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Gary Kubiak will interview with Denver Broncos this weekend

Gary Kubiak is considered the favorite to get the Broncos coaching job that he'll interview for this weekend.

Five days after breathing a huge sigh of relief, the Ravens are bracing for offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s departure.

Kubiak, who said on Sunday he was remaining with the organization rather than interviewing for head-coaching jobs, apparently has an opportunity that is too enticing to pass up. He’ll travel to Denver this weekend and interview for the Broncos’ head coaching vacancy on Sunday, multiple sources confirmed, a development that could lead to the Ravens searching for their fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

After parting ways with John Fox on Monday, the Broncos have interviewed their offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, and Cincinnati Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph. But two other candidates — Detroit Lions defensive coordinator and former Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin and ex-Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone — canceled interviews with the Broncos, furthering the industry-wide belief that Kubiak is Denver’s choice.

Kubiak spent 20 seasons with the Broncos as either a player or assistant coach and is close friends with Denver general manager John Elway.

“I would be surprised if Gary would make a statement about staying with any knowledge that this job was going to become available, that's just not the kind of guy he is,” said Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston, who played under Kubiak for six seasons with the Houston Texans. “I think any time you spend a large amount of your life with an organization like he did with the Broncos, you have some loyalty to it. The setup there with Elway leads to some familiarity and comfort.

“It did seem like he was going to stay with the Ravens, but this is probably the only situation he was willing to look at this year. It's a crazy league. You never know what's going to happen. The coaches all understand it and we, as players, all understand it, but it doesn't make it any easier.”

The Ravens, whose offense set a franchise record for points and yards under Kubiak, have already begun to discuss contingency plans, team and league sources said. They’ve also heard from several coaches interested in the position.

The Ravens’ most obvious in-house candidate to replace Kubiak is quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison, a former offensive coordinator for both the Broncos and Texans. Dennison clicked with quarterback Joe Flacco in his first year on John Harbaugh’s staff, and would provide continuity in the zone-running and play-action passing schemes that suited the Ravens so well this past season.

However, Dennison, 56, has been working under or alongside Kubiak nearly every season since 1995, so he — along with Ravens tight ends coach Brian Pariani — are prime candidates to follow Kubiak to Denver.

The most logical outside candidate is Kyle Shanahan, a finalist for the position last season that ultimately went to Kubiak. Shanahan, 35, made a strong impression on Harbaugh during the interview process and was an offensive coordinator under Kubiak in Houston, so he too would offer continuity.

It, however, is not certain he’ll be available Shanahan, who spent this past season as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator before resigning this month, is also a candidate to call plays for new Chicago Bears coach John Fox, and he also could find a way onto Kubiak’s staff in Denver.

“Coach Dennison is a really sharp guy who really knows what he's doing, he's great at so many facets of offense,” said Winston, the elected president of the NFL Players Association. “Kyle is a guy who really relates well to quarterbacks and I think he would mesh really well with Joe Flacco. The time I spent with Kyle, the veteran quarterbacks were really surprised by how much they learned from a young guy. If that's the direction they end up going, Kyle could be plugged in with the Ravens, and I think they wouldn't miss a beat on offense.”

Harbaugh could soon be entering another offensive coordinator search that it appeared he would avoid when Kubiak pledged his commitment to the team on Sunday night amid interview requests from the Bears and New York Jets.

“It is flattering and humbling to be invited to interview for a number of NFL head coaching positions, and I greatly appreciate these opportunities,” said Kubiak in a statement released by the Ravens. “But I have decided to stay with the Ravens. This is a special organization and we, like John says, are building something great. I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can.”

Kubiak has not responded to numerous requests for comment the past couple of days.

At the time of his statement, Kubiak, 53, clearly wasn’t aware the Broncos would be in the market for a new head coach. But Fox and the Broncos parted ways the day after the team’s disappointing playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith responded to the Fox news by writing “Uh, oh,” on his Twitter account, an indication that he was aware of how attractive the Broncos’ head-coaching job would be to Kubiak.

As of Monday, Harbaugh said he didn’t believe the Broncos’ situation changed anything for Kubiak. And if it did, Harbaugh said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

The Broncos asked for permission to interview Kubiak on Wednesday and it was granted by the Ravens after Harbaugh spoke to his offensive coordinator on Thursday to gauge his interest in the position.

Kubiak went 61-64 in eight seasons as the Texans’ head coach. He was fired late in the 2013 season with Houston dealing with a 2-11 record and an 11-game losing streak. Denver appears to be set on giving him another shot at being a head coach.

Gase, who interviewed with Elway on Thursday, is viewed more likely to get an offensive coordinator job elsewhere, perhaps in Atlanta. The Broncos interviewed Joseph on Friday, but he appears to be a better fit for the Denver defensive coordinator job. Joseph was Kubiak’s defensive backs coach for three seasons in Houston.

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The candidates

If Gary Kubiak is hired as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will be looking for their fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons. Here are a few of the potential candidates:

Rick Dennison: The Ravens’ quarterbacks coach, Dennison followed Kubiak from Houston to Baltimore and would provide continuity with the system/play calling that was successful this past season. However, Dennison may very well join Kubiak in Denver, where he also has a long history as a coach and player.

Adam Gase: The Broncos’ offensive coordinator has been on everybody’s list to fill head-coaching vacancies the past two offseasons, but the chairs are filling up and he still hasn’t landed a job. Gase, the Broncos’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons, would come with a heavy recommendation from Peyton Manning.

Brian Pariani: Pariani also joined John Harbaugh’s staff after working under Kubiak in Houston, and he’s a candidate to head to Denver as well. Pariani has one year of offensive coordinator experience, but that was at Syracuse in 2005. Still, he obviously knows Kubiak’s system well and would offer continuity.

Kyle Shanahan: He was finalist for the Ravens’ offensive coordinator position last season before Kubiak entered the picture late. Shanahan, who resigned after one season as the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator, has a similar system to Kubiak’s and made an impression on Ravens officials when interviewing last offseason. He would be the most logical choice if the Ravens can’t keep Dennison.

Marc Trestman: Fired last month after two seasons as the Chicago Bears’ head coach, Trestman is highly thought of as a strong offensive mind. He’s reportedly a top candidate for the offensive coordinator jobs with the Browns and Oakland Raiders. He has no obvious connection to Harbaugh, so he’s probably a long shot for the Ravens.

Greg Knapp: Currently the Broncos' quarterbacks coach, Knapp has extensive offensive coordinator experience in West Coast attacks, having filled that role for four different organizations. He's also a staunch advocate of the zone-blocking scheme, which the Ravens had a lot of success with this season.

-- Jeff Zrebiec