Report: Cardinals in early talks for Whisenhunt extension

Not since the Cardinals moved to Arizona more than two decades ago has the organization extended the contract of a head coach.

Gene Stallings, Joe Bugel, Buddy Ryan, Vince Tobin, Dave McGinnis and Dennis Green all failed to make it to a second contract, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

That could be changing. Soon. Somers reports that preliminary negotiations have begun on an extension for coach Ken Whisenhunt, who guided the franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance a year ago. The rub, of course, is that the notoriously frugal Cardinals are going to have to buck up to get a deal done. Whisenhunt was hired in 2007 and given a five-year contract, according to Somers, with a total value of $10 million. The last year of the contract is believed to be a club option.

So, the deal expires after the 2011 season and the Cardinals don’t want it to get that close, especially if Whisenhunt can depart after a fourth year (2010) because of the club option. The Cardinals have won consecutive NFC West titles and Whisenhunt’s playoff record is 4-2. The going rate for extensions these days average between $4 million and $5.5 million per season and that is going to force the Bidwill family to double or nearly triple what Whisenhunt is currently earning.

Somers reported that Whisenhunt may be bargaining for more than just cash, and he could be asking for an indoor practice facility in Tempe, Ariz. Certainly there is no rush, but the sooner the Cardinals take care of Whisenhunt, the quicker they will have a happy coach.

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