When it comes to the NFL coaching carousel, timing is everything. This year, with Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden once again sitting out the spin cycle, Jeff Fisher has become the belle of the ball.
And he’s apparently going to milk it for everything it’s worth.
Fisher has interviewed with the Dolphins, and Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports writes that, according to a source familiar with Fisher’s thinking, he “left South Florida on Tuesday with stone crabs in his stomach and a very positive impression of [owner Stephen] Ross and the Dolphins’ organization.”
The headline trumpets that the Dolphins have the “upper hand in Fisher sweepstakes,” which necessarily places more pressure on the other teams that may be interested.
Peter King of SI.com and Football Night In America has suggested that Fisher wants to go to a team with a proven quarterback, making the Rams with Sam Bradford the most attractive destination — especially since the Rams also have the second overall pick in the 2012 draft and the highest projected cap room in 2013. Albert Breer of NFL.com thinks that Fisher could be eyeballing the Bears’ job, if the Bears decide that it doesn’t make sense to tie a new G.M.’s hands with a holdover coach. (And it doesn’t.) Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star said on Tuesday’s PFT Live that he believes the Colts may have already reached out to Fisher.
And so, in order to maximize his leverage, Fisher needs his other potential destinations to believe that they’re losing to Miami. If that causes the Rams or the Colts or anyone else to increase the pursuit of Fisher, that could cause Ross to step up the courtship even more.
At the end of the day, Ross may indeed emerge with Fisher as the team’s new coach. But the stamp of legitimacy that will come from successfully wooing the biggest name on the current coaching market won’t come cheaply. To help Ross clear out the stink of dysfunction in Dolphinland — and/or to properly compensate Fisher for the hazards of landing in the middle of a potentially toxic stew of personalities and agendas — Ross may have to fork over a record offer to get this specific fish into the boat.