Some Scuttlebutt About NFL Head Coaches

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Mike McCarthy

Writing about the salaries of NFL coaches is difficult, because coaches’ pay is one the league’s best kept secrets. Even so, it’s one good way of assessing the worth and perceived ability of these guys. It’s hardly a perfect measuring stick, but it’s a useful one.

We can go online to learn how much every NFL player is paid, but we can’t do the same for coaches. Though the salaries of NFL coaches are seldom announced publicly, there are several sites on the web that make informed guesses as to what the top coaches in the league are making. I’ll confine myself to head coaches this time around, and deal with assistant coaches next time.

Head Coach Salaries

One media source that seems to be pretty accurate is the Oregonian newspaper. That paper originally published an article on the subject in January 2016, and then updated it last month. Its sources for the information were listed as ESPN.com, SI.com, CBSSports.com, and NFL.com.

Tied for tenth on the list are the Texans’ Bill O’Brien and the Redskins’ Jay Gruden, at $5 million. Tied for eighth are Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys’ Jason Garrett at $6 million.

The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin and the Ravens’ Jim Harbaugh are both in the $7 million range. One rung up from them are the Patriots’ Bill Belichick and the Chiefs’ Andy Reid, at $7.5 million.

This brings us to the top three. Ranking third is the Saints’ Sean Peyton at $8 million. In second place is the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, at a reported $8+ million.

The highest paid NFL coach hasn’t coached an NFL team since 2008. All together now: Jon Gruden! His 10-year deal with the Raiders is reportedly in the neighborhood of $100 million – or $10 million annually.

Mike McCarthy’s Salary

Back in 2016, the $6 million estimate for the Packers coach was probably close. I doubt, however, that the update took into account that Big Mike got an extension during the 2017 season, which was only disclosed in early January. I’m pretty sure it included a nice raise, maybe even a retroactive one. For these reasons, I estimate his annual pay is now about $8 million.

Salary Escalation

As with player salaries, the pay picture gets blurred by the escalating nature of NFL contracts. For instance, Aaron Rodgers’ current five-year deal is for an average salary of $22 million, Matthew Stafford, however, in 2017 signed a contract that averages $27 million per year. When Rodgers inks his next deal, it will certainly leapfrog past that of Stafford.

So, there’s no need to weep over Bill Belichick’s reported salary. I’m sure owner Robert Kraft will take good care of him next time – assuming Belichick, who is 65, doesn’t retire.

And by the way, if you think Jon Gruden is the highest-paid football coach in the country, you are wrong. It was reported last year that, pursuant to a three-year extension, the University of Alabama’s Nick Saban is now making $11.125 million per year.

Postscript: A Stunner in New England

The Patriots’ offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, just made some big news. He was to be named the Colts’ new head coach right after the Super Bowl. In fact, the Colts did announce he had “agreed to terms,” but on Monday McDaniels backed out.

How did such a done deal come undone? Well, we can speculate, and I will. There’s been talk about a pending breakup of New England’s top assets. QB Tom Brady will be 41 at the start of the next regular season, the offensive coordinator was about to leave, the former defensive coordinator has just been introduced as the Lions’ new head coach, and 65-year-old Bill Belichick has been rumored to be thinking this is the right time to call it a career.

My guess is that McDaniels changed his mind as part of the aftermath to the Super Bowl loss. I suspect that Belichick, and probably owner Robert Kraft, informed McDaniels that Belichick will be retiring either very soon or after the 2018 season – and that the job will be McDaniels if he stays on. How else to explain why McDaniels reneged on his promise to the Colts?

McDaniels figuratively ran out of the church as he was walking up to the altar. His agent, Bob LaMonte, immediately resigned, saying: “My word is my bond. Once you break that, there’s nothing left.” According to one source, LaMonte described McDaniels’ change of heart as “committing professional suicide.” It should be noted that LaMonte remains the agent for Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

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