Raiders agree to hire Antonio Pierce as next head coach: reports | CBC Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders have agreed to hire Antonio Pierce to be their next head coach and the two sides are finalizing the deal, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t made the announcement.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reported the news.

‘He’s a great coach’

Pierce, 45, took over as Las Vegas’ interim coach on Halloween night after Josh McDaniels was fired. The Raiders went 5-4 under his watch — the team went 8-9 overall — and the players were in his corner from the beginning.

“Why wouldn’t we keep going the direction we’re going?” Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby said after a 27-14 victory over Denver on Jan. 7. “The fact we’ve come together and done something special in such a short time is hard to do. We’ve got a guy who’s played at the highest level, won a Super Bowl, he’s been a captain, and now he’s a great coach and he’s a leader.”

Pierce also won over much of the fan base. The crowd chanted “AP!” as the game against the Broncos was winding down.

Pierce will be charged with restoring a championship pedigree to a once-iconic franchise that has missed the playoffs in 19 of the past 21 seasons.

NFL hiring rules prohibited owner Mark Davis from hiring Pierce outright. Davis had to interview at least two external minority and/or female candidates in person to satisfy the Rooney rule. He did that.

The Raiders interviewed former Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. ESPN reported the club also interviewed former New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

Davis hired from outside two years ago in going with McDaniels over player favourite Rich Bisaccia, who led the Raiders on an unlikely late run to make the playoffs.

Personnel issues

Once he is in the position, Pierce would have to make decisions regarding his staff. He could search for a new offensive coordinator or stay with Bo Hardegree, who became the interim when Mick Lombardi was fired at midseason.

Beyond that, Pierce would have to work with whoever becomes the general manager on personnel issues, including what to do at quarterback. Pierce installed rookie Aidan O’Connell as the starter. He improved as the season progressed, but didn’t erase concerns about the need for a franchise quarterback. The Raiders pick 13th in this year’s draft, so the top QBs likely will be gone by the time they select.

The future of running back Josh Jacobs also will need to be resolved. After leading the NFL in rushing in 2022, Jacobs got into a contract dispute after the Raiders placed the franchise tag on him. The sides agreed to a one-year deal after training camp. Jacobs’ production dropped from 1,653 yards to 805 this season and he missed the final month because of a quadriceps injury.

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