Sources: Seahawks hiring Macdonald as coach

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SEATTLE — The Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald have agreed to a deal to make him their next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Macdonald is receiving a six-year contract, sources told Schefter.

The Seahawks moved to hire Macdonald after meeting with him for a second time Wednesday, a day after their initial interview in Baltimore.

Macdonald, 36, becomes the NFL’s youngest head coach and brings to Seattle a reputation as one of the league’s brightest defensive minds, having led the Ravens to No. 1 in points allowed, sacks and takeaways in 2023, his second season as Baltimore’s coordinator.

Seahawks leadership, including general manager John Schneider, met with Macdonald for the first time Tuesday. A day earlier, Seattle held a second, in-person interview with Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who later told the Seahawks and the Washington Commanders — the last two teams to fill their head-coaching vacancies — that he was remaining in Detroit, sources told Schefter.

In replacing 72-year-old Pete Carroll with 36-year-old Macdonald, the Seahawks are going from the NFL’s oldest head coach to its youngest. Macdonald is 16 months younger than Jerod Mayo, who was hired by the New England Patriots earlier this month to succeed Bill Belichick.

Macdonald was one of the most targeted head-coaching candidates this year. He interviewed with six teams about their vacancies: the Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers and Commanders.

To replace Macdonald as defensive coordinator, the Ravens have many options on their current staff to promote. Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, inside linebackers coach Zachary Orr and defensive pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt are all candidates in Baltimore after interviewing for defensive coordinator positions with other NFL teams this offseason.

Macdonald got his start in the NFL as a coaching intern with the Ravens in 2014 after four seasons coaching at the University of Georgia, his alma mater. He spent seven seasons on Baltimore’s staff during his first stint with the team, also serving as a defensive assistant (2015-16), defensive backs coach (2017) and linebackers coach (2018-20) under John Harbaugh before Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, hired Macdonald to be the University of Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2021.

Macdonald returned to Baltimore to coordinate the Ravens’ defense in 2022. Over Macdonald’s two seasons in that role, Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest points (17.5) and the sixth-fewest yards (312.8) per game while ranking first in ESPN’s defensive efficiency metric. In 2023, the Ravens became the first team in NFL history to lead the league in fewest points allowed (16.5), most sacks (60) and most takeaways (tied for first at 31) in the same season.

“I think [Macdonald is] the best candidate out there right now,” Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Queen said this past season. “I don’t think anybody does it like him. Nobody cares like him. Nobody will do what he does. He will not rest until he has everything right. Whoever gets him, if he leaves, they’re getting the best candidate out there. The guy is all-around just the best person I’ve ever been around, coach-wise [and] person-wise. He really cares and truly cares about the players, the people around the organization and the fans.”

Macdonald was born in Boston and attended high school in Roswell, Georgia, where his football career was cut short by injuries. He did not play college football, graduating summa cum laude with a finance degree from UGA in 2010. While serving as safeties coach and defensive quality control coach for the Bulldogs, Macdonald earned his master’s degree in sports management from UGA, graduating with a 4.0 GPA in 2013.

Macdonald will become the eighth full-time head coach in Seahawks history. His hiring comes exactly three weeks after Carroll’s 14-year run in Seattle ended with team owner Jody Allen announcing that Carroll would no longer coach the team, instead moving into a yet-to-be-determined advisory role within the organization. Carroll had final say over personnel decisions, power that now belongs to Schneider.

While Schneider led the search for Carroll’s replacement, he said Allen — who assumed control of the team when her brother, Paul Allen, died in 2018 — would have “a lot” of say over the hire. Schneider also said Allen gave him a “clear” and “concise” directive to maintain the organization’s “positive culture, everything that’s been created here.

The Seahawks conducted initial interviews with a reported nine candidates and held second, in-person interviews with most of them: New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Dallas Cowboys DC Dan Quinn, Carolina Panthers DC Ejiro Evero, Johnson and Macdonald.

The Seahawks did not conduct an initial interview with Macdonald during the Ravens’ playoff bye week, which meant they had to wait until the Ravens’ season ended to meet with him. For that reason, his name flew under the radar as a Seahawks candidate for much of their search until gaining steam during Baltimore’s run to the AFC title game, which they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs despite holding Patrick Mahomes to only 17 points.

The first order of business for Macdonald will be assembling a coaching staff. After moving on from Carroll, the Seahawks gave his assistants permission to interview for other jobs. Several have already been hired elsewhere, including offensive coordinator Shane Waldron (to become the Chicago Bears’ OC) and defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt (to become the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line coach), who weren’t expected to be retained in those roles by Seattle’s next coach.

The Seahawks also have to make a decision this winter on whether to proceed with Geno Smith as their starting quarterback in 2023. Smith’s $12.7 million base salary for next season will become fully guaranteed on Feb. 16 if he’s still on their roster then.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.

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