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AFC team requests interview with Pierce; Raiders interview GM option

Updated January 10, 2024 - 9:00 pm

Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce left open the possibility of interviewing for other head coaching openings Monday.

Now it looks like that is coming to fruition.

The Titans, who fired coach Mike Vrabel on Tuesday, have asked permission to interview Pierce for their vacancy.

By rule, the Raiders cannot block Pierce from speaking to Tennessee, as it would represent a promotion rather than a lateral move. Pierce remains the team’s interim coach after being elevated to that position from linebackers coach on Halloween night.

On the general manager front, the Raiders interviewed Broncos executive Kelly Kleine Van Calligan for the position.

She has been with the Broncos for three seasons as the executive director of football operations and adviser to the general manager. Before working for the Broncos, she spent nine years with the Vikings, including from 2019 to 2020 as the manager of player personnel and college scout.

The Raiders will also interview former Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds, Bills director of player personnel Terrance Gray, Bengals senior personnel executive Trey Brown and 49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters.

The Raiders rallied under the 45-year-old Pierce to finish 5-4 over the last nine games after the team fired Josh McDaniels.

He remains under consideration for the permanent job, and players have advocated for his return.

“That’s basically how the whole locker room feels,” wide receiver Davante Adams said.

Defensive end Maxx Crosby agreed: “There’s only 32 head coaches in the whole world. So you’ve got to find a leader of men. And when you’ve got one of them in the building currently, I don’t know why you would let them go.”

Pierce has made it clear he wants the permanent job but also understands there will be competition. Among the coaches already being connected to the Raiders are Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Vrabel.

Pete Carroll, who is out as the Seahawks’ coach, could also emerge as a candidate.

Pierce would expect nothing less.

“Why wouldn’t it be? It’s the Raiders we’re talking about,” Pierce said. “Best of the best.”

The experience over the last two months has clearly whet Pierce’s interest in being a head coach. And he is eager to change the perception that he is merely a rah-rah guy and not game-plan driven.

As the head coach, Pierce embraced his role as a tone-setter, and that included putting his stamp on the direction the defense and offense took each week.

“The funny part about when people say, ‘You’re not an X-and-O guy,’ well, I’m like, ‘How have I been in the league this long? How did I play this long? How do I get this opportunity?’ ” Pierce said. “My job is not to call X and O’s; that’s why you hire coordinators, offense, defense, special teams. My job is to put the plan together to get us into the best position to win games and put the best personnel out there, the best 11, best call.”

On Monday, Pierce said his representatives would handle any opportunities outside of Las Vegas.

“That’s up to my agent. I mean, you pay people to do that,” he said. “I’m a Raider. I’m a Raider until I’m not a Raider anymore, right? But I still have it in my blood, so we’re good.”

Two days later, it looks like Pierce may now have some options outside of Las Vegas.

He is not the only coach on the team drawing interest elsewhere.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who has been permitted to interview with the Chargers for their coaching vacancy, was blocked by the Raiders from talking to another team about its vacant defensive coordinator job.

The identity of that team is unknown.

Short of Graham leaving for a promotion, it looks as if the Raiders hope to retain him as their defensive coordinator or at least give their next head coach a chance to decide whether he wants him on his staff.

Meanwhile, Raiders offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo has been permitted to interview with the Giants for the same position.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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