Panthers’ Jim Caldwell done looking for NFL head coaching opportunities: ‘Not worried about the future’

Jim Caldwell is returning to an NFL sideline for the first time since 2019 in his role as the Panthers’ senior offensive assistant.

Many believed this would be the first step in earning Caldwell a chance to become NFL head coach for the third time in his career.

However, Caldwell explained at a news conference on Tuesday that this means exactly the opposite.

“Right now the only job I’m worried about is the job I’m doing here, right here and now,” he said when asked about the possibility of becoming head coach again, per ESPN. “I’m not worried about the future or anything else. I don’t intend to be head coach from this point on.”

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This is a change in mood from Caldwell, who previously indicated that he would only want to return to the NFL if a head coaching job were at stake. That’s one of the reasons he’s stayed out of the NFL for three of the last four seasons after being fired by the Lions at the end of the 2017 season, despite having a 36-28 record (and a 62- 50 record) in his seven seasons as an NFL head coach).

What changed his mind? The 68-year-old knew he only wanted to return to the game in some capacity after being interviewed for the Broncos and Panthers head coaching jobs.

“When I didn’t get a head coaching job, I immediately changed the plan of what I was looking for next,” Caldwell said. “I knew I was at the point where I wanted to be back, build somewhere.

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“And so I’ve had a few opportunities to watch that and I was happy when Frank [Reich] called.”

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Caldwell, who has been a key voice in the discussion about hiring minority coaches — or the lack thereof — across the NFL, still plans to campaign for the cause even as he ends his quest for a head coaching job.

“If you look at the numbers, they speak for themselves,” Caldwell said of the NFL’s track record of hiring black head coaches for head coaching positions.”

However, Caldwell believes the NFL has taken positive steps to address these issues.

“There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes to try and improve that,” he said.

Even so, the NFL only hired a minority for a head coaching job in 2023 — DeMeco Ryans at the Texans. And of the 35 coaching positions filled since 2019, only eight went to minority candidates – two of whom were fired after just one season.

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