Ken Whisenhunt’s initial Cardinals coaching staff got its first member Thursday when the team hired Seattle Seahawks defensive backs coach Teryl Austin for the same job in Arizona.
A second hire should come soon in the form of special teams coach Kevin Spencer, who was on the Steelers’ staff with Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh.
Whisenhunt had asked for permission to talk to Spencer, Steelers receivers coach Bruce Arians and linebackers coach Keith Butler. The Steelers denied permission to talk to Arians and Butler, NFL sources said.
But Spencer has already talked to Whisenhunt and is expected to come to Arizona.
Austin, whose contract had run out in Seattle, spent four seasons with the Seahawks after 12 seasons as a college assistant.
“He has developed a strong reputation for his work with young players, not only in Seattle but also at the college level,” Whisenhunt said in a statement.
Austin was in charge of first-day draft picks like Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin, Michael Boulware and Kelly Jennings with the Seahawks. But Seattle’s pass defense struggled this season with injuries and other issues — Boulware was benched at one point — and Austin was unlikely to be brought back.
The Cardinals had their own problems in the defensive backfield this season, with young cornerbacks Antrel Rolle and Eric Green struggling all season.
Multiple sources inside the team pointed the finger at poor coaching from now departed defensive backs coach Richard Solomon.
There was no further word about the status of the five remaining holdover assistants from Dennis Green’s staff, although Whisenhunt has already interviewed them.
Whisenhunt and whoever is on staff will depart for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., either Sunday or Monday for a week’s worth of practices.
With the Senior Bowl also serving as an annual convention for football coaches looking for jobs, Whisenhunt may also interview potential staff there.