League should close the McDaniels Loophole


Eyebrows have been raised, in Denver and beyond, regarding the ability of the Patriots to hire former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant.  The Pats, coincidentally or otherwise, announced the move within 30 minutes or so after the Broncos beat the Steelers, setting up a prime-time Saturday night game between Denver and New England.

The move obviously complies with current NFL rules; otherwise, the NFL never would have allowed it.  The broader question is whether NFL rules should allow it.

McDaniels wasn’t fired by the Rams, where he served for one season as offensive coordinator.  Instead, the Rams opted to release McDaniels from his contract, knowing he could — and likely would — return to the Patriots, where he worked through the 2008 season.  If the Rams had decided not to release McDaniels from his contract until, say, after the postseason ended, McDaniels couldn’t have joined the Patriots.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting.  Rams owner Stan Kroenke, via family members, also owns the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche.  Thus, if Broncos fans aren’t happy with the fact that the man who drafted Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas is running the Pats’ scout-team offense this week as Bill Belichick tries to avoid having the tables turned on that 18-point win by the Patriots less than a month ago, Broncos fans can show their displeasure via the local basketball and hockey teams.

Regardless, the Rams shouldn’t have had the option to make McDaniels available.  NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explains via email that rosters become frozen once a team’s season ends, and the rosters remain frozen until the day after the Super Bowl.

So why shouldn’t the same rules apply to coaches?

That’s what seems to viscerally disturb many NFL fans.  McDaniels wasn’t fired during the Rams’ season — he worked with the Rams through the end of the season, and he has now landed with a team that is still playing.

The solution is simple.  The NFL should prohibit the hiring by a team that is still alive in the postseason of any coach who was under contract with another team when that team’s season ended.

Are we right or wrong?  Cast your ballot below.

60 responses to “League should close the McDaniels Loophole

  1. I don’t really the problem. Is Denver disturbed because McDaniels can give the Patriots tips? So what? Denver chose to fire him. I don’t think they have any right to whine about where he choses to be employed once they terminate him.

  2. Why create another rule that will be nearly impossible to enforce? This would be worse than the tampering rules. They can’t stop the coaching fraternity from talking to each other so whether the guy is “hired” or not, he will provide help immediately if he has a job lined up with the team for the day after the super bowl.

  3. If released players are free to join another team during the season, then released coaches should be able to do the same.

  4. What if he wasn’t officially hired and still providing advice? I think it would be pretty impossible to draw the line on who can and cannot assist a team off the field.

  5. What an interesting situation. I don’t know why this loophole even existed.

    Here I thought it was just the NFL trying to help Belicheck and Brady again.

  6. I could maybe understand the outrage if McD came directly from Denver but since he did not, I really dont understand the outrage. He has ZERO insider info that will effect the outcome of this game from his time at Denver. He is mereley an employee. He should be able to continue to work and collect pay checks. Stop the whining morons.

  7. I’m a Pats fan and even I raised my eyebrow when this happened. But the Pats went by the book so I dont know why you are trying to make it out like they were being extra sneaky. Besides the Cowboys did the same thing 2 years ago and I dont remember a fuss over that.

  8. If he’s going to replace O’Brien as Patriots offensive coordinator next year anyway, what’s the point? Just because you “close the loophole” doesn’t mean the Patriots coaching staff couldn’t pick up the phone and ask McDaniels for info anyway. The media is trying to make a story out of nothing. Even John Fox said it’s a non-story.

  9. If this were regarding any other team, it would be a non-issue. But since we’re talking Patriots, every one is crying foul. Wusses.
    I say, to even things out, get rid of the trading deadline/roster freeze. Open it up so players can be traded throughout the season and playoffs. How’s that wusses?

  10. No, this “loophole” should not be closed. If you were advocating a league-wide ban on coaching hires until after the Superbowl, that I could get on board with. But trying to close “loopholes” is silly. Don’t like the way the rules play out? Change them, not add more caveats.

