Salary won't be what saves Mike Munchak

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If Mike Munchak is the Titans' head coach in 2014, it's not going to be because the franchise was unwilling to swallow his salary and pay him not to coach.

That was an early presumption about new president and CEO Tommy Smith, who leads a new ownership group after his father-in-law Bud Adams died in October.

But indications are money won't save Munchak if the Smith and the Titans feel a change needs to be made.

No owner likes to swallow salary for fired employees, but for many franchises it simply qualifies as an operating expense.

That's been the case for the Titans in the recent past.

Jeff Fisher collected a salary of over $4 million in 2011 after he parted ways with Adams. Fisher's two top assistants, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, were also paid not to coach in 2011.

And Adams fired Mike Reinfeldt as senior executive vice president/chief operating officer after the 2012 season. Adams was upset that Reinfeldt hadn't pursued Peyton Manning more aggressively and failed to land him before that season.

The Titans are paying Reinfeldt for 2013 and 2014, a total of around $5 million.

They don't want to add to the spreadsheet column that totals pay for employees no longer with the team.

But if Smith decides a change is needed, I believe he'll swallow Munchak's 2014 salary -- a bit more than $3 million. The replacement wouldn't be a huge name earning a huge number, but a high-profile hire like that wouldn't provide the automatic answer a lot of fans imagine.

Look no further than the coach who will square off against Munchak at LP Field this week, Bruce Arians. He's not close to being the highest-paid coach in the league, but he was the right guy for an organization in need of a jolt.

If Smith sees the need for a similar spark, that's the kind of find the Titans will need.