The Philadelphia Eagles’ search to replace Andy Reid took another twist Saturday with Chip Kelly still on the market and within their grasp.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and President Don Smolenski went to Arizona to continue interviews for the team’s coaching vacancy, and the team released a statement naming three candidates.
“The Eagles are committed to finding the right fit for head coach and are heading to Arizona now to kick off a week of interviews with a variety of candidates including Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley,” the statement said.
Two people familiar with the plans told The Associated Press that Kelly and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone also would meet with the Eagles. The team wouldn’t confirm either interview.
Another person familiar with the negotiations told the AP on Friday that Kelly was nearing a deal with the Cleveland Browns. So, the Eagles continued with their plans to interview other candidates.
However, Kelly didn’t finalize a deal with the Browns and he also interviewed with the Buffalo Bills on Friday before meeting the Eagles on Saturday afternoon. Kelly was expected to have dinner with the Browns, but there were reports he was still meeting with the Eagles late into the night.
Kelly had no reason to cancel interviews with teams interested in him, keeping his options open and probably driving up his price tag. It’s likely his agent, David Dunn, used that as leverage for negotiations.
But the Browns may have gambled by not locking up Kelly and allowing the Eagles to possibly steal him away. There’s a long history between Lurie and Browns CEO Joe Banner, adding a soap-opera element to this coaching drama.
Banner, a longtime friend of Lurie, spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the last 12 as president. He left the team last year after a falling out, and the Eagles could be using that in their talks with Kelly.
Banner had a knack for rubbing people the wrong away in Philadelphia, and wasn’t popular in the locker room because of the way he handled contract dealings.
Former Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel was extremely critical of Banner last year, and former linebacker Jeremiah Trotter ripped Banner on a Philadelphia radio station Thursday.
“No player I played with trusted him,” Trotter said.
Whether any of that plays a role in Kelly’s decision remains to be seen.
The Eagles interviewed Penn State’s Bill O’Brien on Thursday and met with Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong on Wednesday. O’Brien is remaining at Penn State.
The interviews with Arians and Bradley will likely take place by Tuesday.
Arians was 9-3 as interim coach in Indianapolis filling in for Chuck Pagano. He previously served as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator from 2007-11. The 60-year-old Arians is quite familiar with Philadelphia, having coached Temple from 1983-88.
Bradley is in his fourth season in Seattle. His defense finished first in the NFL in points allowed (15.3), fourth in yards (306.2) and tied for fourth in takeaways (31).
Marrone is 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse. He previously served as the offensive coordinator in New Orleans under Sean Payton from 2006-08.
The Eagles’ search could last until after the Super Bowl. There are several other coaches on playoff teams that could get interviews with Philadelphia, including Cincinnati’s Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer, Green Bay’s Ben McAdoo, Seattle’s Darrell Bevell, Washington’s Kyle Shanahan and Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Former coaches Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy — all Super Bowl winners — are not on Philadelphia’s radar at this time.
The Eagles went to the playoffs nine times in Reid’s 14 seasons, but not since 2010. They last won a playoff game in 2008.