After turning down chances to return to the NFL in previous offseasons, former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher is primed to get back in the game this time.
Those who know Cowher firmly believe that he plans to coach in 2010, according to two league sources. He is laying the groundwork, making calls to piece together a coaching staff and acting like a man who will be patrolling the sidelines once again next season.
Many around the league have expected Cowher's name to surface in connection to the Carolina job, and it might. But others also believe that a more likely landing spot might be the Panthers' division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Over the past year, Tampa Bay has undergone more changes than any NFL team. More are coming. At the very least, associate head coach/special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is expected to leave the staff. He's widely considered to be on his way to join the University of Tennessee coaching staff, but could also get looks as a college head coach.
Defensive line coach Robert Nunn and defensive backs coach Joe Baker were part of the Jim Bates package, and will not return.
And now there is an increasing sentiment within the Buccaneers' organization that head coach Raheem Morris will be one-and-done. Two weeks ago, CBS announcer Rich Gannon criticized the way Buccaneers' practices are run, the latest example of the job being too big for Morris right now.
If the Buccaneers decide to part ways with Morris as well, multiple people around the league think Tampa Bay will wind up making a run at Cowher.
League sources labeled as erroneous any speculation that the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, may be too financially strapped to pursue Cowher. One source added that Joel Glazer, one of the team's owners, recently has expressed strong admiration for Cowher to other owners.
Additionally, those who know the Glazer family noted that they are always prepared to do the dramatic, citing the firing of Tony Dungy and the acquisition of then-Raiders coach Jon Gruden, Dungy's successor, in which the Bucs sent multiple draft picks, including two first-rounders, and $8 million cash to Oakland.
Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider and Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst.