Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds up a football helmet presented by Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who’s standing next to her. Clinton was returning to work after suffering a fall. (HANDOUT/ REUTERS)

A major opening at the State Department: We’re hearing that highly regarded deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides has decided not to take up Secretary-designate Sen. John Kerry’s offer that he stay on for up to a year for the transition.

Nides, the deputy secretary for management, apparently told Kerry on Friday that he wanted to move on after two years on the job and would leave in February.

It’s not clear that Nides, who had also been on the short list to be Obama’s chief of staff, has anything lined up — maybe a bit of down time — when he leaves. Before you break out those checkbooks to help tide him over, let’s review his resume.

After working as chief of staff for former House speaker Tom Foley and with a similar title at the U.S. Trade Rep’s office in 1993, Nides worked at Fannie Mae, then was president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, then chief accounting officer of Credit Suisse First Boston and COO of Morgan Stanley.

So he should be okay for a while.

The department’s other deputy secretary, Bill Burns, has agreed to stay to help with the transition. And we’re hearing that a substantial number of senior officials are also willing to extend. (One State official said they were “digging in,” but that seems a bit unkind.)

Meanwhile, some ambassadorships, including a few of the most most highly prized ones, appear to be filling with some of the most dedicated Obama bundlers and contributors.

As we’ve written, Matt Barzun, Obama’s 2008 finance chairman, then ambassador to Sweden and again Obama’s 2012 finance chairman, is the odds-on favorite to become the ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, a.k.a. Britain.

John Emerson, a former Clinton White House aide and in recent years a Los Angeles mega-fundraiser for Democrats and Obama, is said to be a leading contender for Germany.

Another major bundler and contributor, Marc Lasry, who’s the chairman and CEO of the hedge fund Avenue Capital Group, is being talked about for Paris.

And local attorney and huge bundler and contributor John Phillips is the leading pick for Rome. (Yes, the Loop was passed over once again.) Phillips’s wife, Linda Douglass, is a former longtime ABC news correspondent, Obama 2008 campaign aide and then the administration’s chief health care spokeswoman. She is now head of corporate and strategic communications for the Atlantic.

Phillips, who has been eyeing that Rome post for a while, happens to own what some call a town — really just a village — in Tuscany. The ambassador’s residence in central Rome, Villa Taverna, is a great sprawling house set in a lovely garden, complete with swimming pool, tennis court and fountains.

It’s certainly on a par, we’re told by someone who’s stayed there, with Borgo Finocchieto, Phillips’s mountaintop village, with a manor house and four separate villas on six acres. Also a pool, a tennis court and a staff of 19.

Well, it takes a village.