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Bruce Arians Reportedly Buccaneers' Focus for New HC Amid Jim Caldwell Buzz

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2019

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians looks out to the field before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
John Froschauer/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly "focusing on hiring" Bruce Arians as their new head coach, and the "strong interest is mutual," according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Per Rapoport, "Negotiations are likely to begin soon." ESPN's Dianna Russini later reported the Buccaneers are "very close" to naming Arians their next head coach.

The news comes shortly after Jenna Laine of ESPN reported the team has also shown interest in Jim Caldwell:

JennaLaineESPN @JennaLaineESPN

For those asking...no news on the Bucs’ coaching front as far as Bruce Arians. But interestingly (and this corroborates something @AlbertBreer reported) — I’m told that there has been a push for Jim Caldwell, although he was not among the Bucs’ reported list of interviews.

Laine did add that Arians remains the top candidate, though she noted he presents a slew of questions:

JennaLaineESPN @JennaLaineESPN

I will say...sources around the league that I’ve spent a lot of time talking to in the last 24 hours believe Bruce Arians is the guy. But a LOT has to go into that hire. Can he fully-commit one year after retiring? For how long? Is he healthy? Does his family support it?

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Bucs would begin negotiating a deal with Arians on Tuesday or Wednesday. NFL writer Benjamin Allbright added: "Arians was the Bucs' guy all along. Ownership just wanted to make sure he was the best candidate, and not a case of the front office hiring their buddy, hence the search firm."

The potential hiring of Arians could mean former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles also has another job soon. SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported he could be Arians' pick as defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, and Rapoport added that Bowles is the "top choice" to join Arians' staff. Bowles worked with Arians for two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Arians, 66, has had two prior stints as an NFL head coach, serving as the interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and the head coach for the Cardinals from 2013 to 2017. In Indianapolis, Arians led the team to a 9-3 record while Chuck Pagano was sidelined with cancer (officially, those wins went on Pagano's record).

Arians then went 49-30-1 with the Cardinals, leading the team to the postseason twice. He retired after the 2017 campaign, though it appears his retirement will be short-lived.

He remains a respected offensive mind, one who perhaps could get the most out of quarterback Jameis Winston. Arians has extensive experience on that side of the ball, also serving as the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2001-03) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2007-11). In total, his offenses have finished top-10 in yards four times and top-10 in points three times.

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