(AP) – The New York Jets hired former Denver Broncos coach and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinator on Thursday.
The 43-year-old Hackett replaces Mike LaFleur and fuels some speculation about whether the Jets could pursue Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose playing future is uncertain.
Hackett and Rodgers have a connection: Hackett served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-21 with Rodgers as the quarterback.
The hiring of Hackett ends a wide search by Robert Saleh and the Jets, who ESPN reported interviewed more than 15 candidates for the job. Saleh had said he was looking for an experienced play caller to replace LaFleur, who was a first-time offensive coordinator.
Hackett went 4-11 in less than one season as head coach of the Broncos, who fired him a day after Denver’s 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas. Hackett, an experienced play caller who has led three top-10 scoring offenses as a coordinator, replaced Vic Fangio last January. But he wasn’t able to build an offense that suited veteran Russell Wilson with the Broncos.
With the Jets, Hackett will be coming to a team that struggled mightily on offense in two seasons under LaFleur and is facing a major question at quarterback. Zach Wilson has not lived up to expectations after being selected second overall in the 2021 draft. Mike White and Joe Flacco, who both started at times in Wilson’s place, are scheduled to be free agents.
Jets owner Woody Johnson said after the season, during which New York finished 7-10 and on a six-game losing streak, that he would “absolutely” be on board with acquiring a veteran quarterback in the offseason.
Hackett and Jets coach Robert Saleh first worked together in Jacksonville from 2015-16 when Hackett was the Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach and Saleh the linebackers coach. Hackett took over as Jacksonville’s interim offensive coordinator in 2016 before being hired for the position the following season and helped lead Blake Bortles and the Jaguars to the AFC title game that season.
He was fired in the middle of the next season after Jacksonville struggled, but Hackett was hired by Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur — Mike’s older brother — in 2019. Under Hackett, Rodgers and the Packers were the NFL’s top-scoring offense during the 2020 season when Green Bay went to the NFC championship game.
The Jets also announced that Keith Carter was hired as the team’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator, replacing the fired John Benton. Carter was Tennessee’s O-line coach for the last five seasons. The Derrick Henry-led Titans had three top-five rushing finishes in Carter’s last four seasons with the team.