In what might be considered the New England Patriots' first victory of the 2004 season, highly regarded secondary assistant Eric Mangini has decided to remain with the Super Bowl champions, rather than become the Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator.
The Raiders then moved swiftly to hire another Pats assistant, linebackers coach Rob Ryan, to fill the coordinator's role.
Ryan, 41, is the son of former NFL head coach and legendary defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. He is a five-year veteran, having worked two seasons in Arizona (1994-95) on his father's staff with the Cardinals, before joining the Patriots in 2000. He also has an extensive college coaching resume.
The Raiders also had sought permission to speak with Ryan's twin brother, Rex, the defensive line coach in Baltimore, but Ravens officials denied the request.
Mangini, 33, made the decision after speaking about the job by phone with Raiders coach Norv Turner, and he never formally interviewed for the position in person. It is assumed around the league, though, that Mangini would have landed the job had he pursued it. Mangini's rejection of the post marked the latest setback by Oakland in trying to fill the key job.
Mangini is viewed 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 but he and the Patriots have basically agreed to the parameters of a new deal.
A nine-year league veteran, Mangini broke into the coaching ranks in 1995, when he was hired by the Cleveland Browns, then coached by Bill Belichick as a defensive assistant. He was with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, the New York Jets 1997-99, then moved to the Patriots staff in 2000.
Retaining Mangini is a coup for the Pats since he likely would succeed Romeo Crennel if the New England defensive coordinator lands a head coaching job in the future. Crennel, who interviewed for five head coaching vacancies over the last two months, recently agreed to a three-year contract extension, but figures to be on "short lists" again next year for clubs seeking to make a head coaching change.
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.
In addition to being rebuffed in its attempts to interview Rex Ryan, Oakland recently had 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.
Also, Raiders secondary coach Ron Lynn will move across the bay to coach the secondary of the 49ers. It isn't a surprise that Lynn, considered one of the league's better secondary coaches, to leave. He was let go in Washington by Norv Turner, who took over last month as head coach of the Raiders.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and the Associated Press was used in this report.