It’s almost that time of the year when a number of NFL head coaches box up their offices and head to the national television circuit while awaiting their next job offer.

With five weeks left in the 2018 season, a number of teams are expected to have head-coach openings. The Cleveland Browns already sent Hue Jackson packing, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals all could be looking for new leadership this offseason.

As the coaching carousel starts to spin again, the New England Patriots once again will be a prominent figure in determining the newest members of the coaching fraternity as both offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and de facto defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brian Flores reportedly are expected to be candidates for head-coaching vacancies, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

In a piece filed Wednesday, Graziano listed the “hottest coaching candidates” in the NFL, with McDaniels, despite his escapades with the Indianapolis Colts last offseason, leading the pack.

“McDaniels was the hottest name on the circuit last year, and assuming he wants another shot at those interviews, there’s a good chance he will be again,” Graziano writes. “Multiple sources close to the situation say McDaniels would be interested in a head-coaching opportunity if it were the right one, which is something we’ve heard of McDaniels before. If you want to roll your eyes, it’s hard to blame you.”

As you may remember, the Patriots offensive coordinator agreed to become the Colts head coach last offseason before changing his mind at the 11th hour to return to New England. McDaniels, who went 11-17 in less than two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos, is sure to face numerous questions about his commitment to the team he’s interviewing with and why he turned his back on the Colts.

While all these questions will be tough for McDaniels to navigate, he’s one of the sharpest offensive minds in the NFL and no doubt will have his fair share of opportunities this offseason should he desire to move on from Foxboro, Mass. McDaniels already has been mentioned as a possibility to take over in Cleveland, and likely would be at the top of the list in Green Bay should the Packers kick Mike McCarthy to the curb.

As for Flores, the 37-year-old interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals last offseason but eventually lost out to Steve Wilks. Graziano notes the linebackers coach is “well regarded as a leader by both players and coaches” and likely will get serious opportunities this offseason depending on the jobs that open up.

The Patriots are no strangers to losing coordinators to head-coaching opportunities, and it looks like New England could undergo another brain drain this winter.

Click to read Graziano’s full list of candidates>>

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