Fassel, one of the league's most reputable offensive coaches, is interested in becoming a club senior adviser somewhere in the NFL and appears to be leaning toward the Ravens, league insiders said last night. They said his friendship with coach Brian Billick and the proximity of his New York-area home to Baltimore make the Ravens the best fit for him.
A decision by Fassel probably would occur after next Sunday's Super Bowl at the earliest. Billick could not be reached to comment last night.
It is believed Fassel does not want to lower his status for future head coaching vacancies by accepting a position as offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach next season.
Billick, who considers Fassel one of his best friends in the coaching ranks, said recently that he talked with Fassel last week about his future but did not elaborate on the specifics of their conversations.
Bringing in Fassel would deliver a boost to the Ravens' often-criticized offense. Although he would serve as a consultant and Matt Cavanaugh would remain offensive coordinator, Fassel could help resuscitate the NFL's worst passing attack as well as aid in the development of quarterback Kyle Boller.
In Fassel's past five seasons, the Giants ranked in the top half of the league in offense three times. Over that span, they finished 11th or higher in passing in all but one season.
In five seasons under Billick and Cavanaugh, the Ravens' offense has finished in the bottom half of NFL four times. Over that span, the Ravens were ranked 22nd or lower in passing in all but one season.
Fassel, 54, was fired this season when the Giants finished 4-12 and last in the NFC East. He guided New York to the playoffs in three of his seven seasons and to the 2001 Super Bowl, where the Giants lost to the Ravens.
The Giants, as per NFL rules, would be required to pay the balance of the $2.7 million remaining on Fassel's contract, minus what the Ravens offer.
Before joining New York, Fassel built a reputation for an ability to develop quarterbacks.
Under Fassel's guidance, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway recorded his finest season in the NFL in 1993, earning the league's Most Valuable Player award and leading the AFC in all six major passing categories.
Fassel went on to rejuvenate the careers of Boomer Esiason in Arizona and Kerry Collins in New York. In the past four seasons, Collins averaged 3,639 yards passing and 18 touchdowns.
There were several reports out of Miami this weekend that had Fassel choosing between the potential offensive coordinator opening with the Dolphins (if Norv Turner becomes the Oakland Raiders' head coach) and an offer to become the Ravens' quarterbacks coach.
But Fassel presumably doesn't want to be lumped with the likes of Dick Jauron and Gregg Williams, two recently fired coaches who accepted coordinator positions.