John Fox Has The Option to Leave, But Won't

Zack NallyCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers watches on against the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium on October 11, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported today that, as far back as last month, the Panthers organization gave Coach John Fox the option to void the last year on his contract. However, Fox has no intentions of forfeiting his final year unless a better offer comes along and, so far, none have. 

Ultimately, the message being conveyed by the team is that, even if Fox opts to stay in Carolina, his contract will not be renewed in 2011 and he will become a free agent at the end of the season. 

Fox is coming off an 8-8 record, struggling early and ending strong with four wins in the Panthers' last five games. Since he was hired in 2002, Fox has amassed a 71-57 record.

The head coach vacancies available for Fox have been few and far between. Washington acted quickly to acquire Mike Shanahan, Seattle has also solidified their position, and Cleveland never opened up. 

Fox hasn't outwardly expressed a disinterest in going to Buffalo, but his lack of communication with the team seems to say it all. However, it's become clear that Cowher is not planning to accept the Bills' offer so a legitimate negotiation between the organization and Fox could gel relatively soon. 

If Fox does find himself in the free agency market in 2011, he won't be without a job for very long.

It is rumored that Tom Coughlin of the Giants may be facing his last season in New York. Fox's team philosophy matches that of the Giants and his previous history with the team as the defensive coordinator could land him the job as their new head coach a year from now. 

With all of the controversy surrounding Fox's current status and his future with the team, Panthers fans have to wonder how hard Fox will work to improve the team this year.

With an uncapped year approaching and a solid position to make an impact in the free agency market, the Panthers have another opportunity to make a deep run into the playoffs. 

The only question is, who is Coach Fox looking out for now, the team or himself?


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