Top NFL coaches are moving toward $25 million

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Would you rather pay Jared Goff $33.5 million per year, or would you rather pay the best coach in the NFL $25 million per year?

Even though it’s believed no coach currently makes $25 million annually in the NFL, the market is expected to arrive at that threshold soon.

Per a source with direct knowledge of the dynamics of the compensation paid to NFL coaches, within the next two years the top NFL coaches will indeed be making $25 million per year.

Currently, at least three coaches are making more than $15 million per year, with Patriots coach Bill Belichick believed to be leading the way. He’s already believed to be north of $20 million.

The full extent of coaching pay isn’t widely known, because plenty of teams used related businesses to funnel extra cash to top coaches. Since there’s no salary cap, no internal rules are being broken. The practice would become relevant only if, for example, entry-level coaches ever tried to claim in court that the 32 separate businesses that make up the NFL are colluding to hold down the wages paid to head coaches.

Which they quite possibly have been doing. Although it would be virtually impossible to create an accurate assessment of the growth in coaching pay over the last 50 years and the increases in player salary, it’s entirely possible if not highly likely that player pay has mushroomed at a much higher rate, even with a salary cap. For players, the salary floor has become the rising tide that has lifted all boats. For coaches, the absence of a maximum has arguably done more harm than the absence of a maximum has done good.

It will be very good for the best NFL coaches to get $25 million per year. A great coach means a lot more to an NFL franchise than a good player, and plenty of good players have been making much better money than great coaches.

Thus, as the pay for the best college coaches publicly skyrockets, the pay for the best NFL coaches will continue to quietly climb — even if it’s still not climbing the way it should.

56 responses to “Top NFL coaches are moving toward $25 million

  1. It better trickle down all the way to the scouts because no matter how much you pay the coach the assistants and scouts play an important role as well for the HC to do his job well

  2. Just the stress alone warrants 25 million a year for a really good NFL coach, worth every nickel.

  3. You mean like Kraft has done for years paying Brady and other lifetime Patriots money funneled through his other ventures to other players ventures in order to stay cap friendly? Everyone praises Brady for taking “team friendly” deals but come on. It is not like other teams aren’t doing it also. These are billionaire businessmen owners that know how to make money and move money. Silly to think Brady would take less, with his ego ??

  4. And who is going to pay? The fans who will finally be priced out of going to games because tickets will start at $250 a game for even the cheapest seats.

  5. A coach, player or any individual from any profession is worth whatever someone is willing to pay them. We may not agree with it but if someone/organization is willing to pay what we consider an absurd amount that is the right of both parties to give it and take it. That is part of a free society.

  6. How could they be holding down wages of coaches? That makes no sense. If they want you, they pay you. You get what you are worth.

  7. Imagine what the Bears are going to have to pay someone to inherit that dumpster fire after they can Nagy in a couple of weeks after two straight destructions by the Cardinals and Packers.

  8. The “would you rather” is a false choice. Coaches don’t count towards the cap and teams make plenty of money

  9. I’d rather teams pay 60k to hire a full time clock management assistant.

    It’s hard to justify 25 million for coaches that can’t do basic math. And will do things like call a time out with 2:43 left on a down other then 4th.

  10. A great coach means a lot more to an NFL franchise than a good player,

    *******

    Honestly, how many “great” coaches are there? 2? 3? 4 tops.

  11. How could they be holding down wages of coaches? That makes no sense. If they want you, they pay you. You get what you are worth.

    ————————–

    The same way it’s been done since the beginning of time. You only get paid what you’re worth if there aren’t other factors holding down your wages. Discrimination and collusion aren’t mythical things. No black ballplayers existed in MLB for 60 years despite there being plenty of MLB quality players. In sports it’s much easier for employees to be discriminated against as there are so few job opportunities, the companies you would work for have obvious strategic interests in colluding, and no federal law prohibits wage discrimination based on employment position.

    Quite simply, if NFL owners wanted to pay every NFL coach a flat rate of $100,000 they easily could. It’d hard the product to be sure, but we see with NFL ref’s a willingness to trade product quality for saving a few dollars here and there.

  12. What evidence is there that a great coach is worth more than a good player? I’d argue that there are a lot more qualified coaches than there are good NFL players out there. Considering the range you’re talking about, the argument here is that you’d rather have a great coach and an average QB than a great QB and an average coach. That’s just not correct given that the teams with great QBs are almost always in the playoffs, while teams with great coaches and average or bad QBs struggle to make it (see New England last year, Pittsburgh this year).

  13. I’m not sure how the league could collude to keep coaching salaries low when coaches can leave for college or a cushy TV job any time they want.

  14. With more knowledge of what their salaries are, the higher coaches will be paid. It happens in businesses outside of sports, and it played a part in the soaring player costs as they became more widely known.
    Forty years ago, few people knew how much players were getting paid, including other players. But with that information the upward pressure truly began to take effect.
    Granted the owners were making an obscene profit by keeping salaries down before that, but it’s questionable whether the game has been positively affected by colossal contracts witnessed over the ensuing decades.

