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ESPN insider: Arizona Cardinals DC Todd Bowles among top candidates for 2015 head coaching position

Following the 2013 regular season, seven NFL teams were searching for new head coaches.

That meant there was plenty of opportunities for impressive coordinators around the league to interview for open positions and make the jump to becoming an NFL head coach.

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was one of those candidates. His unit had a stellar 2013 season, finishing sixth in the league in total defense and was ranked first against the run.

Bowles got interviews in Minnesota and Cleveland. He pulled his name out of consideration for the Browns job and Minnesota opted for Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to lead their team. That means Bowles will be back on Bruce Arians’ staff in the desert in 2014, which is a boon for the Cardinals.

But don’t get too used to having Bowles around, says ESPN NFL insider John Clayton.

“Yeah, I’d have to think this will be the last year, because Todd was very highly regarded in this market, it just didn’t play out this way,” Clayton told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “Todd was in there for the the Cleveland job, and I think he had a decent chance to have it, but on Tuesday he called up and said ‘I’m pulling my name out, you go ahead and you go your different way.’

“If you start to look at the hierarchy, he was probably in maybe the top three or four of about three or four different teams. Detroit should have considered him a little bit more too, but they didn’t, they went with the experienced guy (Jim Caldwell) who has had head coaching experience. But I think Todd is so well regarded right now, that he’s up very high next year for a head coaching job.”

Clayton also explained that this year’s crop of head coaching hires was different in that many candidates with prior head coaching experience in the NFL were available. Not only did Caldwell land in Detroit, but Tennessee tabbed former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and former Bears coach Lovie Smith is taking over in Tampa Bay. This all worked against Bowles this offseason.

“I went through the research back to 2006, and it’s rare that you can find two assistant coaches that are promoted that are going to succeed — the numbers just don’t seem to work out,” he said. “So if you have a chance to get somebody with head coaching experience, you do that.”