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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Mulling Childress' contract status

By Kevin Seifert

Posted by’s Kevin Seifert

Over at CBS Sportsline, longtime NFL reporter Clark Judge writes that a contract extension “is in the works” for coach Minnesota coach Brad Childress.

(Cue the avalanche … now.)

I have no first-hand knowledge that a deal is imminent, but there is at least is some circumstantial evidence to suggest that it’s a matter of when -- not if -- Childress gets a new deal.

First, Childress is in the fourth year of a five-year contract he originally signed in January 2006. This would be a natural time to start the process of an extension for any NFL coach, assuming both sides are happy with the other. By all indications, they are.

Owner Zygi Wilf has never wavered in his support of Childress, the first coach he hired after purchasing the team in June 2005. The team has increased its win total each year under Childress, from six in 2006 to eight in 2007 to 10 in 2008. Childress also has followed through on Wilf’s demand to curb the legal issues and other public embarrassments that plagued the franchise during the early part of his decade.

Second, Childress agent Bob LaMonte was in attendance for Sunday’s 33-31 victory over Baltimore. I’ve seen LaMonte at games once or twice in the past, but the timing of this trip was notable if not coincidental.

Everything I know suggests Wilf wants Childress to be his coach for a long time. Wilf isn’t what I would call a patient businessman, but you could make an argument that there should be no rush to enter negotiations at this moment. To be fair, Childress has yet to win a playoff game. And while the Vikings are 6-0 this season, and extension at this point could be perceived as a tacit admission that the season is already a success. What’s the rush?

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune explained this entire scenario Sunday, but I’m guessing not many of you read it because it’s behind the site’s new internet paywall. In the story, Wilf issued a statement that praised Childress for the job he’s done and said the team will have contract discussions “at the appropriate time.”

There is no book on when to sign a coach to a contract extension. I saw Red McCombs give Dennis Green a new contract after three games in 2000, and then pay dearly for it when they parted ways a year later. In 2004, I saw McCombs wait until days before a decision was due before picking up an option on coach Mike Tice’s contract.

Based on the Wilf statement, however, I think Judge and Zulgad are correct: Whether it's now or after the season, a Childress deal seems only a matter of time.