The Philadelphia Eagles will consider Chip Kelly to replace Andy Reid, according to league sources, and multiple executives with rival teams anticipate Philadelphia making a heavy push to land the Oregon head coach.
As previously reported in the space, Kelly will be a hot NFL commodity. And with possible NCAA sanctions looming over Oregon, the noted offensive mind is expected to make the jump to the NFL. The Ducks finish out their season in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State on Jan. 3. The Eagles won't be the only team to contact Kelly, but league sources expect them to be among the first to try to interview him and believe he could emerge as a quick favorite for the position. The attractiveness of the Eagles job, versus other potential opportunities on Kelly's plate, remains to be seen. Kelly turned down Tampa Bay last offseason after effectively agreeing to take the job, and it's not known how Philly's fluid quarterback situation and organizational structure might factor into his interest there.
Kelly is 45-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon but has no NFL experience.
The Eagles have not looked to the college ranks for a head coach since hiring Dick Vermeil away from UCLA in 1976. Vermeil led the team to one of its two Super Bowl appearances to date in his seven seasons with the team (1976-82).
Reid, whose 14-year tenure with the Eagles is believed to be coming to an end, is seeking to coach elsewhere in 2013 and is expected by those close to him to move on regardless of whether Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted him to return.
Browns have Nick Saban, Josh McDaniels in sights
The Browns intend to part with coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert at the end of the regular season, according to league sources, and new owner Jimmy Haslam has Saban very high on his list. Haslam -- a major booster at the University of Tennessee -- is quite familiar with Saban's prowess in the SEC, and Mike Lombardi, a top candidate for the Browns' front office, has strong ties to Saban going back to when they worked in Cleveland on Bill Belichick's staff.
One source who has been in contact with Saban estimated that it's "80/20 he stays" at Alabama, but no one expects to hear definitively until after the school faces Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7. At the end of his last stint in the NFL, as head coach of the Dolphins in 2005-06, Saban notoriously told reporters, "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" less than two weeks before being named to the helm of the Crimson Tide program.
The Browns are among the teams high on Kelly as well. But if they go with a coach from the pro ranks, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a strong candidate, sources said. McDaniels is an Ohio native, and the Browns are looking for ways to energize their offense. The defense has made progress of late, but the new regime in Cleveland remains anything but sold on 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden as their quarterback.
McDaniels, 36, was head coach for parts of two turbulent seasons in Denver, going 11-17 in 2009-10 while notably clashing with (and eventually trading) quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. McDaniels was also behind the selection of quarterback Tim Tebow with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 Draft. At the same time, quarterback Kyle Orton and wideout Brandon Lloyd had career seasons under McDaniels in Denver. That, coupled with his sterling work as a play-caller in two stints as OC in New England, makes a strong case for McDaniels' potential to get Cleveland's long-dormant offense on track.
Ravens bracing for possibility of life without Lewis and Reed
Ravens stalwarts and expected future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have spent their entire careers in Baltimore, anchoring what has long been a dominant defense, but their time with the team could be ending. "It could end up being a lot sooner than later," as one team source put it.
Lewis remains on the IR/Designated to Return list recovering from a torn triceps. Should the Ravens lock up the AFC North title on Sunday, team sources said it is highly unlikely the team would active him until the postseason. Lewis, who has been out-performed by Dannell Ellerbe this season (Ellerbe's recent injury issues have been viewed by some in the organization as more debilitating than the loss of Lewis for much of the season), is set to make $5.4 million next season. While Lewis has told friends that he intends to play in 2013, when he will turn 38, some in the Ravens' organization don't think its viable to pay him that kind of salary and wonder if Lewis would be able to come to grips with not being a guaranteed starter or full-time player after so many years as the face of the franchise. Lewis might have to agree to a restructured deal to remain in Baltimore.
Reed, meanwhile, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end. The 34-year-old safety and the Ravens have not had any discussions about a new deal this season and really no significant talks about a contract since before the 2011 season began, sources said. Given the age of Baltimore's defense in key spots and some pending salary cap issues (like quarterback Joe Flacco likely counting $14.6 million against a stagnant cap as a franchise player), finding a salary spot agreeable to Reed is far from certain, and teammates have said privately they believe Reed will be elsewhere next season. A long-term deal for Flacco could free up the franchise tag to be used on Reed, but sources said Reed would not take kindly to being franchised at this stage of his career, prompting another offseason stare-down between him and the front office.
