Kentucky assistant Liam Coen agrees to be Buccaneers' offensive coordinator, AP source says

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to hire Kentucky assistant coach Liam Coen to be their offensive coordinator, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Saturday because a contract hadn't been finalized.

Coen would replace Dave Canales, who left to become Carolina’s head coach after one season in Tampa Bay.

Coen, who was the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, spent the 2022 season as the offensive coordinator for the Rams, where Baker Mayfield made four starts.

Mayfield revived his career with Canales and the Buccaneers, leading them to an NFC South title and a playoff win. He is set to become a free agent, and reuniting with Coen would increase Tampa Bay’s opportunity to re-sign him.

A finalist for AP Comeback Player of the Year, Mayfield threw for career highs of 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns vs. just 10 interceptions after joining the Bucs on a one-year, $4 million contract following Tom Brady's retirement.

“Of all the guys they interviewed and the names I saw, there were a lot of good options,” Mayfield said Friday at the Pro Bowl Games in Orlando.

“It's kind of hard to understand how that process goes, but obviously I got to work with Liam in LA," Mayfield added. “Great guy. Really, really great guy.”

Last season at Kentucky was Coen's second stint with the Wildcats. During the first, in 2021, he helped Will Levis have a breakout season that the boosted the quarterback's stock in the NFL draft.

Levis passed for 2,827 yards and 24 TDs in Coen's pro-style scheme that year and was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Coen’s return to Kentucky last season was less prolific, as the Wildcats ranked in the bottom half of the SEC at 339.3 yards per game, including 221.6 passing.

One of Coen's top priorities with Tampa Bay would be improving the running game. The Bucs finished last in the league in rushing each of the past two seasons.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl