In what might be a prelude to coach Norv Turner's decision on a key staff position, the Raiders have been granted permission to discuss the club's defensive coordinator spot with Patriots secondary coach Eric Mangini.
Mangini, 33, is regarded as one of the NFL's brightest young defensive minds and there were persistent rumors during Super Bowl week that the Raiders would contact him once the championship game was over. Mangini's contract expires at the end of this month and he essentially will be a free agent then, assuming he doesn't sign an extension.
Despite his youth, several Patriots veterans acknowledged last week they feel Manigini is prepared to move up to a coordinator's spot.
A nine-year league veteran, Mangini broke into the coaching ranks in 1995, when he was hired as a defensive assistant by the Cleveland Browns, then coached by Bill Belichick. He was with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, the New York Jets from 1997-99, and then moved to the Patriots staff in 2000.
It is believed that Mangini will speak by phone with Turner and Oakland owner Al Davis, to determine the viability of the job, before agreeing to a formal interview. The Raiders statistically ranked 30th in total defense, and last in the league against the run, in 2003. The unit is aging, faces several possible retirements and potential free agent defections, and anyone accepting the coordinator's job in Oakland will have a pretty difficult task in attempting to quickly revamp the defense.
New England likely will try to keep Mangini and one possible sales pitch is that he would become the Pats coordinator if incumbent Romeo Crennel eventually lands a head coach spot. The Pats have already lost one assistant, quarterbacks coach John Hufnagel, hired earlier this week by the New York Giants as their offensive coordinator.
Chuck Bresnahan, the Oakland defensive coordinator the past four seasons, remains under contract through 2004. He is expected to be dismissed or reassigned, although, if the Raiders fail to find a worthy successor, there is a very slim chance he could retain his job.
Oakland recently sought, but was denied, permission to meet with Baltimore defensive line coach Rex Ryan about the coordinator job. There were preliminary discussions with Dave McGinnis, but never a firm job offer, and the former Arizona Cardinals head coach opted to join the Tennessee Titans staff as assistant head coach and linebackers coach.
In related news, Oakland officials announced that strength and conditioning coach Tim Adams will not return in 2004 after just one season with the franchise. And former Raiders coach Bill Callahan, now the head coach at the University of Nebraska, has hired Randy Jordan as his running backs coach.
A veteran running back, Jordan served as a Raiders special teams assistant in 2003.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.