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Capers visits Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Dom Capers met with Patriots Owner Robert Kraft along with team vice presidents Jonathan Kraft and Andy Wasynczuk regarding the vacant head coaching position today at the team's Boston office.

Capers led the 14-2 Jaguars fourth-ranked defense in 1999 after four seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. In fact, the Jaguars defense ranked 25th in the NFL in 1998 before Capers came and helped the team reach the AFC Championship game. In four years at Panthers helm, Capers compiled a 30-34 record including a 12-4 campaign in 1996 – the franchise's second year – in which he led the team to the NFC Championship game.

Before coaching Carolina, he earned a reputation as a top defensive coach under Bill Cowher and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-1994. Over his three seasons, no team allowed fewer points than Pittsburgh.

Capers and Bill Belichick appear to be the Patriots top two options to replace Pete Carroll as head coach, although current Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett also could crop up as a candidate if the team hires former Steelers executive Tom Donahoe as its general manager. The team was apparently impressed with Donahoe after interviewing him on Tuesday. Capers also was supposed to come to Boston on Tuesday, but inclement weather delayed the trip until today. Capers and Haslett worked under Donahoe in Pittsburgh and both would be viable candidates if he were hired. Capers is the fifth candidate to interview for the job. Both Capers and Haslett have been mentioned as candidates to fill the Saints head coaching vacancy as well.

The Patriots are denying a report that the team has reached an agreement with Donahoe to be the general manager.

Through all this, Belichick remains an option, but so far, the team has refused to surrender a first-round pick to the New York Jets as compensation for Belichick's services.

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