Edwards listens to team, keeps Cunningham

1/12/2006 - Kansas City Chiefs

Among the first moves that Herm Edwards made on a Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff was to make no move at all at defensive coordinator.

Edwards will retain incumbent defensive boss Gunther Cunningham, with whom he has some history, and whom Kansas City veterans urged their new head coach to keep. Kansas City ranked No. 25 in total defense in 2005, but the consensus around the NFL was that the revamped unit demonstrated progress.

By keeping Cunningham, 59, Edwards is hoping that continuity will allow the defense to progress even further in 2006. The two coaches share many philosophies, although Cunningham might have to make alterations if the Chiefs are the employ the "cover two" scheme that Edwards has favored.

Cunningham is respected leaguewide as one of the NFL's top coordinators, a fierce and dedicated competitor, one whose defense should make the next step forward after an '05 season in which the Chiefs had five new starters. The retention of Cunningham probably means that Donnie Henderson, the defensive coordinator for Edwards with the New York Jets the past two seasons, won't be moving to Kansas City.

Henderson is interviewing for head coach positions, having met with New Orleans and Jets officials, and he apprised the Saints earlier this week that Edwards intended to keep Cunningham as his coordinator.

A 26-year NFL veteran, Cunningham has worked with five different franchises, and this is his second stint with the Chiefs. His first was from 1995-2000 and he spent two of those seasons, 1999-2000, as head coach, compiling a 16-16 record before being fired.

There are no indications yet about Edwards' candidates for the offensive coordinator job. Incumbent coordinator Al Saunders interviewed for the vacancy created by the retirement of Dick Vermeil and is also meeting with other teams about head coach openings. He is a candidate for the Oakland Raiders head coach spot.

Five assistants from the Vermeil staff -- defensive line aides Bob Karmelowicz and Carl Hairston, special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr., tight ends coach Jason Verduzco, and assistant offensive line coach Irv Eatman -- were apprised they will not be retained.

In a player move, the Chiefs on Wednesday signed former CFL standout quarterback Casey Printers to a three-year contract. Printers, 24, spent the last few weeks working out for at least five other NFL teams.

He played two seasons with the British Columbia Lions and, in 2004, was named the CFL's most outstanding player. That season, he completed 325 of 494 passes for 5,088 yards, with 35 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. He was sidelined for part of 2005 by injuries and completed 131 of 216 attempts for 1,671 yards, with nine touchdown passes and six interceptions.

Printers played three seasons at TCU before transferring to Florida A&M for his final year of college eligibility in 2002. The 6-feet-2, 216-pound Printers might provide the Chiefs with the young, developmental-type quarterback the franchise has lacked for several seasons. Starter Trent Green is 35, and both the team's veteran backups, Damon Huard and Todd Collins, are eligible for unrestricted free agency this spring.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.