Chip Kelly and LaMichael James: Will They Reunite in the NFL?

Kay JenningsContributor IIIMarch 20, 2012

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on while taking on the Wisconsin Badgers at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Here's what we know for sure: LaMichael James is going to fulfil his childhood dream of playing in the NFL.

Here's what else we might know: Chip Kelly has felt the lure of the NFL. What if Chip's "unfinished business" at the University of Oregon only takes the 2012 season to complete?

It got me thinking: "I wonder if Kelly and James will ever end up on the same NFL team." Let's look at a few examples of where and why this idea might not be so far-fetched.


No. 1: Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals need a running back to replace troubled Cedric Benson. While they have talked to free agents Michael Bush (Oakland Raiders) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England Patriots), it's important to note that Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was at Oregon's Pro Day last week.

LaMichael James' follow-up performance at Oregon's Pro Day solidified his good performance at the NFL Draft Combine last month.

Lewis, who is in his ninth season at Cincinnati, is entering the last year of his contract. As of today, he has not signed an extension. According to Lewis on the Bengals website, he and Bengals President Mike Brown haven't had the time and opportunity to discuss his contract.

Perhaps. But maybe the fact that Lewis is third on the list of NFL coaches with the most regular season wins without a playoff win might be grating just a bit. Nine years as an NFL head coach, even for a well-liked one like Lewis, is a loooooooong time.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions looks on during warm ups prior to playing against the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff at Mercedes-Benz Superdome game on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louis
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

2013: Chip Kelly and LaMichael James in Cincinnati? Not impossible. 


No. 2: Detroit Lions. Also in attendance at Oregon's Pro Day was Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. As with Cincinnati, the Lions also have serious questions at running back.

The Lions are considering bringing back free agent RB Kevin Smith. Smith started 13 games for the Lions in 2009 before suffering a left knee injury that ended his season. When Jahvid Best arrived the next year, Smith didn't have a role.

But Best is recovering from another concussion, and his backup Mikel Leshoure is unproven after an Achilles tendon injury in 2010. Also, RB Maurice Morris is a free agent.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Lions use a draft pick on a good running back no matter what they decide about Smith.

Schwartz is in the last year of a five-year contract, and while both sides say negotiations are moving forward, he has not signed a contract extension beyond 2012. Because of last year's progress by the Lions, I think expectations are running high in Detroit. If Schwartz' team doesn't live up to those expectations, he might be on the hot seat.  

2013: Chip Kelly and LaMichael James in Detroit? Also not an impossibility. I wonder if they'd get new cars as part of their deals.


While we are journeying through Fantasy Land just a bit with this article, let's go all the way and talk about the Oakland Raiders, my favorite NFL team.

I would love love love the Raiders to draft LaMichael James. I think they should trade injury-plagued Darren McFadden and improve their pick status. I like McFadden, but he could be traded for a higher pick and allow the Raiders to get James.

And remember that Michael Bush has talked to the Bengals. If he leaves Oakland, they really need more depth at RB.

OK, so let's say LaMike is a Raider; how do we get Chip there?

That's tougher because head coach Dennis Allen is brand new. However, the Raiders head job has been a coaching carousel over the years. The conventional wisdom now is that Allen is the guy and will get enough time to prove it, but I've heard that before in Oakland.

 LaMichael James and Chip Kelly in Oakland? Probably only in my dreams.