The City of Los Angeles welcomed back one prominent college football head coach to the league in Jim Harbaugh Thursday. Meanwhile, L.A. could be bracing itself for one other coach creating a new prominent opening in the collegiate world due to some NFL interest.
Is Chip Kelly Being Courted by NFL Teams?
Chip Kelly, who has turned UCLA into a perennial bowl contender, has interviewed for some notable NFL offensive coordinator openings.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport on Thursday evening, Kelly drew interest from the Las Vegas Raiders. New head coach Antonio Pierce is putting together his first coaching staff, and it turns out Kelly had multiple conversations with the Silver and Black.
“The Raiders interviewed UCLA coach Chip Kelly at least twice for their vacant OC job under Antonio Pierce, sources say,” Rapoport posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
As of Thursday night? Per Rapoport, “Kelly appeared open to a return to the NFL… but Pierce ultimate chose Kliff Kingsbury.”
The #Raiders interviewed #UCLA coach Chip Kelly at least twice for their vacant OC job under Antonio Pierce, sources say. Kelly appeared open to a return to the NFL… but Pierce ultimate chose Kliff Kingsbury.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 2, 2024
The Raiders, though, weren’t the only OC opening linked to Kelly’s name.
Via ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler, Kelly’s name also surfaced with the Washington Commanders on Thursday, as they seek an offensive leader under newly named head coach Dan Quinn.
“UCLA head coach Chip Kelly is a potential candidate for Commanders OC under new head coach Dan Quinn, per sources,” Fowler posted.
Per Fowler, Kelly’s interest in a return to the NFL is gaining steam.
“Kelly, a two-time NFL head coach, is believed to have interest in returning to the league and Washington will consider talking with him,” Fowler shared.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly is a potential candidate for #Commanders OC under new head coach Dan Quinn, per sources. Kelly, a two-time NFL head coach, is believed to have interest in returning to the league and Washington will consider talking with him.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 2, 2024
Kelly went 28-35 overall as an NFL head coach. He took the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs in his first season in 2013. However, he never made it back to the postseason after that.
Kelly’s last NFL appearance ended in disaster — a 2-14 mark with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, which ultimately led to the hire of Kyle Shanahan.
Has the College Game Changed for Kelly?
Since dipping back to the college game, Kelly has dealt with a far different era of college football. The landscape has changed drastically since his Oregon days or even when he took over the Bruins in 2018.
Name, image, and likeness (NIL) have given UCLA athletes more money and fame at Westwood. Furthermore, Kelly has witnessed a significant shift in how teams can recruit with the era of the transfer portal taking over.
Now, instead of trying to lock in the top nearby L.A. high school prospect, Kelly and UCLA have the luxury of pursuing talent seeking a new start. On the contrary, Kelly’s had to deal with players who ended up leaving the program. One prominent name that comes to mind for the latter is once-prized five-star quarterback addition Dante Moore.
Kelly hasn’t specifically said he’s been disgruntled and agitated with the portal or NIL. However, before the LA Bowl in December, he criticized conference realignment, which has also delivered a significant impact to the college landscape.
College football has already lost Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley to become the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, which became official on Wednesday.
Legendary head coach Nick Saban announced his retirement in early January after bringing six national championships to Alabama. Then, of course, there’s Harbaugh pivoting back to the NFL following a decade run at Michigan.
Now, Kelly emerges as the latest CFB coaching name to watch who could defect from the college realm and back to the NFL.
As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!