David Tepper blows up the coaching salary curve

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Panthers owner David Tepper apparently didn’t get the memo that, despite the absence of a salary cap for coaches, NFL teams don’t spend as freely as they could on the men who run their teams.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the seven-year deal given to new Panthers coach Matt Rhule has a base value of $60 million, and that it can be worth up to $70 million with incentives.

That’s a whopping $8.5 million per year for an entry-level coach, and another $1.5 million per year (on average) in incentives — a device not commonly used at the NFL level.

It’s about time, frankly, that someone disrupts what arguably has been collusive activity for decades. Coaches are worth far more than they are paid. If Nick Foles, for example, has a value of $22 million per year, Bill Belichick is worth twice that amount.

But teams have managed to resist an explosion of the market, due in part to the fact that the most valuable coaches don’t want to risk losing a game of musical chairs by calling an owner’s bluff and becoming a free agent. The money is more than good enough, but it could be better. It now may start getting a lot better. Rhule, thanks to Tepper, could re-set the market.

And that could earn a frosty reception for Tepper when the owners gather for the annual meetings in March.

103 responses to “David Tepper blows up the coaching salary curve

  1. …If Nick Foles, for example, has a value of $22 million per year, Bill Belichick is worth twice that amount….

    Maybe BB make $40 million+ per year? I am pretty sure the only people who know what BB makes are the Krafts, BB, BB’s accountant, the IRS, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and maybe Linda Holliday.

  2. Until/unless this guy fails. Then all the other owners can point to him as a reason not to overspend.

  3. Florio’s 100% right. The teams are worth billions, revenues are in the hundreds of millions, and the coach is getting paid like the 20th highest paid player on the team. Makes no sense and the players all know it. It’s not the NBA, where the coach barely matters, other than the QB, the coach is the most important person in the franchise. People were shocked by Gruden’s salary, but paying a guy to turn around the Raiders he was underpaid if anything. He was making half of what Derek Carr was making.

  4. Mike Florio –

    What do you think about adding the head coach’s salary to each teams’ salary cap (while simultaneously raising the overall cap by whatever the NFL average coach’s salary is today, e.g., +$4M)?

    I would think this would raise a very interesting dynamic into team building – but also creates a blurry line between the front office and field… e.g., Where would it end? Why not include the GM? Then others? Maybe I’m answering my own question with these thoughts. Would love to hear yours on the matter.

    Thanks,
    Tom O. of Buffalo

  5. Tepper does not GAF what Jerrah Jones, Woody Johnson, or any other owner thinks. The coach is arguably the most important person on the team and doesn’t count against the cap. If Cam Newton is making $20 million this year and Joe Flacco is worth $25 million a year, its seems competent coaches a deserve a raise.

  6. Davis Jr did this already handing Gruden a 100 million contract at 10/year.

    Another question about the contract for Rhule is if it is fully guaranteed like most HC contracts are.

  7. He’s getting the big bucks to show Cam and other overpaid/injured players the way out of town. It’s not as if he’s proven himself or has developed great talent in college.

    This is a comical hire.

  8. I would be happy with the dollars the lowest paid coach gets. I’m not that stupid when it comes to handling money and creating a safety net for a long relaxing retirement..

  9. Belichick is supposedly paid 12 mil per year. Yeah, he’s way underpaid by comparison. With the crap NFL coaches have to endure, they are all underpaid.

  10. Isn’t taking more money going to shoot yourself in the foot? You are graded and retain your position based upon your team’s performance…If you are taking resources from your team it will probably not perform as well as it could with an extra 10-20 mil

  11. are nfl coaches part of the salary cap in the nfl.if so the escalation in salary will mean some good player wont get paid if the team cant afford him now as there is only so much money to go around so who gets paid,the players or the coaches if it comes down to it.

  12. Bellichick worth more than Foles??? Ok but Nick Foles literally beat bellichick in the superbowl. Great logic there buddy. smh – the power of our thoughts, minds, and hearts is what makes us men, use them my people.

  13. That’s a lot of money to pay out after he is fired in 3 years.

    But seriously, good for him for getting what he can but could you imagine giving kitchens that amount of cash

  14. Tepper makes a fool of himself by over paying a losing college coach who basically had no where to go but Carolina as far as NFL destinations.

  15. Nah, I disagree. I think coaches should be paid more, but the players are the ones who put their bodies on the line. As Belichick says, it’s a player’s game and they win them and the coaches lose them.

