Jags assistants get OK to job hunt

Updated: January 5, 2013, 10:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has given permission to all of his assistant coaches to speak to other teams about potential jobs, according to league sources.

Khan's decision comes while he continues to interview candidates for the team's general manager opening.

Khan fired GM Gene Smith on Monday and since has been crisscrossing the country interviewing potential replacements. He has spoken with Atlanta director of player personnel David Caldwell, San Francisco director of player personnel Tom Gamble and Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, with Caldwell and Cardinals director of player personal Steve Keim the finalists, league sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Caldwell already has interviewed twice for the job while Gamble turned down the chance for a second interview with the Jaguars so he could concentrate on trying to land the Jets' general manager job, sources told Schefter.

The new GM is expected to decide the fate of coach Mike Mularkey, who went 2-14 in his first season in Jacksonville.

Because Mularkey's assistants are under contract for 2013, Khan could have prevented them from talking to other clubs.

Khan, however, still could block any of the assistants from leaving since they are under contract.

Mularkey, meanwhile, can only wait things out.

If Khan wanted to fire Mularkey, he probably would have done it Monday. So keeping him around and allowing him to at least meet with the new GM gives Mularkey a chance to stick around longer.

The Jaguars made little, if any, progress in his first season. They ranked 29th in total offense and 30th in defense.

Talent was the biggest issue, and Smith took the fall for assimilating a lackluster roster over the past four seasons.

Mularkey could be next.

For several of his assistants, this is the third consecutive year of offseason uncertainty.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, defensive line coach Joe Cullen, linebackers coach Mark Duffner and offensive line coach Andy Heck were unsure whether they would have jobs after the 2010 season. Owner Wayne Weaver decided to keep coach Jack Del Rio and his staff in January 2011, but declined to give them contract extensions, creating a lame-duck situation in 2011.

After Del Rio was fired, they again were left wondering about their futures. Mularkey ended up keeping them.

Now, though, they're back in a similar position.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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