OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Dean Pees officially retired after six seasons as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, and the team has a long list of former members of its coaching staff to select as a replacement.
The one hire that would generate the most buzz and catch the attention of the Ravens' fan base (one that has produced an increasing amount of empty seats) is Chuck Pagano. He's a big name who has been the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for six seasons. He's known for his fiery personality. And he had tremendous success in his one season as the Baltimore defensive coordinator in 2011.
There are questions whether Pagano will want to coach in 2018. Pagano, 57, will be getting paid for the next two seasons (the remaining years on his contract with Indianapolis), and he once said in September 2015 that the Colts' job would be his last one.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, though, can be persuasive. After Baltimore beat Indianapolis a couple weeks ago, Harbaugh hugged Pagano at midfield, saying, "I love you, man. You're a great coach."
Pagano's defenses in Indianapolis were never stellar. The Colts only finished better than No. 20 once in his six seasons, including back-to-back No. 30 rankings in his final two years.
But the Ravens had one of their better defensive seasons under Pagano. In 2011 (his only year as coordinator), Baltimore was No. 3 in total defense, No. 2 against the run, No. 4 against the pass and No. 3 in points allowed.
The only Ravens' starters who played under Pagano and remain in Baltimore are linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive back Lardarius Webb. Safety Eric Weddle spent four seasons in San Diego, where Pagano's brother John was the defensive coordinator.
Going with Pagano would break a Ravens tradition. Every defensive coordinator after Marvin Lewis -- Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison, Pagano and Pees -- were promoted from position coaches on staff.
Here are other potential candidates:
Don "Wink" Martindale: He's the top in-house choice. Long considered the heir apparent to Pees, Martindale has spent the past six seasons as Baltimore's linebackers coach. He previously served as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in 2010. "He always talked about wanting to be a coordinator," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "I’m a little biased, because I’ve been with him my whole career and I know what kind of a person he is and what kind of a coach he is. But you never know how things will work out. There’s always a business [side], [but] as long as he’s here with us, I’ll be happy."
Vic Fangio: His ties with the Ravens dates back to his five seasons spent as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach from 2006 to 2009 (which includes two seasons on Harbaugh's staff). Fangio has been linked to the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator position, and he could interview for a head coaching position. His track record is impressive. Over his last seven years in Chicago, Fangio has coordinated five defenses finishing in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed.
Teryl Austin: He was the Ravens' secondary coach from 2011 to 2013 before following Jim Caldwell to Detroit, where he was the Lions defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Austin has been among the top head coaching candidates recently (interviewing with nine teams over the past three years) and has garnered the reputation as a fine teacher and communicator. The Lions defense fell to No. 27 under Austin in 2017, but Detroit was fourth in takeaways with 28.
Ted Monachino: The defensive coordinator for the Colts the past two seasons, Monachino was the Ravens' outside linebackers coach for six seasons (2010-15). Indianapolis finished No. 30 in defense in Monachino's two seasons as coordinator. He's a high-energy motivator whose expertise has been with the pass rush. Monachino has a strong relationship with Suggs, having coached him at Arizona State and Baltimore.