  15. I will already not be watching baseball this season due to the 40+ million a guy just got to throw a baseball.

    When coaches and players in the NFL start making money that is so far beyond most people’s comprehension I won’t watch it either.

  16. thetooloftools says:
    December 1, 2021 at 7:30 am
    And who is going to pay? The fans who will finally be priced out of going to games because tickets will start at $250 a game for even the cheapest seats.
    ———————————

    The last time I was at an NFL stadium a “cheap” beer was $12. Maybe it was $14. Isn’t it $50 to park in Dallas? I think NFL owners already gouge fans about as much as can be gouged, but then what do I know. Just like PSLs, they will always find new ways to take fans’ money.

  17. How about performance laden contracts for coaches. Like $1 million salary, but a bonus for every win, if the team makes the playoffs…

  18. skcusoirolf says:
    December 1, 2021 at 7:16 am
    You mean like Kraft has done for years paying Brady and other lifetime Patriots money funneled through his other ventures to other players ventures in order to stay cap friendly? Everyone praises Brady for taking “team friendly” deals but come on. It is not like other teams aren’t doing it also. These are billionaire businessmen owners that know how to make money and move money. Silly to think Brady would take less, with his ego ??

    Except that he’s making less now with TB than he could so yeah, he did.

  19. The owners can afford it. And if they can’t, then they get revenue sharing from the cash cow franchises in the NFL. But they earn it.

  20. You would do ANYTHING to keep BB there? Of course you would! BB leaves and your arrogance goes right out the window.

  21. minime says:
    December 1, 2021 at 6:58 am
    Currently, there is only 1 NFL coach deserving of $25(or more) million per season.
    ____________

    NFL coaches, just like anyone else, receive what someone is willing to pay them. “Deserving” has absolutely nothing to do with it.

  22. Trivia: Who is the only head coach in the top 10 paid in American sports (including NCAA Football) to have a losing career record?

    A: Kyle Shanahan

  23. thetooloftools says:
    December 1, 2021 at 7:30 am
    And who is going to pay? The fans who will finally be priced out of going to games because tickets will start at $250 a game for even the cheapest seats.
    ____________

    People have been claiming that fans will priced out for almost 50 years, ever since free agency started in baseball. It has not happened yet, and it will never happen. There will always be someone who has the means and is willing to pay. The fact that you choose to not pay, or cannot pay, is irrelevant.

  24. Money like that causes the same problems you see with CEOs. They’re making so much they’re essentially immune from fear of being fired AND the money becomes justification to them that whatever crazy idea they have must be correct, else they wouldn’t be making that kind of money. Look at guys like Gase and Nagy who get so wrapped up in their lousy schemes they won’t event try to cater to their players’ strengths. Paying guys like that still MORE money would only make them less flexible and even more certain they’re infallible.

  25. People have been claiming that fans will priced out for almost 50 years, ever since free agency started in baseball. It has not happened yet, and it will never happen. There will always be someone who has the means and is willing to pay. The fact that you choose to not pay, or cannot pay, is irrelevant. Keep telling yourself that lol

  26. mogogo1 says:
    December 1, 2021 at 10:50 am
    Money like that causes the same problems you see with CEOs. They’re making so much they’re essentially immune from fear of being fired AND the money becomes justification to them that whatever crazy idea they have must be correct, else they wouldn’t be making that kind of money. Look at guys like Gase and Nagy who get so wrapped up in their lousy schemes they won’t event try to cater to their players’ strengths. Paying guys like that still MORE money would only make them less flexible and even more certain they’re infallible.
    _____________

    I’m always amused by those who believe that they can identify problems with CEOs, professional coaches, or others at the top of their fields. CEOs, NFL coaches, etc. get those positions because they are the very best at their professions. You cannot even begin to understand the problems that these people deal with and solve on a daily basis.

  27. minime says:
    December 1, 2021 at 6:58 am
    Currently, there is only 1 NFL coach deserving of $25(or more) million per season.
    ————————-
    Agreed! Mike Zimmer is worth every penny! He is not only the best coach in the league, but the best coach of his generation, and possibly the best since the great Bud Grant! Zimm is a master of defense, and knows how to make the offense “Cook” as well! While he is blessed with having the most talented roster in the league, he’s a genius at working with all the various strong-willed personalities and having them gel on the field as one unit! All this while producing amazing game plans week-in and week-out!

  28. Of course the more they pay the current coach, the greater expense there is to change coaches if you have to pay off the contract. So, in effect you are assuming the likely risk of paying not one, but two coaches, that $25MM, when you hand out a 10-year deal.

    Whether that affects willingness to keep raising the ante in light of apparent team profitability, we will see. For now, the network contract revenue stream seems just dandy.

  29. gmjoe says:
    December 1, 2021 at 11:09 am
    When will they start paying the Fans? Or will they just price us out of the game ?
    ___________

    You can be sure that those who complain about being priced out in the future are not only already priced out, but could never afford a ticket to begin with. Here’s some news for you, if you can’t buy a ticket you are not in the NFL’s target audience.

