Oakland Pursues Saunders

Kansas City Chiefs fans should not be worrying solely about their defensive coordinator position in the coming weeks.

They should also worry about the offense, because the Oakland Raiders want to visit with Al Saunders for a second time. This could definitely throw a loop in the Super Bowl plans of the Kansas City Chiefs next season.

Al Saunders is one of, if not the, most respected offensive mind in all of football. He got much of his training from Don Coryell and the San Diego Chargers, and has brought that style to Kansas City. Saunders currently resides in Kansas City, and he has spent much of his career as an assistant in some capacity for the Chiefs.

As a former head coach for the Chargers in the late 1980's, Saunders has indicated that he does want to be a head coach again. The Nebraska Cornhuskers reportedly offered him their job, which he turned down, and he has been linked to other openings in the last month as well. But, the Oakland Raiders have emerged as a serious possibility.

It seems strange that a man that has spent so much of his career with the Chiefs and Chargers would consider going to the Raiders. Saunders was able to witness first hand what was happening to that team last season, and it doesn't seem to make sense that he would want to coach there.

One possibility, and this is merely speculation, is that he wants to get back at general manager Carl Peterson for choosing Gunther Cunningham over him five years ago. That is merely speculation, but it has been reported in various media outlets that Peterson and Saunders do not get along. Fans assume that Saunders will replace head coach Dick Vermeil in the next year or two, but that is far from a guarantee.

Family could also play a role in this decision. His children are now grown up, and having spent so many years on the west coast, Saunders would be comfortable re-locating there. With his children being out of the house, he probably does not feel as strong a familial tie to Kansas City as he once did.

A definite certainty to this situation is that the Chiefs need to step up to the plate and keep Al Saunders. His inventive and creative play calling have made Kansas City's offense the talk of the NFL in recent years. Because of Saunders, players such as Priest Holmes and quarterback Trent Green have become household names.

The Kansas City Chiefs need to make a statement to their team and fans by doing whatever is possible to keep Saunders in the fold.

If Oakland offers him a 5-year contract for $10 million, the Chiefs must match that. There is too much at stake next season to let an offensive genius jump ship to their most hated rival.


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