  11. The last thing the NFL needs is to create more unenforceable rules. How about hammering out what is and isn’t a catch before wading into something like this?

  12. I would take it one step farther, freeze it for coaches and players for ALL teams until after the SB. I don’t like the idea of teams interviewing coaches of playoff teams or any other team until after ALL the regular AND post season games are over. It’s a distraction for teams still in the hunt and a disadvantage for finding their own replacements. Why should the losers get first pick from the winning teams and the winners are left with the leftovers to choose from? It enhances the bargaining power of the “freed” coaches. If a team still in the hunt allows their coaches to be interviewed, it’s a distraction to the job of preparing for the games remaining and if they refuse, they look like jerks and causes disharmony (resentment) in their coaching staffs. End it all by making the rule that no team changes can be made until AFTER the SB. Players, coaches, GM’s, scouts – all of them. Make it fair for all.

  13. I don’t see it as a loophole. Denver was now 2 jobs ago, it’s not like he was fired by the Broncos last week. It’s also a completely different offense then the one they ran when he was there.

    The only way to close the ‘loophole’ is to prevent any new hires until the day after the Super Bowl for all teams. If they weren’t under your employ the last game of the regular season, they can’t be added until Monday after the Super Bowl. Period. A rule like that would also even out the playing field for assistants on playoff teams getting head coaching gigs.

  14. The solution is simple and the NFL should act on this the upcoming off season.
    That said, it’s remarkable how not one fan or talking head complained when Denver coach Dan Reeves added Mike Shanahan to his staff right before the postseason years ago.
    But Belichcik does the same exact thing years later and it’s essentially looked upon as bloody murder.

    Just a coincidence, I’m certain.

  15. McDaniels was a Rams coach not a Broncos. How many years has a coach to be removed from a team before a potential opponent could hire them?
    PS: the Pats don’t need McDaniels to kick the donkeys tail

  16. This circumstance is extremely rare. How often does a former ex-head coach, 1 year removed, get released again from a neutral team, to join a team whom he previous worked for who is losing their OC to a college team (and has a diabolical head coach) to now coach against the team he formerly head coached in the playoffs.

    That being said it’s still not really fair. Maybe teams still in the playoffs should be allowed to “agree to terms” with coaches for the upcoming year (because eliminated teams are allowed to sign coaches for the upcoming year), but the contract is not valid until that year.

    Of course, what we do know of Belichek and McD…even if he would not technically be a coach until the 2012 season, they would still be scheming behind the scenes.

  17. McDaniels is obviously good friends with Belichick and the Patriots organization. So my question is: what good would ‘closing the loophole’ actually do? If McDaniels was still employed by the Rams, wouldn’t a simple phone call from Belichick get all the information they need? Yeah, maybe McDaniels wouldn’t be able to be at practice to actually help out with the preparation, but I’m pretty sure he could give the Patriots all the information they need and Belichick could figure it out from there.

  18. The windows are already small for teams trying to interview coaches who are with teams still in the playoffs. Charlie Weis missed out on the Bills head coaching job because the Patriots beat the Titans and were heading into the AFC Championship game, while the Bills wanted a head coach that could join the team as soon as possible.

    In this fluid age in the NFL, so many players, assistants, coaches and execs change cities and jerseys so often, someone will always have a bit of info on a particular team, but odds are it goes both ways.

    Plus there’s no need to more rules on this. The Patriots obviously hired McDaniels to help immediately with losing O’Brien, and for the long term – not just to wring year-old information out of him and then fire him.

  19. It’s not like McDaniels went from Denver straight to New England. Tebow has played enough that there is ample game tape to review, and the Pats just played them a few weeks ago.

  20. I don’t think it would be out of the realm of possibility to have a “Free Agency Period” for Coaches which starts after the Super Bowl.

