According to ESPN, the Chiefs have signed Al Saunders to a two-year contract extension that will keep him as the Chiefs offensive coordinator trough the 2005 season.
Reports circulated again over the last 48 hours that the Oakland Raiders were making another run at Saunders. The Raiders Al Davis talked with Saunders before the Chiefs played the Colts in their playoff match-up two weeks ago.
At the time of the interview, Saunders had turned down the Nebraska Cornhusker job for the second time. Davis tried to convince Saunders again to take the Raiders head coaching position but his request fell on dead ears as Saunders rejected the job.
Saunders is rumored to be the leading candidate to take over the Chiefs when Vermeil steps down after the 2005 season.
Vermeil has already indicated that he will not coach beyond the 2005 season and has already made the recommendation to Chiefs President/CEO/GM Carl Peterson and team owner Lamar Hunt that he'd like to see Saunders succeed him as the Chiefs head coach.
It has long been rumored that Peterson did not share the opinion of Vermeil in regards to Saunders. But Peterson addressed the issue on a local sports talk 810WHB show in Kansas City that he had a great relationship with Saunders and their was never a riff between them as has been reported by many in the Kansas City media.
Peterson indicated that his contract is also up at the end of the 2005 season and if he were to re-sign with the Chiefs that Saunders would indeed be a candidate for the job but until he discussed that with the Hunt family, he would not make a decision without consulting them.
As for Saunders the deal is reported to pay him an annual salary exceeding $1 million per season. That would make Saunders one of the highest paid offensive coordinators in the NFL, if not the highest.
Saunders has always maintained a preference to stay with Dick Vermeil and after signing his extension on Saturday, it appears that he will be the Chiefs offensive coordinator through the Dick Vermeil coaching tenure in Kansas City.
With the signing of his new contract, Saunders officially withdrew his name from consideration for the Oakland Raiders job.
Vermeil is in Tennessee this afternoon meeting with Gunther Cunningham the Titans linebackers and assistant head coach about the Chiefs defensive coordinator job. If Cunningham accepts the job, the Chiefs will have to pay Cunningham roughly the same amount as Saunders.
The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons are also in the running for Cunningham. However, the Chiefs is the better job of the three but in order for Cunningham to return to Kansas City, he's going to demand a high salary.