A day after local candidate Robert Saleh was hired as the New York Jets’ head coach, the Detroit Lions turned their attention to a new favorite for their own vacancy, with NFL Network reporting that New Orleans Saints assistant Dan Campbell had “taken a commanding lead” in the running for the Lions’ head coaching job. Now that the Saints have been eliminated from playoff contention after Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Campbell is all but locked in as Detroit’s next coach.
“The two sides still need to work out a deal,” Schefter said, “but it is not considered an obstacle, and Campbell will be the Lions’ next head coach.”
The 44-year-old Campbell has local ties, spending the final three seasons of his NFL career with the Lions. A third-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 1999, he played 11 seasons in the league, posting a career-high 308 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his Detroit debut and winning a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009. He made his coaching debut a year after retiring, interning with the Miami Dolphins and then taking over as the team’s tight ends coach the following year. After four years in that post, he spent most of 2015 as the Dolphins’ interim head coach, overseeing a 5-7 finish after a 1-3 start under Joe Philbin.
Since then, Campbell has served as the Saints’ TEs coach and assistant head coach under Sean Payton. During his time in New Orleans, the Saints have made four playoff appearances in five years, including one NFC Championship bid.