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Bill Belichick interviews with Atlanta Falcons for coaching job

Bill Belichick announced his parting with the Patriots last week. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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Bill Belichick, who parted ways with the New England Patriots last week after coaching them to six Super Bowl triumphs over 24 seasons, interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons for their coaching vacancy.

The Falcons announced the interview Monday without providing further details. It is the first known interview for Belichick, 71, since he left the Patriots on Thursday through what he and team owner Robert Kraft called mutual agreement.

It also is the most concrete sign that Belichick intends to continue coaching. He did not say that explicitly during a news conference alongside Kraft last week in which he did not take questions. But Kraft hinted that Belichick would keep coaching, saying that he wished Belichick continued success except when he faces the Patriots.

Kraft said he would not attempt to receive draft-pick compensation from any other NFL team interested in hiring Belichick, whose contract with the Patriots reportedly was to run through next season, in what would have amounted to a trade. Belichick had earned the right to leave the organization without being encumbered in that way, Kraft said.

The Falcons are searching for a replacement for Arthur Smith, who was fired following a third straight 7-10 season. Some people within the league have expressed the belief that Falcons owner Arthur Blank will make a strong push to hire Belichick.

Belichick has 333 career coaching victories, including postseason games. That puts him 14 shy of Don Shula’s record.

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Belichick also could be a candidate for the Dallas Cowboys if their owner, Jerry Jones, fires Mike McCarthy following Sunday’s loss at home to the Green Bay Packers in the opening round of the NFC playoffs. McCarthy has coached the Cowboys to three straight 12-victory regular seasons but has a postseason record of 1-3 with the team. Jones called Sunday’s defeat the most painful playoff loss of his Cowboys ownership tenure. He deflected questions about McCarthy’s job status, saying that he hadn’t given any thought to coaching issues.

Mike Vrabel, a former NFL coach of the year surprisingly fired last week by the Tennessee Titans, also could be a candidate for the Cowboys if Jones dismisses McCarthy.

The Falcons are among seven NFL teams searching for new coaches along with the Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Commanders, Titans and Seattle Seahawks.

Cowboys’ shocking loss leaves Jerry Jones to ponder Mike McCarthy’s status

The Patriots promoted Jerod Mayo from linebackers coach to coach Friday. They utilized a succession plan written into Mayo’s contract and therefore did not have to comply with the NFL’s minority interviewing requirements. Mayo is the first Black head coach in Patriots history.

Any NFL team with a head coaching vacancy must conduct in-person interviews with at least two minority candidates from outside the organization, under league rules. In-person interviews with candidates from other teams cannot occur until after the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend. Virtual interviews can take place sooner and have been occurring leaguewide.

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh interviewed Monday with the Chargers, the team confirmed.

The Chargers are seeking a replacement for Brandon Staley, who was fired last month, and are viewed as an attractive job because of the presence of quarterback Justin Herbert.

Harbaugh could speak with several NFL teams, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Raiders seemingly remain a possibility, although they could opt to retain interim coach Antonio Pierce.

Harbaugh reportedly also has been negotiating a contract extension with Michigan, which he coached to a College Football Playoff championship this season.

He has a strong record of NFL success, having coached the San Francisco 49ers to three appearances in the NFC championship game and a Super Bowl appearance over a four-year span between the 2011 and 2014 seasons.