The first brass ring in the looming coaching carousel likely will go to Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Per a league source not connected in any way to Gase, three teams are expected to pursue Gase aggressively: The Eagles, Browns, and Dolphins.
Only two of those teams currently have vacancies. Cleveland is expected to make a coaching change, too.
Gase emerged as a hot candidate based on his work with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, an effort that came after three years of working with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Gase’s ability to thrive with a quarterback having a reputation of caring too much immediately followed by a quarterback having a reputation for caring too little bolsters the perception that Gase can get the most out of any quarterback.
And in a quarterback-driven league, that’s one of the most important skills any head coach can have.
The Eagles could have the first crack at Gase, given that they already have satisfied the Rooney Rule via the interview of current running backs coach Duce Staley. Gase, in theory, could be interviewed as soon as Monday and hired on the spot, if the two sides decide to proceed. But Gase, who is represented by Jimmy Sexton, surely won’t pounce on the first offer without exploring any and all others.
Last year, Gase was a finalist for the job in San Francisco, which ultimately went to Jim Tomsula. After the Broncos fired John Fox, Gase never received serious consideration for a promotion.
Cleveland could be the most intriguing option for Gase, who perhaps could persuade Peyton Manning to join Gase for one final season that would be more about erasing the memory of a horrendous 2015 for Peyton than chasing a Super Bowl title.