The Seattle Seahawks have scheduled a 10:30 a.m. PT press conference, and Ian Rapoport reported last night that the team has come to terms on a contract extension with head coach Pete Carroll. When Carroll joined the Seahawks, he signed a 5-year contract that was reportedly worth $35 million. He was heading into his walk year, and grabbing that Lombardi Trophy gave him the final piece of leverage necessary to get an extension that could very well make him the highest paid coach in the NFL. He was already in the upper echelon based on reported figures, so it would not surprise me if he moves up to $9 million or $10 million a year. Fooch's Update: Rapoport is now reporting the deal will make Carroll among the three highest paid coaches.
For 49ers fans, this is ideally how the Jim Harbaugh situation plays out. Harbaugh is entering the fourth year of his reported 5-year , $25 million deal. In a perfect world, Harbaugh wins the Super Bowl next February, and shortly after he agrees to an extension that makes him one of the highest paid coaches in the league, if not the absolute highest.
There has been plenty of speculation about his future over the last couple months. There was the trade speculation, and the reports of front office discord. Since the start of free agency things have quieted down, but until Jim Harbaugh gets an extension, odds are good these kinds of reports resurface down the road.
Pete Carroll's extension is of note for the Harbaugh chatter, but it is not something that will push an extension any sooner. I think socalisteph summed it up best in this tweet:
@timkawakami makes sense. Harb won't negotiate prematurely, bc he anticipates a Championship & 49ers won't give him top $ until he gets it.— So Cali Steph (@SoCaliSteph) April 4, 2014
Jim Harbaugh is a confident man, and I think we can all agree that he expects to win a Super Bowl in the very near future. He wants to negotiate with the idea of being a Super Bowl winning coach, and the 49ers want a guy who can deliver the Lombardi Trophy. I think the 49ers think he can do it, but when it comes to shelling out the next big contract, they want the Lombardi to back it up.
I actually think there is a very reasonable argument that Harbaugh can make related to the new stadium. The stadium builders' licenses and naming rights are two of the most important parts of getting Levi's Stadium financed. The SBLs in particular make up a huge chunk of stadium financing, and people are less inclined to buy those when they see a crappy product on the field. Whatever we thought of the 49ers talent level under Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, those teams were not winning enough football games. Jim Harbaugh came to town, and he helped turn this team into a title contender. Trent Baalke and the rest of the 49ers front office deserve a ton of credit, but I have to think a lot of fans bought SBLs because of Harbaugh. I don't have proof of that, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt, but Harbaugh has helped transform this organization.
So what does Pete Carroll's contract mean for Harbaugh's potential next contract? It could very well end up as the floor for negotiations. If Carroll becomes the NFL's highest paid coach, any contract negotiations will probably work with that as a baseline figure. And if the 49ers claim a Super Bowl this year or next year, Carroll's contract likely will still be anchoring that discussion. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye out for more details on Carroll's extension.