Cowher's agent turns down Jets' advances

Updated: December 31, 2008, 3:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Bill Cowher will not be in the running for the New York Jets' head coach vacancy.

A high-ranking Jets official told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the Jets reached out to Cowher on Tuesday about the job, but Cowher's agent called back to tell the Jets that his client had no interest in the opening.

"After reaching out to coach Cowher's representatives, we were informed tonight that he is not a candidate for the position," Jets spokesman Bruce Speight told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Initially, ESPN.com's John Clayton reported that Cowher told the Jets he was not interested because he wanted his own personnel director. The Jets official's response indicated the team was willing to let Cowher replace current general manager Mike Tannenbaum with his own candidate.

A Jets source also said Tannenbaum said he was willing to adjust his position to accommodate Cowher.

Cowher had not given the Jets the impression he must have total control of personnel, a person familiar with the search told AP. Still, Cowher took his name out of the running without a formal sit-down.

Whoever will coach the Jets, there also is the issue of quarterback Brett Favre. While team owner Woody Johnson and Tannenbaum have said they want Favre back next season, a source familiar with the organization's thinking told Newsday "while they're open to Favre returning, Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum believe whomever we hire as the new coach should have significant input on that decision."

Sources told ESPN's Ed Werder that the 39-year-old Favre has been told by doctors that pain in his right shoulder this season is a result of a torn biceps tendon and some calcification in the area, but Favre would need nothing more than arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury.

The sources Tuesday also said Favre might be able to avoid an arthroscopic procedure altogether if he decides to play a 19th NFL season.

Cowher originally told friends the Jets' job interested him for several reasons. First, Cowher would love to coach in the New York market. Second, two of his daughters are either going to school or working in the New York-New Jersey area.

If Cowher doesn't take an open NFL head coaching job this offseason, he does plan to coach in 2010, sources told Clayton. In 2009, though, he is willing to return only if every situation is right for him. He wanted to have a two-year break from coaching to be with family and recharge.

Last weekend, Cowher met with Browns owner Randy Lerner, who asked him what it would take financially for him to be the Browns coach. Having a close relationship with the Rooney family in Pittsburgh and still wanting more time with family, Cowher didn't give Lerner a price, and said no.

Cowher, 51, was 161-99-1 in 15 seasons with Pittsburgh, including a Super Bowl win in 2006.

Cowher recently extended his contract with CBS for another season.

In addition to Cowher, the Jets are also lining up interviews with other candidates, including Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Giants have granted the Jets permission to speak with Spagnuolo regarding their opening, sources told ESPN's Rachel Nichols.

New York is also expected to interview a pair of in-house candidates: offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also served as assistant head coach under Eric Mangini, who was fired as head coach Monday. Mike Shanahan, fired by Denver on Tuesday night, could also be a potential candidate.

Spagnuolo has become a popular candidate given the Giants' success on defense the past two seasons under him. The 49-year-old defensive coordinator has been mentioned in connection with the vacant Detroit and Cleveland jobs, as well as the Jets.

He was hired by the Giants in January 2007 after working eight years under Jim Johnson with the Philadelphia Eagles' defense. Spagnuolo was considered for the Washington Redskins job after the Giants upset the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last season, but he chose to remain with New York.

Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN's Rachel Nichols and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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