Rex Ryan may be Mile High-bound.

Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported Wednesday that Ryan “has emerged as a top candidate” for the Broncos’ defensive coordinator job. Ryan interviewed with Sean Payton, Denver’s new head coach, earlier this week.

The 60-year-old Ryan was head coach of the Jets from 2009-14, and reached two AFC championship games in his tenure, before the team missed the playoffs for four straight seasons. After that he coached the Bills for two seasons with a total record of 16-15. Neither season ended in a postseason berth.

He has been working as a studio analyst at ESPN since 2017.

Before landing the Jets’ job, Ryan was defensive coordinator of the Ravens from 2005-08; he was defensive line coach on Baltimore’s 2000 Super Bowl championship team.

Rex Ryan is a ‘top candidate’ for the Broncos’ defensive coordinator job, per NFL Media.
Sean Payton is entering his first season as head coach of the Broncos.

Ryan had previously said that his job with the Bills would be his last NFL coaching stop.

“This is definitely going to be it,” Ryan told USA Today in September 2015. “This is my last stop in coaching, and then when my days are up, I’ll turn it over to the younger generation. I’m not going anywhere else. There are always going to be people that judge you, but that’s OK.”

Given his previous success in the role, stature as a former head coach and the general quality of life of working on TV versus long-hour grinding in the NFL coaching ranks, it would stand to reason that the price tag to lure Ryan as a coordinator would be high.

Rob Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune, finalized the Walton-Penner purchase of the Broncos for $4.65 billion in June. His son-in-law, Greg Penner, is chairman of Walmart and CEO of the Broncos. Altogether, the family is the wealthiest NFL ownership group.

The Broncos were a disappointing 5-12 this past season. After trading multiple first-round picks to the Seahawks for Russell Wilson and backing up the Brinks truck for the QB with a $245 million extension, the expectation was that they would be Super Bowl contenders. Instead, the team failed to have a cohesive offense and head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired during his first year on the job.