Earlier this off-season the Buccaneers picked up options on both Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik. I said at the time that was the wrong move, that both men deserved contract extensions. Well, fortunately the Bucs rectified that with one of them when they inked Dominik to a four year extension with a healthy raise. However though, according to Pewter Report, the Bucs have no such plans to extend Morris in the immediate future. Since picking up his option, the Bucs have had no discussions with Morris or his agent about a long-term extension. And that lack of conversation isn’t one-sided.
Morris’ camp would prefer to wait until after the 2011 season. Their belief is if the upcoming season goes well, Morris and his infectious personality and ability to lead players would be able to command an upper echelon salary and long-term deal with only one-year remaining on his contract. Morris clearly has the support of the locker room, so with him heading into a lame-duck year in 2012 there would be internal pressure for the team to sign Morris to a lucrative multi-year deal.
A lot of the Glazer-bashers will use this as evidence that the Glazers are being cheap again, and I’ll admit I certainly take my shots at the ownership when it’s warranted. It’s not warranted this time though, the Bucs may not be looking to extend Morris right now but he’s also not looking to take an extension either. He understands that with a playoff run this year he’s going to be looking at a huge payday. Morris has already begun to ascend the NFL coaching hierarchy, finishing second in the coach-of-the-year balloting last season.
However, there is a bit of a risk there too. If the Bucs struggle this season Morris won’t get the type of deal he’s looking for, if he gets one at all. If the Bucs bomb there’s no telling what could happen. At one point Mike Singletary was considered amongst the brightest young coaches in the league and then about a year and a half later he was unemployed. The NFL tides turn quickly.
But there’s also a flip-side to that as well. Say the Bucs defy expectations once again and make a Super Bowl run, then the Glazers really have to pony up. Raheem Morris would be the youngest Super Bowl winning coach of all time and unlike his buddy Mike Tomlin, Morris wasn’t handed a Super Bowl caliber team to start with (far from it). He’d be looking at Belichick money. And that’s pretty rich. I’m not saying there is a high likelihood for this scenario, but it does certainly exist and I’m not 100 percent confident this team would pony up that kind of dough (especially as they’re just taking their last big coaching hire off the books and face financial uncertainty). I’m not trying to knock the ownership here either, I’m just advancing a hypothetical.
Regardless, Morris is here for two more years. Personally, I think the Bucs will probably give him a three year extension at the end of next season and none of this will be an issue. There really is no reason to extend Morris right now from a business standpoint. With Dominik it was different, if they didn’t act before his contract ran out he would essentially have become a free agent and some team definitely would have been able to outbid the Bucs for the talented young GM’s services. With Morris there won’t be any real necessity until he faces the prospect of being a lame duck coach in next year.
And in the meantime Morris will be setting his price.