Sources: Broncos looking at Pats' McDaniels, others

Updated: January 2, 2009, 2:17 PM ET
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com

After severing their relationship with head coach Mike Shanahan that spanned more than two decades, the Denver Broncos are moving quickly to find his replacement.

Two league sources said the Broncos have asked for permission to speak with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Permission has not yet been granted, but Denver is expected to get the go-ahead to discuss the job with Bill Belichick's young offensive coach.

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McDaniels is a hot name partly for the success he's had turning quarterback Matt Cassel this season into a standout after Tom Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1.

An NFL source close to the situation also confirmed Denver has asked and received permission to speak to New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Tampa Bay secondary coach Raheem Morris.

The Broncos' hunt to replace Shanahan will start in New York with an interview of Spagnuolo Saturday. Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth says the team is expected to then interview Morris on Monday.

Shanahan was fired Tuesday after 14 seasons as Denver's coach. The Broncos were 24-24 since the 2006 season and this season became the first NFL team to lose a three-game division lead with three games to go.

Shanahan's firing sent shock waves through the NFL because of his close relationship with team owner Pat Bowlen. The Denver job is widely considered the most attractive job currently open because of the team's offensive talent and Bowlen's reputation as one of the league's top owners.

The Broncos are expected to conduct several interviews. Team sources have said the Broncos' brass is interested in young coaches. If a defensive-minded coach is hired, passing game coordinator Jeremy Bates, who is considered one of the bright young minds in the game and who has a good working relationship with Denver franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, could be retained.

In addition to McDaniels, Spagnuolo and Morris, other coaches whom Denver is expected to consider pursuing include Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

NFL blogger Bill Williamson covers the AFC West for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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