Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner knew the names: Tony Dungy. Mike Holmgren. Bill Cowher. Mike Shanahan. Jon Gruden. Brian Billick. There are more quality coaches not working in the NFL than at any point in recent history.
All six of those coaches have what Andy Reid does not - a Lombardi Trophy - and yet Lurie and Banner decided that keeping Reid and his .614 regular-season winning percentage, his 10-7 playoff record, and his six division titles made more sense than enduring the inevitable growing pains that would go with making a regime change.
"Hopefully, [this] cuts off any speculation," Banner told me last week after extending Reid's contract through 2013. "The second thing it does is it says we look at the landscape out there, and we think if we picked the coach we wanted, it would be Andy Reid.
"So, we extend him and make that commitment, and that precludes ourselves purposefully of evaluating the other options. But we only do that because we believe if we could pick any of them, he's who we'd pick."
What, potentially, were the other options?
Cowher. The Chin has been sidelined for three seasons now, and he and Shanahan will be the hottest commodities in the coming weeks. In 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, Cowher was 149-90 (a .623 winning percentage) in the regular season and 12-9 in the postseason, won nine division titles, and won the Super Bowl in 2005.
Prediction: Cowher will go to the highest bidder, even if it's the Redskins' Dan Snyder.
Shanahan. After 14 seasons in Denver, Shanahan was shown the door after the Broncos went 8-8 last season and failed to make the playoffs for the third year in a row. In 16 seasons as a coach, Shanahan was 146-98 (.598) and 8-5 in the postseason, and won six division titles and Super Bowls in 1997 and '98.
Prediction: Shanahan will have his pick of jobs.
Gruden. Although he agreed to a contract extension with ESPN to continue as a color commentator on Monday Night Football, Gruden is a coach at heart. In 11 years with Oakland and Tampa Bay, Gruden was 95-81 (.540) and 5-4 in the postseason, and won five division titles and the Super Bowl in 2002.
Prediction: Gruden will flirt with a few teams - college and pro - but return to the booth for 2010.
Dungy. After 13 seasons, Dungy retired following last season. He's still involved with the NFL, working as a studio analyst for NBC's Football Night in America and as an adviser to commissioner Roger Goodell. At Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, Dungy was 139-69 (.668) and 9-10 in the postseason, won six division titles, and won the Super Bowl with the Colts in 2006.
Prediction: Dungy will politely rebuff potential suitors.
Holmgren. After a disappointing 4-12 finish with Seattle in 2008, Holmgren retired. But he would like to return to the league in a Bill Parcells-type role, in which he has sway over personnel decisions. In 17 seasons as a head coach, Holmgren was 161-111 (.592) and 13-11 in the postseason, and won eight division titles, three NFC titles, and the Super Bowl in 1996.
Prediction: Holmgren will return to the Seahawks as general manager.
Billick. Now a blunt, honest analyst on Sundays, Billick could hear his phone ring this off-season. In nine seasons in Baltimore, Billick was 80-64 (.556) and 5-3 in the postseason, and won two division titles and the Super Bowl in 2000.
Prediction: Billick will not get a good enough offer, and will return to the booth.
But buyer beware. Of the 11 head coaches who won a Super Bowl and went on to coach another franchise, none won another Super Bowl. So maybe Lurie and Banner knew what they were doing.