At a time when the official word regarding Bill Cowher in the Bills is that the former Steelers coach has said “thanks” and “no thanks” to the opportunity to take the reins of a team that has struggled at best for more than a decade, a report has emerged indicating that Cowher and the Bills are talking.
Per Sal Capaccio of Buffalo Sports Daily and SalSports.com (he’s the guy who broke the news of T.O. to Buffalo in March), Cowher is “impressed and interested” in the team, and he has not closed the door on becoming the team’s head coach in 2010.
It’s surprising on the surface, but on reflection it makes sense. To maximize his leverage (if, for example, he wants his $10 million or more salary to be paid in 2011 even if there’s no football that year), Cowher needs more than one suitor. For now, the Bucs are the only ones who apparently are willing to turn over the keys to Cowher, and to pay him the kind of money he’ll want.
With the Panthers not yet biting, Cowher needs to start showing some leg. The challenge in this regard is that any interested team will have to be willing to dump and/or marginalize its G.M., since Cowher widely is believed to want final say over the roster.
And given Cowher’s vow that he won’t speak to any team that has a current head coach, the Bills are a team with which he would speak, since Perry Fewell is the interim replacement to Dick Jauron.
The biggest impediment to attracting a big-name coach is, in our estimation, the fact that the owner is 91 and his family plans to sell the franchise after he passes. Though Cowher would be entitled to have his contract honored if/when new ownership assumes control of the franchise, he likely has bigger objectives for the second phase of his NFL career than finagling a large buyout.
In the end, however, Cowher’s best option could be Buffalo. Especially if only the Bills and the Bucs show up to the auction.