Eyebrows have been raised, in Denver and beyond, regarding the ability of the Patriots to hire former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant. The Pats, coincidentally or otherwise, announced the move within 30 minutes or so after the Broncos beat the Steelers, setting up a prime-time Saturday night game between Denver and New England.
The move obviously complies with current NFL rules; otherwise, the NFL never would have allowed it. The broader question is whether NFL rules should allow it.
McDaniels wasn’t fired by the Rams, where he served for one season as offensive coordinator. Instead, the Rams opted to release McDaniels from his contract, knowing he could — and likely would — return to the Patriots, where he worked through the 2008 season. If the Rams had decided not to release McDaniels from his contract until, say, after the postseason ended, McDaniels couldn’t have joined the Patriots.
And here’s where it gets even more interesting. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, via family members, also owns the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. Thus, if Broncos fans aren’t happy with the fact that the man who drafted Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas is running the Pats’ scout-team offense this week as Bill Belichick tries to avoid having the tables turned on that 18-point win by the Patriots less than a month ago, Broncos fans can show their displeasure via the local basketball and hockey teams.
Regardless, the Rams shouldn’t have had the option to make McDaniels available. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explains via email that rosters become frozen once a team’s season ends, and the rosters remain frozen until the day after the Super Bowl.
So why shouldn’t the same rules apply to coaches?
That’s what seems to viscerally disturb many NFL fans. McDaniels wasn’t fired during the Rams’ season — he worked with the Rams through the end of the season, and he has now landed with a team that is still playing.
The solution is simple. The NFL should prohibit the hiring by a team that is still alive in the postseason of any coach who was under contract with another team when that team’s season ended.
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