The former New York Giants coach would come to New England on a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal.
Lawyers on both sides were going back and forth on the telephone yesterday trying to resolve some issues before Parcells would commit.
Reportedly, some key elements, like salary and length of the contract, had been agreed upon. What had yet to be worked out was the makeup of the coaching staff, the money available to hire a coaching staff and a support staff, and how much input Parcells would have in the major decisions regarding the draft and signing free agents for next season.
Parcells, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants, would love to return to New England, where he was a linebacker coach under Ron Erhardt in 1980.
However, he will not agree to a deal unless he is absolutely certain he has the things he feels he needs to build a winner.
If the points of conflict can be resolved, Parcells may be in Foxboro today for a news conference. If not, he will stay in the broadcasting business, where NBC-TV has a lucrative long-term contract waiting for him to sign.
Part of the delay seems to be a result of the roundabout negotiations between Parcells in New Jersey, his Florida-based attorney and representatives of the Patriots, both in Foxboro and St. Louis, where team owner James B. Orthwein resides.
Attorney Robert Fraley of Orlando, Parcells' longtime agent, is negotiating for him. Assistant general manager Patrick Forte, team treasurer James Hausmann, Orthwein's right-hand man Michael O'Hallaron and Orthwein are all involved for the Patriots.
Orthwein purchased the team from Victor Kiam in April 1991 and two weeks ago fired coach Dick MacPherson and forced CEO Sam Jankovich to resign. Both were hired while Kiam was owner.
This opened the door for Orthwein to interview high-profile name coaches such as Parcells, Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka.
Orthwein and his aides settled on Parcells after interviewing all three over the weekend.
If the contract is finalized, Parcells, 51, who has been out of coaching for two years, is eager to get under way, knowing there will be a fight for top assistant coaches over the next two weeks.
The battle could be four-sided. Dallas defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, named coach of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, will be looking for a new staff as soon as the Cowboys have finished playing the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.
Reportedly, former Denver coach Dan Reeves has an offer in his hands to coach the Giants, and he, too, would get into the hunt for assistants immediately.
The same would go for Mike Shanahan, who is expected to be named coach in Denver within 48 hours.