Who’s next? Possible candidates to be Raiders permanent coach

The Raiders again find themselves in the market for a new coach after the firing of Josh McDaniels late Tuesday.

Linebacker coach Antonio Pierce is highly respected and will serve as the interim head coach, but his lack of experience might be a roadblock to him getting the job full time unless he can dramatically turn around the season.

Here’s an early list of potential head coaching candidates:

1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach

The admiration Raiders owner Mark Davis has for Harbaugh long has been known, and the timing just might line up for Davis and the NFL to provide a safe harbor for Harbaugh, who is under intense scrutiny for a sign-stealing scandal. Harbaugh also had to serve a suspension at the start of the season and could be looking at a return to the NFL as a respite from the investigations. He has had success on both levels and could be Davis’ No. 1 target.

2. Frank Smith, Dolphins offensive coordinator

Sure, the Miami offense that is the most explosive the NFL has seen in some time is the creation of head coach Mike McDaniel. But Smith has played a key role in managing all the weapons and helping elevate the system to new levels. Smith also has familiarity with the franchise after serving as tight ends coach under Jon Gruden from 2018 to 2020. He’s definitely a name to watch.

3. Ben Johnson, Lions offensive coordinator

He’s going to be a hot name once the head coaching carousel begins spinning this offseason, and the Raiders got a firsthand look at his system Monday in Detroit when they were outgained by 329 yards. He’s just 37, but has helped salvage the career of quarterback Jared Goff and produced a top-10 offense for the Lions.

4. Aaron Glenn, Lions defensive coordinator

The defense for Detroit also looked pretty good against the Raiders. Glenn was a candidate for several jobs in the offseason and figures to be in the mix this time around. He’s in his third season as a coordinator, and his unit has shown great progress.

5. Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator

Davis has shown a preference in hiring coaches who have done the job before, and Quinn certainly fits that bill. He had a winning record as head coach in Atlanta and took the Falcons to a Super Bowl. He also has been an exceptional defensive coordinator at multiple stops.

6. Rich Bisaccia, Packers special teams coordinator

There are many people around the organization who would have liked to see him given more consideration for the full-time coaching job after he filled in admirably as interim head coach and led the Raiders to the playoffs in 2021 after Gruden was forced to resign. Bisaccia might have been turned off by Davis’ decision to not keep him, but it’s tough to find anyone with much negative to say about him around the Raiders building.

7. Lincoln Riley, Southern California head coach

Some of the shine might have worn off Riley in the past few weeks, but USC’s defensive struggles don’t take away what he has done as an offensive mind, and the NFL has had its collective eyes on Riley for some time. His hiring probably would have to come with a caveat that he doesn’t hire Trojans defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to run his defense.

8. Jon Gruden, former coach

It’s obviously crazy to think about on the surface, but the way Gruden was forced out by the leaked emails in 2021 still doesn’t sit right with either Gruden or Davis. Has enough time passed to allow for this reunion to take place? The NFL probably wouldn’t fight it if Gruden’s return included him dropping his lawsuit against the league. And Gruden’s attorney did say in court last year that they would consider immediately dropping it in exchange for Gruden being placed back into his role as head coach of the Raiders. Stranger things have happened.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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