For Lions, ditching Jim Schwartz and hiring Bill O’Brien would cost $18 million

Jay Busbee
December 22, 2013

Jim Schwartz's seat in Detroit is so hot it's melted to slag. If Detroit manages to fumble away its best chance at a playoff berth in years, Schwartz is almost certain to be the first to go. But if Detroit does axe Schwartz and pursue Penn State's Bill O'Brien, one of those fabled "hot" names dotting the college coaching ranks, it'll cost the Lions plenty.

As Sporting News notes, Schwartz would be owed the last two years of his contract, valued at $12 million, if he were let go early. And then there's the matter of freeing up O'Brien. It's easier than it would have been a few months ago, but still not a cheap deal.

O'Brien took over at Penn State in 2012 following the traumatic events of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and turned down inquiries after an impressive performance helping the Nittany Lions get up off the deck last year. But once it became clear to Penn State that O'Brien very well could return to the NFL, the university upped his base salary. Even so, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports, O'Brien's buyout is much less significant than it would have been earlier.

Is Detroit the right fit for O'Brien? He's got plenty of NFL assistant experience, including a stint as New England's offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011, and he's made no secret of his desire to be a head coach. Detroit offers some impressive offensive weaponry from Day 1. Could be a very enticing next few weeks in the Motor City ... and in Happy Valley.

Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter.