According to a report on NBC Affiliate KSHB in Kansas City, the Detroit Lions are heavily considering Chiefs' offensive coordinator Al Saunders as their next head coach.
Via our partner Warpaint Illustrated, Roar Report has learned that current Chiefs' head coach Dick Vermeil will likely retire following their Sunday tilt with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Saunders, also an assistant with the Chiefs, is now rumored to be the top choice of the Lions. And, if the rumor bodes true, he could be named the team's coach as early as Monday.
One holdup to the report was whether or not the Lions would again violate the league's minority hiring process (Saunders is caucasian). Three years ago, Lions' GM Matt Millen was fined $250,000 after the hiring of head coach Steve Mariucci. Millen botched the league's bylaw, which requires a team to interview a minority candidate, despite conducting a haphazard interview with offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis.
If the Lions violated the rule for second consecutive time, they would allegedly lose draft picks in next April's draft. However, according to our source, the Lions have fulfilled that obligation -- by interviewing Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon.
Carthon served as an offensive assistant under Cowboys' coach Bill Parcells the past few years, and prior to that, was the Lions' running backs coach.
The Detroit Lions organization was not immediately available comment
Warpaint Illustrated also informed Roar Report that while the Chiefs are likely to retain offensive line coach Mike Solari and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, they could join Saunders in Detroit. That is contingent on what positions will be available to them in Kansas City, and who the Chiefs next coach will be. It has been rumored that current Jets' coach Herm Edwards and even former Lions' coach Steve Mariucci are line for the position.
Saunders is recognized for his offensive brilliance and vertical passing attack (using one-back sets), and his philosophy helped the organization lead the league in total offense in 2004 for the first time in team history. This season, they are among the league's best again.
He is currently in his 23rd season as an NFL coach, and his 15th season in Kansas City. Saunders has helped guide the Chiefs to three AFC West crowns, and in his league experience, has been a part of five division crowns and a World Championship. He briefly served as interim head coach in 1986 for the San Diego Chargers.
It is assumed that regardless of whether or not Saunders becomes the next Lions coach (the team's fourth in five years), quarterback Joey Harrington is likely to depart the ball club. Saunders prefers a veteran presence behind center, and Harrington might be looking to greener pastures after Sunday anyway.
Stay tuned to Roar Report as we bring you more on this developing story.
Warpaint Publisher Nick Athan helped contribute to this story.