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Costly Turnover: NFL Coaches Command Millions, Even in Failure

  • Bill Belichick could be coaching the final game of his $200 million tenure in New England.
  • NFL buyouts this year have already surpassed $100 million.
The Record

Sunday afternoon could be Bill Belichick’s last game with the New England Patriots, who host the New York Jets in a meaningless matchup for both clubs. With an annual salary now reported to be $25 million, Belichick has already clinched the worst record (currently 4-12) of his 24-year tenure, during which he has been paid at least $200 million, by conservative estimates.

Despite reportedly receiving a “lucrative, multiyear” extension ahead of the season, according to NFL.com, Belichick could still be one of several coaches to lose their high-paying jobs on Black Monday, the first day after the regular season concludes. ESPN insider Adam Schefter said there could be as many as 10 coaches ultimately fired this cycle. 

As evidenced by the three vacancies already open, change isn’t cheap. Las Vegas will spend $85 million on buying out head coach Josh McDaniels, general manager Dave Zeigler, and other coaches; Carolina will pay head coach Frank Reich $27 million; and the Los Angeles Chargers owe Brandon Staley at least $4 million.

Coaches in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay are believed to be on the hot seat (particularly for whichever two don’t win the NFC South), as well as those in Chicago and Washington. Last season, there were five head coaching changes, and, as Schefter noted, there are typically 12-14 turnovers per two-year cycle, meaning this year could bring many more firings.

The Big Fish?

One of the hottest head coaching targets could be Jim Harbaugh, who was reportedly weighing a 10-year, $125 million contract extension at Michigan to make him the highest-paid coach in college football. Harbaugh has already been linked to openings in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and he has hired a new agent, Don Yee, who has strong NFL ties.

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