Several coaches who will ring in the New Year still in charge of their teams will be finished like 2011 a day or so later.
The Rams' Steve Spagnuolo, the Chargers' Norv Turner, the Bucs' Raheem Morris and interim coaches Mel Tucker (Jacksonville) and Todd Bowles (Miami) look to be the first to get their pink slips.
The Colts' Jim Caldwell and the Giants' Tom Coughlin -- should Big Blue lose to Dallas -- could be on thin ice, but NFL sources said they think both could be safe because neither organization is sold on their potential replacements. Chatter also has cooled about Andy Reid being out in Philadelphia. The only way he won't be back is if he chooses to step down.
Another NFL source said Romeo Crennel is the leading candidate to become the Chiefs next head coach and that the interim label he currently boasts might not last for long.
Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and Bill Cowher will be tied to almost every vacancy but none of them is coming back unless circumstances are ideal. That means a solid quarterback is in place and they have substantial, if not full say on personnel matters.
Tucker and Bowles could get some interviews, according to sources. Bowles was a hot up-and-comer a few years ago and Tucker had quietly started piquing some interest with the jobs he's done in Cleveland and Jacksonville as defensive coordinator.
Although the Jaguars will speak to several candidates, Tucker is expected to get an interview and because of his ties to GM Gene Smith, and he stands a chance at being retained as the head coach.
Coaches aren't the only ones with job insecurity: Some general manager jobs could come open as well. San Diego's A.J. Smith reportedly is in jeopardy and there is widespread thought among NFL execs that Rams GM Billy Devaney is in trouble. What becomes of Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland could be determined by the coach hired in Miami. Speculation continues to swirl that Bears GM Jerry Angelo could retire, and the Raiders plan to bring in somebody as either a director of personnel or general manager, a position Oakland didn't have under late owner Al Davis. The new people in those jobs could be tough to peg because there are plenty of capable candidates.
Some names to keep in mind as possible first-time GMs: Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, Falcons director of player personnel Les Snead and Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie has been mentioned frequently as someone who interests the Raiders. He's been in play before only to lose out; now might be his time.
Looking ahead to draft day
Some NFL executives are speculating that the Browns could be a big player around draft time. One GM told me last week that some teams wouldn't be surprised if Cleveland used one of its first-round picks -- it got Atlanta's in last season's deal for Julio Jones -- to move up, possibly to No. 1 to get a quarterback. With four victories, Cleveland is going to be drafting in the top 10 as things stand, so moving up might not even be needed to get a quarterback or some other player it desires. If it wants to get to the top spot, though, it could have the ammo.
Nobody has any idea what the Browns will do -- it's too far out -- but they must decide if Colt McCoy is their quarterback. The league is watching, and the Browns might be targeted for trades if they're not proactive.
Another general manager told me that the Raiders, who only have picks in the fifth and sixth rounds (they also expect to get some compensatory picks), could be targeted by teams wanting to unload 2012 picks for future selections. Teams know that Oakland could be eager to get into the draft and might be willing to forsake future draft picks in higher rounds for selections in this draft.