Guenther is currently under contract as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator, and as such, the Bengals don’t need to let him go interview for the same job he already has. Why would they? The Bengals intend to bring Guenther back next year and there’s no reason to let him walk for the same job in a different city. The Bengals have lost three coordinators in the last five years: offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to the Redskins, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to the Vikings and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to the Browns. The Bengals also lost their entire defensive assistant coaching staff last season. That coaching turnover helped lead to a down season in Cincinnati in 2016.
This isn’t the first time the Bengals have blocked a coach from interviewing with another team, though, in this instance it makes the most sense that they would.
In the 2015 offseason, the Bengals reportedly blocked then-co-defensive backs coach Vance Joseph from interviewing for the Broncos and 49ers defensive coordinator jobs. At the time, Joseph was seen as an up-and-comer who could take over for Guenther as the Bengals' defensive coordinator. But, in the 2016 offseason, Joseph got another request, this time, to interview with the Dolphins for their DC role, and the Bengals let him walk. Joseph is now one of the hottest head coaching candidates this offseason.
Joseph is among the frontrunners for the Broncos' head coaching job, one of the best coaching jobs available this offseason. He also has received interview requests from the Chargers, Bills, Rams and 49ers, per multiple reports. The only team searching for a head coach that reportedly hasn't asked Joseph for an interview is the Jaguars. That’s how popular of a candidate he now is. While many hoped he would one day become the Bengals’ head coach, it seems like his first head coaching gig in the NFL will be with a different NFL team.
Teams are often criticized for blocking candidates from interviewing for jobs, but for a lateral move, it makes sense that the Bengals would block Guenther from leaving Cincinnati. Guenther has also said in recent weeks that he is under contract and has no plans on leaving the Queen City. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Guenther signed a three year contract extension last year.
"I'm under contract here for next year," Guenther told Local 12 on December 29. When asked if he’d be back in 2017, he said, “Yeah, absolutely."
Expect most if not all of the Bengals’ 2016 coaching staff to be back in Cincinnati next season.
And remember, the Bengals aren’t “evil” or bad guys because they’re blocking Guenther from the interview. Here’s a good explanation on one reason a team could block an interview, from a former NFL team executive.
Note: sometimes when a team denies another permission to interview it's b/c assistant doesn't want that interview, team provides "cover."— Amy Trask (@AmyTrask) January 5, 2017