Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is scheduled to meet with owner Mark Davis on Tuesday and a major subject of that meeting will be the fate of Allen’s assistant coaches.
Allen wants to bring back most of the staff, but Davis isn’t quite so sure, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Allen has two years left on his deal, but most of the assistant coaches were brought in on two-year deals that are expiring.
One notable exception is offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who signed a two-year contract when he replaced Greg Knapp after the 2012 season.
The message from this strategy by Davis is clear: He doesn’t want to pay Allen not to coach for two years, but he’s also not committed to him beyond 2014.
According to Tafur, only three coaches have taken over a team that had back-to-back non-losing seasons, had two straight losing years and returned for a third season, and only one of those was in the salary cap era: Dave Campo with the Dallas Cowboys in 2000-02. He was fired after a third consecutive 5-11 season.
The Raiders went 8-8 in both 2010 and 2011 under coaches Tom Cable and Hue Jackson, respectively, while Allen has gone 4-12 in each of his first two seasons in Oakland.
Oakland will have something for 2014 that it hasn’t had in 2012 and 2013 … salary cap space. The Raiders are projected to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million (a damned nice neighborhood) when the new league year begins in March and will be able to be very aggressive in pursuing free agents and other roster upgrades.
Another 4-12 finish can’t happen if Allen wants to see the last year of his four-year contract in Oakland, and it’s clear that Davis is hedging, hence his desire to bring back assistant coaches on one-year contracts rather than the NFL standard two-year deal.
After all, if you’re Mark Davis, it makes sense to not want to pay an entire coaching staff for a second year when there’s a possibility you’re blowing the whole thing up after the 2014 season anyway.
Allen is a very polarizing figure within the Raider fan base. There is a contingent of fans that think he deserves a third year—which would be the first year the team has had any salary cap flexibility—after he took the body blows associated with having nearly $60 million in cap space tied up in dead money the last two seasons.
But there is also a group of fans that want Allen gone … like, yesterday, after the team went 8-24 over the last two years.
There’s a chance the latter group gets its wish if the meeting between Davis and Allen goes sideways on Tuesday.
Of course, if the assistant coaches are going to be put on one-year deals, there’s a chance that Allen’s hands will be tied when it comes time to retain the staff or hire new coaches.
As one source told Tafer for the Chronicle piece, “Quality assistants don’t work on one-year deals.”
While that may be true, it’s just as true that good businessmen don’t like to spend money that they don’t have to. Having to buy out an entire coaching staff by putting them under contract for a 2015 season that they might not be around for would be an example of just such a thing.