The 13-time Pro Bowler Lewis is third among active NFL players in games started (227), behind only Tony Gonzalez and Ronde Barber.
Reed, an eight-time Pro Bowler, is the NFL's all-time leader in interception return yards (1,541) and, with 61 career picks, is within reasonable striking distance of the NFL's interceptions record of 81 held by Hall of Famer Paul Krause.
Jets have no viable options for trading Sanchez or Tebow
When Sanchez restructured his contract last year to provide cap relief to the team, the new contract language effectively tied the struggling passer to New York through next season. Sanchez would have to be paid $8.25 million within 30 days of his release and, if released, would count about $17 million against the cap for a team already projected to be about $20 million over the cap. There are no offsets in the deal that would reduce that financial commitment or the cap hit, and there is no financial motivation for Sanchez to alter the contract in a way that would facilitate a trade or his release. If he is released, he could pocket his Jets money and enhance his bank account via a new contract with another team. Additionally, New York's cap situation makes it difficult for the team to be positioned to sign any sort of impact quarterback in 2013.
Several NFL executives who have analyzed the Sanchez situation have reached the same conclusion about his likelihood of staying in New York in 2013. Sources close to Sanchez have also conceded as much, understanding the realities of his deal and the lack of interest teams would have in trading for a high-priced quarterback with 13 TDs, 17 INTs, and a 67.9 passer rating in 2012.
As for Tebow, if Jets owner Woody Johnson wants to keep him, he can -- Tebow's salary and cap number are not cost-prohibitive. But Jacksonville would be the only possible trade partner that NFL execs whom I spoke to saw as a viable option. Even then, there would not be much motivation for the Jaguars to trade for a little-used player who is likely to be released otherwise.
Bill Polian expected to get consideration to run Chiefs
Longtime NFL executive Bill Polian will be exploring NFL options in 2013, sources said, and numerous NFL execs believe he could be with the Chiefs next month.
As previously reported, sources said Kansas City's embattled general manager Scott Pioli was offered a contract extension prior to the season but did not sign it, and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt is under intense pressure to retool the coaching staff and front office in 2013. Hunt is a private man and sensitive to criticism, according to many who have worked for him.
The 69-year-old Polian is vastly experienced and very hands on, brings immediate credibility and has a high profile that could provide a buffer for Hunt, who does not oversee the day-to-day operations. Polian has succeeded with multiple franchises. With perhaps six GM jobs opening, this could be a year in which several former executives get back in the game.
The Polians and Hunt could be a logical fit, with Polian filling a role similar to the one played by Carl Peterson in Kansas City from 1989-2008. Polian's son, Chris, also a former Colts GM, could become involved in personnel with the Chiefs as well.
Raiders intend to make no coaching/GM change but could bolster front office
After much deliberation, Raiders owner Mark Davis does not intend to part with first-year head coach Dennis Allen and first-year GM Reggie McKenzie despite a poor season, league sources said, though Davis could alter the team's front-office structure.
Sources said Davis thinks highly of Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations, and some believe he could join that organization if the right opportunity arose. Anderson has spent the past seven years in the league office, but the Stanford alumnus has Bay Area ties and also has vast experience as an agent and working for NFL clubs. Davis is still relatively new at running the day-to-day operations of his team, and Amy Trask, the Raiders' CEO, is working primarily on the team's desperate search for a new stadium. Having another experienced set of eyes to make evaluations of the coaching staff and front office could be beneficial. Anderson's experience in the NFL office could be an additional benefit as Oakland participates in discussions about stadium financing.
There has never been an African-American team president in league history, and such a move would be fitting for an organization that was always at the vanguard of diversity in the coaching and front office ranks under Davis' father, Al. Some who know Anderson believe this type of opportunity would intrigue him, while the Raiders continue to seek ways to improve their situation from both a football and business perspective and with their future in Oakland at least somewhat in question.