The Seattle Seahawks are hiring former University of Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb to the same position on new coach Mike Macdonald’s staff, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Pete Thamel on Friday.
Grubb had accepted the Alabama offensive coordinator job after spending the past two seasons at Washington under former Huskies and current Crimson Tide coach Kalen DeBoer, coordinating a pass-heavy offense that ranked sixth in the FBS in yards per game (487.0) and sixth in scoring (36.7) in that span. With Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback, the Huskies led the FBS in passing yards per game (355.8) the past two seasons and ranked 15th in dropback percentage, calling passing plays 61.8% of the time.
Grubb was set to be Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, having followed DeBoer to Tuscaloosa when he was hired in January after Nick Saban retired. Washington had passed on hiring Grubb as DeBoer’s replacement.
Instead, Grubb will return to Seattle for his first job in the NFL. He becomes the third coordinator hired to Macdonald’s Seahawks staff. They have tabbed Jay Harbaugh to run special teams and Aden Durde to coordinate their defense, though Macdonald will call plays on that side of the ball. Seattle has also hired Leslie Frazier as assistant head coach.
Grubb is expected to bring Alabama offensive line coach Scott Huff with him to the Seahawks, sources told ESPN. Huff coached Washington’s offensive line for the past seven years, including the past two with Grubb. Last season, the Huskies’ offensive line won the Joe Moore Award as the top line in college football.
At Washington, Grubb also served as the Huskies’ quarterbacks coach, working closely in that role with Penix, who threw a combined 67 touchdown passes in 28 games over the past two seasons. Penix finished runner-up in Heisman Trophy voting in December.
That connection will fuel speculation about Seattle drafting Penix, who is widely projected to be taken in the first two rounds. The Seahawks own the 16th overall pick, no second-round pick and an extra third-rounder.
Geno Smith is under contract for two more seasons and $47.5 million, though he might not be a lock to remain Seattle’s starter after an up-and-down 2023 season. That total includes a $12.7 million base salary for 2024 that will become fully guaranteed if Smith is still on Seattle’s roster on Feb. 16.
Grubb replaces Shane Waldron, who served as Seahawks’ offensive coordinator for the past three seasons and was hired to the same position with the Chicago Bears in January after Seattle fired Pete Carroll.
Grubb had worked with DeBoer in four previous stops and served as offensive coordinator for all four programs: Washington, Fresno State, Eastern Michigan and Sioux Falls. He began his college coaching career in 2005 at South Dakota State, working with wide receivers and running backs, and has also coached the offensive line and quarterbacks during his nearly two decades in the college ranks.
While Grubb has never worked in the NFL, Macdonald said during his introductory news conference that NFL playcalling experience wasn’t a prerequisite for his offensive coordinator in Seattle.
“It’s not near the top of the list,” Macdonald said. “We’re looking for the right person to come in here and build this thing, so we want someone that’s open-minded, that has a growth mindset, that can connect with their players and build a system that’s unique to the Seattle Seahawks, that’s going to live here a long time and he’s going to be the one spearheading it.”
The Seahawks had requested an interview for their offensive coordinator vacancy with Detroit Lions passing game coordinator Tanner Engstrand, according to the MMQB. Former UCLA coach Chip Kelly and former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson were also among their interviews, sources told ESPN. The New York Giants blocked a request to speak with offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who had previously interviewed twice for Seattle’s head-coaching vacancy.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.