NEW YORK -- The New York Jets have received permission to speak with Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan about their vacant coaching job, a person familiar with the search told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
With Bill Cowher withdrawing his name from consideration Tuesday night, the Jets are setting their sights elsewhere, with an ever-growing list of candidates that could include fired Denver coach Mike Shanahan.
Whether Brett Favre plays for the Jets' new coach remains to be seen. The 39-year-old quarterback reportedly has a torn biceps tendon in his right arm that doesn't require major surgery, but he'll likely take several weeks before deciding whether he wants to return for a 19th season.
Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have both said they'd like to have Favre back. But whoever is hired as coach will have significant input on the decision, according to the person, who requested anonymity because the individual wasn't authorized to discuss the search.
Ryan is the son of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, and is the twin brother of Oakland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Rex Ryan was a candidate for the Ravens job after Brian Billick was fired last season, and also interviewed for the vacant Miami and Atlanta jobs.
The Ravens will play at Miami in the wild card round of the playoffs on Sunday.
The Jets, who fired Eric Mangini on Monday, will interview a pair of in-house candidates Friday: offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also served as assistant head coach under Mangini.
The person familiar with the search said the team is doing its due diligence in considering several candidates, including Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer. No formal discussions were scheduled as of early Wednesday night.
Shanahan, fired by Denver on Tuesday night, could become the No. 1 target on the Jets' list. At a news conference in Denver, Shanahan said he's interested in coaching again but hadn't taken any phone calls about current openings.
Mike Martz, Billick, Mike Holmgren, Jim Fassel and Bill Parcells, names mentioned in various reports, aren't believed to be on the Jets' immediate radar.
Shanahan, 56, was fired by the Broncos after going 146-91 over 14 seasons, including the playoffs. Denver became the first team since divisional play started in 1967 to blow a three-game lead with three games left, getting routed 52-21 at San Diego on Sunday with the AFC West title on the line.
Denver won just one postseason game under Shanahan since John Elway retired in 1999 following back-to-back championships. Shanahan, who had three years left on his contract worth about $20 million, was also the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations.
Johnson has made it clear he prefers to keep football, business and coaching duties separate, so a candidate wanting complete control would be less likely to be hired. Any coach the Jets hire would have to fit into that structure.
Spagnuolo has become a popular candidate because of the Giants' success on defense the last two seasons. The 49-year-old defensive coordinator has been mentioned in connection with the vacant Detroit and Cleveland jobs, as well as the Jets.
With the Giants in the playoffs, Spagnuolo can be interviewed during their bye week, but a team can't offer him a job until New York's season ends.
When Spagnuolo spotted a number of reporters waiting to get to the Giants' locker room Wednesday, he turned away and playfully said, "I've got to go to work."
He stopped in his tracks and laughed when someone shouted out, "Where?"
Brian Schottenheimer has been the Jets' offensive coordinator the last three seasons after serving as quarterbacks coach from 2002-05 under his father, Marty, at San Diego.
Callahan joined Mangini's staff last offseason after he was fired as coach at Nebraska. He was 27-22 in four seasons with the Cornhuskers, and went 17-18 in two seasons with the Raiders. He led Oakland to the Super Bowl in 2003, becoming the fourth rookie head coach in NFL history to do so, before losing to Tampa Bay.
The Jets' last three coaches -- Mangini, Herman Edwards and Al Groh -- had no previous NFL head coaching experience.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press