Rex Ryan might not be a goner, after all.
Signs are pointing to Ryan's return to the New York Jets, according to a report Saturday by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. If that becomes reality, it would be the right move -- and the smart move -- by owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik.
Despite three straight nonplayoff seasons, Ryan has the team pointed in the right direction. The Jets would finish at .500 if they upset the Miami Dolphins in the season finale Sunday, and no one -- absolutely no one -- thought they would win eight games with the current roster.
Still, there will be many questions if Ryan returns. Actually, there are questions that have to be answered before any return becomes official. Such as:
1. What about Ryan's contract? He is signed through 2014. The report states that it's unclear how, or if, Ryan's contract would be addressed. It would be highly unusual to let him coach the final year, creating a lame-duck situation. If the Jets offer him a one-year extension, would that satisfy Ryan? What if he demands multiple years? Would that be a deal-breaker? Remember, Ryan won't be a free agent in 2014, which hurts his leverage.
2. Was this Idzik's decision, or was he overruled by Johnson, whose affinity for Ryan is well-known? Idzik has a solid working relationship with Ryan, but many assumed Idzik would want to bring in his own coach after coexisting with Ryan for a year. If Johnson pulled rank, it leaves us to wonder about Idzik's power within the organization.
3. What about the coaching staff? Ryan's staff includes at least six assistants in the final year of their contracts. That group includes defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and special-teams coordinator Ben Kotwica. If they scatter, Ryan would be forced to rebuild his staff for the second straight year.