Peyton Manning's time to work with Broncos OC Mike McCoy might be running out. (US Presswire)

Mike McCoy was a coaching candidate last year, but this winter, he appears to be perhaps the hottest assistant coach on the market.

According to reports, the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears have already contacted the Broncos to gauge McCoy's interest in their head coaching positions that opened Monday, and other teams may follow suit in the next few days.  With the Broncos earning a first-round bye in the playoffs, teams have a window to contact Broncos assistants and interview them this weekend. 

McCoy and deposed Eagles coach Andy Reid are two of three candidates publicly identified by Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, who also said defensive coordinator Ray Horton will be interviewed.

More NFL Black Monday
Related content

However, fixing the offense -- and developing a quarterback -- has to be Arizona's top priority. Both elements have been disasters since Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season. With former Eagles QB Kevin Kolb still the best starting candidate on hand for the Cardinals heading into next year, Reid might be a more logical fit.

The Bears would be an interesting possibility for McCoy, since he arrived in Denver in 2009 with Josh McDaniels, the head coach responsible for trading both QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall in consecutive years.

That connection might make a potential Bears candidacy awkward, but there were no signs of animosity between the low-key McCoy and Cutler and Marshall in their brief times together with the Broncos, so it's not expected to work against him.

Still, McCoy has found a comfort zone with the Broncos.  His boss, head coach John Fox, kept him on Carolina's staff for seven seasons (2002-08), and McCoy was one of the few holdovers from George Seifert's final Panthers staff, which was a part of a 1-15 season in 2001.

"I love my job here, I work for the best organization in the NFL," McCoy said recently. "My wife and I and the kids, we absolutely love Denver. We'll see what happens. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. If not, hey, we can stay here for a long time."

McCoy interviewed twice with the Dolphins last year before they hired ex-Packers assistant Joe Philbin. However, McCoy also declined inquiries from the Jaguars and Raiders, who eventually tapped Mike Mularkey and Dennis Allen, respectively.

NO ROAD TRIPS THIS WEEKEND: The Broncos will operate on a schedule similar to their regular season bye weeks; they'll have shorter, 75-minute practices designed to focus on areas that need a refresher lesson while keeping the players fresh and well-rested.

The only difference is how many days they'll convene at team headquarters. During a typical regular-season bye week, the Broncos would scatter for a four-day weekend. This week, the Broncos will practice Wednesday through Friday, then convene Saturday morning for a team weightlifting session.

The reason for the extra work? Fox doesn't want to give them an opportunity to leave town.

“You just want them to be focused, not concerned with flights to other states and those types of things, especially close states," Fox said, perhaps referring to the proclivity of some players to make quick jaunts to Las Vegas. "At the end of the day, you just want them focused, maybe watching football (rather) than some other things."

LOOKING AT 2013:The Broncos' first-place schedule for next year will include another trip to New England and a home game against Baltimore to complete the slate. Denver's other 14 games were already set against AFC West, South and NFC East opponents.

HOME: Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders, Jaguars, Titans, Eagles, Redskins, Ravens.

AWAY: Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders, Colts, Texans, Cowboys, Giants, Patriots.

At least five games next year will be against teams with new head coaches.

NOTES: The Broncos emerged with no further injuries from Sunday. KR/PR Trindon Holliday (ankle) and CB Tracy Porter (concussion) were the only players held back from Sunday's game for health reasons. … RB Ronnie Hillman only carried the football three times Sunday, with no carries after he fumbled late in the second quarter.  Fox said Hillman will be given a chance to earn his second-team role back, but reserves Lance Ball and Jacob Hester combined for 121 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in place of Hillman on Sunday ... Tickets for the Broncos' home playoff opener on Jan. 12 sold out in nine minutes Monday afternoon.