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December 29, 2015

Chip Kelly reportedly wants to stay in the NFL

Eagles NFL
112415ChipKelly Ross D. Franklin/AP

Chip coached in college once, but doesn't plan on returning if he can help it.

The Chip Kelly era came to an abrupt end on Tuesday when Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie announced the team had decided to part ways with their head coach (and de-facto GM) with one game still remaining on their schedule.

And although Kelly came to the pros from the college ranks, he reportedly told Jay Glazer of FOX Sports that he doesn't plan on returning to that level -- assuming someone else in the NFL will have him.

“Just talked to Chip Kelly," Glazer tweeted. "Disappointed how it ended but knows it's a results-oriented biz. Insists he wants to remain in the NFL, not college. Was pulled into mtg w owner, said he didn't fight the decision.”

The move caught almost everyone by surprise. 

"Most of us were shocked by the 'release' of Chip Kelly," former Eagles great Jon Runyan told PhillyVoice. "I am sure Mr. Lurie, like most Eagles fans, had a very hard time stomaching the product on the field this season and were most likely put off by the interaction with our local sports media."

The timing -- not to mention the use of "release" instead of "fire" -- raises questions as to what exactly led up to the final decision. Just a few days earlier, Kelly said he wasn't worried about his job security, despite the fact that his team had just lost its ninth game of the season. 

The use of the word "release" is also important, since Kelly still had two years left on the five-year, $32.5 million deal he signed back in 2013. According to CBS Sports' John Breech, that's important if Kelly hopes to catch on somewhere quickly.

Since Kelly only made it through three years of the contract, that means the Eagles will be on the hook for $13 million. However, it's possible that the two sides agreed to mutually part ways, much like Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers did last season. If that's the case, it would benefit the Eagles because they wouldn't owe him any more money and it would benefit Kelly because he'd be free to go out and get any job he wants, and Kelly will have no shortage of suitors.

On the other hand, if it was a flat-out firing, then Lurie's going to have to write Kelly a few more checks totaling the $13 million that the Eagles still owe him. []

If Kelly is a head coach in the NFL somewhere next season, one obvious landing spot would be in Tennessee, where the Titans have already fired Ken Whisenhunt and won't likely keep interim coach Mike Mularkey beyond the end of the 2015 season. That would also reunite Kelly with QB Marcus Mariota, something many Eagles fans were hoping would happen in Philly this season.

But according to some, the early success of Mariota in his rookie season suggests he doesn't necessarily need Kelly in order to thrive in the NFL.

Where he goes next -- and when he arrives there -- is anyone's guess at this point. College is certainly a possibility, but not if Kelly has his way.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin