Does Lovie Smith deserve his top-five salary?

By Chris Dubiel

After a report surfaced that the Chicago Bears and Lovie Smith were in “preliminary talks” on a contract extension, debate began to swirl if extending him is the right move. The debate also opens the door to this one: is he worthy of being one of the NFL’s highest paid coaches?

Lovie Smith is one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL. According to The Richest People, Smith’s $6 million per year salary ranks fifth among NFL head coaches. The top two on the list, Bill Belichick ($7.5 million/year) and Mike Shanahan ($7 million/year) have won multiple Super Bowls. Belichick is considered one of the best of all time and Shanahan undoubtedly carries pedigree as well. Those two aren’t surprising. As you continue down the list, Jeff Fisher ($7 million/year) and Pete Carroll ($7 million/year) are the next two.

Then you get to Lovie, who earns $6 million per year. Putting him in that company, you look at Fishers’ record and playoff history, which are comparable to Smith’s.  We’ll set Pete Carroll aside, as he was mediocre as an NFL coach before spending almost a decade at USC, where he made his name.

Fisher has been to one Super Bowl and lost it. Lovie has done the same.  From a win/loss standpoint, the sample sizes are much different, as Fisher has been around for 21 years to Lovie’s nine. Fisher’s 145-122 record puts his win percentage at .543. Lovie’s gone 75-58, for an impressive .564. That number puts him close to Shanahan whose number is .566. Belichick’s win percentage puts him among the untouchables at .708.

Lovie’s playoff record (3-3) is not as strong as his regular season numbers. The Bears have won the division four times in his nine-year tenure, advanced to the NFC championship twice and won it once.  His playoff history is comparable to Fisher, as well as Andy Reid, who is in the top ten in coaching salaries, reeling in $5.5 million per year.

The ultimate measure of success in the NFL is winning in the playoffs and ultimately the Super Bowl. A lot of good coaches never do that. Even though Lovie Smith has never won the Super Bowl, I believe he is still one of the best coaches in the National Football League. His regular season track record backs that up. Should he be paid as one of the league’s top coaches? I have trouble arguing that point, based on his longevity and success with the Bears.

Do you think Lovie Smith deserves to be one of the five highest paid coaches in the NFL?

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