Sources: Byron Leftwich in contract discussions with Jaguars, expected to be hired as new head coach

As the Jacksonville Jaguars look to wrap up their head coach search, Byron Leftwich has become a leading contender and some believe he will ultimately land the job.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach search is coming to an end, and a familiar face seems to be at the top of the list: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. While the Jaguars have interviewed a number of candidates to replace Urban Meyer, Leftwich has been a strong contender for the position from the start.

According to league sources not authorized to speak publicly, the former Jaguars quarterback was involved in contract discussions with the team that launched Tuesday night after meeting with the leadership of the team, including owner Shad Khan, for roughly eight hours. Barring an unexpected breakdown in those ongoing discussions, Leftwich is expected to ultimately finalize a deal and become the Jaguars’ new head coach.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at 4:49 PM ET on Tuesday. 

Byron Leftwich gaining steam for Jaguars’ head coach position

Tom Brady was talking about Leftwich in late December when the conversation shifted to the future of his offensive coordinator.

“It’s just a matter of time for different guys, and different opportunities come up,” the Buccaneers quarterback said. “Byron has been amazing to work with. I know he’ll have a lot of opportunities.”

Those opportunities are happening right now for Leftwich, a former Jacksonville quarterback and first-round draft pick. Several league sources not authorized to speak publicly predicted earlier Tuesday that Leftwich will ultimately land the Jaguars’ head coaching position.

The franchise’s leadership team, including owner Shad Khan and general manager Trent Baalke, is conducting a second interview with Leftwich on Tuesday, an in-person meeting, according to league sources.

Leftwich has been reaching out to potential staff members. Among the possible members of a Leftwich staff: Buccaneers outside linebackers coach Larry Foote and wide receivers coach Kevin Garver.

A name that is well known in Jacksonville

The Jaguars drafted Leftwich seventh overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, and he went on to start 44 of 46 games for the team. Leftwich, 42, is a Washington, DC native who’s been the Buccaneers offensive coordinator since 2019.

He was previously an interim offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals and a quarterbacks coach under Bruce Arians with the NFC West franchise.

Leftwich is regarded as a sharp, player-friendly coach whose background as a quarterback informs his decision-making process as the Buccaneers offensive coordinator. He has paid his dues as a coach and is considered a strong candidate for the Jaguars’ head coach position.

Leftwich’s time in Tampa is a reason why he’s a top candidate in the Jaguars head coach search

Leftwich wasn’t able to get Jameis Winston to cut down his interceptions (30) in 2019. But Winston also passed for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns for the top-ranked passing offense in the league. With Brady, one of the most decorated players in NFL history, it’s been a smoother offense run to Brady’s strengths and the personnel around him.

Since he joined the Buccaneers in 2019 under Arians, Leftwich has run the show for one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL. Tampa Bay averaged 29.9 points per game in 2021, ranking second only behind the Dallas Cowboys.

Buccaneers head coach Arians was disappointed a year ago when Leftwich didn’t receive interview requests.

“Yeah, that really pissed me off, I’ll be honest with you,” Arians said. “The job he’s done, he coaches quarterbacks. He calls plays. He’s everything everybody says they are looking for. I was really hoping he’d get his first few interviews and maybe get a job out of it. I can’t speak for what the owners think and who they listen to sometimes, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets his.”

That time Arians referenced is now.

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