Chiefs cleared to talk with Edwards for fourth-round pick

— -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs cleared the way for Herman Edwards to become their new coach, agreeing Friday to a compensation deal with the New York Jets. The Chiefs would give the Jets a surprisingly low fourth-round pick if they hire Edwards, who has ties to the team and general manager Carl Peterson. Because Edwards was still under contract with the Jets, the Chiefs needed to give up something to get him. Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said that Peterson was headed to New York to begin negotiations. The commissioner's office approved the fourth-round pick as compensation earlier Friday morning and granted Kansas City permission to speak with Edwards, who technically remains the head coach of the Jets. The breakthrough ended several days of speculation and behind-the-scenes maneuvering among Edwards, the Jets and the Chiefs, who are looking to replace the retired Dick Vermeil. Moore said he did not think a deal would be wrapped up right away, but added "that could change." Negotiations are not expected to be lengthy between Peterson and Edwards, who was clearly the Chiefs' first choice all along. Peterson, perhaps only to add to his bargaining leverage with New York, had also talked with Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders and others. The Jets and general manager Terry Bradway are certain to be criticized for getting only a midlevel pick for giving up their coach. When the Chiefs hired Vermeil in 2000 they were forced to give St. Louis a second- and third-round pick even though he had retired after leaving the Rams. The Raiders received two No. 1s, two No. 2s and $8 million from the Tampa Bay for Jon Gruden and New England got picks in the first four rounds from the Jets for Bill Parcells. In five years in New York, Edwards was 39-41, coming just one win short of making the AFC championship game. The Jets this year, wracked by injury, slipped to 4-12, including a 27-7 opening day loss to the Chiefs. Edwards reiterated once again earlier this week he planned to be Jets coach. "I'm happy to be the coach here and I'm going to be the coach here, like I said before, and that's as far as I want to comment on it," Edwards said Monday. Edwards seemed to be caught in a no-win situation. Though team owner Woody Johnson said in November he wanted Edwards to return, he hasn't spoken publicly since, allowing the speculation to fester. Edwards wanted a contract extension to remain with a team expected to go through a rebuilding process and a raise after making $2 million a year, among the bottom third of NFL coaches. The idea that Edwards would ask for an extension after going 4-12 may have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way, leaving them no choice but to let Edwards go. He takes over a Kansas City team that was 10-6 this past season and clearly has the potential to be a playoff team next season. The only 10-win team not in the postseason, the Chiefs have been characterized under Vermeil for their league-leading offense and a persistently bad defense. Edwards' background as a defensive player and coach was another factor in his favor. Peterson could have hired Saunders, the main architect of an offense which has pumped starters into the Pro Bowl the past four years and this season saw the emergence of running back Larry Johnson. Peterson and Edwards have been close friends for more than 30 years, since Peterson tried to recruit him to UCLA. Edwards wound up at San Jose State. By the time he graduated four years later and was ignored in the NFL draft, Peterson had become a front office executive with the Philadelphia Eagles. He had closely followed his career and immediately brought Edwards to the Eagles, where he became one of the NFL's top defensive backs, helping Vermeil's team reach the Super Bowl. Peterson later gave Edwards his first NFL job, as a personnel executive with the Chiefs. Not long afterward, he went on Marty Schottenheimer's staff as a Kansas City assistant coach. It was Peterson who recommended to Bradway that he interview Edwards for the Jets' head coach. "There are special people in your life that you meet along the way. You can see they're going places," Peterson said several months ago while discussing Edwards. Peterson later recommended that Bradway interview Edwards for the Jets head coaching job.