Martz returns keys to Lions' offense over money

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Martz backed out of the Detroit Lions'
offensive coordinator position on Thursday, and the ex-St. Louis
Rams coach appears content to sit out next season.

"Obviously, I took the job," Martz said in a telephone
interview with The Associated Press. "It just didn't work out with
the money.

"There's a bottom-line figure my agent has and I didn't want to
have the details, so we just move on."

On Wednesday, Martz had accepted the Lions' offer to be their offensive coordinator under new head coach Rod Marinelli, pending the sides reaching agreement on contract terms.

By Wednesday evening, there were indications that problems had arisen in discussions, and those whispers grew considerably louder on Thursday morning, when a Lions team official told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli that the odds of Martz coming aboard had diminished.

A source said Martz was seeking a three-year contract that averaged just under $1.5 million a year, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported. Martz's agent, Bob LaMonte, met with Lions officials Thursday afternoon at the Lions' facility in suburban Detroit before talks broke off.

Martz and Marinelli met for several hours on Tuesday but no offer was immediately made to the former Rams coach, who missed the final 11 games of the 2005 season as he recovered from endocarditis, a bacterial infection of a heart valve. The Lions did, though, offer the job to Martz on Tuesday night.

Martz told the AP that he and new Lions coach Marinelli would have
been a very good fit, and that would have been his main reason for
taking the job. Martz also thinks Marinelli is a coaching star in
the making.

"My visit with Rod was exceptional," Martz said. "I think
he's going to be a superstar. Everybody's got talent, nice
facilities and all those kinds of things, but who you work with is
critical and that was a big plus."

Martz's agent, Bob LaMonte, did not immediately return a
telephone message from the AP.

The 54-year-old Martz was cleared by specialists treating his heart condition to return to work on Jan. 1. He recently interviewed for the Oakland Raiders head coach vacancy, but then withdrew his name from consideration over the weekend. Martz and the Rams have reached a settlement on the one-year, $3.25 million remaining on his contract.

It was clear from his Wednesday remarks, however, that Marinelli wants Martz on his staff and that, as a first-year coach, he has absolutely no reservations or insecurities about having a more experienced head coach on board.

"That man knows how to win and how to move the football," Marinelli said. "I like him and I would love to have him."

Not counting the 11 games he missed last season, during which Joe Vitt served as interim head coach, Martz compiled a 56-36 record with the Rams. He led St. Louis to four playoff appearances, two division titles and a Super Bowl XXXVI berth. In his five full seasons in St. Louis, the Martz-designed offense statistically ranked in the top 10 every year, and was No. 1 in 2000 and 2001.

Even for the innovative Martz, reviving the moribund Lions offense might be a challenge, given the unit's recent history. The Lions have not finished in the top half of the NFL's offensive standings since 1998, and were 20th in 2005. Also, the quarterback situation remains unsettled, as is the future of former first-rounder Joey Harrington.

Marinelli said he has not yet spoken to Harrington and likely will delay the call, he said, until a coordinator is in place. Marinelli, the former Tampa Bay defensive line coach, said he has spoken to other candidates about the coordinator post in the event a deal with Martz is not consummated, and said he will wait as long as necessary to find "the right man for the job."

Speaking to an audience that included many national reporters not familiar with him, Marinelli exuded the same passion that likely helped earn him the Lions' job. He spoke of wanting a strong team and strong coaches who would bring fresh ideas and who would not be afraid to challenge him.

"I don't want to have a bunch of guys just sitting [in a meeting] saluting me," he said.

The 54-year-old Martz also interviewed for head coaching
openings in New Orleans and Oakland, but emphasized he'd be
perfectly happy taking a year off. The coach has sold his home in
St. Louis County, saying it was "time to downsize anyway," and
will relocate to a second home in San Diego in the next week or

During his year away from football, he plans to travel with his
wife, Julie.

"There's a wrong impression that I'm desperate for a job,"
Martz said. "I'm not pursuing anything.

"This Detroit thing got real interesting because I like Rod so
much, but at this point in my life I'm going to be very choosy,
very selective."

Information from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.