Paul Tagliabue is seriously contemplating ending his 17-year run as NFL commissioner, league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
The sources said Tagliabue is expected to exercise a clause in his contract with league owners in which he becomes a "senior executive" consultant with a significant compensation package.
There has been recent speculation that Tagliabue's reign was in its final year or two, but the sources pinpointed the commissioner's decision as possible during the next 60 days. Tagliabue's current contract has two years remaining on it and it is believed to pay him between $8 million and $10 million through May 2008.
Tagliabue was unavailable for comment and a league spokesman said he was unaware of the development.
One league owner believes Tagliabue will serve for at least one more year to oversee the transition to a new commissioner. But sources say Tagliabue can do that in his senior executive role, as well.
When Tagliabue does step down, the leading candidate to replace him is Roger Goodell, the league's executive vice president and chief operating officer. Goodell has worked side by side with Tagliabue on numerous issues, ranging from franchise stability, new stadium construction, TV contract negotiations and the most recent collective bargaining agreement, in which he was an active participant.