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Keenan McCardell among candidates to interview for Bucs’ offensive coordinator job

The team also wanted to meet with Houston offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who declined.
Former Bucs receiver Keenan McCardell is among at least three candidates set to interview for Tampa Bay's vacant offensive coordinator job.
Former Bucs receiver Keenan McCardell is among at least three candidates set to interview for Tampa Bay's vacant offensive coordinator job. [ Times (2003) ]
Published Jan. 24|Updated Jan. 25

TAMPA — Keenan McCardell caught two touchdown passes for the Bucs in Super Bowl 37. Now he could be calling plays to help get his former team into the end zone.

McCardell, the Vikings’ receivers coach, is among at least three candidates who plan to interview for the Bucs’ offensive coordinator position.

Broncos passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, and Jaguars passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter are expected to meet with Tampa Bay as early as this week. Cooter will interview Thursday; the Bucs have asked for permission to talk to Kubiak.

Tampa Bay asked to interview Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but he declined. Hamilton has two years remaining on his contract, and his son is a highly rated high school quarterback in Houston.

McCardell, 53, played 17 seasons in the NFL, including two (2002-2003) with the Bucs. He began his coaching career in 2010 with Washington and has coached receivers at the University of Maryland, as well as with the Jaguars and Vikings. As a player, he also was part of Washington’s Super Bowl 26 championship team.

Cooter, 38, oversaw the league’s 10th-ranked passing attack with the Jaguars and helped with the development of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who flourished in his second pro season. Lawrence passed for 4,113 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions while mounting a comeback from a 20-point halftime deficit in a 31-30 win against the Chargers in an AFC wild-card game.

Prior to his arrival in Jacksonville, the former University of Tennessee quarterback spent five seasons with Matthew Stafford and the Lions, the last three (2016-2018) as offensive coordinator.

Kubiak, 35, spent three seasons with the Vikings as their quarterbacks coach (2019-20) and offensive coordinator (2021) before joining the first-year staff of head coach Nathaniel Hackett in Denver. Kubiak’s father, Gary, is the former Texans and Broncos head coach.

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson had one of his worst seasons as a pro in his first year in Denver, passing for 3,524 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Broncos went 5-12, and Hackett was fired.

The Bucs lost out on one of the league’s top candidates when Bill O’Brien returned to New England as offensive coordinator Tuesday. If Byron Leftwich had become head coach of the Jaguars last season, the Bucs’ plan was to hire O’Brien to replace him in Tampa Bay.

It stands to reason after firing Leftwich last Thursday that O’Brien would have been a preferred addition to Todd Bowles’ staff, especially if he is hoping to convince quarterback Tom Brady to play here one more season.

O’Brien was Brady’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Patriots from 2009-2011.

Brady is an unrestricted free agent who will count about $35 million against the Bucs’ salary cap in 2023 unless he decides to retire or re-sign with the team. He said Monday night he still is undecided on whether to continue his career.

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The Bucs can’t necessarily wait for Brady before hiring an offensive coordinator. However, it would have helped if he didn’t have to learn a new offense if he decided to return.

Six teams currently are seeking an offensive coordinator. Five others still have head-coaching vacancies, and those staffs will be needing play-callers as well.

The Bucs need to act with some urgency, but the interviewing process could increase at next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

The Bucs averaged nearly 30 points per game in the first three seasons under Leftwich but slipped to only 18.4 points per game in 2022.

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