As we do every week, let's take a swing around the NFL, looking at a bunch of stories that caught my attention...
So, what's been up?
New York Jet set
At first glance, the rumors of a possible trade of Darrelle Revis seem ridiculous.
The premise presented by CBS was that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson was trying to trade his star cornerback, amid health uncertainty, rather than pay him a hefty long-term salary in his next deal. Actually, it still seems pretty crazy. And given the immense complications -- a $9 million salary cap hit upon trading him, ACL surgery and an impending long-term extension -- it's quite far-fetched that Gang Green will actually trade their best player. But the situation did allow three points to jump out to me about the Jets, who welcomed new GM John Idzik into this mess earlier in the week.
First, Idzik comes off pretty well in this whole situation. Rather than offer a premature shoot-down of the rumor, rather than make a bold proclamation that would endear himself to the fan base but lock him in otherwise, Idzik stepped back.
"It would be premature to say anything specific" about any player, Idzik said.
It was smart going for long-term security rather than a quick crowd pop. Then, Idzik called Revis the next day to explain that he will keep his options open (according to PFT Live). Players respect honesty. Second, the Jets still have issues with leaks, and it's not the fault of some unnamed boot on the ground. Johnson himself told possible GM candidates (according to Albert Breer) that he needed to "figure out where the team is headed with Revis." Why? Maybe tell your one finalist that fact at the last possible moment. But to tell all the GM candidates your most valuable problem and risk the information leaking? Mind-boggling. Unsavvy. It doesn't help the trade market with teams knowing the Jets may be willing to deal Revis. Who thinks they need to blow the Jets away now? They seem to already have one foot out the door.
And finally, if Gang Green is really going to even consider dealing Revis, that makes 2013 a rebuilding year. The team will be mediocre at best. Just like this year. And in a make-or-break year for Rex Ryan, you think he'll stand on the table and try to call off any possible trade? I bet he would. Any Revis deal significantly hurts Ryan's chances of keeping his job. In my mind, if the Jets trade Revis, Ryan becomes almost a lame duck.
That's a brutal reality. Makes me think they should've just cleaned house.
Youthful scene in San Diego
I spent the week in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl, which meant a lot of time watching college prospects. Sure, there was some of that. But it was also a perfect time to walk around and learn about some teams. Those casual conversations in the stands help one understand where a team is headed.
Anyway, I was walking around Ladd Peebles Stadium when I ambled up to the press box. There I saw two of the future mainstays of the San Diego Chargers, next to each other, scouting. On the right was new GM Tom Telesco. Alongside him was John Spanos, the teams' executive vice president of football operations. And the youth, especially in the scouting world, was astounding. I did a double-take.
Telesco is 40, a baby in his field. John Spanos is 33. New coach Mike McCoy is 40. A.G. Spanos, the oldest son of Dean Spanos, is 34. I've heard of teams recruiting and signing youth, only to watch it grow old together. That, for instance, was part of the Rams' plan.
The Chargers, though, are doing it organizationally. And it's kinda cool. Because first of all, McCoy and Telesco get a ton of respect around the league. Even the Colts, who lost Telesco as one of their football minds, seem proud of his ascent. It's hard to imagine an organization saying such nice things about a former employee, but they do. And McCoy was one of the hottest coaching prospects. As for A.G. and John, both paid their dues. A.G. worked in the NFL Europe, while John worked his way up holding various scouting jobs along with a job with the NFL's Management Council. Dean Spanos is still the team president.
The Chargers are well-positioned to transition, and that's some impressive planning. They should all grow together.
Birds of a different feather
One of the strangest hires anyone has made during this hiring season was done by Chip Kelly.
The new Philadelphia Eagles coach, with his cool, new-fangled spread offense, tapped Pat Shurmur to be his offensive coordinator. Yes, the same West Coast-minded, conservative Shurmur who favored the drop-back pass.
Um, what? But when you think about it, it fits.
Kelly doesn't always want people who agree with him. He wants to hear opinions. He wants to acclimate himself to the pro game. And Shurmur, well, he needs to learn how to move the ball like the kids do. Maybe they can learn from each other.
Still, I was curious what led to this. So in Mobile, I asked Kelly, simply, if he wants his coaches to think like he does.
"No, no, no," Kelly said. "I think you need a lot of different personalities. I think if you're not, everything's just the same. You need different things, really smart people, people who are dedicated to different things, people who are a little off, too. It's a rare combination, but I don't want everyone to be the same. I don't think we'd grow as a group."
But. There is a but. And it's a big one.
"At the end of the day," Kelly continued, "it's just us. It's our side of the street. When we get to that conclusion, we're all in."
The Saints' changing defense
First of all, amazing a guy can go from being a coaching darling to out of work twice in three years. As for New Orleans, they are morphing to a 3-4, so they'll hire a DC who is well-versed in that scheme.
The first option seems to be former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, who would be interested in returning for the right situation. The Saints haven't reached out to him, but it should happen soon.
Another intriguing option is former Jets and Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini. A brilliant mind who got hit as a head coach by two QB dramas, Mangini may flourish as a coordinator. But would he want back in? I'm told, under the right situation Mangini would be open to returning. Now, he doesn't know Payton well at all, and that would have to develop. But what else? Just from speaking with someone who knows Mangini well, he'd want what you'd expect in order to leave the comforts of family time in the Cleveland area: A good, dedicated group of coaches, and an understanding of whether the organization would want to dedicate draft resources to building a defense.
Would the team be willing to draft smart players to run the schemes he may be looking to run? As the saying goes, you're only as smart as your weakest link. Or, well, it's a saying that means something like that. Defense can be limited by the hardest learner, and he'd want to know how committed the team would be to its defense.
