Ex-Packers coach tops Cardinals search list

Sherman scheduled to interview with Arizona on Thursday

Mike Sherman, fired a year ago today by the Green Bay Packers after a 4-12 season, tops the list of six candidates for the head coaching vacancy with the Arizona Cardinals. Sherman is scheduled to interview with the Cardinals on Thursday, though, the team expects to talk to several other candidates by the end of the week.

The Cardinals fired Dennis Green on New Year's morning and wasted no time beginning a search for his replacement. By mid-afternoon, they released the names of six candidates, although there likely will be more as they seek permission from other teams to talk to assistants.

Besides Sherman, who was an assistant to head coach Gary Kubiak in Houston this past season, other candidates are Indianapolis assistant head coach/quarterbacks Jim Caldwell, Tennessee offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Pittsburgh assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm, Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, and Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

"We will be looking for a coach who is organized, certainly one excited about this job, who certainly sees the opportunities we have with this football team," said Rod Graves, the team's vice president for football operations. "We'll be looking for someone who has the best plan, given what we have in place currently. We don't think we are that far away. I don't see wholesale changes necessary for this football team."

The Cardinals are apparently seeking an offensive-minded coach to get the most out of quarterback in Matt Leinart. Rivera is in the mix, but he'll need to convince team officials that he could put a solid offensive staff in place.

Though Green departed after going 16-32 in his three years, Rod Graves was given a new three-year deal and will continue to run the football operations. It was a bit of a surprise, given that Graves has been in his job since the 2003 season, and the club is 20-44 in that time.

"When we evaluated Rod's position, I think what we saw was a guy who had one a heck of a job," said Michael Bidwill, the team's vice president and general counsel.

The Cardinals, who have had three winning seasons in 22 years, reportedly will pay $2.5 million to buy out the final year of Green's contract. The Packers were on the hook for about $6 million to buy out Sherman's contract last year, though, Sherman's salary with Houston was deducted from the total amount.

Sherman went 59-43 during his six-year tenure as head coach of the Packers, including four straight playoff berths from 2001-04, the same time he was the team's general manager. He was named the Texans' assistant head coach on Feb. 15, 2006 and put in charge of overseeing an offense that ranked 28th in the NFL in 2006.

People close to Sherman told FOXSports.com this week that Sherman met with University of Alabama officials last week.

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