McKay's Future in Tampa Uncertain-Again

January 17 – Rather than parting ways with Tampa Bay, Bucs general manager Rich McKay has opted to wait and see how things unfold with Jets' assistant general manager Mike Tannenbaum and former Giants, Patriots and Jets head coach Bill Parcells. McKay indicated he was open to change at a press conference at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday afternoon, but is he really preparing Tampa for his departure just two days after the Glazers ensured the Bay Area they were working to extend his contract?

Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay wanted to clear a few things up on Thursday afternoon after he said he might have misled the Glazers in regards to his future with the Buccaneers.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bucs executive vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer hoped to not only retain McKay, but they also wanted to start talking with him about extending his current contract.

"Rich's (McKay) job is not in the equation here (in terms of firing)," said Joel Glazer. "He has one year left on his contract and we're already talking to him about extending his contract. We're talking about expanding his duties and he's been a key part of this franchise. We view him as important and we're talking with him about an extension."

While McKay, who has one year left on his contract, gave every indication he wanted to stay with the Buccaneers' organization, he made it clear that things had to unfold in the right way before he'd commit to stay in Tampa for the long haul.

"What I told them(the Glazers) on Tuesday was what I wanted to see how is this going to shake out," said McKay. "What is the structure going to be? What is my role going to be? If Coach Parcells comes, what are his duties, what are Mike's (Tannenbaum) duties, and what are my duties? I felt bad because I think they had the impression, ‘you'll do it,' and I‘m not comfortable that necessarily going to work for me. I have invested 10 years here. My father invested a lot of long years early on and a lot of years here. I have a lot into the franchise. I feel like between Tony (Dungy) and I, we've put together a good basis for a franchise, so I can tell you I am very motivated to stay, but I do want to see what the structure is going to be. I want to take my time and make sure I do what is right from a career standpoint and from a workability standpoint. I want to see it from Coach Parcells perspective should he become the coach, and I think that there's every intent he will be once they figure certain things out."

McKay might be preparing Tampa for his departure just two days after the Glazers ensured the Bay Area they were working to extend his contract.

The possibility of losing McKay does not bode well for Tampa Bay. McKay was promoted to the general manager position in 1994 and has been regarded as one of the best salary cap guru's in the league ever since. But McKay understood why Parcells would want to bring Tannenbaum with him to Tampa Bay since the two had worked together and fared well with the New York Jets.

"I think Bill (Parcells) is very comfortable with him," said McKay. "I think he looks at what they did together at the Jets, and the contracts that they were able to do, and he's very comfortable with Mike (Tannenbaum). I don't think that means Bill and I could not work together. I don't think that means that Bill wouldn't want to include me in the package and try to do that. I just think that with Mike he's got a guy that he's very comfortable with. I am very comfortable with John Idzik. John and I have worked together forever. John has done the majority of the contracts. I could see where Coach Parcells would want that as part of his package. You have to understand about Mike. I've known Mike, I've talked to Mike although not in a collusive matter, because you're not allowed to that in the National Football League. Mike is very good at what he does so I'm fine with that. At the end of the day what Mike's responsibilities would be, I think that remains to be seen. I think that remains a little bit for when the Coach Parcells transaction actually happens."

Speaking of Parcells, the two-time Super Bowl winning head coach didn't sound so sure he wanted to return to coaching on his weekly radio show on Thursday evening. But despite Parcells' uncertainty, McKay seemed optimistic that both Parcells and the Bucs would finalize a deal soon.

"I say this about the Coach Parcells situation and Mike (Tannenbaum) situation, it hasn't been finalized," said McKay. "Do I anticipate it will be, sure I do. Absolutely. Now when, I don't know that. I think these are deals that they seem more time then I am accustomed to, but they do take time and there is a process."

McKay acknowledged he had already had at least one conversation about Tampa Bay's vacant head coaching position with Parcells.

"All we did, we spent about two hours talking about who our people are, who's here, how we're set up," said McKay. "I talked about our football team a little bit, from my perspective. That was the main focus of the conversation."

One has to question whether or not McKay and Parcells could coexist since Tannenbaum would replace McKay at the general manager position and Parcells has reportedly asked for a lot of control of the team. But while McKay is optimistic about coexisting with Parcells, he insisted he could not decide his future with the Bucs until Parcells decided his.

"I am very comfortable with the fact that I could with Coach Parcells, I am very comfortable with that," said McKay. "I just want him to finalize the deal, come to Tampa and actually sit down and talk about how do we run the draft, how do we run free agency, how do we run the contracts, how do we run the salary cap, and get an understanding of how we all do this. This is not a business where you need more. There are certain franchises that have five salary cap guys. I don't know what we would all do. So I just want to sit down and kind of say, ‘How do we do all of this? How do we make sure that we are not overlapping? How do we make sure we're not wasting a lot of time and energy here."

McKay has a lot of respect for Tannenbaum and Parcells, and even though their strategies are different, McKay said that didn't mean one approach was better than the other.

"There's no question that our approaches have been different," said McKay. "When you look at what he (Parcells) did in New England and what he did in New York versus what we've tried to do here, our approaches are different. It doesn't make one better than the other. It just means that his approach is more focused upon trying to win a championship in the short term. It's hard for me to criticize him for that. He almost did. He got them to the conference championship game when he was with New York. So they are different. But I think it's more that I have a lay of the land. I know how this franchise is, where it's been, where it's come from, and I think they want to keep some of that continuity. I'm happy they do. I've been on these practice fields a long time."

McKay wasn't really specific as to what he needed from Tannenbaum and Parcells in order to stay in Tampa, but he did acknowledge the fact that he will do a lot of inquiring before making a decision on his future with the organization.

"Well, I've always been involved in contracts," said McKay. "I've always been involved in salary cap. I got into the personnel side of it. It's not a question of that. It's a question of how we're going to structure it. How do we make decisions? We set up a process to make decisions here, and the only thing is, I'm so accustomed to it I just want to know, how are we going to do it now? We had a way to make decisions – how are we going to do it now? Coach Parcells, when and if he's named, how do we set it up? How do those decisions get made? What input do I have? What input don't I have. I don't want to oversell my value. That's not the purpose of this. It's just to say I want to know that before I (decide)."

Parcells has a reputation of deserting teams after a few years of coaching and leaving them in bad shape in terms of their salary cap. So, there's a possibility the Glazers might sign McKay to an extension and give him a different job title, which would allow him to stick around and interact with the team while Parcells and Co. handle most of the day-to-day operations until Parcells opted to retire. While this would probably be the best case scenario, it's probably the most unlikely.

"I don't know that (I would take a smaller role with the team until Parcells left)," said McKay. "If that implies that I wouldn't have a lot to do in the interim, that wouldn't be real enticing."

No matter what happens, McKay does not want to see Tampa Bay return to a dismal state such as the one he arrived to in 1992. McKay wants Tampa Bay to remain one of the league's elite teams with or without him.

"I do feel a little sense of, number one, loyalty to the Glazers and, number two, loyalty to the franchise," said McKay. "I know where we were. I was in here. I came into the building in '92 and '93. I know how bad it felt and I do not want to see this franchise ever face that again. I'm a Tampa guy. I've been here 25 years. I've lived on the same street for 16 years. It's not a place that I look to run from. I look to stay, if I can."

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