Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin's status for the 2015 season was not in doubt once team owner Stephen Ross publicly endorsed him before the season ended. But that endorsement raised the question whether the Dolphins would commit to Philbin financially beyond that '15 season, which was scheduled to be the final year of the coach's contract.
That question is now answered because a club source close to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said this evening the team will indeed offer Philbin an extension.
The purpose of the extension is two-fold: It addresses the idea that Philbin would enter next season as a lame duck coach. It also insulates the Dolphins should Philbin's Dolphins have a good year and the coach wish to parlay that into other opportunities.
The Dallas Cowboys, it should be noted, allowed head coach Jason Garrett to enter this season, the last on his currently contract, without an extension. The Cowboys won the NFC East, have won a playoff game, and Garrett is for most intents a hot commodity and a free agent after the season.
The Cowboys still expect to sign Garrett to a new deal but that might now cost them more than an extension would have cost before this season.
The fact Ross will offer Philbin an extension is not unprecedented. He gave Tony Sparano a contract extension after the 2010 season so that Sparano would not enter 2011 as a proverbial lame duck.
But here's the truth of the matter:
Giving Philbin an extension won't really guarantee the coach a job beyond 2015. Although Ross will make a financial commitment to Philbin, he can still fire the coach if he wishes with the understanding he'll still pay off the contract.
Ross paid Sparano after firing the former Dolphins coach late in the 2011 season.
So while giving Philbin an extension will indeed give the coach financial certainty for at least one year and perhaps more, it will not guarantee Philbin he will be the Miami coach beyond 2015.
Only winning will help Philbin in that department.