Chiefs fire Edwards; Shanahan next?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards was fired Friday. And former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan could be in the mix to replace him.

Edwards was 15-34 in three seasons with the Chiefs, including 2-14 this season. He had one year remaining on his original four-year, $12 million contract.

"On behalf of my family, I want to thank Herm for his service to the Chiefs," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a team statement. "After careful deliberation over the last week, Scott and I decided that it was in the best interests of the Chiefs to move forward in a different direction.

"This was not an easy decision. Herm is an outstanding football coach and a man of integrity. We appreciate his leadership over the past three seasons, and we wish him all the best in the future."

The Chiefs have discussed Shanahan as a replacement for Edwards, but a Chiefs official said Friday night that although he wouldn't rule it out, he does not believe Shanahan will be the team's next coach.

Earlier Friday, a league source said the Chiefs were nearing a deal with Shanahan, but that source and other league sources later said the Chiefs had not negotiated with Shanahan.

Shanahan could not be reached for comment and has not responded to text message inquiries. A Chiefs spokesman had no comment.

An NBC-TV affiliate in Kansas City reported Shanahan as a possibility at midweek but a team source and a source close to Shanahan either denied or downplayed the story. A Chiefs official told Mortensen on Friday night that he did not believe Shanahan would be the team's next coach. The official fell short of entirely ruling it out.

Adam Schefter of the NFL Network, who once covered the Broncos and co-authored a book with Shanahan, is reporting that there is no chance he will be the next Chiefs coach.

A league official noted that there was "no way" the Chiefs could be negotiating or near a deal with Shanahan because the team must comply with the Rooney Rule that requires interviewing minority candidates. The source said Hunt would be the last owner not to comply.

However, a league source said that Hunt has focused on Shanahan after hiring Scott Pioli as the team's general manager. The source said Hunt did research on the last 19 coaches who have been hired in the NFL and determined their average salary to range between $2 million and $3 million, which would be an acceptable proposal by the NFL Management Council. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen would be obligated to pay the balance of Shanahan's three-year contract at approximately $6.5 million per year.

Edwards' status has been in doubt since Pioli was hired on Jan. 13. Asked at his introductory news conference about Edwards' status, Pioli declined to say.

"Since my arrival last week, Herm and I have had several conversations as part of my overall evaluation of the football operation," Pioli said in a statement. "After careful consideration, Clark and I felt that it was best to make a change. What I conveyed last week in the press conference I still believe to be true -- Herm is a great man and a tremendous football coach. He respects the game and the league, and he is passionate about his players and his craft.

"Over the course of this last week, I have also spent time meeting and visiting with most of the assistant coaches, and I will continue to do so over the next several days. All of the coaches from last year's staff, with the exception of one, are under contract through the 2009 season."

Edwards was 41-44 in five seasons as head coach of the New York Jets, including three trips to the playoffs.

Edwards came to Kansas City from the Jets and made the playoffs in his first season, when the team was 9-7. But he was under fire after the team finished 4-12 in 2007. Team management gave him its support, but expected a run at the playoffs. Instead, the team went 2-14.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Hunt Family for the opportunity to spend nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs," Edwards said in a statement. "It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve as the head coach of 'Lamar's Team' the past three seasons.

"This is going to be a very good football team. The support of Chiefs fans across the country has been tremendous. They are truly passionate about their football team. Chiefs fans will be proud to cheer for this team for many years to come. With the tremendous nucleus of young talent on this roster, I sincerely believe that his team is poised to do great things. I respect the tough decision that was made to move in a new direction. I wish the players and the organization the very best as they move forward."

In Edwards' three seasons in Kansas City, only three teams had worse records: Detroit, Oakland and St. Louis.

Prior to joining the Jets, Edwards spent five seasons serving as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, working under head coach Tony Dungy. Edwards served as a scout for Kansas City from 1990 to '91 before joining Marty Schottenheimer's staff as defensive backs coach ('92-94).

Senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen covers the NFL.