Maybe Johnson is afraid one of those multiple teams with a coaching vacancy will scoop up Ryan in a heartbeat or that Rex will become Andy Reid's defensive coordinator wherever Reid lands his next head coaching gig.
Or maybe Johnson is simply taking the pulse of his general manager candidates first to see whether they view Ryan as an asset or obstacle to the Jets moving forward.
Why else would Ryan still be the coach after general manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired the day after the season ended?
Ryan and Tannenbaum are a tandem responsible for the Jets' draft picks, free-agent acquisitions and trades. Does anyone believe that Tannenbaum had to persuade Ryan to draft defensive players in the first round of the last three drafts?
Aren't Ryan and the scouting department as responsible as Tannenbaum for the lack of depth in the Jets' draft classes? They would rather package draft choices to move up in the second round of the draft and select someone like wide receiver Stephen Hill, who played for a school that doesn't throw the ball.
How can the Washington Redskins draft a diamond in the rough like running back Alfred Morris in last year's sixth round of the draft, while the Jets' sixth-round pick was running back Terrance Ganaway? Don't lay all of that on Tannenbaum's doorstep. Ryan shares the blame too.
And if Ryan and Tannenbaum persuaded Woody Johnson to trade for Tim Tebow, then Ryan has to be held accountable for that calamity, too. If it was Johnson who demanded that the Jets acquire Tebow, then Ryan and Tannenbaum should have done more to change the owner's mind instead of defying him by making Tebow a spectator with a sideline pass this season.
My guess is that Johnson is taking the temperature of GM candidates to see whether any of them is willing to work with Ryan or whether they would rather wipe the slate clean and bring in their own coach. You would have to believe the job would be more attractive if Ryan was not the Jets coach next season.
We have heard a lot about how Johnson wanted the Jets to have a shot at playing on their home field at MetLife Stadium in the 2014 Super Bowl. But a man who has made a fortune selling Q-Tips has to be smart enough to see that is a long shot.
Ryan changed the culture of the Jets. He raised their profile and coached them to the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons. But the Jets have become a laughingstock around the NFL and are proof that any publicity is good publicity is not true.
Ryan free-agent acquisitions such as Bart Scott and Calvin Pace should be allowed to walk. So should Shonn Greene, a hard-running but ordinary back. Albert Morris is already better than Greene.
Mark Sanchez needs to be traded or released no matter how painful it will be for the Jets' salary cap. Sanchez can do well when he is surrounded by talent. He is not, however, a quarterback who will ever make the players around him better.
He can be Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans if he had a wide receiver like Andre Johnson and running back like Arian Foster—who, by the way, was an undrafted free agent.
At least, that's what I would do. But if Woody Johnson insists that his new GM retain Rex Ryan as coach, the Jets may soon become "the same old Jets" again, irrelevant even in their own market.