NFC South: economic downturn

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Had a great conversation with sports consultant Marc Ganis the other day as I worked on a project about how the economic downturn is affecting the NFL and how it could factor into free agency.

Ganis, who has consulted with many teams and leagues about stadiums and arenas in his career, covered lots of ground as we talked and, obviously, this is a subject with many aspects. Even in the online world we do have constraints on how long a story can be and this is a topic about which a book could be written right now. One point Ganis brought up that didn't make it into the story because it would have opened a whole different can of worms was his thought on a recent NFL trend that's developed.

"I don't think it's any coincidence we're seeing so many young head coaches," Ganis said.

Excellent point. What Ganis is suggesting is the economy might be part of the reason we've seen so many teams hire first-time head coaches. It's basic economics, really. As we point out in the main story about the economy, teams -- like businesses everywhere right now -- are trying to control costs in every way possible in just about every area except players' salaries because there is a salary floor ($107 million) along with the much-publicized salary cap.

You can hire someone like Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris or Kansas City's Todd Haley for, perhaps, about $2 million a year. That's a lot less than, let's just say, throwing someone like Bill Cowher something like $8 million (again, I'm just throwing out a rough guesstimate) a year.

Makes sense from an economic standpoint. It probably makes a lot more sense to owners after seeing what Atlanta's Mike Smith and Baltimore's John Harbaugh did last season in their first years as head coaches.

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