  16. The argument is flawed. I get it but it is flawed. It works in the case of BB, but what about Freddie Kitchens? You just don’t know what you are getting any more than you know what you are getting from the draft. Value is simply what someone is willing to pay. It is independent of any other factor except for whether the person writing the checks considers it a value. He apparently did. So no, this isn’t a new argument for labor over management. It just is.

  17. This guy’s agent deserves all the credit. He has gotten the media to talk about his client non-stop. I don’t get the hype about Rhule. He has not won anything at the college level. Baylor is a mediocre program at best. Although it has improved in the last couple of years, I don’t see why Matt Rhule has been credited with turning the program around. They are not competing for anything. Great job by the agent!

  18. Mark Davis says welcome to the crazy owner club. Jerry and Dan Snyder are like at least we’re cheap.

    And what did we learn today kids? If a Pittsburgh minority owner wants to buy your team, riot in the streets or whatever you need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen. See Caroline and Cleveland.

  19. It’s so easy to spend somebody else’s money. Let’s see how this contract is looked at when they don’t crack 8-8 do three years straight.

  20. Unless this contract is protected on performance of the team, Tepper is now the new “Village Idiot”. Overpaying for a guy that may not even be in the NFL in 3 years. I’m sure all the other owners are saying a lot worse about him because now they will have to over pay for the coaches that they have.

  21. Now running backs are next. It’s crazy that someone like Austin Ekeler, who is 3 years in already and at times this year was the key cog in the Chargers offense, is making like $650K pre-taxes, IN CALIFORNIA lol. Dude is taking home like $350k a year for being a key part of a billion dollar franchise’s offense.

  22. Nick Foles was thought to be a QB you could plug in and win a super bowl. So a QB who can get you super bowl wins is very valuable. How many super bowls has Belichick won without Brady? Belichick got fired in Cleveland. No QB, no super bowl. Do you think Bill was being out-coached when he was in Cleveland? Was Barry Switzer worth more than any other coach when he won the super bowl in Dallas? Or was it the players? You could study NFL history and make a pretty good case that a good GM is worth more than a good coach. You don’t need a highly sophisticated study to see how hard it is for a coach to win without a great QB. How many playoff wins did the Patriots and Belichick win the year Brady got hurt?

  23. A good coach adds wins, a bad coach costs wins.
    Belichick is one of the few guys I’d break the bank for.

    But how much should bad HCs get paid?
    How do you even evaluate how well an HC performed?
    What if the GM drafts busts and you are stuck with Mark Sanchez as your starting QB for 4 years. Lets say the GM drafts a few studs, including a very good QB outside of the top 5.

    Should the coaches pay go into an escrow account and if the team performs poorly some of it is clawed back?

    The other thing is HCs already make a lot of money and have a plum position that many covet.
    If a first time HC like Rhule asked for more I’d say no.
    There are plenty of other HC candidates, outside of the retreads.

  24. Get ready for NFL to become like MLB and have no more games on free TV so consumers can help pay these ridiculous salaries.

  25. rickfol says:
    January 7, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Unless this contract is protected on performance of the team, Tepper is now the new “Village Idiot”. Overpaying for a guy that may not even be in the NFL in 3 years. I’m sure all the other owners are saying a lot worse about him because now they will have to over pay for the coaches that they have.
    ___________
    As Coaches pay is NOT part of the Salary Cap, why do you Bernie Bro-types care what he pays one of his employees with his own money?

  26. charliecharger says:
    January 7, 2020 at 12:22 pm
    Nick Foles was thought to be a QB you could plug in and win a super bowl. So a QB who can get you super bowl wins is very valuable. How many super bowls has Belichick won without Brady? Belichick got fired in Cleveland. No QB, no super bowl. Do you think Bill was being out-coached when he was in Cleveland? Was Barry Switzer worth more than any other coach when he won the super bowl in Dallas? Or was it the players? You could study NFL history and make a pretty good case that a good GM is worth more than a good coach. You don’t need a highly sophisticated study to see how hard it is for a coach to win without a great QB. How many playoff wins did the Patriots and Belichick win the year Brady got hurt?
    ________________
    They went 11-5 that year. Most years that’s a ticket to the playoffs. It’s not like they ended up with the number one draft pick like the colts did when they lost Manning. I’m sure Bill learned alot from his time with the Browns. Just like he’s learned alot each and every year since. In this case Bill is the mastermind behind the Patriots and probably does deserve the big bucks. A first year coach like the Panthers guy? Not so much.

