When offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak informed team officials on Sunday that he was planning on staying with the organization, it appeared that one of the Ravens' primary offseason concerns had been lifted.
Ravens officials, including head coach John Harbaugh, were planning to speak to Kubiak on Thursday to determine his interest level in interviewing for the Broncos' opening. If Kubiak covets the job, the Ravens wouldn't stand in the way of him exploring the opportunity.
The Broncos, who parted ways with head coach John Fox on Monday, a day after a disappointing playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, announced Thursday that they interviewed their own offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, for the job. They also will reportedly sit down with Detroit Lions defensive coordinator and former Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin on Friday.
However, Kubiak, 57, would emerge as one of the front-runners for the job, given his head-coaching experience, his ties to the Broncos and his long-standing relationship with Denver general manager John Elway. Kubiak spent 20 seasons in the Broncos' organization as a player and assistant coach and is Elway's former teammate and roommate.
If the Ravens were to lose Kubiak, it would represent a serious setback in their quest to build off of what was a solid 2014 season offensively. The Ravens set franchise records in points and yards, and quarterback Joe Flacco had a strong bounce-back campaign, thriving in Kubiak's system.
There is also some concern that if Kubiak leaves, he may take Ravens quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani with him, triggering a coaching staff shake-up for the second straight season. Both Dennison and Pariani followed Kubiak from Houston to Baltimore.
Harbaugh already knows that he will need to find a new secondary coach. Spagnuolo, who had been on his staff for the past two seasons, was hired Thursday as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo was the Giants' defensive coordinator under head coach Tom Coughlin in 2007 and 2008 and was part of a Super Bowl-winning team.
"This is both new and familiar at the same time," Spagnuolo said in a statement released by the Giants. "I was hoping to take the next step, God willing, and be a coordinator again. I'm ecstatic that it's with Tom Coughlin. Tom is the highest character guy I know. The feeling I have is one of excitement. We're going to work our butts off, and hopefully we will do great things together."
Spagnuolo also thanked Harbaugh, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome for the opportunity that they gave him. Harbaugh now has to hire a primary secondary coach for the third straight offseason, though one option could be promoting assistant Chris Hewitt, who was Spagnuolo's assistant. Spagnuolo was also the Ravens' assistant head coach.
Now, if Kubiak were to leave, the Ravens would be looking for a new offensive coordinator for the fourth straight year.
The Ravens were relieved Sunday when Kubiak pledged to stay in his current role after the New York Jets and Chicago Bears both requested to speak to him about their head-coaching vacancies. He called the interest flattering and humbling but said that he wanted to remain with the Ravens.
"This is a special organization and we, like [Harbaugh] says, are building something great," Kubiak said. "I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can."
However, that statement came a day before Fox and the Broncos parted ways. Monday, Harbaugh said that, as far as he knew, "nothing had changed" with Kubiak's plans to remain with the Ravens. However, the Broncos' request certainly gave Kubiak something to think about. He has not responded to several requests for comment.
"Out of respect, he's told me he's planning on being here," Harbaugh said Monday. "Denver hasn't reached out in any way at this time. That isn't to say it couldn't change at some point in time. If that happens, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. But I don't want to put anybody on the spot like that. I want to be respectful. I'm planning on Gary being back. If that changes, we'll deal with it if it comes up. But I don't anticipate that at this time."
Kubiak came to the Ravens after he spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Texans. He compiled a 61-64 record and led Houston to the playoffs twice.
Dennison, who clicked with Flacco, would be the obvious in-house replacement if Kubiak leaves, though it isn't clear if he would follow his long-time friend to Denver. The Denver Post also reported that Dennison is a candidate for the Broncos' head-coaching vacancy, as well.
One potential outside offensive coordinator candidate is Kyle Shanahan, who resigned earlier this month after one season in that role with the Cleveland Browns. Shanahan was a finalist for the Ravens' offensive coordinator job last offseason, but Harbaugh ultimately hired Kubiak.