Signs point to Rex Ryan return

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Signs point to Rex Ryan returning as coach of the New York Jets, two sources said Saturday, although some hurdles remain.

Based on conversations he has had, one well-placed NFL executive said he believes Ryan will be back despite speculation that the coach would be fired after this season. Another well-connected source told ESPN that the atmosphere surrounding Ryan's status has turned from negative to positive.

What's unclear is whether Ryan will enter next season on the last year of his contract or whether the Jets will give him an extension, sources said. Ryan would prefer an extension.

Although Ryan has received consistent backing from Jets owner Woody Johnson, his support from first-year general manager John Idzik has been questioned. But to the surprise of many around the league, Ryan and Idzik have gotten along better than most anticipated.

The two men, Ryan and Idzik, were among the last two people in the Jets' training facility late Friday night. Although a meeting on Ryan's status could not be confirmed, a source said that their presence together in the facility was not accidental.

Besides the coach/GM relationship and Ryan's contract status, another issue facing the Jets is that at least a half dozen assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, are working on expiring contracts. Those issues still need to be addressed and worked through, according to sources.

Ryan is nearing the completion of his fifth season with the Jets, who can finish with an 8-8 record if they upset the rival Miami Dolphins.

Although they have exceeded expectations this season, the Jets have missed the playoffs in each of the past three years under Ryan, who owns a 41-38 career record. New York advanced to the AFC Championship Game in each of its first two seasons with Ryan.

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