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Sunday, February 3
Updated: February 5, 7:46 PM ET
GM wants Lewis, but bosses like Gruden

By Len Pasquarelli

NEW ORLEANS -- His third time in pursuit of an NFL head coaching job might be a charm for Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who has emerged as the frontrunner to fill the league's final vacancy with Tampa Bay.

Lewis, 43, interviewed last week near Atlanta with Buccaneers general manager Rich McKay, and the session is said to have gone well. Lewis was a candidate in 2000 for the Buffalo Bills job and earlier this month for the Carolina Panthers' vacancy.

However, the St. Petersberg Times reported Monday that Bucs vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer disagree with McKay's choice to hire Lewis because the Glazers fear the team will take a step backward with another defensive-minded coach.

The Glazers, according to the Times, want the club to continue to pursue Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. They also might want to talk to Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Raiders and Buccaneers have initiated discussions about Tampa Bay giving up compensation for the right to talk to Gruden. A league source told Mortensen that the Buccaneers are offering Oakland multiple draft picks for the rights to Gruden.

According to Mortensen's source, a Wednesday deadline has been imposed to get the deal done. If the deal is not completed by Wednesday, then Lewis is believed to be the Buccaneers' top candidate, provided that Lewis can assemble a quality offensive staff quickly.

Gruden has one year remaining on his contract and said he would not coach in Oakland beyond next season.

The Associated Press has reported that Lewis has not heard back yet from the Bucs one way or the other.

"I don't know if I have the job yet or not. They're still in the process of doing what they need to do there," Lewis said from the Ravens' offices in Owings Mills, Md., where he was working Monday.

Lewis' hiring by the Bucs, who fired Tony Dungy earlier this month and then were jilted by planned replacement Bill Parcells, could come as early as Monday or Tuesday. But there are caveats that still must be overcome. For openers, Bucs ownership would prefer McKay extend his search for a few more days. And even McKay, who has recommended Lewis to the Glazer family as the man who should succeed the popular Dungy, is curious to see the composition of his offensive staff.

Obviously, the offensive staffing is a critical factor, given the Bucs' chronic problems on that side of the ball. The Bucs want to see very detailed plans from Lewis, always noted for his defensive acument, about his offensive plans.

Although substantive negotiations have not yet been initiated with Lewis, sources close to him said Sunday that the two sides "know the basic parameters" of a contract, and that an agreement could be quickly struck if McKay can sway ownership.

McKay has interviewed two other known candidates, former Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner and Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, but both rate behind Lewis now on the Bucs' wish list. There are no plans on the part of McKay to interview LSU coach Nick Saban. Turner joined the Dolphins as offensive coordinator on Tuesday.

Under the stewardship of Lewis, the Baltimore defense set a record in 2000 for the fewest points allowed in a 16-game season Lewis broke into the league in 1992 with the Pittsburgh Steelers then moved to the Ravens in 1996.

Two months ago, Lewis turned down an offer to become coach at the University of California.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com news services was used in this report.

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