Week 17 is over, which means it's time to fire up the annual Josh McDaniels rumor mill.
The Patriots offensive coordinator has been a top head coach candidate for the past several offseasons, taking interviews with a handful of teams and even accepting the Indianapolis Colts job in 2018 before opting to stay in New England.
McDaniels' about-face hasn't stopped teams from pursuing him again this winter. Just one day after the 2019 regular season ended, the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants all have requested permission to interview McDaniels for their head coach vacancies, ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed Monday.
McDaniels has been the Patriots' offensive coordinator since 2012 and has spent all but three years of his 19-year NFL coaching career with New England. If Tom Brady leaves or the Patriots fall short in the playoffs, though, the 43-year-old may want to take another stab at head coaching after his two-year stint with the Denver Broncos.
Here's the latest on the teams with reported interest in McDaniels:
McDaniels reportedly is Cleveland's "first choice" to be their next head coach after it fired Freddie Kitchens following his lone 6-10 campaign. McDaniels is an Ohio native who would get the chance to work with a talented young quarterback in Baker Mayfield.
New England Patriots
McDaniels has competition, though: Cleveland has requested premission to interview Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and is expected to put in requests for Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and ex-Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
McDaniels reportedly has granted the Browns' request for an interview.
The MMQB's Albert Breer said last week on NBC Sports Boston he could see McDaniels going to either Cleveland or Carolina, which parted ways with Ron Rivera earlier this month. The Panthers have uncertainty at quarterback with Cam Newton entering the final year of his contract, but McDaniels would have significant decision power under new owner David Tepper, per Breer.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants interviewed McDaniels two years ago before hiring Pat Shurmur, whom they fired Monday. There's some promise in New York with Daniel Jones at quarterback and Saquon Barkley at running back, while Bill Belichick likely wouldn't mind his offensive coordinator going out of conference to a team he respects (and used to work for as defensive coordinator).
McDaniels downplayed these reports Monday in a conference call, telling reporters he's "100 percent" invested in the 2019 Patriots as they prepare for Saturday's Wild Card Round matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
But if more NFL head coaches lose their jobs, expect the Patriots' offensive coordinator to stay in the news as a potential replacement.