Tuna fishing? Parcells has opt-out clause

Will Bill Parcells become a free agent -- again?

It's a possibility, hinging on whether Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga's sale of his majority ownership of the team goes through.

ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen first reported the story on Sunday.

When Parcells joined the Dolphins as executive vice president of football operations last year, his deal included a onetime out clause that would allow him to walk away, with the rest of his $12 million guaranteed contract fully paid, no strings attached, if Huizenga were to sell the team.

On whether Parcells would walk away from the team, Huizenga, quoted in the Palm Beach Post, said, "It's out of my hands. I've told him he ought to stick around. I don't know what he's going to do"

Earlier this year, Huizenga agreed to sell 95 percent of the Dolphins to New York developer and team part-owner Stephen Ross. Huizenga hopes to close on the deal by early January to ensure that the capital gains taxes on the sale remain at 15 percent before President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

Parcells' contract specifically states only Huizenga can be in authority over him. Once Ross officially becomes majority owner, Parcells has to notify Ross within 30 days that he intends to exercise his walk-away clause and collect the full balance of $9 million.

At that time, Parcells would be a free agent. And any team that wants his services would not owe compensation to the Dolphins, according to the report.

He's the greatest and I would hope he doesn't leave," Ross said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He's in a great situation, I hope, for him."

Among the teams on Parcells' radar are the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders. However, if Parcells' son-in-law, New England Patriots vice president Scott Pioli, is interested in any of those jobs, Parcells is unlikely to wind up with that team, sources told Mortensen.

Parcells could negotiate with Ross to extend his opt-out clause by one year. But as presently written, the clause doesn't extend after one season, according to Mortensen.

ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.