Jets GM candidates must decide if they can live with Rex Ryan for a year as coach

Rex Ryan walks off the field after his

Rex Ryan walks off the field after his team's 28-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. (Dec. 30, 2012) (Credit: AP)

The Jets' new general manager had better take a liking to Rex Ryan, because the coach is expected to be here for at least another season.

Owner Woody Johnson apparently is letting candidates know that if they want to fill the team's vacant GM job, working with Ryan is part of the deal, according to ESPNNewYork.com.

One of those potential candidates was recently fired Browns GM Tom Heckert, who was expected to interview with the Jets on Monday but canceled Friday night. He had no problem with working with Ryan, but a person familiar with his situation said he had deep reservations about the Jets' bloated salary-cap situation.

After Ryan's season-end media event and weekly appearance on ESPN radio last Monday suddenly were canceled in what was termed "an organizational decision,'' speculation was that he could be a goner. Johnson, however, made it clear in his statement earlier this week that even though he had fired former general manager Mike Tannenbaum, Ryan will return.

"Rex Ryan will remain the head coach of our football team," Johnson said in his statement. "I believe that he has the passion, the talent and the drive to successfully lead our team."

Johnson's decision to fire Tannenbaum and keep Ryan was a puzzling one, though, considering the coach was given plenty of say in the Jets' draft selections in recent years. Even defensive lineman Mike DeVito said Johnson's tactic bucks conventional wisdom.

"It's an interesting situation because you usually don't see it done that way where just the GM is fired," the soon-to-be free agent said on WFAN. "But Rex is a great coach, he really is . . . He knows his players, he knows the guys in that locker room, he cares about us and he's a guy that can get guys motivated and gets guys ready to play. And you need that in a leader . . . So I'm glad Rex is still there."

On Friday the Jets interviewed Falcons director of player personnel Dave Caldwell, and the team is set to meet Saturday with rumored front-runner Tom Gamble, the 49ers' director of player personnel. The Jets are expected to hire Gamble, according to ProFootballTalk.com. But the Browns -- who hired Oregon's Chip Kelly as their coach Friday -- have asked the 49ers for permission to interview Gamble.

Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross and Jets assistant general manager Scott Cohen also are in the mix.

The Jets are expected to interview Packers executive John Dorsey this weekend, according to CBSSports.com. But there is speculation that new Chiefs coach Andy Reid is interested in bringing Dorsey and Heckert to Kansas City.

The Jets have many issues, including no set starting quarterback for 2013 and the possibility that all three coordinators will be gone. On top of that, the new GM must work with Ryan whether he wants to or not.

But those things pale in comparison with the Jets' salary-cap situation. At $142 million, they have the most money committed toward the 2013 cap, according to ESPN.

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