Changes Ahead Saunders Out – Turner Next?

In the coaching carousal known as the NFL, a couple of hated AFC West rivals and their coaches could be swapping zip codes. Late Thursday night current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders was in Oakland speaking with Raiders owner Al Davis. As soon as today or sometime over the weekend, Norv Turner could interview for the spot that might need to be filled Kansas City should Saunders accept the Oakland job.

You can say one thing about Kansas City Chiefs new Head Coach Herman Edwards, he's thorough and it appears he knows who and what he wants on his coaching staff. He already indicated that he's going to retain defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham despite the fact he's trying to lure Donnie Henderson from the New York Jets and Rod Marinelli from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Both are candidates for head coaching jobs in New York and New Orleans but its clear that Edwards would like to snag them for his new defensive coaching staff. Each would be a significant upgrade to the organization as both are considered some of the very best defensive coaches in the NFL.

Edwards has already cleaned out some of the leftover coaching prospects from Dick Vermeil's staff at One Arrowhead drive. He's expected to shove a few more of the remaining assistants out the door within the next several days. That would lead many to assume that he's concluded most of his in-house interviews and is going to center on meeting with coaches who are currently on other NFL staffs.

"There are certain guys you've met in your career as a coach that you feel you might like to add to the mix," Edwards told reporters on Thursday. "At the end of the day the head coach has to feel comfortable about his staff."

With that statement, Edwards appears to be narrowing potential assistant coaching candidates to a select few. However if he's going to get some of the coaches that remain from Vermeil's staff, he'll need to do so before January 17th when all of their contracts expire.

It's believed that both offensive line coach Mike Solari and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea will remain on the staff. Wide receivers coach Charlie Joiner had told some players in December that he was going to retire but that might change with the addition of Edwards as the teams 10th head coach.

Running backs coach James Saxon might join Al Saunders in Oakland if he accepts the job. Saxon is from the bay area originally and the chance to coach closer to home might be more appealing for the Chiefs likeable coach.

Another hot rumor around town is the fact that former Chiefs center Tim Grunhard could be a candidate to replace offensive line coach Irv Eatman who was let go earlier in the week.

Grunhard was a candidate to join Mark Mangino's staff at the University of Kansas several years ago. However, he turned it down to concentrate on coaching local high schools and developing his radio career locally at 810 WHB and now at 610 Sports in Kansas City.

As for Turner, he was axed by the Raiders last week as their umpteenth Head Coach. His name has also surfaced in Buffalo first as an offensive coordinator but now he could be on the Bills short list of head coaching candidates.

Mike Mularkey resigned on Thursday evening and the Bills are scurrying to set up interviews. Reports have indicated that former New Orleans Saints Head Coach Jim Haslett might be the front-runner for the job. He's also in consideration for the Detroit job but Lions General Manager Matt Millen continues his interview process. In fact, if Al Saunders does not accept the Raiders job this morning, he's expected to finally meet with Matt Millen about the vacant job in Detroit later today. However the leader for the job now appears to be Pittsburgh Steelers assistant head coach Russ Grimm. People in Detroit are scratching their heads as to why he'd make a better candidate over Al Saunders but with the Lions anything is possible.

It's also being reported that the Lions won't be able to restructure the contract of quarterback Joey Harrington thus making him a free agent in March. In his current deal with the Lions, the much maligned quarterback is due over $30 million the next two seasons by Detroit.

Despite the fact the Chiefs signed CFL stud Casey Printers just two days ago, Harrington has been someone whom President and General Manager Carl Peterson has been enamored with for quite some time. It's not known if Harrington's appeal is one that Herman Edwards is fond of at this time. But don't be surprised if he's released by the Lions and that Kansas City is one of the first teams to bring him in for a free agent visit when the NFL's meat market opens up on the first of March.

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