It's entirely possible the Buffalo Bills could have their next head coach already inside the building.
Anthony Lynn, who will coach the team on an interim basis in Sunday's season finale at the New York Jets, is exceeded to receive strong consideration for the permanent job that opened when Rex Ryan was fired Tuesday.
Lynn has been an offensive coordinator for just 13 games, taking over after Greg Roman was fired by Ryan two games into this season. But he has received interest around the league before as a head-coaching candidate, interviewing with the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers.
"It's something I hope to pursue one day, and maybe after the season," Lynn said before the Bills' Week 14 game against Cleveland. "I don't know. But right now, if we don't take care of these next three opponents, those opportunities may be limited."
The Bills announced that General Manager Doug Whaley will lead a search, so if they do look outside the organization, here are 10 other candidates the team could consider. How many of these candidates would be willing to work with Whaley? The answer to that is very uncertain.
• Josh McDaniels: The Boston Globe reported just days ago that the Patriots' offensive coordinator – long thought to be Bill Belichick's heir apparent in New England – is "likely" to leave for a head-coaching opportunity this offseason. The Bills requested permission to interview McDaniels before hiring Ryan in January 2015. The likelihood of him staying in the AFC East, where he would have to face Tom Brady twice a season, seems remote.
• Tom Coughlin: The former New York Giants' coach is a two-time Super Bowl winner. He met with the Bills upon Ryan's request early this year about a possible role as a consultant, but ultimately did not join the team. Coughlin, 70, is believed to want to coach – he's expected to interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars about their opening. It's also expected he would want control over personnel, which makes a pairing with Whaley seem like an impossibility.
• Matt Patricia: The Patriots' other coordinator also might not want to face Brady twice a season, but likely won't get to be as picky as McDaniels might be. Patricia has experience working on both sides of the ball and last year interviewed for Cleveland's head job. New England ranks eighth in total defense despite trading away pass rusher Chandler Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins.
• Kyle Shanahan: The Falcons' offensive coordinator has directed the league's No. 1-scoring offense, averaging a whopping 33.5 point per game. The Falcons also rank third in passing offense, which would be attractive to a Bills team that currently ranks 31st. Shanahan was also a candidate before the Bills hired Ryan.
• Frank Reich: The architect of the Greatest Comeback interviewed for the Bills' job in 2015, when he was the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator. Since then, he's moved on to the same job in Philadelphia. This year, with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz leading the way, the Eagles rank 21st in total offense. Reich's ties to Buffalo could make him more willing to take the job than some others on this list.
• Jim Bob Cooter: The man with the best name in football has done a solid job as the Lions' offensive coordinator, particularly in straightening out quarterback Matthew Stafford. Detroit ranks 14th in passing offense, but Stafford has thrown for 54 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions the past two years. Detroit can win the NFC North with a victory over Green Bay in Week 17.
• Jim Schwartz: A familiar name based on his year as the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2014, Schwartz was out of coaching in 2015 before returning as the Eagles' defensive coordinator this year. After guiding the Bills to a No. 4 finish in 2014, he hasn't had the same success with the Eagles. Philadelphia ranks 18th this year. Schwartz does have head-coaching experience with the Lions.
• Sean Payton: As they showed when they hired Ryan, the Pegulas aren't against making a "big splash," and Payton would certainly qualify. CBS Sports reported earlier this month the Saints would consider trading Payton, which hasn't happened with a coach since Jon Gruden went from Oakland to Tampa Bay before the 2002 season. Payton interviewed with the Bills back in 2006.
• Jon Gruden: Speaking of Gruden, and big splashes, the current analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football finds his name in the rumor mill annually at this time of year. Gruden said last week he's "very happy" doing what he's doing, but that hasn't slowed the rumors, most of which have the Los Angeles Rams making a big push for his services. If Gruden does get the itch to coach again, it's hard to see the Bills beating out other destinations that could be perceived as more appealing.
• James Franklin: The current Penn State head coach has a 25-14 record with the Nittany Lions, and led the school to its first Big Ten championship since 2008 this year. Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula have deep ties to Penn State (Terry Pegula is an alumnus) so they surely are aware of Franklin's success.
• Darrell Bevell: Bevell is another candidate who interview with the Bills in 2015. If Buffalo wants to bring in an offensive-minded head coach, Bevell could make sense. He's guided the Seattle Seahawks' offense as coordinator since 2011. If the Bills want to keep Tyrod Taylor, Bevell has experience is structuring an offense around a mobile quarterback in Russell Wilson.
• Todd Haley: The current Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator has directed a high-powered attack led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Needless to say, none of those players would be coming along with him. Haley does have head-coaching experience with the Chiefs, including a playoff appearance in 2010.
• Teryl Austin: One of the more popular names in the coaching rumor mill the past season, the Lions' defensive coordinator had four head-coaching interviews last season. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Tuesday Austin will "get a long look" by the Bills in the event they decide to hire someone other than Lynn.