  27. Mr Florio. Why reference Mick Foles? Seems like a strange reference. Why not reference Goff or Cousins. But I agree. Why pay the captain of a ship less then the sailors?

  28. There are a couple of more things to consider with this apples & oranges comparison. Coaches salaries are guaranteed. You get fired after 2 years, you still get paid for the other 3 of a 5 year contract. Players get nothing.The other difference is the length of your career. A successful coach could work for 40+ years, a players career typically lasts 3 years, a star 10 years.
    Tepper is assuming Rhule is going to be successful. Rhule could be the next Pete Carroll, could also be the next Chip Kelly.

  29. a career in coaching, while stressful on many levels, doesn’t have the brevity or quality-of-life-wrecking permanent physical consequences of a player’s career. more importantly, although there are a handful of hotly pursued coaches in a given year, the overwhelming majority of the time there are more coaches wanting opportunities than there are jobs available. if you’re not a Belichick or a Harbaugh, your stand for more money has more downside than upside.

  30. No salary cap, not my money, who cares. If an owner thinks the guy is worth it. Only thing that could go against fans is, if the guy sucks and the owner doesn’t want to eat the money, as in Detroit.

  31. The Belichick arguments are stupid and moronic. Every great coach in history hds a good QB and every great QB had a good coach. Walsh/Montana Bradshaw/Knoll
    Starr/Lombardi Marino/Shula Staubach/Landry Aikman/Johnson etc etc etc. They are not exclusive idiots. It takes a great coach AND great QB to win multiple SB Also GM vs HC argument is idiotic as well. Belichick is coach AND GM in New England. Also Belichick drafted Brady in 6th round and kept 4 QB on roster instead of releasing Brady. And Belichick was rewarded for his insight when all other coaches thought Brady was not an NFL QB.

    The argument as to who is responsible for success of New England is also stupid. Brady and Belichick are both responsible and 50-50 partners in a dynasty. Idiots envious of their success always need to find excuses or diminish either Belichick’s or Brady’s contributions. Stupid and moronic. Been a Patriot fan since 1974 and I know after watching jsut baout every game how important BOTH are.

    But morons are morons so what you gonna do.

  32. The only question Average Joe should ask is why are we buying billionaire NFL owners stadiums? They can buy their own stadiums.

  33. You can coach for 40 years and you’re not risking a life-altering injury standing on the sidelines. There’s no way a coach deserves to get paid $40 million annually. We don’t even know how much success even the best coach (Belichick) would have without a great QB. His record in seven+ full seasons without Brady is 51-61. Would you pay $40 mm for that?

    For as replaceable as some think NFL players are, ultimately its players on the field they determine the outcome of games. There are fewer people capable of doing what players do well than there are people able to call plays, run practices, game plan and make decisions about calling timeouts and going for it on 4th. The economics makes sense to me.

  34. Rhule was probably going to the Giants and Tepper made sure that didn’t happen. Harbaugh, Tomlin, Carroll and most significantly, Belicheck are all worth way more than they are getting paid.

  35. First-time pro coach gets paid that much? I would compare this to the absurd Todd Gurley contract, except that Gurley had already proven himself as a pro player by then. And it was still ridiculous.

  36. Rhule was happy at Baylor and was making a lot of money. People need to understand that Tepper HAD to offer Rhule a huge contract in order to pull him away from Baylor. It’s the only way they could get him. What Rhule managed to accomplish at Temple and Baylor is remarkable. In my opinion, he’ll be a much better NFL head coach than someone like Kliff Kingsbury or Lincoln Riley.

  37. Pro sports are the only organizations I know of where the middle management (managers/coaches) get paid less than the workers (players). This isn’t about telling an owner how to spend their money, but an interesting observation.

    If I were an NFL coach that had the seniority of someone like Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, and others, then I would want my salary tied to the team’s valuation. If it grows 3%, then I should be paid 3% more or maybe I get a certain percentage of the growth. I understand why a new coach wouldn’t get this, but I would want what amounts to ‘stock options’ in the company (team).

  38. 70 million for a guy with experience as a ASSISTANT OL coach in the NFL and a 47-42 record as head coach in college…..What would he give Dabo Swinney? 7 years, 150 million?

