The Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator search is up to six candidates after it was reported on Tuesday that the team would interview the Baltimore Ravens’ Dennard Wilson and Zach Orr. The question now is just how many more names are going to be added to the list before either a second round of interviews comes or the team finally settles on a defensive coordinator to hire.
Interestingly enough, the Packers haven’t (reportedly) talked to any of the eight defensive coordinator candidates that they interviewed for the job opening back in 2021. Three of them currently hold defensive coordinator positions around the league, which means that those potential interviews could be blocked, but it’s worth mentioning that the other five coaches would be allowed to interview for the Packers’ defensive coordinator opening without restrictions.
One of those five coaches is Atlanta Falcons assistant head coach Jerry Gray, whose contract with the Packers ran out after the 2022 season. Reportedly, Gray had a philosophical split with then-defensive coordinator Joe Barry, now fired, which led to him looking for work elsewhere. First, Gray interviewed for the Falcons’ defensive coordinator opening last season, a job that eventually went to Ryan Nielsen — another coach who received an interview for the Packers’ 2021 opening. When Gray didn’t get that job, he joined Atlanta as Arthur Smith’s assistant head coach.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Gray just signed a contract extension with the Falcons and will be retained by new head coach Raheem Morris going into the 2024 season. Atlanta recently announced that former University of Washington head coach Jimmy Lake is going to be the team’s defensive coordinator, which means that Gray will either be an assistant coach or an assistant head coach under Morris. Technically, Gray would be allowed to interview for Barry’s job, if he wants to, but that seems less likely now that he’s signed a new deal in Atlanta.
Gray has been a defensive backs coach in the NFL since the 1990s, following a playing career where he was a four-time Pro Bowler. He also held the title of defensive coordinator with the 2001-2005 Buffalo Bills. In 2020, Gray joined the Packers as a defensive backs coach under then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. When Barry was hired as the defensive coordinator in 2021, Gray added the title of passing game coordinator for his final two seasons in Green Bay.