Welcome to NFL power plays at the highest level.
I do not know specifically what is going on between the Cardinals and Reid. The pattern is a familiar one, however.
High-profile coaches benefit when information about a deal being imminent gets out before a deal is completed. The news creates expectations, putting pressure on teams to close deals. Coaches gain leverage in the process.
Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, knows the business as well or better than anyone. He represents a long list of NFL head coaches and high-profile assistants.
NFC West followers might recall LaMonte brokering the deal that brought another client, Mike Holmgren, to Seattle in 1999. Back then, only hours had passed following Holmgren's final game with Green Bay when news broke that an eight-year, $32 million deal with Seattle was imminent.
There were the usual denials, as I recall. The team emphasized the importance of process. No one wanted there to be any appearance of a deal being in the works prematurely. Several days passed before the Seahawks announced Holmgren's hiring. The deal was pretty much as it had been advertised: eight years and $32 million.
Arizona also must pay attention to process. The Cardinals and every team must comply with the Rooney Rule requiring interviews with minority candidates.
Signs do point to Reid's hiring in Arizona as the most likely scenario.
First, team president Michael Bidwill said the Cardinals expected to interview Reid. Bidwill made this announcement publicly hours after the team fired coach Ken Whisenhunt. A team president would not make such an announcement publicly without having an interview lined up. Even if the Cardinals have not yet spoken to Reid, they obviously have made contact with his agent. That suggests all parties agree the fit could be right.
Second, the Cardinals presumably would not fire a good coach such as Whisenhunt without knowing they could hire someone as good or better. Reid's credentials qualify him as someone as good or better.
Finally, if the Cardinals sought as their first choice to name defensive coordinator Ray Horton as head coach, they presumably could have closed that deal already. There is no deal with Horton yet.
Reid is obviously in play in Arizona. Now we'll wait to see how things play out.