When ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Saturday morning that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan could land in Dallas, Mort cautioned that 2010, not 2009, could create better timing for all concerned.
Since then, Adam Schefter of NFL Network has reported that the Cowboys are unlikely to make a move for Shanahan this year. 
And Peter King of NBC, who by all appearances is the first person to get in touch with Shanahan since he was fired on Tuesday, reports that Shanahan says he won’t coach at all in 2009 unless he finds the “perfect situation.”
“What I’m going to do is take a couple of weeks to sit back and relax a little, then consider what it is I’m going to do,” Shanahan told King.  “Unless there’s a perfect situation out there, I’d rather sit out the year and return next year.”
Hey, at $7 million for doing nothing, we’d all prefer to sit out the year.
Unfortunately, however, Shanahan could be jeopardizing that $7 million if he chooses not to coach.
As a league source has pointed out to us, NFL coaching contracts typically contain a provision that, as to a coach who has been fired before the deal expires, not only gives the team an offset for any money made coaching with a new franchise, but also requires the fired coach to try to find a new job.
Though we haven’t seen Shanahan’s contract, here’s an excerpt from another NFL head coach’s deal:  “If Head Coach’s employment is terminated under this paragraph, he will use his very best effort to seek other employment and any income will be offset against what the Club might otherwise owe to Head Coach.”  (Emphasis added.)
In other words, if Shanahan doesn’t jump immediately into the pool of available jobs and search for other employment, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen could refuse to pay him.
And Shanahan’s ultimate grievance would be decided not by a court of law, but by the league office.
We know, we know.  Bowlen isn’t Al Davis, who famously stiffed Shanahan nearly 20 years ago.  (We actually expect to have some new info on that very old story this week.)  Bowlen and Shanahan are good friends.  Surely, Bowlen wouldn’t stiff Shanahan.
It might not be that simple.  At a time when Bowlen is one of the owners leading the charge against the current economic arrangement between the NFL and the players union, how can the owners have any credibility about their financial predicament if Bowlen is willing to give away $7 million in free money to a guy who very well might be breaching his contractual duty to mitigate his damages?
So, in other words, if Bowlen gives Shanahan a pass on this one, don’t expect the union to give Bowlen one.


  1. “Hey, at $7 million for doing nothing, we’d all prefer to sit out the year.”
    Speak for your lazy self. I’d rather coach in the NFL for something less than $7 million.

  2. Local reports indicate (and I believe Mike has talked about this in radio interviews) this decision was, on some level, made both by Bowlen and Shanny. If that’s the case, can we speculate on the possible handshake made on that day that would allow Shanny to sit and relax if that was his choice without fear of financial consequence? Very interesting how Shanahan keeps finding himself in the midst of these contractual puzzles…

  3. Florio – it says absolutely nothing about seeking employment as an NFL coach, it just says ’employment’. You really think he won’t end up on ESPN, CBS, Fox or NBC in some capacity if he sits out the season as a coach?
    A good lawyer would have caught that one! (unless you just decided not to include the language specific to getting an NFL coaching job)

  4. So Shanahan gets fired and then isn’t allowed to take a couple of weeks off to rest? That sounds pretty hardcore, to me. Dude’s been a head coach for 14 straight years and if he hadn’t been fired, he would be entering a slight down time period, I don’t know how they could deny him that after being fired.

  5. So theoretically, a coach could be FORCED to accept a crappy job offered to him in order to reap money owed from a contract after he was (presumably) involuntarily FORCED to leave his job? E.g., if he were only offered the Lions gig, Shanahan would have to take it?

  6. Does he have to attempt to coach an NFL football team?
    Can he coach some friends High School team or be self employed and do consulting of any type from his couch?

  7. Did anyone actually watch the press conference? Shanahan said he was no longer getting a paycheck. Not sure if he was joking or what.

  8. Wasn’t “Tan”ahan fired only after he refused to fire the DC? And if so, does this jeopardize his buyout?

  9. Working for the browns, jets, or lions especially does NOT count as productive and gainful employment.
    A decent person like bowlen would allow a long time former employee to avoid such dehumanizing conditions…

  10. They certainly could use the help… I mean the Arizona Cardinals have more playoff wins in the last 10 years and they are tied with the Lions in that period. Hi Vox!

  11. i expect shanahan to replace his old buddy coach cupacke (wade phillips), in big d next season, if the new and improve version of “get touch” cupcake does not go over well with the current cowboys team (the players are laughing it up). if funny but coach cupake did not meet with the team or the team captains, regarding this new and improved version, but decided to go to the media instead, therefore leaving the team in the dark, receipe for disaster.

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