Chiefs News: The Search Begins For D-Coordinator

Kansas City's search for a new defensive coordinator will begin in house with Vermeil identifying secondary coach Peter Giunta -- his defensive coordinator during the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl campaign -- and linebackers coach Joe Vitt as his leading candidates.

But the Chiefs also will look outside their Arrowhead facility.

Within hours after announcing Greg Robinson's resignation, the Chiefs asked Tennessee for permission to speak to Gunther Cunningham, the Titans assistant head coach and linebackers coach.

Cunningham, of course, was a successful defensive coordinator at Kansas City for four of his six seasons with the Chiefs before serving as head coach for two years after the departure of Marty Schottenheimer. He was fired after two seasons and a 16-16 record.

Cunningham also is being considered for coordinators with the Jets and the Falcons.

Another name surfacing among the candidates is Dave McGinnis, a defensive specialist recently fired as head coach at Arizona.

Chiefs Signings
The Chiefs announced Tuesday that two prospective defensive free agents, strong safety Greg Wesley and defensive tackle John Browning, had agreed to six-year contracts during in-season contract negotiations.

Browning has been a mainstay on the Chiefs defensive line since early in his eight-year career. In one season he played every position along the Chiefs defensive line.

Two other defensive starters -- end Eric Hicks and Pro Bowl free safety Jerome Woods -- remain unsigned. Woods will exercise a voidable year in his contract.

The resignation of Greg Robinson does not necessarily forecast wide-scale changes on the Chiefs staff. Vermeil, long noted for his tremendous loyalty to his assistant coaches, has said he wants to bring back his entire staff. Secondary coach Peter Giunta, who coordinated Vermeil's Super Bowl defense with the St. Louis Rams, and linebacker coach Joe Vitt will get hard looks as Robinson's replacement.

A new coordinator from outside the house might want to bring in some of his own assistants, though, so the status of the defensive staff remains uncertain. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders has been interviewed for two open head coaching positions at Chicago and Oakland, but it appears he'll remain with the Chiefs, as Vermeil wants Saunders to replace him upon his retirement in a year or two. Tight ends coach Keith Rowen appears ready to depart, likely for a position at Arizona.

Potential UFAs: T John Tait (says the scars from the verbal battle with Carl Peterson during his rookie contract negotiations have healed; will command a big price as one of best tackles on the market); DE Eric Hicks (team has begun preliminary discussions, and Hicks says he wants to stay with a team that's been good to him during some difficult times caused by an infant daughter's heart condition.

But Chiefs may want an upgrade at the position); TE Jason Dunn (will be welcomed back here for strong blocking skills); QB Jonathan Quinn (will likely move to team offering him a real chance to move from No. 3 to No. 2 position, which doesn't appear likely in KC); CB William Bartee (nickel corner may not get a better offer); WR Dameane Douglas (Chiefs want to see what a training camp injury prevented them from seeing this year); LS Kendall Gammon (loves it in KC and is likely to return); S Lyle West (key special teams player has a spot here); CB Darrius Johnson (injured player doesn't loom large in team's plans)

Potential RFAs:
P Jason Baker (will be pushed for job next year), LB Monty Beisel (top special teams player will be offered), RB Derrick Blaylock (Priest Holmes' backup is still more productive than rookie Larry Johnson), LB Quinton Caver (will be offered), DT Eric Downing (might be better off looking elsewhere). Top Stories