Rapoport: ‘Don’t Rule Out’ Chip Kelly To Titans

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

In the days since the Eagles’ humiliating loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving, speculation and rumors have swirled about the future of Chip Kelly as the Eagles’ head coach and de facto general manager.

His name was linked to the coaching vacancy at the University of Southern California, among a number of college football coaching positions, and his job security with the Eagles was brought into question.

In the face of reports of Kelly meeting with USC officials on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which have since been shot down by Kelly himself, and reporters who are unable to confirm the meeting happened, the Trojans hired interim coach Clay Helton to be the team’s full-time coach for the next five years.

On Monday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who reported that USC had contact with Kelly but did not, in fact, meet with him, spoke with 97.5 The Fan’s Mike Missanelli about the situation, and what he expects the Eagles — and Kelly — to do going forward.

“[USC] touched base with him, they reached out to let him know they were interested. I am not aware of a physical, in-person meeting,” Rapoport said Monday. “There was another website that was reporting it. I have not been able to confirm that Chip Kelly met with USC officials in person. They alerted him, they wanted to see if he was interested, and then a couple of days later they announced that they were hiring a coach, and it was not him.”

Rapoport said Kelly was likely truthful is his denial of talking to the school, but only because of work-arounds with agents and technicalities.

“In these situations, schools never reach out directly to a coach because everyone needs to maintain deniability,” Rapoport said. “It’s the same reason that the coach that every school hires is always the first choice, and you know they’ll accept it.

“It’s the same answers that he gave in 2012, right before he came to Philadelphia. Every coach does this, it’s not just Chip Kelly.

“I’m sure Chip Kelly himself has not talked to Pat Haden about this job specifically, but I know he is aware of their interest, and I know they just hired a coach after touching base with [Kelly].”

Rapoport said there is no way that Kelly lands at USC after the Trojans signed Helton to such a guaranteed-money deal, and he doesn’t believe there are other coaching jobs in the college ranks that would interest Kelly.

But Rapoport wouldn’t rule out a potential move to the Tennessee Titans from Kelly after the season ends, in order to reunite with former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“It’s not likely. NFL trades are almost impossible,” Rapoport said. “But I was told on Sunday, don’t rule it out.”

Rapoport said, because of precedent, a deal in which Kelly was traded from the Eagles to the Titans would likely require at least a first-round draft pick to be sent back to the Eagles from Tennessee, if not more.

“These coaching moves are expensive,” Rapoport said. “In the past, it’s always been a No. 1 pick.”

If Kelly wanted full control of head coaching and general manager duties, Rapoport said he didn’t think Tennessee would make the move and trade for him. But if he were solely interested in coaching duties, the Titans might be interested in trying to strike a deal.

As far as what he’s seen from Kelly’s interest level in returning to the college ranks, compared to NFL coaching world, Rapoport, who covered Nick Saban after he returned to Alabama from the NFL, said it tends to depend on the person.

“It’s really different,” Rapoport said, of coaching in college versus the NFL. “I covered Nick Saban for three years at Alabama, and he was just coming from the NFL. The thing he didn’t like was that he couldn’t get better players than everyone in the NFL. In college, you can always get better players.

“I think Chip tried to revamp his team as quick as humanly possible, within the constrains of the salary cap, and it’s really hard. You end up taking risks on injured players with higher upside, and they all get injured. It’s just different.

“Recruiting isn’t great; I can’t imagine it’s fun, and I can’t imagine Chip loves it, but it’s nice to have better players than everyone else, and I guarantee he’s missing that right now.”

Rapoport admitted he was unsure of Kelly’s future with the Eagles, even if the team were to lose its remaining five games. But he did say he thinks that Jeffery Lurie removing Kelly from his position after just one season would be a slight shock.

“A year is a very short time to completely reverse course on the future of your organization,” Rapoport said.