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Assistants' Picture Still Blurry

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The status of Dallas assistants Mike Zimmer and Sean Payton remains unclear just four days after season's end. However, Minnesota's hiring of Eagles' OC Brad Childress late Thursday may have improved Payton's chances of landing the Packers' job.

Childress has not been formally announced as the Vikings' new coach but he may soon raid the Eagles' staff for assistants. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports that Childress is considering Eagles' QB coach Pat Shurmur to be his OC and LB coach Steve Spagnuolo to coordinate Minnesota's defense.

The Eagles will interview Chiefs' OC Al Saunders for Childress' old job since Herman Edwards will likely clean house once he takes over in Kansas City.

Childress, a former University of Wisconsin coordinator, apparently considered Green Bay his top option before the Vikings put on the hard sell. Payton was next on the Packers' list and impressed GM Ted Thompson during his interview Thursday. Thompson is looking for a younger, more energetic coach to contrast the fired Mike Sherman and inspire QB Brett Favre to return. Payton fits that description.

Should Payton take a head coaching job, you can cross Sherman off the list of his potential replacements. Sherman has said he will only consider another head coaching position.

Free Agent Decisions Loom
The Cowboys are already weighing which of their nine unrestricted free agents to re-sign. The team's website reports that TE Dan Campbell and OLB Scott Fujita are the UFAs most likely to return. C/G Andre Gurode will also receive strong consideration.

New Assistant to Consider?
Longtime poster Chandus mentioned Chiefs' o-line coach Mike Solari as somebody the Cowboys might consider adding, if he leaves in the Herman Edwards shakeup there.

Solari would be an excellent candidate -- if he hits the market. According to K.C. GM Carl Peterson all contracts for Dick Vermeil's assistants run out at the end of the month. That should give Edwards enough time to decide which he wants to keep.

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