With Edwards Fired, Who's On Deck?

When Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli fired Herm Edwards late Friday afternoon, the battle of networks began as news spread like wildfire that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was en route to Kansas City. The NFL Network and ESPN had a tug of war over the validity of that report.

Within minutes of the announcement, Shanahan's name came out of the mouth of ESPN NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, who reported that the Chiefs were nearing a deal to bring in the Broncos former head coach. An hour later, NFL Network's Adam Schefter, a personal friend of Shanahan, was adamant that the former Broncos coach would not be KC's head coach.

So who's right?

What we believe is that the Chiefs and Shanahan have had conversations. Multiple sources have indicated that an exchange between the two parties has taken place. While Mortensen claims things have heated up in regards to Shanahan in the last 24 hours, Schefter claims the Chiefs and Shanahan have not spoken.

Regardless of who you believe or what you believe, the fact remains that the Chiefs have a vacancy that must be filled.

So who will be the next Chiefs head coach?

1. Mike Shanahan - Clearly he's the hottest name in the game right now. But if Schefter is correct, this dream isn't happening. If you believe Mortensen, it has some legs. Radio stations in Denver continue to say Shanahan is coming to Kansas City. Have we covered this already?

There is no doubt that Shanahan is a top target for the Chiefs but in order for him to come to Kansas City he has to be in control of the coaching staff. If he's going to come to the Chiefs, that could be an issue. There is a strong sentiment, again per Schefter, that Pioli and Hunt want to keep Chan Gailey as offensive coordinator or allow him to interview for the head coaching position.

The issue for Shanahan is that no matter where he goes he's going to want to call his own offensive plays. To add fuel to that thought, a source we spoke with in Denver Friday night does not believe a marriage between Shanahan and Gailey could work based on their past history in Denver.

While the thought of Shanahan in Kansas City would be amazing, all we can tell you at this hour is that at some point talks between Scott Pioli and Mike Shanahan's agent have taken place at some point. It's possible that so much denial from Shanahan's side could be based on the fact both he and the Chiefs don't want to the situation to appear as if they've been in talks for a while. Regardless, my guess is we've not heard the last of the Shanahan rumors in Kansas City.

2. Bill Cowher - Again, per Schefter, he's atop the Chiefs wish list. Cowher has been out of the game for two years and has a great job at CBS, but he's also been adamant about not coaching again. A week ago his TV partner, Boomer Esiason, indicated that if Cowher were to coach again in 2010 it would be with the Chiefs. Late Friday night on 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore, host Ken Weinman was giving Esiason the business over his Cowher comment, and that set off a firestorm in Kansas City at the beginning of the week. Esiason's only answer was, ‘stay tuned,' indicating that perhaps Cowher is in play for the Chiefs.

3. Romeo Crennel - The former Cleveland Browns coach will more than likely be interviewed by Pioli, covering the NFL's mandated ‘Rooney Rule' in regards to minority coaching candidates. Crennel may have received a raw deal in Cleveland under the ownership of Randy Lerner.

Crennel is a great defensive mind and with Pioli at his side, could be a good head coach with a solid coaching staff and the addition of a few free agents. However, he could also become KC's new defensive coordinator.

4. Todd Haley - He's preparing his offensive game plan for the Super Bowl, but was rumored to be the front runner for the Chiefs' job in the Philadelphia Daily News Friday morning.

His name surfaced ever since the Cardinals won the NFC Championship last week, but he lacks the experience Pioli might want for a young Chiefs teams. However, he comes from the Bill Parcells coaching tree, so that instantly makes him a target. Unfortunately, after Saturday there is no way the Chiefs can interview Haley until after the Super Bowl.

5. Bill Parcells - This makes a great amount of sense, so we can't say it won't happen. The sticking point might be if Parcells could work for his son in law.

Blood is thicker than water - can you imagine football discussions at the Pioli dinner table after a rough loss? The problem with Parcells is that he's not a long-term solution. He'd also have to leave the Dolphins just to make this jump from Miami to Kansas City.

There's no question Parcells can still coach, but for how long? Would three seasons be enough to put the Chiefs over the top?

Other Candidates

Chan Gailey - He'd be the last resort, but it appears Pioli and Hunt want him to stay on as offensive coordinator.

Jon Gruden - He was fired a week ago, but reports have come out that he's clashed with his players. After missing the playoffs despite being 9-3 at one point last season, that could make him a long shot.

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