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Palmer in Jets' picture

by Rich Cimini
New York Daily News

One day after telling disgruntled offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger that they plan to retain him, the Jets interviewed former Texans coordinator Chris Palmer on Friday for an undisclosed position on Eric Mangini’s staff, two league sources said yesterday. Given his wealth of experience, Palmer likely interviewed for the coordinator job.

The Jets’ motive in the Heimerdinger saga has come into focus. Criticized for letting Herm Edwards out of the last two years of his contract, the Jets are taking a hard-line stance with Heimerdinger, who has his eye on the soon-to-be-vacant coordinator job in Denver.

They’re expected to release Heimerdinger from the final two years of his contract, but only if he agrees to a settlement package favorable to the club. That could mean letting the Jets off the hook for the remaining $2.2million on his contract. Heimerdinger has made it clear that he wants out. He was passed over for the head-coaching job that went to Mangini, and he believes he should be allowed to leave because he came to the Jets, in part, to work for Edwards. Two weeks ago, Edwards left to become the Chiefs’ coach.

The matter should start to resolve itself as soon as the Broncos’ season is over; they play today in the AFC Championship Game against the Steelers. Their current coordinator, Gary Kubiak, is slated to become the Texans’ head coach. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and Heimerdinger are close friends and former college roommates.

The Jets declined to comment.

The well-traveled Palmer, once regarded as a top coordinator, was fired by the Texans on Sept. 19 after a miserable start. Previously, he was the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach, the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator and the Browns’ head coach. Palmer also has been linked to the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator vacancy. He’s a protégé of Bill Parcells, so Dallas would appear to have the edge over the Jets. He worked under Parcells in 1996, when the Patriots reached the Super Bowl with Drew Bledsoe, the current Dallas starter, at quarterback.

The Jets also interviewed Texans quarterbacks coach Greg Roman. Although no official announcements were made, Mangini has hired his defensive coordinator (Bob Sutton) and special teams coordinator (Mike Westhoff), both holdovers from the Edwards regime.

Mangini’s offensive staff is in a state of flux. Because Mangini is a defensive-minded coach, his most important hire is the offensive coordinator. Assuming Heimerdinger is a goner, the Jets will have to install their third offensive system in three years.

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