Now that we can't link Chip Kelly with the highest-profile opening in collegiate football anymore -- an opening that Kelly strongly denies even entertaining -- it would seem like the speculation surrounding the NFL's man of mystery would be over for another 365 days.
After all, Kelly honestly seems to be struggling with the notion that reports can link him to openings even if the information is not true. Either that, or Kelly has an incredible poker face and doesn't want to fire up the Eagles' fan base any more than he has already. (In case you're interested, we did a piece about Kelly's off-and-on relationship with the city earlier this year, which can be found here).
"To have that every day with every rumor you hear about it with every person or every thing, it's crazy. It's the world we live in," he said, via The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In that spirit, let's link Kelly to just one more job. We swear it's the last one, and in reality, it's not entirely up to Kelly either.
On Sunday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted that the Titans would be interested in Kelly's services depending on how their own search parses out, which could enter us into the exciting world of coaching trades.
Here's a quick recent history of coaches being dealt and the compensation they brought back in return:
» Jon Gruden to the Bucs (2002): In return, the Raiders received two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in compensation.
So the compensation is across the board. The Jim Harbaugh-to-Cleveland deal was rumored to be for "multiple draft picks," but nothing was ever specified.
This would seem to us to be the only way Kelly leaves Philadelphia without getting fired. Owner Jeffrey Lurie was clearly upset with back-to-back beatdowns, especially on Thanksgiving, but it sounds like Kelly has gone a long way toward getting the team back on his side for the stretch run. Believe it or not, the Eagles are still very much in contention.
However, if Lurie wanted to bail out now, he would probably maximize his compensation. While it would be hard to imagine Kelly bringing back a first-round pick -- a dicey proposition considering that a coach probably wouldn't want to go to a place where he would be out of a first-round pick in his first year, and in the Titans' case, because they currently have the No. 1 overall pick -- he would seem to fall somewhere between Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Belichick. After all, Kelly did win 10 games in each of his first two seasons and, at least momentarily, created an offensive system that was very hard to defend. He has also done so with Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez, Nick Foles and Sam Bradford at quarterback.
Additional draft picks in 2016 could probably also help Philadelphia bail out of their current quarterback situation and give them some ammo to move up in the first-round to grab their passer of the future. There are three quarterbacks at the moment believed to have first-round grades depending on who officially declares. This would give a new coach a nice starting point.
If we really want to split hairs, Kelly's current offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, has head coaching experience and could hold the fort for a year if the Eagles don't like their current options. Meanwhile, Kelly would walk into a very talented staff in Tennessee. Quarterbacks coach John McNulty is well regarded and has done some fantastic work with Mariota so far. Assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau is a legend and, not long ago, defensive coordinator Ray Horton was a hot head coaching prospect (assuming Kelly would want these coaches to stay on staff, and he should).
Kelly would also get a budding defense and a team with a young franchise left tackle.
If this all sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Lurie is the picture of patience and would not have given Kelly the kind of front office power he did if he planned on bailing out so quickly. That is an easy way to set your franchise back half a decade.
But sometimes in a pinch, fate, panic and desperation overlap and a team ends up trading draft picks for people who will never end up playing a down. Could this be one of those situations?