Rams wishing big for next head coach and their improbable dream is Pete Carroll

Think inside and outside of the box. Think of Jared Goff. Most of all, think big. That’s what the Los Angeles Rams will be doing in their search to replace Jeff Fisher, who was fired on Monday.

How big? Multiple sources with insight into the earliest stages of the Rams coaching search said there is a monster name that intrigues the power brokers inside the franchise: the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll. The same Pete Carroll who faces the Rams on Thursday night. The same Pete Carroll who resides inside the NFC West. And the same Pete Carroll who is under contract with Seattle through the 2019 season.

Pete Carroll returned to the L.A. Coliseum this season in the Seahawks' Week 2 defeat to the Rams. (AP)
Pete Carroll returned to the L.A. Coliseum this season in the Seahawks’ Week 2 defeat to the Rams. (AP)

Apparently they don’t call it a coaching “wish list” for nothing.

Carroll would be an exceptionally difficult coach to reel in, maybe as close to impossible as a candidate could be outside of the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick. But that may not stop the Rams from expressing interest. Sources said team owner Stan Kroenke and vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff have both developed a massive amount of respect for Carroll, who apparently checks off many of the boxes the Rams will be looking to fill in their next candidate.

What’s already clear to some is that Carroll is the archetype Los Angeles will seek: an energetic coach who illustrates an ability to work closely with his personnel department; connects on a deep level with his core stars; empowers players to take significant ownership of their locker room; has experience overseeing the development of a young quarterback; and has the gravitas to inspire a Los Angeles market that soured on Fisher after 13 games. Essentially, the Rams will be seeking a similar coaching blueprint that Carroll laid out in Seattle with general manager John Schneider.

“Pete makes sense in a lot of ways,” one source said. “There is already a defensive core in place for him to work with. He has deep coaching ties across [the NFL] and knows how to build an offensive staff that can bring along [Goff]. … He’s a California guy at heart and has a track record there with the L.A. fan base [from his time at USC]. He’s also a great, great coach.”

In his news conference discussing Fisher’s firing on Monday, Demoff repeatedly talked about energy and excitement when referencing intriguing coaching attributes. He also said the Rams would be keeping all their options open in a search, and not defaulting to a candidate who fit a mold opposite of Fisher, namely, a young offensive-minded coach.

Undoubtedly, landing Carroll would also be a splashy, superstar moment for Kroenke, who has already positioned himself to take a Jerry Jones-esque perch among NFL owners. All of that said, Carroll appears to be virtually unobtainable. And that means Los Angeles will almost certainly have to settle for a Carroll clone, considering the significant number of roadblocks that would exist in any pursuit of the original.

First and foremost, all of the sources familiar with the Rams’ thinking labeled Carroll as a “want” or “wish” candidate. In other words, there’s no indication that Carroll would be interested in leaving Seattle for Los Angeles, although multiple NFL sources believe Carroll has a desire to eventually retire to California.

Unfortunately for the Rams, Carroll has already signed his intentions on the dotted line, inking a contract extension in July that will take him through the 2019 season. That aligns Carroll closely with the remaining prime years of the core of his roster, making it even more unlikely he would depart for at least a mini roster rebuild in Los Angeles. And even in the event the Rams could convince Carroll otherwise, it would take a massive salary and a staggering haul of draft picks to get Seattle to consider trading their Super Bowl-winning coach inside the NFC West.

This wouldn’t be the first time Carroll landed on a Los Angeles wish list, either. Reports suggested in 2015 that he was desired by USC boosters as a replacement after the school fired Steve Sarkisian. Carroll wasted little time blowing that out of the water. It’s unlikely that attitude has changed a little over one year later, though the Rams job – and new stadium – would seem to create an entirely different set of circumstances.

That said, Carroll remains a huge wish on a wish list that will likely include some other massive names. While he may ultimately be out of reach for the Rams, the reverence for Carroll certainly suggests what the Rams will be reaching for in their next hire: something big.

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