It was over before it ever really started.
Coaxed into action when the Cleveland Browns offered to make Mike Holmgren head of their football operations, the Seattle Seahawks met with their former head coach by phone over the weekend, and according to the Seahawks, offered him a position as president of Seattle’s football operations.
But Holmgren declined.
The team released a statement Saturday evening, in which Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke reiterated the team’s commitment to conduct an in-house audit of the organization for the balance of the season, but with Holmgren’s situation looming, the team made time for one last conversation with him.
“While that process is ongoing, we also were aware of Mike Holmgren’s recent interview and associated time pressures and met with Mike over the weekend,” Leiweke said in a prepared statement. “After a series of respectful discussions, Mike has declined our offer to rejoin the team given the structure we proposed. We hold Mike in high regard and wish the Holmgren family the very best with their new horizons.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Holmgren would give the Browns his response by Monday.
Holmgren offered this comment included in the team’s release.
“I sincerely thank (owner) Paul Allen and Tod for all their support over the years,” he said. “I thank them for reaching out to me and we conclude these discussions as friends.”
The meeting brought to a close the prospect of a return of Holmgren to the Seahawks, an organization he helped make relevant in his 10 years as head coach, including a run to the Super Bowl following the 2005 season and six playoff appearances.
Money could have been a sticking point in negotiations. Holmgren was rumored to be offered $8 million to $10 million to take the position as head of football operations in Cleveland, although during his weekly interview with a Seattle radio station on Friday Holmgren claimed that he had not discussed financial terms with the Browns.
Control also could have been a deciding factor.
In Seattle, Holmgren would have answered to Leiweke, who reports directly to Allen; in Cleveland, if Holmgren accepts that position, he would report directly to team owner Randy Lerner.
Holmgren also said the possibility of being the head coach for the Browns is an option.
Leiweke indicated during the press conference announcing Tim Ruskell’s resignation as team president and general manager two weeks ago that Seahawks head coach Jim Mora likely will stay when the team hires a new GM.
“I fully expect Jim Mora will be retained,” Leiweke said.
Holmgren, 61, met with Lerner on Monday and Tuesday, touring the team’s facility and checking out housing options in the Cleveland area.
He indicated discussions went well there, and felt he needed to make a decision on whether or not to take a potential job with the Browns in the near future. Reports indicate that Holmgren would like to have a decision made on where he would end up by Christmas.
“I would say sooner than later,” Holmgren said. “I think, in fairness to the Browns and their organization, I think you have to do that, whether it’s me or anybody else.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437