  39. Does the salary exclude the buyout Rhule have to pay Baylor (reportedly $15M), or is Rhule paying that? If so his net is more like $45M.

    Rhule also had 6 or 7 years left on his Baylor deal making at least $4.2M/year (bonuses are unknown), so why would he walk away for anything less if he was happy where he was? He had all the leverage here.

  40. When Belichick or any coach) risks blowing out a knee, or getting his 5th concussion, or maybe gets partially paralyzed, (or insert injury here) after calling a jet sweep and watching it go, the comparison to a player on the field that you made will stand.

    Until then, it does not.

  41. cjmcfootball says:
    January 7, 2020 at 11:58 am
    Until/unless this guy fails. Then all the other owners can point to him as a reason not to overspend.
    ===============

    Right. Just like they did when someone overpaid a player so many years ago I can’t even remember who it was.

  42. Tomlin lol
    That guy hit the lottery when he was hired as the Steelers coach.
    ==========================

    Big time. Been living on the afterglow of a SB he won with Cohwer’s team.
    Absolutley no shame, not that I’d expect any from him.

  43. Something (or someone) is only as valuable as what the next person is willing to pay. I’m sure Tepper knew who he wanted and expected an answer ASAP. The only way was to throw some money at Rhule.

  44. Daneils doesnt seem to hot a property considering the Giants, Skins, Dallas and Carolina now have their coaches and did he even get an interview invite?

  45. Left Wing, Right Wing, Chicken Wing – billionaires are disgusting. Know what would be cooler, cheaper tickets and paying your non players/coaches better.

  46. elvoid says:

    January 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    When Belichick or any coach) risks blowing out a knee, or getting his 5th concussion, or maybe gets partially paralyzed, (or insert injury here) after calling a jet sweep and watching it go, the comparison to a player on the field that you made will stand.

    Until then, it does not.
    ——————————————————————–

    From each according to their ability, right comrade? But seriously, the HC is a way more important factor in a team’s success than a center or strong safety , both of which are making about $9 million in Carolina. A good NFL coach is worth significantly more than $10 million. Belicheck is worth $30 million, easy.

  47. Thanks to these rich owners the fans will pay the price tag higher ticket prices higher concession prices etc.

    Yeah, it would be a shame if you’d have to pay a few more bucks for popcorn to get a better product on the field

  48. jibberator says:
    January 7, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Isn’t taking more money going to shoot yourself in the foot? You are graded and retain your position based upon your team’s performance…If you are taking resources from your team it will probably not perform as well as it could with an extra 10-20 mil

    —Are you under the impression that coaching salaries count against the cap? Because they don’t.

  49. elvoid says:
    January 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm
    When Belichick or any coach) risks blowing out a knee, or getting his 5th concussion, or maybe gets partially paralyzed, (or insert injury here) after calling a jet sweep and watching it go, the comparison to a player on the field that you made will stand.

    Until then, it does not.

    ***********************

    Players and coaches get paid on value (wins) they bring to the table based on their unique skill set, not the injury risk of their job. There is a reason why CEOs make way more than Police/Firefighters

  50. Glad the Ravens gave John Harbaugh an extension last year. When he wins his second Super Bowl, his salary will skyrocket as well.

  51. descendency says:
    January 7, 2020 at 1:12 pm
    Pro sports are the only organizations I know of where the middle management (managers/coaches) get paid less than the workers (players). This isn’t about telling an owner how to spend their money, but an interesting observation.

    If I were an NFL coach that had the seniority of someone like Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, and others, then I would want my salary tied to the team’s valuation. If it grows 3%, then I should be paid 3% more or maybe I get a certain percentage of the growth. I understand why a new coach wouldn’t get this, but I would want what amounts to ‘stock options’ in the company (team).
    ****************************************

    Salary is determined by several things, including uniqueness of skill set and value they bring to the organization. There are maybe 10 franchise QBs on this planet, but several hundred QB coaches. Fans do not pay to see the HC, QB Coach or offensive coordinator.

    I have coach two of my kids’ teams in multiple sports (they are 6 years apart). My oldest’s teams won a lot of games right from the beginning as well as several championships. We always had better athletes than the other team. Always. My other daughter’s teams lose and lose badly at times. Most of the kids on these teams aren’t athletic. I don’t teach anything different from before (I do spend more time on fundamentals now out of necessity).

    Nick Saban may be a great coach, but he is great at his job because he is the best at identifying and collecting the best talent available, and at building a culture around commitment and accountability. Coaches say this all the time – the team with the best talent usually wins the game. X’s and O’s impact the game very little unless you don’t hold your players accountable for their mistakes.

  52. Bill Belichick just JUMPED OFF OF HIS BOAT and swam to shore so that he could get to Bob Krafts house before sundown…CHA CHING

  53. “If Nick Foles, for example, has a value of $22 million per year, Bill Belichick is worth twice that amount.”

    Nick Foles is a horrible “example”.

  54. Some head coaches are vastly underpaid, most are vastly overpaid, so it evens out pretty well on the average for these guys. Many assistant coaches are hugely underpaid, and the many of the most successful head coaches are successful as they would not succeed without having left $$ for the staff to recruit the best of the best. So how successful was Jon Gruden after he sucked up the entire Tampa Bay coaching budget, years back, before hiring a staff of minimum wage youngens.

  55. No, Belichick is not worth double Nick Foles — because Bill’s life, body and wellness is not in immediate and consistent danger every time he steps on a football field!

  56. …and this is why I hate most pro sports. Soon their will be a billion dollar player! Can most people relate to this? Here I work at a dangerous job, my CEO sits behind a desk, hob-nobs on a golf course, even if the CEO is fired, will make millions in severance pay. I make less than 1 percent of what he makes, and I know I work harder. Wake up people, time to turn this ship around!

  57. Nobody turns on the TV to watch Belichick coach. And fans will still watch their team if they’re 3-13. So where’s the value, economically, for paying a coach like a QB?

  58. So if coaches are going to get paid closer to their worth, and/or count against the team’s salary cap – does that mean that Mike McCarthy is in line for a bonus for having to deal with an over-involved owner who also plays GM?

  59. So I don’t see the name Mark Davis anywhere in this story. He paying Gruden TEN million dollars a year. The market was already reset before Tepper did his deal.

  60. When people start buying coach’s merch, pretending to be coaches, coming to games to see coaches, etc., etc. maybe I’ll take your silly claims seriously. The players get paid because they bring in the money. End of story. In a free market system, you can whine and cry about fairness all you want but the market is the market. If coaches were really vastly “underpaid” they’d find work elsewhere.

  61. maximusintoxicus says:
    January 7, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    So I don’t see the name Mark Davis anywhere in this story. He paying Gruden TEN million dollars a year. The market was already reset before Tepper did his deal.

    ===================

    Gruden’s more of an exception, though, the shiny celebrity toy signed to help dazzle as the team changes cities. No one saw a 10-year/$100 mil contract as the new normal.

    That a first-time coach with no NFL accomplishments gets the ability to make the same as a SB-winning coach who’s already had success with multiple franchises is the story here.

  62. whodatalien says:
    January 7, 2020 at 12:10 pm
    Bellichick worth more than Foles??? Ok but Nick Foles literally beat bellichick in the superbowl. Great logic there buddy. smh – the power of our thoughts, minds, and hearts is what makes us men, use them my people………………………………..One game win, (Foles) versus a 6 SB win dynasty (Belichick) is NOT quite the comparison you want to be using !

  63. 1westcoastfootballfan says:
    January 7, 2020 at 12:00 pm
    Florio’s 100% right. The teams are worth billions, revenues are in the hundreds of millions, and the coach is getting paid like the 20th highest paid player on the team. Makes no sense and the players all know it. It’s not the NBA, where the coach barely matters, other than the QB, the coach is the most important person in the franchise. People were shocked by Gruden’s salary, but paying a guy to turn around the Raiders he was underpaid if anything. He was making half of what Derek Carr was making.
    ——————————-
    I’m not a troll but have you seen the Raiders record since 2003? Seven wins isn’t a turnaround.

  64. Supply and demand…if there was nobody to choose from for head coach then they would be paid better. As it is many people consider it their dream job so why overpay?

  65. Paying coaches more than players changes the power dynamic pretty drastically, esp if player salaries keep moving towards more and more guaranteed money (hello Cousins!). If a coach is making more than the highest paid player on the team, the owner is probably going to have more patience with the coach. QB playing like crap, we’ll sign/draft a new one and give him someone else to execute his system. If the QB is making more, they’ll bring in a new coach to ‘fix’ him. Team power dynamics change when money is involved.

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