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Seattle Seahawks

Leslie Frazier joining Mike Macdonald’s Seahawks staff as assistant head coach

Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier walks through the players parking lot prior to an AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 22, 2023, in Orchard Park, New York.   (Tribune News Service)
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – After hiring the youngest head coach in the NFL this week in Mike Macdonald, it was expected the Seahawks would try to add some veteran savvy to their assistant coaching staff to help him out.

And that’s exactly what the Seahawks did Friday in coming to an agreement to hire Leslie Frazier as assistant head coach — a coach who at 64 is not only almost twice as old as Macdonald’s 36, but has also been considered something of a mentor to him .

A league source confirmed the expected hire to the Seattle Times.

Frazier, who may best be known as the head coach of the Vikings from 2010-13, was the Ravens’ secondary coach in 2016 when Macdonald was in his third year with Baltimore as an assistant, at the time serving as a defensive assistant.

Macdonald’s bio with the Ravens noted: “In 2016, Macdonald worked with Leslie Frazier, helping guide a unit that finished seventh overall (322.1 ypg) and produced a league-leading (tied, KC & SD) 18 INTs (interceptions).”

NFL Insider Josina Anderson of CBSSports reported that Frazier had four other teams interested in him serving in a similar capacity before deciding to accept Seattle’s offer.

Asked why, he reportedly said: “Mike. Mike was my quality control coach in Baltimore.”

Frazier was Buffalo’s defensive coordinator from 2017-19 and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach from 2020-22 but stepped down after the 2022 season and did not coach in 2023, saying he intended to return in 2024.

Frazier had reported interviews for the head-coaching vacancies with the Raiders and Chargers last month and was rumored to be on Miami’s list to become the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator as well as apparently a few other jobs before accepting Seattle’s offer.

Last spring, as it become apparent he would not be on a coaching staff in 2023, Frazier spoke optimistically of getting another shot as a head coach but saying that he hoped to at least be an assistant in 2024.

“I really feel good about where I am. I think my reasons for stepping away were the right reasons,” Frazier told “I feel good about it. It just gives me a chance to see things from a different perspective, get recharged again and re-energized.

” … I know I don’t have much time left. I’m at an age where it seems like owners are going younger and younger. But I think I have some things that I can bring to the table. We’ll see what happens.”

Frazier went 21-32-1 as coach of the Vikings, taking over late in the 2010 season on an interim basis and staying on permanently.

Frazier has also been a defensive coordinator with the Bengals (2003-04) and Tampa Bay (2014-15) having worked solely on the defensive side of the ball other than when he was a head coach during a career that dates to 1986.

In his last three years as Buffalo’s DC from 2020-22 the Bills ranked fifth, first and first in fewest points allowed.

Frazier also played from 1981-85 with the Chicago Bears, memorably leading the famed 1985 team that won the Super Bowl under Mike Ditka with six interceptions.

But he suffered a knee injury on a punt return in Chicago’s 46-10 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX that led to the end of his playing career.

A league source said Frazier is coming to Seattle as assistant head coach and not as defensive coordinator.

Macdonald said during his introductory news conference Thursday that he intends to keep calling defensive plays on game days.

“Yeah, right now the plan is I’ll be calling the plays,” he said. “Now, depending on who the defensive coordinator is and when that becomes — ultimately, I’m the head coach of the football team, so I want to coach the football team. Right now, the best way that we can win in my opinion is for me to call the plays, and then when it becomes obvious that someone else is ready to go and we see it the same way, then we’ll make that change.”

Macdonald said Thursday that within minutes of when it became official Wednesday that he would become Seattle’s coach that “we [he and general manager John Schneider] literally walked upstairs, and we went to work on staffing.”

Seattle also is expected to retain Karl Scott, who served the past two seasons as defensive passing game coordinator, on its staff.

Among Macdonald’s other priorities is hiring an offensive coordinator. A source confirmed Thursday that former UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb is under consideration for that job. Detroit passing game coordinator Tanner Engstrand is also reportedly being considered for that role.