    A period would also allow teams with great assistants (example for the week is Wade Phillips) to have a fair crack at HC jobs without losing their focus on the playoffs and what their team is doing. This is especially important with guys that have never been a HC…. they do a great job, get their teams deep into the playoffs, and then lose out on HC jobs because they have to choose between focusing on their team, or taking interviews. Two Months (Feb and March) should also give staffs enough time to prepare for the draft and scout as usual.

    I will have to admit, the McDaniels situation is odd, but in all honesty, the Broncos did fire him and his knowledge of the team can’t be forgotten.

  21. They started the process of getting McDaniels back when they knew O’brien would be leaving for Penn State. Everyone thought the Steelers were going to win that game. They did not rehire him to help w/ the Broncos. They took him back to be the OC for next year. This argument is Stoopid.

  22. Everyone is neglecting to notice that this is due in part to Bill O’Brien taking the Penn St. job. This s clearing going to effect his attention to the O.C. job and they could use the coaching help. I McDaniels wouldn’t have been hired during the postseason if O’Brien didn’t take the PSU job.

  23. If he no longer works for the Broncos then it is none of their business where he goes or who he talks to.
    If a player can go to any team that he wants after being cut then why not a coach?

    This is dumb and it is being blown out of proportion.

  24. The NFL should not allow hiring/interviewing of any new coaches/front office personnel until after the season officially ends.

  25. I honestly doubt that McDaniels will have that big of an impact on the outcome of the game…

    but it’s still kind of shady.

  26. I think this brings up an interesting point – coach poaching.

    As a Packers fan, I must admit I am rather worried about New York this weekend, not becuase they have a better team than us, but becuase our coaches do not have their minds in the game.

    I feel there is something morally wrong with other teams (Raiders) discussing potential employment opportunities with active coaches (Mckenzie).

    Yes, it is a business, but it is his responsibility to the team to be focusing on the upcoming games, not thinking about his future in Oakland. This not only is a distraction for him, but brings unnecessary strife into a tight knit group of players and coaches who are also pondering their futures.

    Just my thoughts…

  27. Everything should be frozen until after the superbowl so assistants of those teams involved aren’t distracted by offers also. No firings of current employees or players until after the super bowl. Makes it even for all potential candidates.

  28. The same “frozen roster” rule should apply to ALL teams AND their coaches AND their front offices. If an assistant coach can not interview for a HC position there should be NO interviews until after the Super Bowl. Level playing field for all teams, players, coaches, and administration staff.

  29. Nocookies28…I hadn’t thought of it that way…good point. That resolves all ‘questions’. Just like broadcasters can’t change networks immediately. Just put that provision in the contact of coaches. However, this is a bit different since it’s not like he left the broncs to join the pasties…

  30. Like the Broncos would stand a chance of winning either way.


    The man had 2 picks work out, and one of them just barely. Take a look at Sanchez…he went to a playoff game as well…doesn’t mean Tibow is any good.

    I think he is, but that’s besdie the point. If the shoe were on the other foot, the Broncos would snatch up a former Pats coach to get an edge.

    Besides…McDaniels wasn’t with the Broncos and they now play differently. Plus…he NEVER understood that team anyway.

  31. Eh. What if the rams and broncos were going to play in the superbowl, or a scheduled week 17 game they both needed to win? The reason they don’t have any type of rule against it is because some teams are managed by lunatics and fire coaches 3 weeks into the season, and there’s no reason a guy should have to wait til February to work again.
    JM built that team, and it would be much more dangerous with him coaching it. He would have developed Tebow better than he is now. (I think he’s pretty good, but is 3 or 4 multi turnover games away from life as a backup because he doesn’t control the football).

  32. Considering the offense looks NOTHING like what McDaniels was running in Denver, I think its safe to say this entire thing is completely overblown. Maybe he can give some insight to exposing the D on a player-by-player basis, but I even doubt that. This is a mind-game move, nothing more.

  33. The Dallas Cowboys did the same thing back in Jan. 2010 when they hired Paul Pasqualoni as their new defensive line coach.

    The University of Georgia hired Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator Friday, and the Cowboys brought it Pasqualoni to help out, even though Grantham said he will stay for the remainder of Dallas’ playoff run.

    Pasqualoni spent the full season as Miami’s DC.

    How come nobody gave a hoot about this at the time? Suddenly when the Patriots do the exact same thing it’s a scandal?


  34. The Pats hired McD BEFORE Denver beat the Steelers. They certainly did not hire him for his knowledge of the Denver Broncos.

  35. The problem I see where is that it will not be fair to playoff teams to limit them from hiring during the post season. Teams are constantly disrupting their preparation with the desire to hire coaches off playoff teams.
    If you are calling for a rule change, then it should be one that prevents any interviews of all coaches in the league until the end of the superbowl.

  36. How can you restrict a team from firing someone? If there’s a damn good reason why a coach (or player) shouldn’t be on the team, then they should go. The team shouldn’t be forced to wait it out and potentially have to watch a guy get a Superbowl ring who doesn’t deserve it.

  37. This will be the excuse, if the Broncos lose. All of a sudden this McDaniel transaction is a big deal after the fact. Nobody complained prior, since it involves the Patriots, now they complain.

  38. Sure, Denver chose to fire him, so it was their choice to have McDaniels out there, but let’s face it: he’s not going directly from Denver to St. Louis to turn over playbooks or anything. He spent the past season at St. Louis, so unless one believes in non-competes in the NFL (which would be ridiculous), there’s really nothing all that wrong with this.

    That said, I think it’s generally disruptive to have the coaching carousel begin while the season is still going. If one were to close this loophole, coaches for teams whose seasons have ended would be eligible for interview or hiring by other teams whose seasons have ended, giving them a big jump on coaches whose teams are still alive in the post-season. Just make it so no team is allowed to officially or unofficially contact a coach for another team (even via his agent or other representative) from the end of the regular season until the Super Bowl is over.

  39. Two years ago when the Dolphins fired their DC at the end of the year and the Cowboys picked him up for their playoff run not a single person in the national or local press said squat about it.

    Now the Pats do the same sort of move and its “cheating” and “should be disallowed”.

    It’s called a double standard. By employing it anything you write becomes meaningless.

    But hey if you don’t like the Pats and you know the other team is going to lose anyway, its far easier to wave the “cheating” flag as an excuse.

    Futhermore, for the fans of a team that only won its 2 Super Bowls by salary cap cheating it further shows how one sided the view the media is presenting is. How come none of you are writing about how the league should watch the way the Donks are manipulating the salary cap with Elway back in the organization ?

  40. Coaches aren’t players.. honestly I think throwing a coach in the middle of the mix at this point would be more of a problem than a help.

  41. One thing this article doesn’t even mention……Denver did it 1st! That’s right bronco fans….1988 the Bronco’s hired Mike Shanahan after being fired by the Raiders….Shanahan’s Bronco’s played the Raiders a few weeks later!
    Do UR homework before throwing stones….T-Bow wouldn’t like it!

  42. Oh come on!!!

    Do you know how many ex-coaches get beaten by the teams they used to coach???

    If you can add players during the playoffs then coaches should get the same privilege too!!!

  43. Even if there was a rule preventing this hiring, he could still “hang out” with the Patriot brass and “advise” them on certain details. Then it becomes against the rules to “hang out”, so JM uses the internet to communicate with BB. There’s no end to the different ways of getting around the rule. And if it isn’t enforcable, why even try to introduce the rule?

  44. If you’re going to close the loophole for coaches going to other teams during the post season, shouldn’t you limit the access to coaches by other teams looking to hire them? Fact of the matter is that O’Brien will be pulling double duty during the playoffs. It was the Pats right to deny access to him but wanted him to have the opportunities presented to them. So if they are going to give one of their coaches that freedom, why can’t they find someone to help out if he takes a job and is overloaded. It was just dumb luck that McDaniels coached the Broncos last year and that an 8-8 team beat the #1 defense in the league to qualify for the playoffs. They would have made this move regardless.

