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CBS Sports NFL Insider

Best coaching/GM options team by team as smoke clears

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The dust has finally settled, at least temporarily, in what was a wild Black Monday. Teams already began the process of securing interviews with possible head coaches and general managers, and there will surely be a second wave yet to come, which could include more changes in Jacksonville, Carolina and Detroit.

But for now, we have seven head coaching openings and six general manager openings. Which begs the question, where are all of these guys coming from?

Well, let's start with the coaches and take a team-by-team look at the current openings and the candidates that fit:

Arizona

Andy Reid, the most established and highest-decorated NFL coach, is currently dead set on coaching in 2013. He will interview with the Cardinals, league sources said. Many believe Kansas City could emerge as an option for him as well. We'll see what kind of a match Reid is with the Cards. The Cardinals will take a long look at their defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who also is mulling interview offers from Buffalo and Cleveland, league sources said. Horton has done a great job in two seasons in Arizona and studied for years under Steelers legendary coordinator Dick LeBeau.

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The Cardinals have asked to talk to Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who is getting accolades for his unreal job mentoring Tim Tebow in 2011, and now his success with Peyton Manning. (Chicago has also requested permission to speak to McCoy and more offers will likely come in; McCoy already has a brief and somewhat-bizarre history with Jay Cutler). And while the Cards didn't rush to ask for permission to interview Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, they already know him inside out, the Bidwill family are big fans, and I would not be surprised if he entered this equation at some point.

Pro and college sources have also said the Cardinals, among others, are interested in Penn State head coach and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. O'Brien -- who has also drawn interest from Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Diego -- will have decisions to make this week when he returns from vacation about which teams, if any, he wants to meet with. Penn State officials were unable to be reached for comment, but NFL clubs have begun contacting the school, according to sources.

Buffalo

Expect the Bills to make a strong pitch for just-fired Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt. And, if the Buffalo brass just so happened to fly out to Arizona to wine and dine Whisenhunt, it would only make sense to double-dip with Horton. Should they fail to land Whisenhunt -- and having some kind of plan at quarterback would help -- then a college coach might make sense.

Cleveland / Philadelphia

I can't help but lump these two together. They have such similar wants (and the fact that Browns team president Joe Banner came from the Eagles might help explain their similar tastes). Both covet Oregon coach Chip Kelly, and that free-for-all will officially begin after his team plays its bowl game this week, though league sources said feelers have already long since been sent out. He may not opt for either spot and some believe he stays in school. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is also very high on both of their lists, sources said (keeping him in Pennsylvania might be of particular allure to the Eagles). And the Eagles are also very high on Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, whose brother Jon (you may have heard of him) once coached in the City of Brotherly Love. Jay Gruden cannot interview until after the wild card round with the Bengals facing the Texans. The Eagles will also interview Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. The Browns are likely to interview Horton as well.

Chicago

As I mentioned, the Bears reached out to McCoy right away, and fixing that woeful offense and erratic quarterback Jay Cutler is clearly one of the biggest chores in Chicago. They also will talk to Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, but it would be a surprise if he landed it (and frankly with top special teams coach Dave Toub already on staff -- Toub interviewed for Miami's head coaching job last year -- it's somewhat baffling they would go this route). The Bears are also interested in Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

Kansas City

The Chiefs have already reached out to Koetter and Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong. As I noted, Reid would have interest in talking to them, but that would mean owner Clark Hunt was in fact willing to part with general manager Scott Pioli. Kansas City is also high on Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, according to sources, and Marrone has a strong pro background as well and has quickly turned around that lagging program.

San Diego

Reid would love to land here, his hometown, but it doesn't look likely. Bruce Arians, the Colts offensive coordinator who went 9-3 as interim head coach, would make a lot of sense, however, and he already has strong ties to defensive coordinator John Pagano, who is likely to be retained. Arians cannot interview until after the Colts' wild card game, so no rush there. And the Chargers want to complete their GM search first, anyway. I also can't help but wonder if this might be a landing spot for Lovie Smith, who was fired by Chicago but has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume. Smith is expected to interview for a few jobs.

Also, several teams are thinking about interviewing 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, league sources said, and if 49ers personnel exec Tom Gamble lands a GM gig, he may end up looking long and hard at Tomsula for the head coaching job there. And, there is still a possibility that Carolina and Jacksonville part with their head coaches pending the outcome of their GM searches.

As for the GM openings

Arizona: Assistant GM Steve Keim is highly thought of there and once the process ends I still would be very surprised if he does not land the job. He has been groomed for this for a while and could have opportunities elsewhere.

Carolina: Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is advising owner Jerry Richardson, and league sources said current Giants execs Dave Gettleman and Marc Ross are already scheduled for interviews there -- (I have continued to hear a strong buzz about Gettleman). Keim is someone who is thought of highly by the Panthers as well, sources said. Interim GM Brandon Beane is also under consideration, sources said.

Cleveland: The Browns are going all out for a head coach and then will address personnel needs, and I continue to hear that former Raiders, Eagles and Browns exec Mike Lombardi is well positioned to land a front office job there. Lombardi worked with Banner in Philadelphia and could be paired with a younger salary cap/contract negotiator to round out the front office. Former Bears and Eagles personnel man Bobby DePaul could find a role there as well.

Jacksonville : Many believe Gamble to be a top choice here. Jags owner Shahid and Tony Khan have a strong relationship with 49ers exec Paraag Marothe, league sources said, and Marothe is a big proponent of Gamble. Green Bay exec Alonzo Highsmith could get an interview here as well.

NY Jets : The Jets are using a search firm to help run the show and it's only natural they are interviewing Marc Ross. Ross will probably land something this offseason and the Jets are focused on improving their drafts, and Ross is all about college scouting. They have asked permission to speak to Gamble as well, sources said, and former GMs like Jerry Angelo and Randy Mueller would have interest but I don't see the Jets going in that direction. Some wonder if New York would be willing to bring in Bill Polian, who would really change the culture in that building (if Kansas City makes a front office move, Polian could end up involved in that as well). If the Jets were smart, they would reach out to Jim Popp, longtime GM of Montreal of the CFL, who has an expert eye for talent, knows how to manipulate the back end of the roster and who nearly got the Colts job a year ago. Adding an experienced eye like Bill Kuharich, who had a strong run most recently in Kansas City, would make sense as well. It may take a village to save the Jets.

San Diego: Ron Wolf, longtime Packers exec, is helping aid this process, and Wolf thinks very highly of John Dorsey from his Green Bay ties. Shaun Herock, the Raiders director of college scouting, is expected to get an interview, and the Chargers have requested to talk to Gamble, sources said. In the end, though, Jimmy Raye, a fixture in their front office, could get promoted to the GM position, which would not surprise many in scouting circles. Eliot Wolf, Ron Wolf's son, could merit some consideration as well, and he was just promoted by the Packers a year ago.


Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday during the season on The NFL Today.
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