Will Jeff Saturday hire become a trend? The answer could come down to money

USA TODAY Sports

For years, some NFL head coaches have believed that owners are quietly colluding to keep their salaries lower than they should be, relative to the value the best coaches bring to their teams.

Case in point. Lions quarterback Jared Goff‘s contract pays, on average, $33 million per year. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is believed to be making $25 million per year. Which one is the better bargain, given the overall impact on a team’s fortunes?

Last week’s stunning decision by Colts owner Jim Irsay to fire Frank Reich and to hire Jeff Saturday for the rest of the year, and perhaps beyond, could be the next step in the broader effort to keep head-coaching pay from going haywire.

There’s no salary cap for coaches, which means a bidding war could break out at any time. There’s also no salary floor, which allows some teams to pay far less than market rate to someone who simply craves the opportunity to be a coach.

We don’t, and presumably won’t, know what Irsay is paying Saturday to finish the year. What if Irsay’s decision to hire Saturday after the current season ends (which in some respects it feels as if Irsay already has decided to do) flows from a recognition that Saturday won’t be driving a hard financial bargain?

That’s why the dramatic shift in thinking about the hiring of head coaches can’t be ignored. If, at the end of the day, an owner can hire a former player who has no college or pro coaching experience for significantly less than what a rising coordinator or former head coach tied to one of the top coaching agents would expect to receive, maybe there will be more former players with no coaching experience who get an opportunity to coach.

Football is business. A big business. No matter how much revenue is being generated, the owners are constantly looking for ways to maximize profit. Money in versus money out. The less money that goes out, the greater the profit.

Remember that whenever you hear Irsay or any other owner talk about how badly he wants to win Super Bowls. They have to say that, or the paying customers will check out. Besides, if winning the Super Bowl is the real standard for success, the NFL has 31 annual failures.

The reality is that the league has 32 businesses that enjoy significant success, each and every year. That success doesn’t come in the form of a silver trophy, but in rectangular sheets of green paper.

16 responses to “Will Jeff Saturday hire become a trend? The answer could come down to money

  1. If Irsay is being cheap by hiring Saturday then why would Irsay “let” Saturday start Ryan. If I am not mistaken, Ryan’s $17 million salary next year becomes fully guaranteed if Ryan has a season ending injury

  2. Now that Irsay has opened up a can of worms. The league don’t have any excuse for hiring more black head coaches now that no experience is needed.

  3. Jeff Saturday has a perfect record as an NFL head coach. Why wouldn’t more owners want to replicate that kind of success?

  4. CORRECTION: The coaching mastermind, Jeff Saturday. The only undefeated head coach in the NFL right now and the highest winning percentage in history.

  5. BB is also head of football operations. So two jobs for the price of one 25M salary, a bargain in my book.

  6. Players matter more than coaches. Not saying good coaches don’t matter, cause they do. But, the patriots won the division for 20 years cause Brady and haven’t won it since he left. Not rocket science.

  7. Next thing you know he will got out and give some QB a fully guaranteed contract. How crazy with that be. All this talk about saving money ultimately they have to win, stop acting like turning a profit is what he is about. The easiest way to turn a profit is to win.

  8. Coaching is way over rated by the media. How many coaches of the year are gone just a short time after winning the award over the past 22 years? The year before Mahomes started Reid was said to have been passed by the league, now he is creative. Change at QB from Alex Smith to Mahomes will do that to an offense.

    Coaching matters and so does play calling but you need the horses first. With the talent the Eagles have in the trenches it is easy to call plays even with a limited QB. I don’t see players taking over because this job will always be demanding and you have to be able to grind. BB was different as the Pats key to winning beyond Brady was they didn’t ever over spend on players. Rarely handed out top contracts except for rare talent. They knew 28 was time to let them go, they have limited time at the top. They always got 3 good lower priced FAs for letting one top free agent go.

  9. Its easy to keep HC costs down.
    You offer a contract of 3 or 4 years with a team option on the 5th and 6th year.
    If the HC is average, you don’t pick it up.

    Don’t pay up when looking for Hcs, frequently that doesn’t work out.
    Don’t go with the expensive retread (like the Cowboys did with McCarthy) instead go with the younger less experience HC prospect.

    HCs become expensive if successful and its time for a new contract.
    Decide if the team success was the HC or the GM bringing in good players.

  10. A bad team beats an even worse, bottom of the barrel team, and now they’re trendsetters? This overreaction reminds me of the annual awards being doled out in Week 6.

    Chill a bit. They beat the RAIDERS.

  11. This just seems silly. You can’t compare coaches with players or discern overall value to the team. There are just so many factors at play. Even if we ignore all of those factors and look at the overall, a player’s career is VERY VERY short in comparison to that of a coach. A player also takes an extremely high risk in comparison to the coach.

    In the end, both player and coach salaries will be driven by the market. If there was a coach on the market that never loses, he/she could demand a much higher salary as the market for undefeated coaches would be highly competitive and very sparse.

    Looking at this specific instance, it might be important to understand that Jeff Saturday may be been brought in to do more than “coach”. Jim Irsay trusts Saturday and has sought him for multiple roles in the organization. While the role of Head Coach doesn’t seem ideal as an entry position, it might just be that he is in Indy for a much broader purpose.

  12. No, it won’t come down to money. We know better. Owners will ‘sit’ players and pay them out of spite. They have more money than God. They own Sunday, Monday, Thursday and a lease to buy Saturdays in December. The good ole boy system trumps all else. They protect the shield and status quo.

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