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Donahoe calls Texans' hiring of Capers 'wrong'

Mortensen: Capers to finally unite with Casserly

Panthers will pay Capers next year

One of the keys to negotiations between Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and new coach Dom Capers was Capers' willingness to work the first year for just $300,000, his same salary as defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, according to league sources.

Capers will still make over $1 million because Panthers owner Jerry Richardson agreed in writing last week to pay Capers $850,000 for the 2001 season if the ex-Carolina coach landed a head coaching job. At the time, Capers was a leading candidate for the New York Jets vacancy that went to Herman Edwards.

Nevertheless, Richardson may have been the happiest guy in the NFL when Capers agreed to a new six-year contract with Houston. Once the Texans start playing in 2002, Capers' average salary of $1.875 million means Richardson will be off the books for the remaining $7.2 million he owes his ex-Panthers coach.

Money was an issue with McNair because of a cash-flow crunch stemming from his record $700 million expansion bid for the Texans. Initially, McNair's budget for a head coach was $1 million, but sources say GM Charley Casserly believed that amount would lock the team into hiring a coordinator with no head coaching experience.

Capers almost got hooked up with Casserly last year when Casserly was being considered for the same job with the New Orleans Saints.

In fact, sources said Casserly sent word to Capers "to start putting a staff together" just in case he ended up in New Orleans. But Casserly took the Houston job, and Randy Mueller was named the Saints GM.

Casserly has always wanted a man with head coach experience. He is not big into risks, so hiring an unproven coordinator doesn't inspire him after his apparent lukewarm experience in Washington with Norv Turner.

Capers is a coach who has experienced expansion birth. He was Richardson's first coach in Carolina whose downfall came when GM Bill Polian left for Indianapolis.

Capers also has had an inside look at how the Jaguars, who also were an expansion team in 1995 with Carolina, have operated the past two years as defensive coordinator.

Capers accelerated the Texans' hiring schedule with a terrific interview that impressed McNair. When Capers started became a head coach candidate for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, McNair told Casserly on Monday to close the deal, instead of waiting another year.

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