Redskins & Ravens Rasslin’ for Ryan?

January 24, 2008 |

Word on the street is that the Redskins are making a push for Rex Ryan to join presumed new head coach Jim Fassel’s staff in Washington. Former Sun reporter Jason La Confora, who now covers the ‘Skins for the Washington Post, says that the Redskins have yet to finalize deals with Fassel, Ryan and Seattle QB coach Jim Zorn (who would be offensive coordinator) but the three are the top choices for the positions and could be announced as early as tomorrow.

The hold-up appears to be negotiations with the Ravens regarding Ryan. According to La Confora, “contrary to other reports, the Ravens retain Ryan’s coordinator rights and can block a lateral move. They appear to be doing that. The sides may reach an agreement, but Ravens ownership badly wants to keep Ryan, who the players love. Fassel and Ryan spoke as recently as last night sources said and Ryan interviewed with Snyder Sunday night, according to sources.”

Here’s the latest on the coaching musical chairs from La Confora:

Rex Ryan presently is a Baltimore Ravens employee, still under contract according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The team paid for him – and any other member of Brian Billick’s staff – to attend the Senior Bowl, and Ryan is doing so.

However, when the Ravens fired Billick at the end of the season, the team permitted all of its coaches to interview for other jobs, and to continue using the club’s facility and their offices to do so while the Ravens conducted their coaching search. Several teams asked for permission to interview Ryan, Baltimore’s D Coordinator since 2005, for D Coordinator jobs and were rebuffed. However, Ryan was free to interview for any head coaching position move without permission being necessary.

Sources said the Redskins did contact Ryan recently, which could have been ostensibly to talk about the head coaching opening. So they would not have had to contact Baltimore and sources said they never have contacted Baltimore for permission to interview Ryan.

The Ravens very much want to keep Ryan. The owner wants him. The players want him. New coach John Harbaugh knows him well, they coached together in the college ranks and he is the top guy for the job. Harbaugh and Ryan met over the weekend to discuss the coordinator job and remain in touch.

The Redskins also like Ryan for their D coordinator job and Owner Daniel Snyder is generally keen on setting records for spending on coaches. But the Ravens can still block any lateral move. So there we sit. Ryan has strong tied to agent Gary Wichard, who has a very,very close relationship with executive vice president Vinny Cerrato, so I am sure they could work something out with Ryan when need be, but the Redskins would have to find a way to allow the Ravens to release Ryan, or the Ravens would have to relent, go with someone else (San Digeo’s LB coach Ron Rivera is the name several league sources believe would be Baltmore’s second choice), or whatever.

If the situation cannot be resolved, the Redskins could move onto other candidates and still have Gregg Williams as assistant head coach – defense, under contract for another season at about $2 million. Sources who know Williams well say they doubt he would want to work on this new staff, or how the Redskins could make this fit, and the way the Redskins have handled this process, leaving Williams and the other coaches in the dark, it would be impossible for any of them to feel wanted.

So that doesn’t look like a good fit. The Redskins also interviewed Tennessee D coordinator Jim Schwartz (the first person to interview) and Indy D coordinator Ron Meeks for the head coaching job, but their teams could also block lateral moves. If this thing got really interesting, though, and the Redskins can’t get Ryan, I would not be stunned to see Schwartz be a candidate and perhaps Tennessee would let him leave for the DC job in DC – Schwartz is a Baltimore native and Georgetown guy – and then bring Gregg Williams back to Nashville.

Williams and Titans Coach Jeff Fisher are best friends. Williams coached there for a long time and reached the Super Bowl with Fisher. It would make a ton of sense. Would be a wild scenario but watching this thing unfold you just never know what’s possible. If the Ryan thing falls through it might be worth keeping an eye on.