It sounds as if the deal was almost sealed. Mike Holmgren was going to get what he seemed to want, to run the Seahawks football operations.
Supposedly, negotiations were so far along there had even been talk about the timing of the announcement.
And then something happened. The deal never closed.
Maybe everybody involved heads toward future success. But we may eventually wonder if this will turn into another one of those costly near-misses, perhaps like the one that allowed Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson to get away.
Did the Seahawks blow this? I’m not ready to say this was botched.
At least on the surface, it seems as if the Seahawks made a reasonable effort and offer. But it’s Seahawks management that faces the toughest public-relations challenge at this point. And fans will let them know about it if they don’t make a convincing hire.
Mostly, right now, it seems like a sense of mutual loss. Seahawks. Holmgren. Fans.
The Seahawks may find a talented person to run their football operations, but it’s very unlikely that he will have the public cachet and the fan connection of Mike Holmgren, who is a Hall of Famer in-waiting and widely appreciated for his 10 seasons of service coaching the team. Maybe he’s the kind of guy for whom you open the vault.
Holmgren will find a lucrative position elsewhere, but he calls Seattle his home, and has made no secret that he wanted to come back to the NFL with this team.
The sticking point? We have to assume it was money.
A brief history: Holmgren joined the Seahawks in 1999 as head coach and general manager.
After the 2002 season, he was stripped of the GM duties but stayed as head coach, and led the Seahawks to four straight division titles and a Super Bowl appearance.
Saying he needed time away from football, he retired as coach after last season. When Tim Ruskell was removed as president a few weeks ago, Holmgren, who still lives in the area, appeared to be a prime candidate to take over.
The Seahawks were publicly committed to a hiring process that involved a head-hunting group. This made it clear that Holmgren would not be a rubber-stamp hire.
But when pressured by Cleveland’s interest in making Holmgren the Browns’ “Football Czar” for salary variously reported between $5 million and $10 million a year, the Seahawks abandoned the “process” and went after him.
Piecing it together through reports and sources, it appears that the Seahawks offered Holmgren the job as president of football operations. He would be free to hire a GM to handle the day-to-day work beneath him. He would hold a major-domo position of total control. It was to be similar to the post held by Bill Parcells in Miami.
And it would pay $3 million a year, which approaches Parcells’ reported $4 million.
Start cranking out the press releases.
But it came undone. Did Holmgren want more money? More control? Did the Seahawks balk at higher demands? Were talks subverted when they reached the agent-management stage?
It’s not clear and verifiable right now. But somehow, at the synapse between tentative agreement and actual contract, something misfired.
We may debate whether making the offer was enough, or if the Seahawks should have done whatever it took to bring him back.
They surely made the contact and an effort. But they’re still looking.
Should Holmgren have accepted an offer presumed to be lower than Cleveland’s so he could have stayed in his adopted hometown, where his family resides?
Or did $3 million a year seem like too big a step down from the $8 million he was making as coach … or whatever it was that the Browns had on the table?
Here’s what we know: Announcing Holmgren’s hiring would have enlivened a dead season.
It’s not unanimous, but I’d wager that most Seahawks fans would have been looking forward to seeing what he could do. That’s not always the best reason to make a hire.
But it certainly would have taken their minds off the horrendous 24-7 defeat to a 1-12 Buccaneers team at home on Sunday.
Holmgren would have had the security of an all-powerful position with a franchise for which he has professed great affection.
The Seahawks may find the perfect fit. Holmgren may turn around Cleveland or be lured to another more appealing post.
Maybe they both win.
But right now, this seems like an opportunity that went awry.
Despite the effort, the Seahawks are the ones facing the pressure now.
Holmgren will find work and get a nice salary for it.
But if the Seahawks don’t find somebody to get busy turning this franchise around, the ghost of Mike Holmgren could turn into a haunting specter.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440