Parcells spurns Falcons, close to deal with Dolphins
ESPN.com news services
Updated: December 19, 2007, 6:10 PM ET
Parcells Not Headed to Atlanta, Miami Deal Possible
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Bill Parcells will not be joining the Atlanta Falcons as head of football operations.
Parcells turned down the position, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Wednesday in a statement. Blank said the team had an agreement in principle with Parcells, but after he told the Falcons he was considering an similar offer from the Miami Dolphins, negotiations fell through.
Parcells is almost certain to land in Miami after Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga sent word Wednesday to Parcells that he has decided not to sell the team, sources have told ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Len Pasquarelli.
Parcells has a four-year agreement in place to become the Dolphins vice president of football operations -- the identical role he had negotiated with Falcons owner Arthur Blank, a Dolphins source said. Parcells is expected to sign a contract in the next 48 hours, and sources say it unlikely to fall through as it did with the Falcons.
The Dolphins and Parcells had dialogue almost two weeks ago about the job, but the deal was put on ice when Huizenga seriously entertained offers for the sale of his franchise, sources said. Huizenga has assured Parcells that he will remain in control of the team, according to a Dolphins official. That was the dramatic development that altered his course with Atlanta.
"We gave it our best shot, and it didn't work out. We will continue down the same overall path, proceeding with plans to hire a general manager and a head coach. We will identify and consider every strongly viable candidate for these positions, with the goal of hiring the best," Blank said, according to a statement.
Parcells, an ESPN NFL analyst, was considering an offer to join the team's front office as vice president of football operations, a role that would put him in charge of finding the next coach for a team rocked by the suspension and imprisonment of Michael Vick and the sudden resignation of Bobby Petrino.
The announcement that talks broke down with Parcells leaves the makeup of the Falcons' front office, and their search for a replacement for Petrino, in question.
Pasquarelli: Hot on the trail
This wasn't the first time the Atlanta Falcons and Bill Parcells danced. ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli recalls the other time, which ended the same way. Story
The announcement was a far cry from earlier Wednesday, when Parcells told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that he was leaning toward accepting the Falcons' offer.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it. [Owner] Arthur [Blank] and I have had some pretty constructive discussions. I basically will oversee the football operations. We'll meet today -- not in Atlanta -- and work out some of the final details but I don't think there's any deal breakers here," Parcells said earlier.
According to the statement, Rich McKay will remain president of the club and will retain general manager responsibilities until a new GM is hired.
Blank added that the Falcons remain committed to "looking at every option for building a championship-caliber team for our fans.
"I have stated we will leave no stone unturned in doing so, and this effort is one example of that," Blank said.
The courtship with Parcells may have no real effect on the team's search for a new coach. The Falcons are expected to wait at least until the end of the regular season to begin serious talks with candidates.
Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene declined comment to The Associated Press, saying the organization does not discuss rumors.
"Really?" defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said when told by The AP about Parcells' apparent interest in the Dolphins. "You can't control it. But somebody like the Big Tuna, regardless of who's in the front office or who's not, brings a lot of respect and a lot of credibility with him. He's a Hall of Famer. If you're a free agent out there, that might draw you in."
Parcells is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The story broke as many Dolphins were playing cards and dominoes in the locker room after practice, and instantly, many of them began turning heads toward the televisions scattered about the room.
It didn't take long for even the mere mention of Parcells to create a buzz in Miami.
"I have a lot of respect for what he's been able to do in other places and I'd expect, if he did come in here, for him to do the same," Holliday said. "I don't know what's going to happen upstairs. I have no idea. I have a lot of respect for [GM] Randy Mueller, as well. But my interest is in what's best for this team and getting us in the right direction."
ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press contributed to this report.