NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A tweet flashed across everyone’s phones that Matt LaFleur was in line for the Packers’ head job and, bam, the flurry of suggestion for who the replacement should be came raining down.

Except very little of it came with an understanding of how a coach under contract with another team can land in Music City.VrabelBrownIndy

Mike Vrabel can’t simply go get anyone he wants from anywhere he wants.

Once upon a time in the NFL, a team could lure coaches with two “decision-making” assistant coaching positions. They were supposed to be the highest-ranking assistant on each side of the ball, but teams, of course, tried to circumvent the rules. They mixed coordinator and assistant head coach titles,. blurring who really had rank and messed up what was meant to be a good thing.

So it went away.

So now, if Team X wants to interview Team Y's assistant for a head coaching job it’s a mere formality. Team X files the paperwork to “ask.” Team Y has no choice. The interview is allowed by the league and if the coach in question offered the job he can take it. That is what just happened with LaFleur.

But to replace LaFleur, the Titans must find someone who is not under contract or they must ask permission to interview someone who is under contract and that must be granted by his current team. If it's not, they simply have to look elsewhere.LaFleurMariota

That’s what happened with LaFleur last year. Sean McVay of the Rams didn’t want to hold his friend back and knew calling plays for the Titans would be a big step up for LaFleur. And it sure was -- a year later he’s head coach of the Packers. Given the McVay’s Rams weren’t scheduled to face the Titans anytime soon, McVay granted the permission and when LaFleur got the job, he wished him good luck.

Now, if the Titans don’t hire a free agent like John DeFilippo or Jim Bob Cooter or if they don’t turn to the college ranks, the Titans need to find someone as gracious as McVay was. Some coaches and organizations will not get in the way of career advancement.

Others can be pretty staunch -- the Browns interviewed Freddie Kitchens for their head job, and are now sitting on him as their offensive coordinator so if he's not their hire, a new head coach has the option of retaining him. If the new head coach goes a different direction, Kitchens could hit the market after a lot of jobs are filled.

Maybe Jon Gruden would allow Brian Callahan to advance his career with a move like the one LaFleur made. Callahan is the Raiders quarterbacks coach. But with Gruden calling plays and Greg Olson serving as the offensive coordinator, Callahan is several steps away from calling plays.

Similarly, if LaFleur seeks to bring a Titans’ assistant or two with him to Green Bay, he can only do so with Tennessee’s permission.

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