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Key Cardinals pieces could have been Raiders

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Two of the reasons why the Arizona Cardinals are headed to the Super Bowl are coach Ken Whisenhunt and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Whisenhunt, in his second season as the Cardinals' coach, has ended the culture of losing in Arizona and he has overseen the implementation of a dynamic offense. Fitzgerald has become perhaps the game's best receiver as the Cardinals have ascended to the top of the NFC.

Both Whisenhunt and Fitzgerald could have been Oakland Raiders.

Whisenhunt was pursued by Raiders owner Al Davis after the Steelers won the Super Bowl three years ago. However, Whisenhunt resisted overtures and stayed in Pittsburgh for one more season before taking the job in Arizona.

In 2004, Oakland had the No. 2 overall pick. It had a need at receiver. The Raiders, though, took tackle Robert Gallery. He is now a guard in Oakland after flaming out at the more pivotal left tackle possession. Gallery is serviceable and he had a solid 2008 season. But he's not a Pro Bowl level player.

Meanwhile, Oakland still has a need at receiver as Fitzgerald prepares to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Oakland, of course, is still looking for a head coach. Since pursuing Whisenhunt, Oakland has had three head coaches, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable.

Cable is a candidate for the current job along with Green Bay assistant Winston Moss and Kevin Gilbride.

Ironically, the Cardinals could be connected to Oakland again. There are strong indications the Raiders could consider interviewing offensive coordinator Todd Haley. He fits the mold Davis craves. He's young, innovative and offensive-minded. Perhaps landing Haley could take away from the sting of the two Cardinals that got away.