Broncos can chase top pick for coordinator

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Broncos can chase top pick for coordinator
Heimerdinger available after Jets turn him loose
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer

The Broncos are free to pursue their top choice as a replacement for longtime offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Mike Heimerdinger was freed from his contract Wednesday as the New York Jets' offensive coordinator. Three Broncos sources said Heimerdinger is the top choice of coach Mike Shanahan and is likely to be announced as Denver's offensive coordinator within several days.

After nearly a week of negotiations between the Jets and Heimerdinger, the Jets granted his wish to leave.

"I'm done," Heimerdinger said. "I'm free."

While Heimerdinger said the Broncos' position interests him, he said Wednesday it was premature to assume he will be the Broncos' offensive coordinator.

"I haven't even talked to Mike; I don't know even if he wants me," Heimerdinger said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens."

Detroit may have interest in Heimerdinger, but Denver appears to be the front-runner.

Heimerdinger and Shanahan were college roommates at Eastern Illinois and remain close. Heimerdinger was a Denver receivers coach for Shanahan before going to Tennessee to become the Titans' offensive coordinator spanning 2000-04. Last season was his first with the Jets.

Shanahan said Tuesday it would take about a week before he made a decision on the hire, before Heimerdinger became available. Heimerdinger is familiar with several Broncos, including star receiver Rod Smith, whom he has coached.

Heimerdinger, a former Air Force assistant coach whose son Brian is a receiver at Colorado State, is known for being intense and more vocal than the laid- back Kubiak, who is expected to be introduced today as coach of the Houston Texans at a news conference.

Heimerdinger shares Shanahan's offensive philosophies. At Tennessee, Heimerdinger was known for stretching the field and for using his tight ends extensively. Titans quarterback Steve McNair flourished under Heimerdinger and was the NFL co-MVP in 2003.

Heimerdinger, who had two years remaining on his contract, sought to leave the Jets when Eric Mangini was chosen over him to be the team's head coach. When Heimerdinger said he wanted out last Thursday, the Jets began interviewing potential replacements Friday.

If Heimerdinger doesn't get the job with the Broncos, Shana- han is likely to look at in-house candidates before pursuing other options.


Rosenhaus no problem
Shanahan indicated dealing with controversial agent Drew Rosenhaus would not prevent the Broncos from exploring acquiring wide receiver Terrell Owens if he is released by the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I like Drew," Shanahan said.

Rosenhaus declined to comment on sentiments from several Broncos veterans that the team should pursue Owens.

Shanahan said Tuesday he would be open to pursuing any player who is willing to accept Denver's standards.


Footnotes
Kubiak is likely to bring Broncos offensive assistant Troy Calhoun and defensive assistant Jim Ryan with him to the Texans. ... Shanahan had a party Tuesday night for Kubiak to celebrate his new job.

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_3438098
 
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