Will Jeff Saturday hire become a trend? The answer could come down to money

For years, some NFL head coaches have believed that owners are quietly colluding to keep their salaries lower than they should be, relative to the value the best coaches bring to their teams.

Case in point. Lions quarterback Jared Goff‘s contract pays, on average, $33 million per year. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is believed to be making $25 million per year. Which one is the better bargain, given the overall impact on a team’s fortunes?

Last week’s stunning decision by Colts owner Jim Irsay to fire Frank Reich and to hire Jeff Saturday for the rest of the year, and perhaps beyond, could be the next step in the broader effort to keep head-coaching pay from going haywire.

There’s no salary cap for coaches, which means a bidding war could break out at any time. There’s also no salary floor, which allows some teams to pay far less than market rate to someone who simply craves the opportunity to be a coach.

We don’t, and presumably won’t, know what Irsay is paying Saturday to finish the year. What if Irsay’s decision to hire Saturday after the current season ends (which in some respects it feels as if Irsay already has decided to do) flows from a recognition that Saturday won’t be driving a hard financial bargain?

That’s why the dramatic shift in thinking about the hiring of head coaches can’t be ignored. If, at the end of the day, an owner can hire a former player who has no college or pro coaching experience for significantly less than what a rising coordinator or former head coach tied to one of the top coaching agents would expect to receive, maybe there will be more former players with no coaching experience who get an opportunity to coach.

Football is business. A big business. No matter how much revenue is being generated, the owners are constantly looking for ways to maximize profit. Money in versus money out. The less money that goes out, the greater the profit.

Remember that whenever you hear Irsay or any other owner talk about how badly he wants to win Super Bowls. They have to say that, or the paying customers will check out. Besides, if winning the Super Bowl is the real standard for success, the NFL has 31 annual failures.

The reality is that the league has 32 businesses that enjoy significant success, each and every year. That success doesn’t come in the form of a silver trophy, but in rectangular sheets of green paper.

Will Jeff Saturday hire become a trend? The answer could come down to money originally appeared on Pro Football Talk