Another day, another round of negotiations between Jeff Fisher and the Dolphins. And Jeff Fisher and the Rams.
And, I suppose, Jeff Fisher and his heart.
I cannot comment on the tug-of-war Fisher is having in picking either the Dolphins or the Rams. I don't know what's inside Fisher's mind or heart and he's not calling or texting or e-mailing to tell me -- yet.
I do know the way this will go is when Fisher, through his agent, has finished negotiating with one or the other team, he will inform the team he picks he'd like to work for them. And then that team will offer him the job as their next coach.
The team that does not win this Fisher tourney will continue searching for answers and have the plausible deniability of saying it never offered Fisher the job. But, really, who are we kidding?
These negotiations intrigue me in that they are not necessarily about money going to Fisher. They are about money to hire a coaching staff, which is important because Fisher is reportedly constructing an experienced and expensive one. (He has invested quite some time the past couple of days compiling a staff.)
The talks are also about power. And that's where Dolphins fans wanting Fisher should be worried.
The Dolphins, you see, have a general manager in place. And that GM, Jeff Ireland, currently has power to pick talent. But Fisher wants the power to have final say over his talent. So some way, somehow, the Dolphins have to find a way to massage the situation so that Fisher doesn't feel like the players he's going to have are being dictated to him.
The Rams don't have this problem because they currently don't have a general manager and aren't expected to hire a GM until Fisher has made a decision. And if Fisher goes to St. Louis, he will almost definitely have veto power over the general manager not to mention over the general manager's personnel decisions.
This doesn't mean Fisher doesn't like Ireland. I hear the opposite is true in that he likes Ireland and respects his work. This simply means Fisher doesn't want to be dictated to by Ireland. And so this has to be negotiated so it is acceptable to everyone
Unfortunately for the Dolphins that may not be the end of the power tug-of-war.
Fisher, you should know, had two defining issues while with the Tennessee Titans and they haunt him to this day to the point he doesn't really want to repeat them:
First, he had to juggle a franchise move from Houston to Memphis to Nashville that cost him a couple of seasons, cost him a competitive advantage, a fan base and home field advantage, cost him and his coaches life issues that he doesn't want to repeat should the Rams move from St. Louis.
The second defining issue that bothered Fisher in Tennessee was owner Bud Adams dictating personnel decisions to him. Adams basically forced Fisher to pick Vince Young although the coach didn't want to go in that direction. And while it seemed like the right move for a couple of seasons, ultimately it not only failed but indirectly led to Fisher's separation from the team. This is an issue for the coach. And so he wants to make sure neither Stan Kroenke in St. Louis nor Stephen Ross in Miami are going to be telling him which players he has to draft or sign or keep or cut.
Both these issues have to be negotiated and I suppose the team that comes closest to Fisher's stance will ultimately have a major advantage in getting the coach. It's not an easy situation for either team.
The Rams probably cannot guarantee Fisher they will never, ever, ever move. The truth is they might move if the dome where they play is not improved to the team's satisfaction. And so Fisher, knowing the possibility exists he might have to relive a franchise relocation, probably wants certain assurances to make that experience feel less like the root canal without novacaine that it felt like before. I don't pretend to know the specific details of this but -- speculating here -- it probably involves cost of living increases for his coaches and staff, it probably includes certain guarantees on the kind of facility the club would move into. I can't pretend to know how the sides will massage this.
The Dolphins don't have relocation issues and so that's a major advantage. But the club does have structure issues. Fisher probably wants some assurance from Ross that he won't dictate to him like Adams dictated to him. This is legitimate because, you'll remember, it was Ross who shut down the Kyle Orton trade possibility and got involved in the attempt to convince Mike Brown to trade Carson Palmer to the Dolphins. So can Ross promise he'll never dictate to Fisher? I have no idea. It has to be negotiated. No such negotiation probably has to happen with Kroenke, who is an avowed hands-off owner.
Obviously there are other issues that have to be overcome before Fisher picks a team, gets an offer, accepts the offer, signs a contract and takes control. Yes, it is complicated.
That's how things are when you have two teams that lately aren't known for having all their ducks lined up neatly in a row.
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