Ravens trying to hold onto Ryan

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens are trying to hold onto popular defensive coordinator Rex Ryan as team officials began working to convince him Friday night to join the staff of newly-hired head coach John Harbaugh. Keeping Ryan might be a tricky proposition because he interviewed for the Ravens' job and was endorsed heavily by the players.

lus, Ryan remains a candidate for the Atlanta Falcons' job after being interviewed twice by Falcons owner Arthur Blank. However, he's not a lock for the Falcons' job because new general manager Tom Dimitroff has declared that he's opening up the search.

"Obviously, it would be an asset if Rex Ryan and the defensive staff could stay in place," said former Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson, who was recruited by Harbaugh to the University of Cincinnati. "Coach Harbaugh could come in and do his thing as a head coach and Rex Ryan and the defense can basically work on getting better than what they performed last year. It would be the status quo for the most part."

Ryan and Harbaugh have a positive rapport after working together for one season in 1996 at the University of Cincinnati, where Harbaugh was the assistant head coach and Ryan was the defensive coordinator.

"John Harbaugh's a very good coach and a great guy," Ryan said earlier this week prior to Harbaugh being hired. "I have a lot of respect for him."

Although Ryan was fired along with the entire staff when Brian Billick was dismissed, he remains under contract for next season.

To make it worth it for Ryan to stay, it would likely require a bump in salary as he's entering the final year of a two-year contract extension that pays him between $1 million and $1.2 million.

Ryan also has other options to be a defensive coordinator elsewhere, including the Miami Dolphins, where he had a strong interview with Bill Parcells for the head-coaching position that went to Tony Sparano. The New York Jets could be another possibility.

In three years of Ryan's direction, the Ravens finished fifth, first and sixth in total defense.

"Rex is one of the guys, somebody I've grown to appreciate and like very much not only as a coach, but also as a person," Ravens outside linebacker Gary Stills said. "He's the guy who built this defense up and how we do things. Without him, what kind of defense are we going to have? I just hope we're able to keep him."

Meanwhile, the top offensive coordinator candidates for Harbaugh are former Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, who was once Harbaugh's boss at Indiana, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur.

Shurmur has worked on the Eagles' staff for the past nine seasons. Harbaugh coached the secondary and special teams for the Hoosiers under Cameron.

If the Ravens are unable to land Ryan, San Diego Chargers linebackers coach Ron Rivera is another possibility for defensive coordinator.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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