Well, it was another "Black Monday" full of firings across the NFL. And as jobs open up, speculation heats up about who will be next in line.
What follows is my early prediction for each opening at head coach and general manager. Obviously, every search is a fluid situation in the primitive stages, but this is my first crack at filling in the blanks, drawing from what I've heard in league circles.
Head coach openings
My prediction:Andy Reid. Structurally, with there being an opening at general manager as well as head coach, this is a good fit. It gets Reid back to his roots in the West Coast. And this move could possibly salvage the career of Kevin Kolb, whom Reid was very high on in Philadelphia.
Out: Chan Gailey
My prediction: Lovie Smith. The Bills spent all that money on defense during the offseason, but the unit proved highly disappointing, ranking 22nd in total defense and 26th in scoring D. Smith can get the most out of those pricey defensive pieces. Ideally, you'd pair Smith with a strong offensive coordinator to get more consistency on that side of the ball as well.
Out: Lovie Smith
My prediction: Dirk Koetter. Personality-wise, Koetter's a great fit with GM Phil Emery. Emery has ties to the Atlanta Falcons organization, and Koetter will come very highly recommended. He is well-respected around the league and did a fine job with Matt Ryan and the offense in his first year as the Falcons' offensive coordinator.
Out: Pat Shurmur
My prediction:Jay Gruden. The Browns will go after some big names but fail to land one. Still, they'll end up with a solid consolation prize in Gruden. He's done a nice job developing Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive attack. He's innovative and fits the formula current Browns CEO Joe Banner followed back in 1999 when he hired Andy Reid as the Eagles' head coach: Get a young, creative offensive mind. Gruden's also familiar with the AFC North.
Kansas City Chiefs
Out: Romeo Crennel
My prediction: Kirk Ferentz. This is contingent on the Chiefs sticking with general manager Scott Pioli, Ferentz's good friend. Several teams have gone after Ferentz over the years. With Iowa's program struggling recently, this might be the perfect opportunity for him to return to the NFL, alongside a familiar face. Ferentz and Pioli are very close.
Top head-coaching candidates
With plenty of coaching vacancies to fill, demand for talent is high. Check out the hottest names, like Oregon's Chip Kelly. **More ...**
My prediction:Chip Kelly. Look at the quotes from Monday's Eagles press conference; Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie sounded like he was describing Chip Kelly, expressing a desire for an innovative coach who's willing to take risks. The Eagles have been a bold organization; hiring Kelly would be a bold move.
San Diego Chargers
My prediction: Jon Gruden. This is the perfect opportunity for both parties. Gruden gets a proven veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers and a decent amount of authority in player personnel, while the Chargers get a big-name headline grabber to help sell tickets and revitalize the offense.
General manager openings
Out: Rod Graves
My prediction: Steve Keim. The Cardinals' current vice president of player personnel bumps up to GM. He's very well liked and well respected within the organization. He also shares an agent with Andy Reid -- who I predict will be Arizona's next head coach -- which would make for an easy transition.
Out: Marty Hurney
My prediction: Marc Ross. Princeton guy, very bright; Ross has done a great job in New York as the Giants' director of college scouting. He can construct the type of team that they want in Carolina, building the defense in a similar mold to the Giants' unit.
Out: Tom Heckert
My prediction: Michael Lombardi. This has been the talk for a long time. Lombardi returns to Cleveland, the organization that employed him from 1987 to 1996.
Out: Gene Smith
My prediction: Jason Licht. Licht's name just keeps popping up in relation to this job. The Cardinals' current director of player personnel has spent time under Andy Reid, Bill Belichick and Ken Whisenhunt. With a bunch of valuable experience, he's a well-regarded evaluator and would make sense in Jacksonville.
New York Jets
Out: Mike Tannenbaum
My prediction: Tom Gamble. The current director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers has helped construct one of the NFL's deepest rosters. He has a strong reputation for his work with the Niners and Indianapolis Colts, and actually spent two seasons with the New York Jets organization as a defensive assistant/quality control coach in the mid-1990s.
San Diego Chargers
Out: A.J. Smith
My prediction: Jimmy Raye. Raye bumps up from director of player personal to general manager. He's a very bright personnel evaluator who is very highly thought of around the league. He would be a much better front man for the organization than what San Diego had in A.J. Smith.