Report: Jim Mora to be officially named Mike Holmgren's successor with Seahawks
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Good thing Jim Mora is renowned for his nonstop energy. He now has three job titles with the Seahawks.
Assistant head coach. Defensive backs coach. And head coach-designate.
Seattle set an NFL precedent Wednesday by giving Mora a four-year contract to succeed Holmgren. Just not yet.
Holmgren announced last month he will fulfill the final season of his contract with the Seahawks in 2008, leaving Mora to return for one more season in his other two roles.
Then the 46-year-old Mora will become Seattle's seventh head coach. It's a deal one person with knowledge of the contract said will put Mora "in the upper echelon of coaches in the National Football League."
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Seahawks do not divulge financial terms of contracts.
That means Mora will be getting at least $5 million per season, about double what Atlanta is paying him this year. Mora was fired as Falcons' head coach on New Year's Day 2007 with a year left on his contract. In his three seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons were 26-22 and played in the 2004 NFC championship game.
"It's a very, very good contract," the source said.
Holmgren is believed to be making $8 million annually. Washington's Joe Gibbs had a five-year, $27.5 million contract until he retired again from the Redskins last month. New England's Bill Belichick was widely reported to have received a contract extension last year that is believed to be worth more than $5 million annually. Mike Shanahan reportedly received a raise from his $5 million-per-year deal with Denver when he got a three-year extension from the Broncos last year.
The Seahawks are not the first NFL team to designate a coach-in-waiting. The Indianapolis Colts recently announced Jim Caldwell as the eventual replacement for Tony Dungy, whenever Dungy decides to retire.
However, the Seahawks are believed to be the first team to have a coach already under contract, with a known start date, while the outgoing coach remains on the job.
"What (Holmgren's) done here, by announcing his retirement a year ahead of time, has afforded this organization to make a smooth transition, to be seamless, to be non-chaotic," Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said. "Which is kind of rare in the sports world -- certainly in the NFL.
"We all know about the elongated processes and the back-stabbing, some of the ugly things that can go on. Well, we're not going to have that."
The 59-year-old Holmgren, the Seahawks winningest coach with 86 victories in 10 seasons, pushed for the Mora announcement so players who are poised to enter free agency next month can judge Seattle, knowing who its coach will be.
"This makes a lot of sense for the organization," Holmgren said in a team statement. "Jim is a talented coach who already had a measure of success in this league and has all the tools here needed to succeed."
The announcement was also unique in that neither Holmgren nor Mora were there. Ruskell said the two coaches didn't want to "make a big splash" and overlook the team's mission for 2008: sending Holmgren out with the franchise's first Super Bowl title, after five consecutive playoff appearances.
"I am extremely excited about the future, but completely focused on the opportunity we have in front of us this season," Mora said in the statement.
The Seahawks' unique move allowed them to bypass the league's Rooney Rule that requires team with head coaching vacancies to interview minority candidates. The rule does not apply to promotions within a team's own staff.
Last month, while Holmgren was contemplating whether to return, Mora removed himself from consideration for the vacant head coaching job with the Washington Redskins.
"He told us, 'I know I will get another shot," Ruskell said of Mora.
Mora went to high school in the Seattle area while his father was an assistant at the University of Washington. Many UW fans called for him to replace Tyrone Willingham as the Huskies' next coach, after the team had its third consecutive losing season under Willingham. Willingham, who inherited a program in disarray, has been promised no more than the 2008 season by the school president.
When asked Wednesday what his reaction was to Mora getting the Seahawks' job in 2009 instead, Willingham said stoically: "Didn't have one. Isn't that a good thing for them?"
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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