Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Sean Payton told the Raiders he would accept the job on Wednesday morning. Then after talking to his colleagues around the NFL later in the day, he wisely changed his mind. Now the Raiders are in trouble and desperate to find a head coach who'll captain Uncle Al's sinking Raiders ship.
Since Davis fired Bill Callahan almost a month ago, he tried to hire Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders but he politely said, no way. He interviewed a plethora of candidates who all said the same thing.
He had a deal and an agreement with Payton but he came to his senses before signing his contract. Of course, Uncle Al held an impromptu press conference on Wednesday disputing the fact that he ever offered the job to Payton.
What did you expect him to say? The problem is that nobody wants this job. After learning that Payton was not going to honor their hand shake deal, Uncle Al tried to convince Tom Flores to come out of retirement. That didn't work so he talked with Art Shell, who might have been the worst head coach in Raiders history, to come back but that appears unlikely.
Now the hot rumor in Oakland is that former NCAA Gambler and Washington Huskies Head Coach Rick Neuheisel could be the latest sucker to join the Raiders head coaching fraternity.
Now Neuheisel is the perfect candidate for the Raiders job. He wants a big paycheck, Uncle Al can control him and Neuheisel will allow him to act any way he wants. After all Davis used to be a coach.
Seriously, who ever takes over the Raiders is in destined for failure. The team has serious cap issues and must make major cuts in their roster by cutting front line, aging veterans. Players like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Rich Gannon to name a few on offense and several defensive players who have big fat contracts.
Davis does not have the ego or the cap room to reshape the entire roster so it will take a very stupid coach looking for a big paycheck to take over the Raiders. That would make Neuheisel the top candidate.
Davis would like to grab one of the Patriots top two assistants and would in particular like to get offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. If he's willing to wait two more weeks, he can talk with Weis but I expect Bill Belichick would talk him out of it.
The Raiders had a very disappointing season in 2003 and their fortunes in 2004 won't change much even with a plethora of changes. As long as Uncle Al is in the mix, the Raiders will never get back to the excellence that made them one of the most feared teams in the NFL.
In other AFC News:
The Denver Broncos could be facing a serious defection or two on defense. Starting linebackers Ian Gold and Al Wilson, both coming off injuries, will be unrestricted free agents. Both will be looking for Ray Lewis type money and Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan, who serves as the teams General Manager, will have a hard time signing both players.
Gold in my opinion is the second best linebacker in the NFL behind Lewis and Wilson is not far behind them. Either of them would look good in the Chiefs line-up.
The Broncos were very inconsistent in 2003 but the Colts exposed their weakness which is the secondary and Denver must make changes on that side of the ball. They are facing other defections on defense and the fans are getting restless with the off-season antics of Shanahan.
The Chiefs will once again be the team to beat in the AFC West and the jury is still out on Jake Plummer and his ability to play a consistent 16-game season.
The San Diego Chargers recently hired Wade Phillips to be their defensive coordinator. That should put fear into the rest of the AFC West. Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer needed a younger coach and instead dipped into the good ole boy network and hired Phillips to try and improve the teams lot on defense.
Schottenheimer must make the playoffs or he'll be fired. It might be a tough task since the Chargers are believed to be favoring selecting quarterback Eli Manning with the #1 draft pick in April. The Chargers are exploring the possibility of trading Drew Brees. Suitors for his services include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. San Diego is looking for a high second round draft pick for Brees.
The Kansas City Chiefs remain mum on the players they might be looking for in free agency. One name you will hear a lot is wide receiver Terrell Owens. Rumors have been circulating that the Chiefs want to talk to the flamboyant receiver in early March. He has worn out his welcome in San Francisco thanks to the quarterback controversy and the inexcusable coaching of Dennis Erickson.
Now Owens would be a reach and a project but Vermeil would do wonders for his career and he'd be foolish not to talk to the Chiefs. Kansas City is likely going to part ways with Johnnie Morton. He's been a bust for the Chiefs. Dropped passes by Morton cost Kansas City critical field position and first downs in all four of the teams losses in 2003.
As for the defensive side of the ball, the Chiefs and the representative for safety Jerome Woods continue to talk contract and its likely Woods will be signed before the end of January. Woods wants to play for new defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
Eric Hicks would like to come back to the Chiefs but unless he takes a pay cut that might not happen.
But the most difficult sign for the Chiefs this off-season could be right tackle John Tait. Sources have confirmed to Warpaint Illustrated that Tait would need to sign for less than market value to remain a Chief.
After the bitter contract dispute four years ago that led to a bitter holdout and name calling on both sides of the conference table, the Chiefs are not thrilled with Tait's representation. That could lead to a low-ball offer for Tait. The two sides have yet to talk numbers and the Chiefs appear in no hurry to start negotiations. If Tait is resigned it will be a last minute, zero hour deal. The Chiefs could franchise him but that's not likely to happen especially of Woods contract is in limbo before the start of free agency.