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Bucs want compensation for right to talk to Parcells

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 30, 2002

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A year after Bill Parcells signed a contract to become the next Buccaneers coach, only to change his mind and remain retired, Tampa Bay wants to be compensated if Parcells is courted by another team.

The Bucs sent a letter Friday to Parcells' agent, Jimmy Sexton, saying any talks the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach has with other teams must be approved by them and Tampa Bay is seeking compensation before granting permission.

According to the letter, the team's first confirmation that it had a deal with Parcells, the announcement of his hiring was delayed so he could drive to Tampa. But Parcells had a change of heart and informed the Bucs he would remain retired.

Parcells has had two meetings during the past two weeks with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones regarding a possible coaching vacancy. Parcells and Jones reportedly have cleared major obstacles, including salary and the hiring and firing of assistants after a five-hour meeting Dec.18 at a New Jersey airport and six hours Friday at the Garden City club in Long Island, N.Y.

"Recent reports that Bill Parcells signed a contract to be head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after our elimination from the playoffs last season are accurate," Bucs general manager Rich McKay said in the statement released by the team. "We have put Bill Parcells and his representatives on notice that any team that wishes to speak with him must first receive our permission in accordance with the NFL anti-tampering rules, and we will require compensation to grant such permission.

"Our focus remains on (Sunday's) game and the upcoming playoffs, and we will not publicly address the issue any further."

The Bucs fired Tony Dungy on Jan.14, two days after Tampa Bay lost 31-9 to Philadelphia in the NFC wild-card game. During a Jan.15 news conference to announced Dungy's firing, Bucs vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer said they had not contacted Parcells. On Jan.18, Parcells told the Bucs he would not become their coach.

Meaning, according to the Glazers, Parcells was contacted by the Bucs, negotiated and signed a contract between Jan.15 and Jan.18.

The letter says Sexton convinced the Bucs not to make the agreement public in case Parcells changed his mind and decided to coach Tampa Bay.

After a 36-day coaching search, the Bucs sent four draft picks (two first-rounders and two second-rounders) and $8-million to the Raiders for coach Jon Gruden.

The rights to Parcells could garner significant compensation. When Parcells left New England to coach the Jets, the Patriots received four draft picks, a third- and fourth-rounder in '97, a second-rounder in '98 and a first-rounder in '99.

When Bill Belichick left the Jets to coach New England, the teams swapped draft picks. The Jets received a first-rounder in 2000 and fourth- and seventh-rounders in 2001. The Patriots received a fifth-rounder in 2001 and seventh-rounder in 2002.

The Rams received $500,000, a second-round pick in 2001 and a third-round pick in 2002 when the Chiefs hired Dick Vermeil. The third-round pick was acquired from the Redskins when they hired Marty Schottenheimer.

At issue is if Parcells' signed contract was approved by the NFL. League officials are expected to begin reviewing the matter today.

"There may or may not be (a contract on file)," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's director of communications. "People cannot verify that until (today). The Bucs haven't contacted our office to look into this.

"Now they may do so. At that point, we would look into it. Whether or not there's a filed contract here could be a factor."

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