<
>

Jauron, Bills reach preliminary contract agreement

Former Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron has reached an agreement in principle with the Buffalo Bills to become the team's new head coach, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports. The Bills are expected to formally introduce Jauron at a 2:30 p.m. ET news conference Monday.

Jauron was selected by Bills owner Ralph Wilson and general manager Marv Levy from a group that included former Packers coach Mike Sherman, former Texans coach Dom Capers and current Colts assistant coach Jim Caldwell. On Saturday, the Bills narrowed their list to Jauron and Sherman, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton.

Jauron will become the Bills' fourth head coach since Levy -- a Hall of Fame coach in his own right --retired following the 1997 season.

Levy is now back with the Bills, replacing team president and
general manager Tom Donahoe, who was fired earlier this month.

Jauron was favored by Levy, who maintains a home in Chicago and
worked as a Bears broadcaster during Jauron's tenure with the team.
Like Levy, who attended Harvard, Jauron is also a former
Ivy-leaguer, a graduate of Yale.

Wilson, meanwhile, was impressed by Sherman, who interviewed on
Wednesday, a day after Jauron. Of all the candidates, Sherman had
pro personnel experience, having served as the Packers general
manager before having that title stripped from him last year.

The Bills retained nine of Mularkey's assistants, a list that
includes defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who previously has said
that he doesn't expect to be back. Offensive coordinator Tom
Clements was among five assistants released earlier this month.

When reached on his cell phone, Jauron told The Associated Press that he was, in fact, in
Buffalo, but declined to comment, referring questions to the team.

Officially, Levy also was unavailable for comment on the Bills' coaching vacancy.

Jauron went 35-46 in five seasons with the Bears and was the NFL
Coach of the Year in 2001, following a 13-3 finish.

Jauron spent the past two years as the Lions defensive
coordinator and finished last season as the team's interim coach
after Steve Mariucci was fired in late November.

Jauron also was an assistant coach with Jacksonville and Green
Bay.

When he accepts the job, Jauron will take over a Bills team that
underachieved in going 5-11 last season and missed the playoffs for
the sixth straight year -- the Bills' longest drought since the NFL
merger.

He replaces Mike Mularkey, who abruptly resigned on Jan. 13, a
week after Bills owner Ralph Wilson announced his coach would be
back for next season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.