NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- So Mike Munchak’s choice boiled down to this: lose his job as head coach of the Tennessee Titans or fire a large contingent of assistant coaches in exchange for an extension and raise.
He chose Option A, and it’s understandable.
Saturday, general manager Ruston Webster answered all the questions during a 20-minute news conference, but said he didn’t have a comment about whether an extension was discussed as things were sorted out with Munchak.
The extension would have helped Munchak hire replacements for the fired staff -- which was going to include defensive coordinator Jerry Gray (who wouldn’t have been fired, he just would not have been renewed), offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, offensive line coach Bruce Matthews and linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio.
“I think [Munchak] is a guy that people like to work for and I’m sure we would have been able to attract some coaches,” Webster said of a lame-duck scenario.
Assistants were more likely to join Munchak’s staff given two- or three-year contracts.
I initially presumed any extension would have amounted to an additional, papier-mache year.
But per Chris Mortensen, Munchak was offered “a multiyear extension at almost double his $3 million salary, conditional upon Munchak making more than a dozen staff firings and demotions.”
While Munchak’s loyalty was admirable, coaches who joined him last year on short-term deals -- receivers coach Shawn Jefferson and running back Sylvester Croom -- may now lose their jobs as a result of their boss' commitment to other assistants.
Yes, they’ll be in line to still collect their salaries if they don’t work elsewhere next year. But it’s not only about the money.
One example: Jefferson’s son, Van, is a rising senior receiver at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn. A receiver like his dad was, he’s a top college recruit. If his dad’s job is elsewhere next year, the family will face time apart or an awkward move. That's life-altering stuff.
The biggest thing is, if president and CEO Tommy Smith and Webster were telling Munchak which coaches he had to fire, they would have certainly expected to approve those he went on to hire.
That would have effectively neutered Munchak going forward no matter his salary or length of his deal.
A four-year coaching contract in the NFL is set up for a determination to be made after three years. After three years, the body of work should indicate the coach is deserving of a second contract or needs to be replaced.
Munchak did not deserve an extension based on his 22-26 record, a 6-12 AFC South record and a 3-20 record against teams that finished with a winning record.
The Titans may have dressed things up for him. I’m unimpressed that Smith and Webster saw a scenario in which a multiyear extension and a raise were good ideas.
Ultimately Munchak didn’t have much of a choice. He couldn’t have stayed and maintained the level of control an NFL coach should expect, so he told them to fire him and saved them from a bad situation.