The Arizona Cardinals officially have begun their coaching search with a formal interview of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a native of Tacoma and a former Washington Huskies standout.
The interview, conducted Tuesday by team president Michael Bidwill, was the first in the team’s search for a replacement for Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday after six seasons.
The team has reached out to Andy Reid but had not scheduled an interview despite reports that the Cardinals were close to hiring the former Philadelphia Eagles coach. Reid was fired Monday after 14 seasons in Philadelphia.
Bidwill plans to fly to Denver to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Horton, Reid and McCoy are the only candidates thus far identified by the Cardinals.
Horton, a 1978 graduate of Mount Tahoma High School, is a rising star in NFL coaching circles despite Arizona’s lack of success. The Cardinals’ defense was among the league leaders in several categories, with the team’s 5-11 overall record due mostly to the worst offense in the NFL.
Horton reportedly had other interviews scheduled. Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon said that he, general manager Buddy Nix and other front-office personnel would fly to Arizona, with Horton and Whisenhunt presumed to be among those targeted for the Bills’ coaching vacancy. Horton also is reported to be a candidate for the Cleveland Browns.
Reid is an intriguing prospect for the Cardinals. He could be reunited with quarterback Kevin Kolb, who had some big games with the Eagles before being traded to Arizona in 2011. Kolb remains under contract with Arizona, but the team is expected to want to restructure his contract. He is set to make $9 million plus a $2 million roster bonus for the coming season.
“I’m not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet,” Bidwill said Monday.
Bidwill has to interview McCoy this weekend in Denver under NFL rules that provide a narrow window for such meetings with members of coaching staffs whose teams have a bye the first round of the playoffs. McCoy also has an interview scheduled with the Browns.
Whisenhunt set the record for victories by a Cardinals coach, going 45-51 in six seasons, 4-2 in the playoffs. The team got off to a 4-0 start but lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.
Charles Woodson has been cleared to play again, and the Packers are counting on the defensive back to provide a lift in Saturday’s playoff game against the Vikings. Woodson has missed the past nine games because of a broken collarbone. … The 49ers signed kicker Billy Cundiff to compete with struggling veteran David Akers. Akers has made 29 of 42 field-goal attempts this season. Cundiff was released by the Redskins on Oct. 9 after missing 5 of his 12 field-goal attempts. The 49ers cleared a roster spot for Cundiff by waiving linebacker Eric Bakhtiari.