All that said, in the right situation, Mangini would want to return. If Crennel doesn't, this is an interesting choice. I'd always wondered when Mangini would come back. If he's entertaining this possibility (which it sounds like he is), maybe next year he would really do it.
Considering Crennel's interest in Saints
The Saints are interested in a 3-4 defensive guru, and as we mentioned above, the name associated most with them is Romeo Crennel. And that's not just because of Crennel and Sean Payton's New York Giants ties (though they never worked together). But here's something you should consider: First of all, I'm told as of right now, the Saints haven't reached out to Crennel. They might, they probably will, but they haven't.
Second, Crennel signed a three-year contract with the Chiefs. He was fired with two years left. His contract had offsets. So ... in order for Crennel to return and coach the Saints -- ready for this? -- he'd have to do it for free. Crennel would have to coach the Saints for money that he'd be getting regardless. Crennel will earn $3.5 million per year over the next two years, I'm told.
He wouldn't receive any additional paycheck for coaching the Saints; it just would come from two different places. Still, the Chiefs would be happy because they'd have to pay less. Just one more thing to consider.
Newsome takes in Senior Bowl
When I was up in the press box at Ladd Peebles Stadium and came across the Chargers' brass, that wasn't all I saw.
Nope, in the top row, all by himself, with no clutter around him and a huge set of binoculars, was Ozzie Newsome.
No one bothered him. There was no talking in the press box. He wasn't in the stands to be seen. He was quietly grinding. As far as I could tell, he was the only member of the Ravens' upper management in town.
The coaches, of course, are busy preparing for the Super Bowl. Come to think of it, Newsome could've been, too. In fact, he met the Baltimore media on Friday. So what was he doing there? Newsome was doing what he does: Building a team.
I don't know why this struck me, but it did. His team was in the Super Bowl. There were a million things to do. And there were probably a million people telling Newsome and Co. how great they were. I'm sure all that will go on this coming week. But during the past week, Newsome got back to work trying to find the next crop of players his team will choose 31st or 32nd in each round of the draft.
It was a really telling example of why the Ravens are where they are. Because even when things are as good as they've been in a decade, the most decorated member of their organization was putting in work.
I stopped by to say hello, pay my respects, and talk about Alabama football. But I didn't stay long. When Newsome is in football mode, idle chit-chat isn't what he wants to do. He just wants to study football. So I left him alone to find the next bunch.
Cardinals take steps forwardI don't know if the Cardinals will have the same quarterback issues next season as they had this season. But I do know they've taken some incredibly positive steps toward making sure nothing like that ever happens again. How can I say this when they haven't even acquired a quarterback?
Well, not yet.They might draft one. But even if they don't do a thing with personnel, Kevin Kolb and Co. should improve just based on coaching. Look at the roster in place to help those guys.
First is Bruce Arians, the new head coach and play-caller. He's a QB guru who welcomed Ben Roethlisberger into the league when he didn't even know how to take a snap. That's starting from scratch. Oh, and it's safe to say he helped Andrew Luck a bit, too, in Indy.
Then, tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is moving over to become quarterbacks coach (according to the Arizona Republic). Another smart move. The entire offensive staff from the old group got replaced instead of Kitchens, the former Alabama QB. If you don't know his name, you will. A smart, charismatic, rising star in the business.
Then, there is the hire of Tom Moore, the old sage and former master of Peyton Manning's offense with the Colts. He's slated to serve as the assistant head coach for offense. Think he won't be involved with the QBs? All of which is to say, the Cardinals have no choice but to be better there.
Really, it's the stout defense that used to be under Ray Horton and now is under Todd Bowles that is the next most pressing question.
Flynn future intriguing
We've spent quite a bit of time talking about Michael Vick in this space, because, well, he's interesting.
Vick can be dynamic, he's been injured, his future is in doubt ... and his team hired the one person he had been wanting to play for in Chip Kelly. But the buzz among NFL people seems to be centered on Matt Flynn.
Why? Maybe because he's more of an unknown. And maybe because he's likely cheaper.
If someone trades for him, Flynn is due a guaranteed salary of $2 million, with his $5.25 million not guaranteed. If someone thinks he's a starter, that's not much. If the Seahawks end up cutting him, it'll be a feeding frenzy, with teams like the Chiefs, the Cardinals, the Bills and maybe the Raiders leading the way.
But the real question is, who would want to trade for him? To trade or to cut?
Would Kansas City and new coach Andy Reid want a one-year rental to give their real starter (whoever it is) time to develop? Maybe, but that would include giving up draft picks for a team trying to build.
Maybe the Cards? Well, they'd like to keep Kolb. Isn't $16 million too much for two quarterbacks, neither of whom are sure things?
The Bills are an option, but I keep hearing them linked with Alex Smith. And the Raiders, I throw them in because of former Packers brass member Reggie McKenzie and his familiarity with Flynn. But anyway, I don't think we'll know anything about the QB market until Flynn's future is set.
It might decide so much.
Stoked for Super Bowl
I love the Super Bowl matchup. It's not flashy. There are no real superstars involved -- Ray Lewis is a big name, but not a star on the field anymore. Colin Kaepernick might be a star by 10 o'clock on Sunday, but he isn't right now.
I just love Ravens vs. 49ers because it's going to be a good game. Two hard-nosed, tough-minded, grind-it-out teams that can also throw the long ball. Two defenses that are more interested in hitting you than in looking pretty. Two running backs that pound it, and two coaches who appreciate what that brings to an offense. And two middle linebackers who know how it's done (yes, Patrick Willis is one of my favorite players to watch, so I'm extra psyched).
It's nice to have big names and flashy storylines. But this actual game should be pretty awesome.
Anyway, are we there yet?
Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.