Hiring the former New England assistant and Denver head coach would help explain why the Seahawks fired Jeremy Bates after one season as coordinator. The Seahawks' interest might also explain why talks between McDaniels and the St. Louis Rams hit a snag.
Ten quick thoughts on the matter:
The Rams' job could be more appealing. The Rams have Sam Bradford. The Seahawks do not. Bradford has the ability to help his next coordinator become a head coach. McDaniels has already been a head coach. He wants to be one again. Aligning himself with Bradford seems like the smart move for the long term. Not necessarily, though. More on that below.
The Seahawks' job could be more lucrative. ESPN's Chris Mortensen cited a source saying the Rams were taking a "conservative fiscal approach" to talks with McDaniels. It's easy to see why. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is reportedly working under a four-year, $12 million contract. The head coach's salary sets the bar for what top assistants can reasonably earn. Seattle's Pete Carroll earns significantly more than Spagnuolo, so the ceiling could be higher for assistants in Seattle.
McDaniels could be using Seattle. Let's say McDaniels knows Bradford is his ticket to becoming a head coach again. Let's say he wants to leverage a better deal from the Rams. Dancing with the Seahawks could help him get more from the Rams. But money does tend to talk in these matters.
The Rams have other options. Brad Childress is still in the running, as Mortensen noted. Also according to Mortensen, the Rams have inquired about assistants Darrell Bevell (Minnesota Vikings) and Bill Musgrave (Atlanta Falcons). The Seahawks are interviewing Bevell for their opening as quarterbacks coach. Bevell is the Vikings' offensive coordinator, but Minnesota has let him explore other opportunities.
This is good for NFC West rivalries. One NFC West team hiring a big-name candidate away from another NFC West team sets up a compelling storyline within the division. Carroll's old Pac-10 rivalry with new San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh added another dynamic to the Seahawks-49ers rivalry. Having McDaniels coaching against a team he spurned would add another one.
Seattle has to be the leading candidate. It's tough to envision the Seahawks firing Bates without having a contingency plan in place. The team must feel confident in its ability to land a suitable replacement.
Carroll could help repair McDaniels' image. Everyone knows McDaniels can coach, the thinking goes. His reputation took a hit on multiple fronts during his tenure as Broncos coach. The low-keyed, cheery Carroll might be in better position than the more regimented Spagnuolo to offer McDaniels the space and latitude he needs to repair his image.
Seattle might offer more staff flexibility. The Seahawks are without a quarterbacks coach. They lost offensive line coach Alex Gibbs just as the regular season was beginning. McDaniels might have an easier time putting together a staff to his liking if he joined the Seahawks, particularly if that "conservative fiscal approach" were a problem in St. Louis.
Losing McDaniels to a division rival would sting. Bernie Miklasz might have been right when he said the Rams needed to move quickly on a coordinator once Pat Shurmur left to join the Cleveland Browns. Having Seattle enter the picture gave McDaniels an option that wasn't immediately available to him until the Seahawks lost in the playoffs.
Week 17 is proving pivotal in retrospect. Life might be different for the Rams if they had defeated the Seahawks in Week 17 and then upset New Orleans in the divisional round, as Seattle did. Shurmur would have been busy coaching the Rams. It's possible the Browns would have gone in another direction.
Lots to think about here, and we have more going on within the division. The 49ers are making staff moves, too.