How much do coaches make? The truth is elusive

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In response to the news that the Panthers will pay coach Matt Rhule $60 million over seven years (with incentives that can kick the total to $70 million), some have begun to rattle off the earnings of other coaches, by way of comparison. But there’s a problem with the numbers that make their way to the media. Many of them are too light.

As one source with direct knowledge of the dynamics explained it to PFT, the highest-paid coaches in the NFL currently are in the range of $15 million. The numbers that are reported to the league office are often incomplete, with other compensation coming not from the team but related entities, for general services like “advertising.”

The objective is two-fold: To avoid the perception that coaches are overpaid (they’re not, especially in comparison to players), and to keep the market from going haywire.

With Panthers owner David Tepper paying Rhule $8.5 million per year (Chris Simms has heard it’s a straight $9 million annually), the market may go haywire. Especially since the prior average for entry-level head coaches resided in the range of $5 million to $7 million.

This could drive up the price to be paid by the Browns for, say, Josh McDaniels. It also could create regret for coaches like Kyle Shanahan (who is committed for three more years to a deal negotiated three years ago) and Sean McVay (who signed a new contract several months ago, before Rhule blew the curve).

Then there’s Jon Gruden. His reported 10-year, $100 million deal is believed to contain plenty of fluff, perhaps not a full guarantee, and perhaps a significant amount of non-guaranteed money in later years. But if/when the Raiders coach has success, he’ll also have significant remorse over a deal that, if Rhule’s deal sparks a spike in the coaching market, could quickly look subpar in comparison.

Gruden won’t be alone. Plenty of coaches will re-examine their own contracts in the aftermath of Rhule’s deal, and plenty will be watching future developments in order to determine whether they should try to finagle a raise. Although the NFL has no salary cap for coaches, the NFL has done a very good job of keeping coaching pay under control.

As noted earlier today, that could result in a frosty reception for Tepper at the next league meeting. As one source explained it to PFT, it could be similar to the reaction by some owners to the late Paul Allen when he spiked the market more than a decade ago by paying $8.5 million per year to Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.

24 responses to “How much do coaches make? The truth is elusive

  1. The owners simply need to install a non disclosure policy that all coaches & GMs sign. Rumors don’t cause spikes in the market.

    The coaching staffs and responsibilities are so different in range between coaches that to try to value them in any commonality is impossible. I hope no attempt to do that occurs. Pay those what you want. What do we care?

  2. I’ve said for years that Belichick is closer to $15 Million a year than he is to 10 mil a year, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if guys like Sean Payton and Andy Reid are making 10 Mil a year or more either. The top coaches should get the top money, but paying a guy who’s never coached in this league close to top tier money is just crazy. He could end up being overwhelmed and closer to Freddie Kitchens then Sean McVay

  3. I’ve never read someone so unhappy on the behalf of others for making millions. Life doesn’t have to be a scorecard of dollar signs.

  4. Oh, the troubles… While it’s a point to make, how bad has any multi-millionaire coach got it. If it gets to be a real concern I’m sure they will hold out. It will just be a new ring added to the circus that most of us can’t comprehend.

  5. “As noted earlier today, that could result in a frosty reception for Tepper at the next league meeting”….
    Poor 1%’ers fighting to keep more money in their pockets…

  6. Someone used to say that you’re not paid what you’re worth, you’re paid what you negotiate. That is so true whether you work in an office or whether you are a CEO.

  7. In the end it’s a business, so if Belichick helped increase the Patriots value from about $500 million when he joined to almost 3 billion, how much is that worth a year? $50 million? There is an argument for both sides. Yes, all franchises go up, but ones that win for years upon years are worth much more than others.

  8. There are 2 things that impact prices:

    1 – supply and demand

    2 – negotiations

    Maybe “hot” (in demand ) HC candidates will be able to demand more money. Maybe
    And someone may pay them, maybe.

    But for most HC candidates, getting your foot in the door (i.e. getting your first HC position) is already a HUGE step up over being a coordinator. I don’t see most HC candidates turning down a position because it doesn’t pay X. Whats more important is how goo dis the situation. I’d want more money to be HC in Cleveland than elsewhere.

    The other thing is how do you evaluate a HC?
    If the GM drafts poorly, and your team has a poor record, the HC gets blamed, when it should be the GM. If the GM drafts well, and your team has a good record, the HC gets the credit, when it should be the GM.

    It sounds like agents will press for more money, like always. Some of the owners will say yes, some will say no.

  9. I heard this discussion on sports radio yesterday and one of the talking heads said that Belichick has it in his contract that he gets a bump to no less than 2nd highest when a coach gets a new contract.

  10. what do you prefer, that the nfl lose coaches to college teams…guys there are getting paid, why not the nfl.

  11. There are only 32 of those jobs in the entire world, reaching that level should be compensated. At the same time, every coach has different levels of responsibilities, so comparing salries without that metric included is pointless.

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