The Cincinnati Bengals could be losing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Oakland Raiders are confident they will hire Jon Gruden to be their next coach, replacing the now-fired Jack Del Rio.
And if Gruden is hired, he’s targeting Guenther to be his defensive coordinator in Oakland.
The #Raiders are confident Jon Gruden will say yes eventually, though he is being careful about doing so before they comply with the Rooney Rule and he is still on the books to broadcast a game Saturday for ESPN. Gruden is already planning to call plays, hire DC Paul Guenther.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 1, 2018
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is not as confident Guenther lands in Oakland. Schefter does think Guenther is an option as their defensive coordinator, but he’s also a head-coaching candidate for the Bengals:
Bengals' DC Paul Guenther, whose contract is now up, is an enviable position: he is expected to be a leading candidate to become Jon Gruden's DC in Oakland or could be HC candidate in Cincinnati depending on how the Marvin Lewis situations unfolds, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 1, 2018
Guenther has been defensive coordinator of the Bengals since 2014, though his tenure has been erratic at best. His defenses have been dominant at times, but they’ve also been horrific for stretches, including this season.
The Bengals finished 2017 ranked 18th in total defense, 16th in scoring defense, and 25th in third-down defense. To be fair, Guenther’s defense was hit hard on the injury front as the season wore on, but you’d still like to see more from a guy who’s reportedly being considered to be your team’s next head coach.
The Bengals are still mulling over Lewis’ future in Cincinnati. His contract is up, and so too is Guenther’s. That means Guenther could leave Cincinnati on his own to become Oakland’s next defensive coordinator, but my guess is he waits to see how the situation in Cincinnati plays out.
Hopefully, all of this is settled this week. The Bengals need to move quickly if they’re going to find a new head coach and staff.