Ravens determined to hold onto Ryan

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins are engaged in a tug-of-war for defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, and it's the Ravens who hold the leverage. The Ravens maintain contractual rights over Ryan, which allows them to block him from taking another defensive coordinator job.

Under NFL rules, the Ravens can stop their former defensive boss from making any lateral move.

While Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and potential new head coach Jim Fassel, the former Ravens offensive coordinator, have been in contact with Ryan over the past few days, new Ravens coach John Harbaugh and team owner Steve Bisciotti are determined to hold onto him.

If the Ravens ultimately decide to let Ryan leave, Harbaugh is expected to be interested in hiring San Diego Chargers linebackers coach Ron Rivera. Harbaugh and Rivera worked together in Philadelphia and have a good relationship.

Ryan remains open to staying in Baltimore, where players lobbied for him heavily to be hired for the job that Harbaugh landed. Under Ryan, the Ravens' defense finished fifth, first and sixth over the past three years.

"I just want us to keep Rex in place with the defense," Ravens linebacker Gary Stills said. "Hopefully, they can get that worked out because we all want to keep playing for him." Ryan's dream of becoming an NFL head coach for the first time officially ended Wednesday when the Atlanta Falcons passed him over to offer the position to Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith, a former Baltimore assistant and Brian Billick's brother-in-law.

Ryan had interviewed twice with Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

Ryan has been contacted by multiple teams, including the New York Jets, about being a defensive coordinator, a job he held on the University of Cincinnati staff in 1996 when Harbaugh was the Bearcats' assistant head coach.

Ryan has said his preference is to remain in Baltimore, where he coached for the past nine years.

"I would love to be here with the Ravens," Ryan said during a recent interview with Ravens Insider. "You've been around nine years and a lot of these guys have grown up under me and with me. I think they understand the kind of person I am.

"They know I'm a straight shooter. I think they appreciate that. They always know I was as prepared as I possibly could be as a coach. They know I care about them and respect them."

NOTE: Former Ravens linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald became the first assistant from Billick's staff to be hired by another NFL team, accepting the same position with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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

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