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Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson turns down Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders, staying for key reasons

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has informed NFL teams for the second consecutive offseason that he won’t be pursuing a head-coaching job this year, committing to another season as the Lions’ play-caller with bigger goals for the future.

Johnson, one of the top NFL coaching candidates in 2024, was sought after by a majority of NFL teams with head-coaching vacancies. However, because of Detroit’s playoff run to the NFC Championship Game, Campbell was focused on the postseason.

Related: Detroit Lions draft picks 2024

The 37-year-old joined the Lions coaching staff in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach and was then promoted to tight ends coach in 2020. When Detroit hired Dan Campbell as its head coach in 2021, he immediately kept Johnson on the staff and promoted him to passing game coordinator. When the Lions got off to an 0-8 start, Campbell rewarded Johnson’s hard work again by awarding him play-calling duties.

Since then, the Lions have had one of the best offenses in the NFL over the last two seasons. Johnson’s play-calling has helped Amon-Ra St. Brown become a perennial Pro Bowl selection and elevated the game of quarterback Jared Goff. Now, after being pursued for head-coaching vacancies for the second consecutive year, Detroit’s offensive coordinator is sticking around.

As first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Johnson informed the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders that he is withdrawing from consideration for their vacancies and will remain the Lions’ play-caller for the 2024 season.

Johnson had emerged as the favorite to replace Ron Rivera as the Commanders’ head coach, but recent surges by Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn now provide immediate alternatives for Washington.

As for Seattle, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and Quinn remain candidates in the Seahawks coaching search.

Why is Ben Johnson staying with the Detroit Lions

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Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

While there are examples of prominent coaching candidates turning down opportunities every year, it’s rare for a coach to do it in consecutive offseasons. However, there are reasons explaining why Johnson is committing to Detroit for another season.

Related: NFL mock draft 2024

Even before he became the Lions’ offensive coordinator, Johnson had a special relationship with Dan Campbell. At the time Detroit’s tight ends coach, Johnson told Kevin Clark just how much Campbell has meant to him and what motivates him to be successful.

“I don’t want to disappoint him. That would crush me. If I knew that I disappointed him…he wouldn’t have to yell. He wouldn’t have to say anything. Just knowing that I let him down would do it.”

Ben Johnson on working with Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell (H/T Kevin Clark)

Furthermore, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Johnson’s contract demands likely played a part. Previous reporting by Josina Anderson earlier this offseason indicated that Johnson was seeking a multi-year deal worth approximately $15 million per season which would have immediately made him one of the highest-paid NFL coaches in 2024.

Finally, Johnson could be eyeing a better opportunity in the future. Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has one season to prove himself, likely with Caleb Williams at quarterback. If Eberflus is fired in 2025, Chicago could offer Johnson an opportunity to work with a generational talent.

There are also rumors that Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid may retire after the Super Bowl or at the very least after next season. If that job becomes available, it will be the most coveted in the NFL in decades. Either way, the Lions get to keep one of the best play-callers in the NFL for another year.

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