In an unusual move for them, the Buccaneers confirmed Saturday afternoon the biggest name that they have interviewed yet for their head coaching vacancy. Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians did meet with the team on Saturday about becoming the head coach, who replaces Dirk Koetter. The team fired Koetter after three seasons on Sunday night.
The reason the announcement is unusual is that the Glazer family that owns the team usually likes to keep things “close to the vest.” And while they did release info that they had previously interviewed Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, that’s a lesser-known name who would not create near the buzz as this news with Arians.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 5, 2019
As we wrote on Sunday night, Arians was the logical top target to come into Tampa Bay after the success he enjoyed with Arizona and also previously, as an interim coach for a season in the Colts among other coaching stints.
The 66 year old Arians had a successful run as the Cardinals coach from 2012-17 before electing to retire at the end of the 2017 season primarily due to health concerns and the toll coaching takes. Arians had the Cardinals in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, and his 50 wins with Arizona are the most in franchise history. And, he is also the former NFL Coach of the Year, as the interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. That’s when he took over for coach Chuck Pagano, who had undergone Leukemia treatment that season.
He has spent this season in the CBS-TV Booth working games with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, as an analyst. Arians retired with one year remaining on his contract.The Cardinals did hold a team option for 2019 but apparently both sides had agreed before that option year would go away.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport learned Saturday that the Cardinals will not be demanding compensation from any team that wants to hire Arians:
If the #Bucs hire Bruce Arians as their head coach — and he is the front-runner — they are not required to provide compensation to the #AZCardinals, sources say. Arians did retire in AZ, but his 2019 team option was declined. Tampa Bay can proceed without any obstacles.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2019
It is further believed that Arians is comfortable with Bucs QB Jameis Winston, who is being brought back for 2019 on the fifth year option on his rookie contract.
The Bucs are also still slated to talk with Dallas Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard as well, but that could be complicated and delayed, if the Cowboys win their Saturday night playoff game with the Seattle Seahawks.
And because they’ve already interviewed the Bieniemy as a minority candidate to satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule on coaching hires, they are free to hire Arians at any point, should they choose to do so.
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