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January 9, 2014

Chiefs keep Chris Ballard but lose assistant special teams coach to Tampa

Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, who was courted by Tampa Bay, will remain in Kansas City, according to a team spokesman. But assistant special teams coach Kevin O’Dea will become Tampa Bay’s special teams coordinator.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came up short in their pursuit of one Chiefs staff member but lured another Thursday.

The Buccaneers, who recently hired former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, were interested in Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard for their general manager position. Ballard turned down an opportunity to interview, however, according to team sources.

But Tampa Bay did hire assistant special teams coordinator Kevin O’Dea from Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s staff. O’Dea will be Tampa Bay’s special teams coordinator.

The Buccaneers are the eighth NFL stop for O’Dea, who is entering his 20th season in the league. He helped the Chiefs’ special teams, coordinated by Dave Toub, spring a league-high four return touchdowns in 2013, in addition to a blocked kick that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Receiver Dexter McCluster, who scored two punt-return touchdowns, made the Pro Bowl as a punt returner.

O’Dea, who spent four seasons as an assistant special teams coach under Smith in Chicago, was one of 11 assistants officially added to the Buccaneers’ staff Thursday, though the Buccaneers are still searching for a general manager.

Tampa Bay was interested in Ballard for the vacancy and team sources say the Chiefs did not block him from interviewing for the position. Sources said Ballard, though fond of Smith and flattered by the interest, likes the situation in Kansas City and has a young family, so he preferred to remain with the Chiefs.

Before being hired by Chiefs general manager John Dorsey last offseason, Ballard spent 12 seasons with the Bears, including one as their director of pro scouting in 2012. He spent the previous 11 years as the Bears’ southwest area scout and helped the Bears draft Pro Bowlers Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Johnny Knox, Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher.

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