Word last week that coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are talking about a contract extension was not necessarily big news. Talking doesn’t mean much until results are delivered. But the conversation would be a delight upon which to eavesdrop.
It might go something like this:
Paul Allen: Pete, as you know, I have the utmost respect for you and your work. You’ve brought Seattle a championship. Nevertheless, would you agree with me that it seems as if there should have been more?
Carroll: I agree. But there’s going to be a team in Los Angeles this year and —
Allen: How does $12 million sound? Or would you like an equity stake in the franchise?
Hey, a chunk of the big cheese wouldn’t be an outlandish offer. As the richest owner in the NFL by a factor of four, Allen has no practical limit to what he can provide.
Except, of, course, Los Angeles.
Pete Carroll is entering the final year of his contract in 2016, and the #Seahawks are working with him on an extension, I’m told.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2016
The relocation of the Rams after a 21-year detour to St. Louis helped the Seahawks in removing the strained geography of a Central Time Zone team in the NFC West. But it also provided Carroll some timely leverage regarding his future in Seattle.
Carroll has offered no laments about his situation, nor should he.
The club is owned by a stupendously wealthy local guy with neither a need for attention nor a pretense to football knowledge, has a general manager that he hired and works well with, and a 27-year-old quarterback in the NFL’s top tier. And Carroll works in the most energized fan base upon the fruited plain.
In no way, shape or form does any NFL coach have it so good. Some may argue that New England’s Bill Belichick is right there, but owner Robert Kraft insinuates himself enough to be annoying.
Now that Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are staring daggers at each other, the conflict may draw to a close the various deflators, wiretappers, encryption experts, spy satellite operations specialists and Navajo code talkers that the Pats employ off the books to steal their way to success.
NFL coaches’ salaries rarely see public light, but the best guesses are that Carroll and Belichick are around $9 million annually. That should be enough to keep both in the finest meats and cheeses. But what if Carroll wants more than cash?
What if he wants his old title back: King of LA?
Earning seven Pac-10 titles at USC, Carroll was the ultimate winner in the front-runningest town of them all. The one stain on his legacy, the NCAA sanctions on his program after he left for Seattle, is likely to get unwound in court because the NCAA, as Huskies fans know from the Rick Neuheisel wrongful-termination suit, does not know what it is doing.
The reason the NFL finally filled the vacancy in LA is because Rams owner Stan Kroenke is committed to building in Inglewood much more than a stadium. He promises to build a home world for the NFL that will include choirs, doves and gold-bullion pavers upon which white steeds will ferry diamond-encrusted chariots filled with owners to their suites high above the sweaty masses.
Nowhere in this utopia will appear the word “concussion.”
What coach wouldn’t want in on that action?
Nothing is imminent regarding a coaching change for the Rams. Jeff Fisher is, like Carroll, signed through 2016, and has more ties to LA than Carroll. He grew up a Rams fan in Woodland Hills, went to Taft High School, played cornerback at USC and his mother still lives there.
But Fisher, 58, hasn’t had a winning record in the most recent six seasons of his 21 years as an NFL head coach. Yes, he swept the Seahawks in 2015, but everyone knows that after the first two-game losing streak in LA, most of the suite-holders will go back to their scripts, spas and air kisses. The market is a proven two-time loser in the NFL and, in the two-decade absence of pro football, seems to have survived with no noticeable loss of prestige, wealth or cleavage.
The Rams will play in the old dump, the Coliseum, until the new digs are ready in 2019. But the NFL has made a large bet on Kroenke’s vision. He will feel the pressure to ramp up to the new Valhalla with something other than another 7-9 Fisher team.
It may be that the sticking point for Carroll in Seattle is not money, but time. He may want to extend only through 2018. His front-office partner, GM John Schneider, who is on the same contract schedule, might feel inspired to return to his home in Wisconsin, which has a football team too.
Carroll could also retire and say his point has been made. Unless there’s another point to be be made: In coaching, 80 is the new 60.