  45. Full disclosure: I am a Patriots fan.

    I don’t think there is an issue here. The move was rumored and made before the Broncos won their game, when everyone was picking the Steelers to win. This is a non-issue that is being blown out of proportion because the Patriots are involved.

    That being said, I agree with bronco1st. If you are going to close this loophole, fine, but make it against the rules for any coaching interviews or changes to go on until the Super Bowl is over. No coordinator interviews, no college interviews, nothing. Either enforce it league-wide in all circumstances or don’t enforce it at all.

  46. Why should a team in the playoffs be penalized for their success? If the Jets for example wanted to hire McDaniels they would be able to do so without raising an eyebrow because they are out of the playoffs… why should they get a months headstart on filling coaching voids because they didn’t win their third straight Super Bowl.

    How many coaches have changed their mailing address in the last two weeks? Yet as soon as the Pats make a move it is chapter two of SpyGate…

    If you are going to ban the Pats from making this move, then all front office moves and communications have to be frozen until after the Super Bowl and similar to player rules, tempering charges need to be enforced when it is obvious that an infraction has occured.

  47. This was in the works before the Denver/Pitts game. Its not like NE went out and said “hey we think Denver will beat Pitts, lets go sign McDaniels.”

    They are losing their OC, the best (points wise) OC they ever had is available. Of course they go out and get him, especially because O’Brien will be slightly distracted by the Penn St thing. The fact that Denver pulled a monster upset makes this an issue.

    Plus the Patriots beat Denver by 20, in Denver, its not like they need all this extra help.

  48. I agree with a Free Agent Period for Coaches – start 3 days after the Super Bowl, no hirings or firings allowed during the play-offs.

    Anyone caught bypassing the rule (back door discussions etc) banned from the NFL for 5 years, $250k tax free for anyone revealing such discussions.

    Coaches should be concentrating on their current jobs not looking to the next one.

  49. It was well known on Saturday that the Patriots were hiring McDaniels on Saturday. They held off the announcement in order to let O’Brien have his day, and not take away from the Broncos – Steelers while it was in progress.

    I agree the league should clarify the rules and if it should be illegal that’s fine. The inferences that the Patriots have done something wrong, or hired McDaniels for inside information on the Broncos is stupid.

    Every team in the league had the same opportunity to request permission and talk to McDaniels, but chose not to.

  50. I don’t see how McDaniels can help the Patriots when its a whole different system in Denver? He drafted Tebow and Thomas, so what, its not like the other 31 teams in the NFL didn’t scout them both anyway.

  51. First, I would be for NO coaching changes until after the SB.

    Since that is not the case, trying to regulate this is stupid, and where does it end? Not that I have anything against it, but don’t you think the Harbaugh brothers discussed the Jets a bit this year? So what if they were not on the same team under contract, should we regulate help between any two coaches?

  52. Don’t think you can do with scouts till after the draft.

    They have too much Insider info that could be extremely up-to-data useful.

  53. Where was the furor when the Bucs released GM McKay so he could sign as a GM with the Falcons who the Bucs were going to play 2 weeks later.

    This is all coming from either the whining Broncos or Patriots haters.

  54. I remember when the news broke about Bill Parcells going to the Patriots’ rival Jets, in the week before the Super Bowl in 1996.

    It was a huge distraction and I’ll always feel Parcells didn’t prepare the team for that game as best he could, and he didn’t even fly home with the team after the loss.

    It was allowed by the league, but it sure was a downer for the fans.

  55. to close the loophole the nfl will have to prohibit coaching hiring and firing until after the super bowl so its fair to all team , penn state would also not be allow to interview o’brien until February .
    the nfl would then wait for the coaches to unionize and file a class action lawsuit for limiting their job options

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.