The LA Chargers are on the precipice of a new era as the team parted ways with head coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco after last week's embarrassment at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders. After three bad hires in a row (all hired by one bad general manager), the Chargers really have to get these hires right to maximize Justin Herbert.
There have been a lot of compelling candidates tied to the Chargers during the process ranging from the greatest coach of all time (Bill Belichick) to a huge name who may leave college football (Jim Harbaugh), to the most sought-after offensive coordinator in the league right now (Ben Johnson).
Belichick, Harbaugh, and even Mike Tomlin as rumblings of his job security begin, all seem like unrealistic options for the Chargers. Not impossible, but unrealistic considering the circumstances. Because of the uncertainty, Johnson has emerged as the potential front-runner for the Chargers, regardless of how some fans feel about first-time head coaches.
Johnson's time as the front-runner for the job may have been short-lived, though. Details about his potential asking price started to emerge on Thursday, with CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reporting that Johnson might be asking for as much as $15 million on a head coaching deal.
Ben Johnson may have taken himself out of the running for the Chargers head coaching job
That is a lot of money to ask as a first-time head coach with no previous experience. For comparison's sake, Brandon Staley's deal was rumored to be for $4 million a year. This would instantly make Johnson one of the highest-paid coaches in the league.
Johnson is definitely trying to capitalize on being the hottest name in the coaching circuit and there are desperate teams that will increase the price. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, who are not as enticing as the Chargers, will have to pay more in order to hire someone like Johnson. That could be the driving factor in play here.
Chargers president John Spanos did say that money would not be an obstacle this hiring cycle, so the Chargers may not be cheap like they have been in previous cycles. However, if Johnson is asking for this much, then the Chargers might as well chase the best option.
If the Bolts have to pay $15 million per season to hire Johnson then they might as well offer a little bit more to hire Jim Harbaugh, who should absolutely be the No. 1 candidate for the team this offseason. But in the past, Johnson felt like a safe backup option for Harbaugh. Now, if Harbaugh wants to just stay at Michigan, the Chargers may not have the fallback option of Johnson as other teams will be in a bidding war for him.
That could result in the Chargers going in another direction. Perhaps they could favor experience with Dan Quinn and reunite him with Kellen Moore. Or the team could continue its old ways and go the cheap option, reuniting with Frank Smith to make him the head coach.
Regardless, unless the Chargers get confirmation very early on that Harbaugh is not feasible, the odds of the team hiring Ben Johnson seem to already be dwindling.
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