Everyone knows that Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will be one of the hotter names in this year’s head coaching carousel. Apparently, Ben Johnson knows this, as well, because according to a report from NFL insider Josina Anderson, Johnson is seeking a ridiculous contract for a first-time head coach.
Per Anderson, Johnson is seeking a $15 million-a-year contract.
While coaching contracts aren’t made public like player contracts are, a $15 million would immediately put Johnson among the top three earners in the NFL. Per Pro Football Network, Bill Belichick is making $20 million a year, Sean Payton is making around $18 million a year, and Pete Carroll is at $15 million a year. Traditionally, a first-time head coach earns something closer to $5 million a year.
UPDATE: Ben Johnson’s agent, Richmond Flowers III, is refuting this report:
I'm told personnel around the league are discussing their awareness that there is no asking price or demand and this tweet is 100% false and irresponsible reporting, per source. https://t.co/6RMT3GaHCU— Richmond Flowers III (@Richmond__3) December 21, 2023
Johnson has helped power the Lions offense into one of the best and most inventive in the league. In his first year as full-time offensive coordinator, he helped construct the No. 5 scoring offense. In his follow-up season this year, the Lions remain right at fifth.
Last year, Johnson was one of the more popular coaching candidates, but he quickly pulled himself out of the running after Detroit reportedly gave him a “large raise” to return in 2023.
Is Johnson’s high asking price simply a leverage play? Is it a sign that he’s devoted to his current job and it would take a massive commitment for him to leave? Or does Johnson actually believe that’s his worth? It’s hard to know at this point.
Thus far, there are three head coaching vacancies after mid-season firings: the Las Vegas Raiders, the Carolina Panthers, and the Los Angeles Chargers. Johnson interviewed for the Panthers job last season before deciding to return.
Not-so-coincidentally, when asked why he decided to return to the Lions this year, Johnson said he couldn’t stop envisioning being a part of a home playoff game at Ford Field.
“I always go back to this story: right before COVID hit, it was one of the first offseasons I’ve had here. Garth Brooks had a concert down at Ford Field, and I remember sitting there thinking at the time—I was just soaking it in, the atmosphere—and it was like, ‘Holy cow! This is what a home playoff game is gonna be like,’” Johnson said. “And this is what I want to be a part of. This is what I want to feel, this is what I want to experience, and it made me feel some type of way. I kept going back to that as part of the process.”
He’s just one win from making that a reality.