Former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator lands in the XFL

Ted Cottrell — the former defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills in the late ’90’s — will join the re-booted XFL.

Former Buffalo Bills staffer Ted Cottrell will be joining the rebooted XFL that kicks off in 2020. Per John McClain of The Houston Chronicle, Cottrell will join June Jones on the XFL Houston team as a defensive coordinator.

Cottrell started his NFL career under Marv Levy, acting as a linebackers coach for the Chiefs when the two were in Kansas City. When Levy moved on to Buffalo, he re-hired Cottrell, who at the time was coaching in the USFL. For four seasons, Cottrell acted as the team’s defensive line coach, playing a key-role in Bruce Smith‘s development. In fact, Smith chose Cottrell to present for him when he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

Smith thought highly of Cottrell, even crediting him for his improvement through his years in the NFL. According to Josh Weir of The Canton Rep, Smith said the hiring of Cottrell was the best decision made in his career;

I think the best decision that was ever made in my career was hiring Ted Cottrell.

After a four year stint with the Cardinals, Cottrell returned to Bills in 1995 as a linebackers coach. He held that title for three years, then was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1998. The results were mostly good. Cottrell played the Bills under his 3-4 system, and led a top-ranked defense; finishing no worse than sixth in the NFL in total defense in each of his three seasons.

Cottrell moved on to the New York Jets as a defensive coordinator with an assistant head coach label. He was considered a promising coach and was even in contention to be their next head coach, but that didn’t happen. The Jets hired the offensive-minded Dennis Erickson, and Cottrell moved on to the Minnesota Vikings, where he was fired after two seasons.

After Minnesota, Cottrell became the defensive coordinator for the then-San Diego Chargers. His first season was a success, but in the second, he fired mid-way through the season. Cottrell moved onto the UFL and proceeded to quit after a winless season. After nine years out of football, he was named as the linebacker’s coach for the now-defunct AAF’s Birmingham Iron.

Cottrell has had a rollercoaster ride through the ranks of college football, NFL, USFL, AAF, and now XFL. But he may be best remembered for his time in Buffalo as an innovative defensive mind. Hopefully, he can re-ignite his career in Houston.