by Rich Cimini
New York Daily News
After six days of being employed against his will, Mike Heimerdinger’s one-year run as the Jets’ offensive coordinator came to an official and predictable end yesterday.
Heimerdinger and the Jets “mutually agreed to part ways,” the team said in a statement. Neither side divulged details of the settlement package, but it’s believed that he waived most or all of the $2.2 million he was owed for the final two years of his contract.
In exchange for the money, Heimerdinger received his freedom. Look for him to surface in the coming days as the Broncos’ coordinator, working for close friend Mike Shanahan. Heimerdinger, citing a confidentiality agreement, declined to comment on what many people close to the situation described as a messy divorce.
This could’ve been resolved last week, when Heimerdinger told new coach Eric Mangini he didn’t want to work for him. But the Jets, criticized for releasing Herm Edwards from his contract to pursue the Chiefs’ head-coaching vacancy, decided to take a hard-line stance with Heimerdinger, whom they suspected was eyeing the Broncos’ job.
Mangini, who had no intention of retaining Heimerdinger, said he has “great respect” for him as a coach. But he added, “Ultimately, we agreed that the best course of action would be for the Jets to go in a different direction.”
Thing is, the Jets are running out of potential replacements. Mangini made an unsuccessful run at Browns offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, and he brought in Chris Palmer and Steve Fairchild for interviews. Fairchild, formerly the Rams’ coordinator, was hired yesterday by the Bills in the same capacity.
Palmer, the former Texans coordinator, interviewed yesterday with the Cowboys. Dallas is thought to have the inside track because of Palmer’s relationship with Bill Parcells; they worked together in New England from 1993 to 1996.
Another name in the rumor mill is former Saints coordinator Mike Sheppard, who worked with Mangini in Cleveland, but he said last night that he hasn’t heard from the Jets.
The best man for the job may have been Heimerdinger, but he was passed over for the head-coaching job and didn’t want to remain under a coach who didn’t hire him. Sources said Mangini didn’t want him, either, but the club wanted to make him sweat for a few days. In the end, they saved some money for owner Woody Johnson.
VILMA TABBED: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was named to his first Pro Bowl, replacing the injured Zach Thomas of the Dolphins. … Former Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson is expected to be named the Lions’ coordinator.