  30. I recall Jim Harbaugh cited the collusion- oh excuse me, “stagnation,” around coaches’ salaries as a reason he went to Michigan. The fact that the contract of pretty much every coach thought to be making eight figures is kept private speaks volumes. The ten year, $100 million contract Mark Davis gave Gruden is enough of an anomaly in the business that it’s quite possibly a big reason the league sought to interfere with it…

  31. minime says:
    December 1, 2021 at 6:58 am
    Currently, there is only 1 NFL coach deserving of $25(or more) million per season.

    ———————————-

    HEY! You keep Mike McCarthy out of this.

  32. 25M. Roughly 500K a month. To coach a football team. Unsustainable. This league is going to devour itself.

  33. thetooloftools says:
    December 1, 2021 at 7:30 am
    And who is going to pay? The fans who will finally be priced out of going to games because tickets will start at $250 a game for even the cheapest seats.

    ————————

    In Philly, it’s essentially already like that. You might get lucky on the resale market and pay 150 for a game that isn’t highly anticipated. But I’ve paid 200 or even $300 for an *upper level* seat. I think you’re right though, pretty soon the face prices will even be like that.

  34. BB is the best coach in the history of the NFL. That should never be up for debate and he is proving it again this season with a rookie QB. I am a not a NE fan but I would not mind seeing the Pats win the SB this season just to put icing on the cake to show everyone that those SB wins were not just due to Tammy Brady!

  35. “’m always amused by those who believe that they can identify problems with CEOs, professional coaches, or others at the top of their fields. CEOs, NFL coaches, etc. get those positions because they are the very best at their professions. You cannot even begin to understand the problems that these people deal with and solve on a daily basis.”
    __________

    If you work in a company, pay attention to what is going on, and progress up the chain even a bit you will have a pretty good idea what your CEO deals with. If you’re saying you have absolutely no idea what your CEO does it’s a pretty poor reflection on you as an employee. Certainly some companies are so diverse and far-reaching you won’t really know but MOST companies are centered enough in a single industry it’s readily apparent what the CEO’s job is.

    And the “best at their professions” line doesn’t really say that much when it comes to coaches where guys frequently get hired young with basically no track records. Guys like Gase and Nagy became head coaches based on their potential and not anything they’d ever actually done. How can you know somebody is going to be a good head coach who has never had that job before? It’s largely speculative and then those same guys get recycled around the league even if they fail.

  36. I love football…BUT….in real economic dollars, the money in all PART TIME professional sports is totally absurd and unconscionable, period. We pay, no matter what means they use to extract those dollars from the public (not just the fans). We pay for it with the insurance premiums we pay, the cars and other products we buy, the beer we drink – whether you watch or you hate sports. Sports simply raises the cost of living for the U.S. consumers period. And its all funneled into those overpaid athletes, and sports organizations. You didn’t really think all that money just comes from the fans who watch the sport did you……seriously???? Think of what some of those dollars could do to actually make life a bit better for those far less fortunate in this country. A surgeon, a nurse, a firefighter, a soldier, a police officer – for examples – people who really change peoples lives in full time high risk professions – any argument for sports compensation is embarrassing.

  37. Collusion no, more of the perennial crapy to the constant 8-8 teams (Jets, Lions, Jags, Miami, Dallas, Rams, Browns, Cards, etc) are such dumpster fires that no real coach would ever take that job unless it was for $25 million and why we don’t see BB or someone like Peyton being lured away to one of the dumpster fires. So those owners are either left with taking a chance on a coordinator (where most fail, but a few are worth it) or going after a failed retread (hello Dallas) creating a market of desperation by wannabe coaches that will work for very little. No to mention there are some very cheap owners, who only care about winning just enough to keep the seats somewhat filled.

  38. It sucks because there aren’t enough coaches that would deserve that kind of compensation. There is a lack of talent available to fill 32 positions. It’s like quarterback. There needs to be a better development system. A lot of times you’re getting a guy who was really good at a different job (offensive/defensive coordinator) and putting them into a totally different job with an exponential increase in roles, responsibilities and expectations. If the NFL had a development league it would solve so many issues. You let a guy head coach a development team where he can learn the ropes and develop the right skills. Same thing with a quarterback. Draft some guys and designate them to the development team and let them grow into the role versus dropping a guy in and hoping for the best. It would result in better quality of coaching, playing, and guess what, the NFL could make money of the merchandise.

  39. The head coach depending on any other responsibilities is basically the CEO of a company generating hundreds of millions in sales. Compared to other CEOs, $25 mm in compensation can be reasonable. But like everything else it all comes down to supply and demand for the best.

    Look at what Goodell gets and WTF does he do that makes him worth it besides protecting the owners?

  40. When Jack Kent Cooke was the owner of Washington, he paid the Assistant Coaches more than some teams paid their Head Coach!!! Oh those were the days…..

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