Jim Caldwell Denies Rumor He Turned Down HC Interview Requests from Raiders, Vikings

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 22, 2022

File- This Dec. 24, 2017, file photo shows Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watching during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. The Packers (7-8) have fallen short of the playoffs for the first time since 2008, a year before Matthews was drafted. Detroit (8-7) won’t be in the postseason either, and the big question now is whether the Lions will stick with Caldwell for another year. Detroit made the playoffs last season but lost its final three regular-season games and its postseason opener. This year, the Lions were in decent shape at 6-4 before consecutive losses against Minnesota and Baltimore left them playing catch-up.(AP Photo/Gary Landers, File)
AP Photo/Gary Landers, File

Former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell issued a statement Saturday to deny a report he turned down interview requests from the Las Vegas Raiders and Minnesota Vikings to discuss their head coaching vacancies.

Jim Caldwell @JimCaldwell_NFL

I would like to correct an erroneous report that I turned down opportunities to interview for the head coaching job with Minnesota and Las Vegas. Those reports are not true (Full statement below). <a href="https://t.co/lX6RNZLehz">pic.twitter.com/lX6RNZLehz</a>

ESPN's Dan Graziano reported Friday that Caldwell turned down the opportunities amid separate interest from the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars:

"According to multiple sources, the Raiders and Vikings both reached out to former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell this week to request to interview him, and he declined both requests. This indicates strongly that Caldwell believes he will get one of the other open jobs, and my understanding is that he's in the mix in both Chicago and Jacksonville and already is reaching out to candidates for his staff."

Caldwell posted a 62-50 regular-season record with four playoff appearances across seven years as a head coach, three with the Colts and four with the Lions. He guided Indy to Super Bowl XLIV before falling short against the New Orleans Saints.

His tenure with the Lions ended after the 2017 campaign despite posting back-to-back 9-7 seasons. Detroit has compiled a 17-46-2 record since his departure.

He was hired by the Miami Dolphins in 2019 to serve as their assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, but he stepped away from those roles before the start of the season to focus on his health. He instead served as a consultant.

"I will be stepping back due to some medical complications that require my full attention," Caldwell said at the time.

Now the 67-year-old Wisconsin native has jumped back into the coaching carousel and has attracted interest from several teams as he looks to extend his career into a sixth decade. He started as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Iowa, in 1977.

It sounds like he's still trying to keep his options wide open despite the speculation he was already starting to build a staff for potentially Chicago or Jacksonville.

Caldwell gained a reputation of being well-liked by players, and he drew praise from legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in 2014:

"Jim Caldwell has meant a great deal to me in my career. I felt like, once he got to Indianapolis, and became my quarterbacks coach, that my game really improved. It took a step up, and I thought Jim had a great deal to do with that. He and I had a set routine that we tried to perform every day in the meeting room on the practice field in different drills."

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether the Raiders and Vikings will formally request an interview with Caldwell following his statement on Saturday.

They are two of the eight NFL teams searching for a new head coach.