Getty ImagesChip Kelly is one of the most interesting free agents in the NFL this offseason, and he has already been linked to numerous NFL teams looking for a new head coach.
After being fired by the Philadelphia Eagles, Kelly insisted that he wanted to remain in the NFL, despite the feeling of many that he should return to college football where he enjoyed success and would almost certainly find a job at a big program with deep pockets.
Now that the regular season is over, several more teams have parted ways with their head coach and rumors have Kelly linked to most of those teams in some form or another.
The Browns fired Mike Pettine after their regular-season finale on Sunday. On Monday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that one source told him that Kelly could end up with the Browns.
“Plugged-in source just said to keep an eye on Chip Kelly to the Browns,” Florio wrote.
Interestingly, the Browns have Johnny Manziel at quarterback. Kelly recruited Manziel when he was in high school and Kelly was the coach at the University of Oregon.
“When I coached at Oregon he was tailor made for [our offense],” Kelly told CSN Philly in 2014. “He broke my heart. I love the kid. I think he’s a hell of a football player.”
However, Peter King reported on Sunday that the Browns are done with Manziel.
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San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers have fired head coach Jim Tomsula after just one season. According to Adam Schefter, Kelly’s representatives have already reached out to the team about their vacancy.
“Chip Kelly’s camp has reached out to 49ers to express interest in their HC opening, per league source,” Schefter wrote on Twitter. “49ers likely to at least consider it.”
Like the Browns, the 49ers have a quarterback in Colin Kaepernick that Kelly may think is suited to run his offense. However, one odd complication is that Kelly and former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh have the same agent and the split between the 49ers and Harbaugh was an ugly one.
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The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt early in the season and replaced him with interim head coach Mike Mularkey.
Shortly after being fired by the Eagles, Jason Cole heard from sources that Kelly’s “No. 1 destination” is the Titans because he wants to “find a situation where he can get a quarterback.” Of course, the Titans have Marcus Mariota, Kelly’s quarterback at Oregon.
One thing that could keep that from happening is that Mularkey is also considered a candidate, suggesting the team is at least saw enough to think he could continue to do the job.
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New York Giants.
On Monday, Tom Coughlin resigned as head coach of the Giants. According to Derrick Gunn of Comcast Sportsnet, the Giants can be added to the list of teams interested in Kelly.
“According to league source the Giants are interested in Chip Kelly,” Gunn wrote on Twitter.
This matchup seem less ideal than the others, at least for Kelly. While Eli Manning is a talented quarterback, he does not seem suited to run a Kelly offense.
Other than the Eagles opening, the only other current opening belongs to the Dolphins and there is nothing to indicate any interest by the team or Kelly. However, there are two other jobs that could come open soon, the Saints and the Colts.
The Saints are likely to make Sean Payton available to other teams — for a price— despite still being under contract. Meanwhile, the Colts are expected to part ways with Chuck Pagano when his contract expires after the Super Bowl. Either situation could be tempting for Kelly should the teams become interested.
Meanwhile, even though Kelly has been linked to various teams, much of the interest may be one-sided.
In a report on Monday, Cole said he spoke with two anonymous owners who were not impressed with Kelly and felt that Kelly’s statement after being let go by the Eagles was an sign that he had to beg for a job.
Still, it does seem like there is some interest, and with numerous openings and few high-profile candidates, it only takes one team to see the potential and Kelly could land back in the NFL soon.