Those who have spoken with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will get the same answer that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will -– if he hasn’t already.

Cowher is not interested in returning to coaching, definitely not this year, maybe not next year, maybe not ever.

"No chance he’s back (in 2008)," one person who has regular contact with Cowher said Tuesday.

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Bill Cowher isn't expected back on NFL sidelines any time soon.

In fact, an NFL owner –- presumably Falcons owner Arthur Blank -- recently called Cowher to find out if the former Steelers coach could be tempted to return to the sideline. Cowher thanked the owner for calling and said no thank you to a chance to discuss coaching opportunities.

Cowher would tell any owner, including Snyder, the same thing, no matter how many millions were offered to him: It’s time for that owner to look elsewhere.

Those who know Cowher say he is so entrenched in his stance that he even has gone so far as to study former Steelers coach Chuck Noll and the manner in which he left the game in 1991 with a 209-156-1 record.

Cowher has told people that he admires the way in which Noll exited: He left, never returned, proving that a coach can snap an addiction that afflicts many. Those who know Cowher say the soonest he would return to coaching would be 2009, if he returns at all. Some aren't convinced he will.

The 50-year-old Cowher has greatly enjoyed a return to normalacy, spending time with his wife, attending his daughter’s basketball games at Princeton, working as an analyst on CBS, playing golf with former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, taking piano lessons once a week, doing all the things he couldn’t when he coached.

One person said that at some time this past fall, Cowher took time to study a yellow leaf that had fallen from a tree to marvel at the leaf’s color. It was something Cowher never took the time to do, or had the time to do, when he coached in the NFL.

"Bill is enjoying the simple things, the simple pleasures in life," one of his friends said Tuesday. "He’s dabbling in life without football, and he is far from finished with that process."

Follow the leader

Gibbs was the first coaching icon to retire. But he might not be the last.

Two other prominent head coaches will consider doing just what Gibbs did Tuesday -- walking away from the game at a time when his organization and its fan base values him as much as ever.

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Mike Holmgren may be nearing the end of his stellar head coaching career.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren and Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy each have said on numerous occassions that they are working on a year-to-year basis. Each evaluates his situation after each season, each makes a decision appropriate for that time.

But there are mounting signals that this could be Holmgren’s last season in Seattle.

He seems to be more worn out than in other seasons, drained from the rigors of coaching. He has admitted to enjoying the Seahawks' wins less and agonizing over the losses even more. He has talked about the pride he will feel when he is done coaching in Seattle at how the community has embraced his team. The fact that he talks about the day when he is done coaching is an indication of how much it is on his mind.

Seattle has groomed Holmgren’s potential replacement, Jim Mora Jr., the Seahawks defensive backs coach and former Atlanta Falcons head coach. Few around the league would be surprised if this was Holmgren’s last year. The topic has come up before, but never has it been taken as seriously as it does now.

Similarly, in Indianapolis, Dungy recently admitted that he will assess his desire to continue coaching after this season ends. He contemplated walking away from the game after winning the Super Bowl last season and could ultimately decide to do it after this season.

Dungy has plenty of outside interests, and he never desired to coach much beyond the age of 50. He now is 51. Dungy has been anxious to work in the ministry and he might decide this is the time to do it.

So what looked like it might be a slow off-season for coaching changes is quickly picking up steam. There already have been four. There could be as many as three more, depending on what happens in Oakland with Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.

Money matters

Whoever takes over in Washington inherits a salary-cap situation that must be addressed.

The Redskins are in the most challenging salary-cap shape of any team in the league; they are projected to be $23 million over the cap.

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It will be easy enough to slice that number in half. Tight end Chris Cooley is scheduled to count $12.2 million against Washington’s salary cap. But he has an $11 million roster bonus that can be converted to signing bonus, saving the Redskins close to $9 million in salary-cap space for next season.

Also, quarterback Mark Brunell’s contract voids, meaning that his $6.5 million salary-cap number will come off Washington’s books, though he still will count for $3 million. Still, that’s a savings of another $3.5 million.

From there, the Redskins will need to shave around $11 million more to get to the salary cap. But that’s before making a single move in free agency, or drafting a player. More salary-cap space will have to be created. It will not be easy. But this isn’t Gibbs' problem anymore. It’s his successor’s, whoever that is.

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