Rams' assets, greater say in front office, lured Fisher to coaching post
Chance for greater influence in personnel matter helped lure Jeff Fisher to Rams
Dolphins wanted Fisher but were not willing to cut authority of GM Jeff Ireland
Rams' high draft pick, salary cap room and young QB also appealed to Fisher
Former Titans coach Jeff Fisher spent much of this week torn between the defensive readiness of the Miami Dolphins to contend now and the better all-around shape of the Rams as a franchise, one NFL source indicated Friday afternoon. He chose the Rams, at least in part, because he was likely to be able to have more of a say on personnel than he was in Miami.
The Dolphins, according to a source in South Florida, would not take personnel control away from general manager Jeff Ireland, whose contract calls for him to have final say on the composition of the roster and on draft choices. Fisher, the source added, did not necessarily want to have final say, but also did not want to have the roster and draft dictated to him.
Fisher and the Rams, who aren't used to winning high-profile battles for anything, never mind head coaches, agreed to terms Friday afternoon on a multiyear deal. But they have yet to finalize contract terms. The agent for Fisher, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive director of football operations and chief operating officer. Those two men were working on the contract this afternoon, and there is virtually no chance they won't be able to come to terms on what is expected to be a four- or five-year deal.
The Rams had several advantages over Miami. St. Louis had a quarterback, Sam Bradford, still seen as a franchise player despite his dreadful, injury-plagued 2011 season. Miami has Matt Moore, who had a good season in 2011 but isn't seen as the club's long-term answer at a position that has plagued them since the departure of Dan Marino more than a decade ago.
St. Louis has the second pick in the '12 draft and could use it on a franchise receiver like Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State -- or the Rams could peddle it for multiple high picks from a team needing one of the two top quarterbacks available in April, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. And St. Louis is in very good cap shape for the season ahead and beyond, meaning it can try to plug holes with a good free-agent class this year and in '13 -- when a lot of teams are not going to have much cap room.
While the Rams were prepared to move ahead without Fisher, Miami was relying on him over all other candidates to rejuvenate a sagging franchise. The Dolphins fired head coach Tony Sparano with three games left in the season. The Dolphins now will look at a pool of coaches they've interviewed so far, as well as talk to more candidates in the coming days, such as Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
The Rams are also expected to add longtime Fisher friend Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
Fisher, 53, took the '11 season off. He coached the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise from November 1994 through the end of the '10 season.