Bills contact Cowher about head-coaching job

The Bills, who are expected to meet with Mike Shanahan this week about their head-coaching position, also have contacted former Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Cowher, according to league sources.

However, Cowher informed the Bills that he isn’t interested in speaking to any teams about potential jobs until after the season, according to the sources, and he could have several options available to him should he opt to return to coaching in 2010. Cowher is taking this position with any potential suitors, the sources said, out of respect to his current employer, CBS, and to those coaches who are still employed by teams seeking to make a change.

The Bills are making it clear to top candidates that they are willing to spend big bucks to land an elite coach, despite their small-market status. One source close to Cowher believes the compensation could reach the $10 million-per-season range based on early indications.

Cowher, who resides in North Carolina, is largely expected to be wooed by the Panthers should they opt not to bring back John Fox for the final season on his deal. The Texans and Bears would excite Cowher as well, according to a source, should they opt to make a move.

Two sources close to Cowher believe he is more ready now than at any time since retiring after the 2006 season to return to coaching, but he will remain very selective about his next move.

The Jets and Browns spoke to Cowher last offseason about their openings — the coach strongly considered New York until having a change of thought, according to a league source, but he wasn’t interested in the Cleveland job.

Browns owner Randy Lerner very likely will reach out to Cowher again as he interviews candidates to be a “football czar” there. However, Cowher isn’t interested in management positions at this time (he would have strong views about which personnel people come with him to any team, however), but he would prefer to return in a coaching capacity, according to a league source.

Cowher went 149-90-1 in 15 seasons as the Steelers’ coach and won a Super Bowl championship in the 2005 season.

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