Big news out of Pittsburgh today. The team announced moments ago that they have hired Brian Flores as the team’s senior assistant/linebackers Coach.
Flores was fired by the Miami Dolphins after several seasons as their head coach. Flores is currently suing the NFL along with multiple individual teams for racial discrimination.
Coming from the Bill Belichick tree, he is regarded as a bright defensive mind, and from a football aspect is a strong hire for the Steelers. He spent 11 years under Belichick in various roles, including as linebackers coach in his final three years there in 2016-2018. He then spent the past three years as head coach of the Dolphins.
“I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history developing and teaching defensive playing during his time in the NFL“, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team”.
Flores seems to be replacing Keith Butler’s role as linebackers Coach along with Teryl Austin’s role as a defensive assistant. Austin was promoted to defensive coordinator earlier in the offseason. Butler had been the Steelers’ defensive coordinator since 2015, but has also helped coach the outside linebackers for the past couple of seasons since Joey Porter was let go.
Recently, the Steelers announced that Austin was being promoted to take over the role of defensive coordinator. Holding that title in multiple cities in prior stops, he has been on the Steelers’ staff since 2019 under the title Senior Defensive Assistant/Secondary. With Butler gone and Austin in a new role, Flores slides right into the void.
Flores interviewed for numerous head coaching vacancies this offseason, and was a finalist for a couple. He has alleged that he would have gotten the head coaching job with the Houston Texans if not for the lawsuit that he filed against the league alleging discrimination, with many fairly questioning how his legal activities would affect his employment opportunities.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport in a tweet moments ago, Flores is not dropping his lawsuit.
Nine head coaching vacancies were filled during this hiring cycle, with two postings going to candidates who are minorities or biracial. Two of the biggest names among minority candidates in recent hiring cycles, Eric Bieniemy and Byron Leftwich, have yet to receive head coaching gigs. There were reports that Leftwich was in line for the Jacksonville Jaguars job but refused to work with general manager Trent Baalke, which Jaguars owner Shad Khan denied.
Provided that the lawsuit does not permanently damage his standing around the league, one would figure that Flores will be a prime candidate for another head coaching gig in the near future, as soon as the 2023 hiring cycle (and of course, many will suggest that he should coach the Steelers). If another team hires him from Pittsburgh to be their head coach, the Steelers would receive two third-round compensatory draft picks (one per year) as compensation for losing a minority coach to a promotion, per the Rooney Rule.
UPDATE (3:46 PM): The law firm representing Flores has issued this statement about the Steelers’ hire, confirming the decision to move forward with their lawsuit.