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Cardinals keep DC Todd Bowles off head coaching market with extension

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals have kept defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in house for another three seasons with a new extension, reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Bowles is now reportedly among the top-five highest-paid assistant coaches in the NFL, and keeps a coaching core intact for a surprising Cardinals team that has dominated the NFL landscape so far this season.

Even more than continuity in leadership for the Cards, the move also significantly alters the head coaching market that was certainly going to heat up in the next few weeks. While Bowles could still conceivably leave for a head coaching gig, he will be much more reticent to do so. And there will definitely be teams who inquire about Bowles interest, even with the extension in place.

Bowles was hired as a part of Bruce Arians staff in 2013, and has made a tremendous impact on a unit with legitimate excuses to slide from last year's 10-6 performance. The team has lost defensive lineman and charismatic leader Darnell Dockett for the season, never really had their best pass rusher in John Abraham, and dealt with the suspension of the team's most dynamic playmaker in linebacker Daryl Washington. That doesn't even touch losing Matt Schaughnessy for the season, Tyrann Mathieu for much of it, and Calais Campbell for a bit.

Instead of taking a step back, the Cardinals have surprised the NFL with their league-best 8-1 record and two-game lead in the NFC West, perhaps the toughest division in football. Rookies like Deone Bucannon and Kareem Martin have stepped in to major roles, and smart veterans like Tommy Kelly and Larry Foote have made a difference in the middle. Despite the losses on defense, the Cardinals are tied for second in turnovers forced with 19, and their run defense is allowing the fourth-least yards per carry with 3.4.

Even better for Bowles is his limited head coaching tenure as an interim for the Miami Dolphins after the team Tony Sparano with three games to go in the 2012 season. Bowles went 2-1 as an interim coach, including a road win in Buffalo late in winter and a very close loss at Foxboro to the New England Patriots.

The timing of the deal is interesting since many teams will likely begin their search for head coaches before the end of the season. The Oakland Raiders already made their move by firing Dennis Allen, and others are expected to follow suit, including the potential firings of Mike Smith in Atlanta, Marc Trestman in Chicago, and Rex Ryan in New York. Given Bowles' history as a former defensive backs coach with the Jets, it's easy to see at least some interest from their end, if not from all three.

Bowles can certainly still leave the Cardinals this offseason, which would render this extension null and void. But it's likely that Bowles hangs on to that security for a season or even two until he finds the offer or the fit that feels the best. Given the head coaching turnover ratio in the NFL, Bowles might feel just fine waiting his turn.