Kliff Kingsbury to the Commanders? Why former Cardinals coach is ‘leading candidate’ for OC job after snubbing Raiders

Kliff Kingsbury seemed set to join Antonio Pierce’s staff in Las Vegas as the offensive coordinator of the Raiders as of Saturday morning.

Not so fast, my friend.

First Kingsbury withdrew himself from consideration for the Raiders’ offensive coordinator position, as per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Less than an hour later came another report: Kingsbury is a “leading candidate” for the Commanders in their search for an offensive coordinator, seemingly spurning Las Vegas to head to the nation’s capital.

Washington got its top priority checked off earlier in the week when the team hired Cowboys DC Dan Quinn to replace Ron Rivera as head coach. The next order of business: hiring an offensive coordinator. 

Kingsbury spent last season at USC as the team’s senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach. It marked his second stint with the program after previously serving as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator for one month.

That multiple teams are interested in Kingsbury’s services is understandable. He got to work firsthand this past season with quarterback Caleb Williams, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. If a team is in a position to land the USC quarterback, who better to have on staff than a guy with a strong relationship with the draftee?

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Why did Kliff Kingsbury choose not to go to the Raiders?

Contract negotiations between Kingsbury and the Raiders broke down, Fox Sports’ Pete Schrager reported.

Neither the Raiders nor Kingsbury have yet to state a reason as to why the deal fell through.

The Raiders and the Commanders are in vastly different positions. In the Las Vegas offense, Kingsbury would be working with two options at QB — a veteran in Jimmy Garoppolo, who is being paid a pretty penny to be on the roster, or a promising sophomore in Aidan O’Connell. But the Raiders own the No. 13 pick in the draft after an 8-9 season, so outside of a trade, there is no shot at the top echelon of talent. 

On the other hand, the Commanders own the No. 2 pick in the 2024 draft and very much are in play for Williams. While Sam Howell was resourceful last year, the Commanders may not be able to pass up the chance to take one of the top quarterbacks in this draft class. The offense already has a strong foundation with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas and Brian Robinson Jr., so whoever is at quarterback is not lacking weapons. 

Commanders OC candidates

It’s not just Kingsbury tied to the offensive coordinator position in Washington.

Another familiar name in the college world also is connected to the opening, as Chip Kelly is drawing interest. Kelly, who has been the head coach at UCLA since 2018, is reportedly “potential candidate.”

In addition to Kelly, 49ers passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak is another who has been tied to the Commanders. But it was reported Friday that he is expected to join the Saints as Dennis Allen’s OC, with a formal announcement expected after the Super Bowl.

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