Broadcaster and former Super Bowl coach Jon Gruden was approached by a bevy of college and pro teams again this year, sources said, including four NFL teams.
It would take the perfect combination of team, location, power and money to lure him back into coaching, though Gruden did spend significant time this season focusing on studying the spread offense and working with potential coaching staff members.
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According to sources in contact with Gruden, the job he most coveted was with the Panthers -- and the chance to work with Cam Newton -- but Carolina kept coach Ron Rivera. Furthermore, getting the type of organizational flow chart Gruden would require, with in essence reporting directly to the owner (as Andy Reid has in with the Chiefs) did not appear to be possible in Carolina.
Norv Turner likely to be Browns O-coordinator shortly
The Browns are close to finalizing a deal to secure Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator, league sources said, and are likely to announce the move shortly. Cleveland also is looking at candidates for defensive coordinator, as they expect to part with Dick Jauron.
Turner is very close with Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski and the chance to land Turner was a part of Chudzinski's allure for Browns execs, sources said. Turner was coveted by the Jets and Cowboys for their offensive coordinator position, sources said, but he was not interested. The Colts likely would target Turner for their coordinator spot should Bruce Arians land a head coaching job, but they won't get the chance.
Turner is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds and best play-callers in the game, and was at the top of many coordinator lists following his firing by the Chargers as head coach.
Lack of D-coordinator spots may limit Lovie's options
Former Bears coach Love Smith has interviewed for several head coaching jobs, including San Diego and Philadelphia, which still have openings, but those teams continue to interview other candidates and it is far from certain Smith would be a finalist for either spot.
There are only a few defensive coordinator jobs open, as some -- like St. Louis -- are focused on other candidates (the Rams have former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan atop their list, according to team sources).
Cleveland is seeking a more aggressive coach to run a 3-4 scheme, which does not fit Smith. The Jets have a defensive coordinator opening as well, but many in the league don't think Smith would be a fit in the kind of defense head coach Rex Ryan runs.
Further complicating things is the fact that teams searching for head coaches, like San Diego, Jacksonville and Arizona are very interested in retaining their defensive coordinators, who remain under contract and are thought of very highly by their organizations.
Smith would have fit the personnel run by the Cowboys, but they opted to go with an older disciple of the Tampa-2 scheme in Monte Kiffin, to the surprise of many in the NFL. Smith is owed $5.5 million in the final year of his deal as head coach of the Chicago Bears, and Chicago might end up having to eat all of that contract should Smith not be able to offset it with another NFL contract.
Pats' Welker, Texans' Barwin unlikely for tags
The loser of the divisional round game between the Patriots and the Texans will have off-season concerns, and opting whether to use the franchise tag on eligible players will be among their most immediate orders of business.
New England receiver Wes Welker is playing on the franchise tag now and tagging him again next season would trigger a 20 percent raise over his $9.5 million salary from 2012. That's very unlikely to occur, according to sources close to the situation, though the Patriots are expected to pursue a short-term extension with him. One source estimated Welker re-signing with the Pats as the most likely scenario.
The Texans engaged in contract talks with edge rusher Connor Barwin before the start of the season, but the sides were unable to get close on a new contract, according to sources. The Texans historically don't use the franchise tag often and sources said Barwin would be surprised if they did so in this instance, with such a tag costing about $11 million.
Barwin would love to remain a Texan, but he also may need to hit the market to determine his value, with Houston then opting whether to match offers. Barwin had a breakthrough season in 2011, but his sack total dipped in 2012. Houston lost Mario Williams in free agency last year, and in general has been very proactive in extending its young players, so expect the Texans to make efforts to retain Barwin.
Brian Billick, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and is very interested in returning to coaching, interviewed recently with the Eagles for upwards of eight hours, according to a league source, and is a candidate for that opening.
Billick's name has not been mentioned much during this year's coaching openings, but he has been approached by Buffalo and other teams in past years and has an impressive resume. The Eagles are exploring all options in their exhaustive coaching search, including talking to college coaches like Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Chip Kelly (Oregon) and Bill O'Brien (Penn State), as well as recently fired head coaches like Chicago's Lovie Smith.
The Eagles have interviewed coordinators like Mike Nolan (Falcons, defense), Mike McCoy (Broncos, offense), Keith Armstrong (Falcons, special teams), Gus Bradley (Seahawks, defense), and have interviews scheduled this week with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
Billick was broadcasting the NFC playoff game between Atlanta and Seattle and was not immediately available for comment. The Eagles declined to comment for this report.