The Detroit Lions have agreed in principle on a six-year contract with Dan Campbell to become the team’s next head coach, a source tells ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter had reported on Sunday, after the New Orleans Saints were eliminated from the postseason, that Campbell was expected to be hired as the Lions’ head coach.
Campbell, the Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach replaces Matt Patricia, who was fired in November after less than three seasons with the franchise and a 13-29-1 record, as the club tries to reset from finishing last in the NFC North the past three years.
Campbell is expected to bring fellow Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn with him as defensive coordinator, though Glenn has a few other suitors, but Detroit is the favorite, the source told Fowler.
The 44-year-old Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is viewed as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together instead of an X’s-and-O’s guru. The Lions had been searching for people they considered unifiers as they identified qualities they deemed important to building a winner out of a franchise that has one playoff win in the Super Bowl era and claimed its last division title in 1993.
Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach — just 12 games as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins — but the Lions clearly saw enough to pair him with recently hired general manager Brad Holmes. Without experience calling plays on either side of the ball, whom Campbell brings in as coordinators will be paramount to his success.
During Holmes’ introductory news conference on Tuesday, the Lions said all three of Holmes, Campbell and vice president of football administration Mike Disner will report to team president Rod Wood, creating a balanced structure. When asked if either Holmes or Campbell would have final say over the 53-man roster, Wood said it would be a collaborative process.
“They’re each going to have input,” Wood said. “As we’ve talked about — we want a culture where everyone’s working together, and I think that will work fine once we have our new head coach in place.”
The Lions had conducted their searches for Holmes and Campbell simultaneously, often asking candidates if they had people in mind for the other position they would want to work with. After Holmes was hired last week, Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said Holmes spoke with some of their remaining candidates.
Campbell played 10 seasons in the NFL, including the final three years of his career for the Lions.
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.
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