Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Don't assume contract is Coughlin's last
By Dan Graziano
The day's least surprising announcement is that of a new contract for New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is now locked up through 2014 after signing what amounts to a two-year contract extension. The New York Daily News reports that the team tore up the scheduled final year of his previous contract and did a new three-year deal that will pay Coughlin a total of $20 million. That would rank him among the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, according to a Forbes Magazine report that came out recently. That report had New England's Bill Belichick ranked first with a $7.5 million annual salary and the Redskins' Mike Shanahan, the Rams' Jeff Fisher, the Seahawks' Pete Carroll and the Saints' Sean Payton each making $7 million per year, though it admitted that the exact figures were unknown.
Regardless, the Giants' two-time Super Bowl champion coach now has his financial recognition as one of the best coaches in the league and a deal that will run out when he's 68 years old. But while that might be enough for some coaches, I would caution against assuming this contract will be Coughlin's last.
Coughlin laughed and looked bewildered all through January when people would ask him if he planned to retire. The question was literally not one he'd considered. People who know him say he has no hobbies or interests that he'd quit coaching to pursue, and that he'll coach until he thinks he can't do it anymore. Obviously, in the wake of his greatest coaching achievement, he's not of such a mind. I believe he'll coach the Giants as long as he wants to coach them, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if, two years from now, they're announcing another extension that takes him into his 70s.
Nothing's going to happen in the next three years to change the Giants' minds about Coughlin as their head coach. Certainly, things will happen that get the fans restless or prompt media speculation about a coaching change. But even through tough times in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Giants ownership has never wavered in the belief that Coughlin was the man for the job. And now that he's got the two championships on his résumé, he's a living coaching legend -- an all-time Giant whose name likely will someday adorn the team's ring of honor. Coughlin has earned not just this extension but the right to request and expect future ones. And especially when you factor in the strength of his team at core positions like quarterback and defensive line, there's little reason to believe he can't keep the Giants competitive enough to maintain his status as one of the best-regarded coaches in the league.
So while I expected Coughlin to get one more year than he got, I sincerely doubt he's at all concerned or unhappy with the way this turned out or worried about what the future holds beyond 2014. When you've accomplished what Coughlin's accomplished with an organization that runs like the Giants run, you control your own future. And you should.