Bucs agree to multiyear contract extension with defensive coordinator Kiffin

Updated: January 18, 2008, 2:47 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday reached agreement with legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin on a multiyear contract extension, ESPN.com has learned.

[+] EnlargeMonte Kiffin
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesThe Bucs' defense has ranked among the league's top 10 statistically 10 times in Monte Kiffin's 12 seasons with the club.
Details of the contract were not immediately available, but it is believed the new deal will pay Kiffin in the area of $2 million per year. His previous contract, which had expired, paid $1.7 million annually.

The extension came after a few weeks of negotiations.

There had been unsubstantiated rumors that Kiffin, 67, might depart the Bucs to join his son, Oakland coach Lane Kiffin, with the Raiders, but those were dubious from the outset. The Atlanta Falcons had indicated some interest in Kiffin, but they remain without a head coach. And it is believed that, as recently as this week, the Washington Redskins discussed the possibility of hiring Kiffin as defensive coordinator, even though they have yet to settle on a successor to head coach Joe Gibbs.

In the end, though, Kiffin opted to remain with Tampa Bay, which was not altogether surprising, given his close relationship with coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs organization and his players, as well as his belief that the team has solid young talent on the defensive unit.

Under the stewardship of Kiffin, a 25-year NFL veteran, the Bucs' defense has ranked among the league's top 10 units statistically 10 times in his 12 seasons with the club. Twice the Bucs led the NFL in total defense and the unit was ranked among the top five in six other seasons.

Once again this season, Kiffin did an outstanding job in shepherding a revamped Tampa Bay defense, one that featured five new starters. The Bucs statistically ranked second in the NFL in total defense and surrendered the third fewest points.

It was an aging defense that in 2006 slipped to No. 17 in the league, the lowest ranking in Kiffin's 12-year tenure with the franchise. But the defense demonstrated that it could infuse fresh blood, tweak some of its trademark Cover 2 schemes and dramatically improve itself, as the Bucs rebounded to claim a second NFC South title in three years.

Losing Kiffin, who is revered by Gruden and who was termed "a fixture" by general manager Bruce Allen, would have been a huge blow to a Bucs team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs but experienced a defensive resurgence in 2007.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.