ESPN may have Mike & Mike in the morning, but those inside Dove Valley are hoping to have Mike & Mike at Mile High.
Mike Heimerdinger, a close personal friend of Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, continues to top the list of candidates to replace Gary Kubiak as the teams' next offensive coordinator. The problem lies in the fact that he still as two years remaining on his contract with the New York Jets.
From all indications, the Jets would be willing to part with Heimerdinger, but only if they can reach a settlement package that is favorable to the team. That package would undoubtedly include releasing them from the final $2.2 million of his contract.
Bon Voyage Kubes -
Now that he's headed to Houston, Gary Kubiak faces the monumental task of assembling a staff of assistants. He will reportedly keep two members of Dom Capers' team: Jon Hoke (the defensive backs coach) and Joe Marciano (special teams).
Kubiak would love to be able to pull long-time friend Rick Dennison (offensive line coach) from the Broncos staff, but Mike Shanahan has made it perfectly clear that he will not allow Dennison to break his contract.
Instead, Kubiak will look toward one of the greatest line coaches in NFL history, former Broncos coach Alex Gibbs.
Gibbs spent for thirteen-years coaching the offensive line in Denver, under both Dan Reeves and Mike Shanahan, and most recently served as line coach and assistant head coach in Atlanta before being named consultant for the 2005 season.
Should Kubes be able to land Gibbs, it will enable him to groom former Broncos offensive lineman David Duaz-Infante to eventually take over the position. Diaz-Infante, who is currently a member of KOA's broadcasting crew, has agreed to be part of the Texans staff.
….Other familiar names that will surface in Houston next season will be Troy Calhoun, Denver's assistant to the head coach, to coach quarterbacks and Brian Pariani, who will coach the tight ends. Pariiani spent ten years as a Denver assistant before becoming the offensive coordinator at Syracuse.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is one other name that may be familiar in Broncos circles – Shanahan.
Kyle Shanahan, son of head coach Mike Shanahan, will coach the receivers. A University of Texas graduate, Shanahan has been the offensive quality control coach at Tampa Bay for the last two years.
T.O. or not T.O. -
As the Terrell Owens debate rages on, several Broncos player appear to be in favor of brining in the highly controversial receiver.
"This is a special locker room, and if T.O. were to want to be here and be part of this, the guys would accept him," GerrardWarren told reporters on Monday as he was cleaning out his locker.
"We're a real team here, and I think the guys know that if you bring in a special player like that, it's to help the team. All these guys from Cleveland came in and fit in, and I think he would, too."
Center Tom Nalen went on to add, "If it would work anywhere, I think it would work here because of the guys in the locker room. Guys would keep him straight ... I think he'd conform. He'd fit in here."
Center of Attention -
While T.O. may find a fit in Denver, Nalen may not.
After twelve-years and five Pro Bowl appearances the Broncos center finds himself turning thirty-five in May, and in terms of offensive linemen that's getting pretty close to the edge.
Mike Shanahan has expressed a strong desire to keep Nalen, but with the Broncos current salary cap woes it is likely he will have to restructure his contract to remain on the roster.
"This is a great team and the offensive line is great to be around," Nalen said. "This whole team is unique. It's a tight team and I'd hate to walk away."
Matt Lepsis, Gerrard Warren, Trevor Pryce and Ron Dayne are all players Denver is hoping to keep, but are all players that will more than likely have to rework their contracts in order to remain on the roster.
As it stands right now the Broncos are $26 million over the cap. Only the New York Jets ($29 million) and the Oakland Raiders ($30 million) fare worse heading into the 2006 season.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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