Jan. 8, apparently had other plans. He chose to go with an outside hire, despite the fact that Horton led the Cardinals defense to a top-12 finish—including finishing fifth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
Expect NFL teams to scoop Horton up very quickly. He was highly regarded as a head coaching candidate during this league-wide search, and his defensive schemes proved worthy for a team that exceeded expectations on defense.
For now, Horton is left fuming in the wake of Arians' hire, and his unexpected exit.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.