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What NFL coach could last 20 years in his current job?

So the big news in that "other" football community Wednesday was the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson from Manchester United after 26 years at the helm of England's most famous club.

It got us thinking around the offices whether it still was possible for an NFL coach to have that sort of longevity. Bill Belichick currently is the longest tenured coach at 13 years with the New England Patriots. Marvin Lewis amazingly is second at 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals despite working for Mike Brown. Tom Coughlin also has been with the New York Giants for 10 years.

The NFL record is held by Tom Landry and Curly Lambeau, both of whom coached uninterrupted for 29 years. George Halas coached a total of 40 years while owning the Chicago Bears, but he broke that up into a number of different runs. Don Shula coached the Miami Dolphins for 26 years and Chuck Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers for 20 years.

So what current NFL coach could have a 20-year run? Here are my top candidates:

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots


He's a no brainer for the top spot because he's only seven seasons away. There's no way Belichick will retire before the end of Tom Brady's career. After that, it's easy to imagine Belichick wanting to prove he can win without Brady.

Now 61 years old, Belichick often says how much he still loves the preparation and strategy of Sundays. He loves the grind. It's hard to imagine Belichick wanting to just kick back with a Corona and a fishing pole for too long. That's what Fourth of July weekend is for.

2. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers


It's amazing that Tomlin already has been with the Steelers for six years. Pittsburgh is more loyal than any organization, with only three head coaches since 1969. Tomlin already has two Super Bowl appearances and he's only 40 years old. It's not hard to imagine him getting gray in the Steel City.

3. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers


McCarthy is a strong candidate because he's relatively young (49), has a title in hand and seven years under his belt. He's also got a great relationship with the two most important men in the organization: Aaron Rodgers and GM Ted Thompson.

4. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers


His brother has a three-year head start, but we still see the younger Harbaugh as the superior head coach. Bill Walsh believed that coaches should change jobs every 10 years or their team will tune them out, but we could see Harbaugh becoming synonymous with the 49ers organization like Walsh once was. With Jim Harbaugh, you can't discount the chance he'll do something wacky along the way that gets him in trouble.

5. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens


He's made the playoffs in all five seasons and he's supported by an outstanding organization. That gives John Harbaugh a chance to beat the odds.

Just Missed


» Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints: Payton is a great coach, but he seems like one that will burn out rather than fade away.

» Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: He's halfway there, but he still works for Mike Brown.

» Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons: A good sleeper choice after five great seasons with the Falcons. If he rides out Matt Ryan's career, that could get him close to 20.

» Rex Ryan, New York Jets: Just making sure you are paying attention.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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