Whether he admits it or not (he hasn’t, and won’t), Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is mulling potential successors for Jason Garrett. And, reportedly, has a name in mind.
Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Jones is “very intrigued” by Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, who’s expected to listen to overtures in 2020.
“Several sources indicated Jones, if he does make a coaching change, is very intrigued by Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley,” La Canfora wrote Sunday. “Several league sources said Riley would be willing to seriously consider the right NFL openings in 2020, and, obviously, the Cowboys’ head coaching job is one of the most high-profile and coveted in all of sports.”
La Canfora adds that Dallas overhauling its coaching staff with a slam-dunk hire like Riley isn’t a sure bet, but Garrett — whose contract is set to expire after the season — essentially is on the hot seat moving forward.
“Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not considering any in-season changes to his coaching staff, as he recently said on his weekly radio show, but that should not be taken as an indication that Jason Garrett’s status for 2020 is not in question, according to sources with knowledge of the situation,” La Canfora wrote.
Riley has been a popular dot connected to the Cowboys in recent years, given his successful tenure with the Sooners (30-4 through three incomplete seasons) and the relatively close proximity to Texas. Riley is also cut from the Kellen Moore cloth in that he’s a young (36), bright offensive mind.
But Riley has repeatedly declined to entertain the leap from college to the NFL, content churning out franchise quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray) at a whopping $6.5 million annual salary.
“The truth is for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love college football,” he said in October 2018, via NFL.com. “I certainly don’t have that itch right now. I don’t know that I ever will, but I’m never going to be a guy that’s going to stand up here and say no way, no how with any of these things ever happen. I don’t know that, but I know right now I couldn’t care less about the NFL. We’re trying to win this game and try to make a run that we all think we have in us right now.”
A recent report claimed Riley has no interest in the Washington Redskins’ vacancy. Perhaps he’d form a different opinion if Jones offered a truckload of money and the opportunity to resurrect arguably the game’s most prestigious franchise.
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Jerry Won’t Fire Jason Mid-Season
There may be more than 11 games remaining in the Garrett era, presupposing a playoff run. But there will not be less than 11 games with Garrett as the Cowboys‘ head coach.
Earlier this week, following the team’s consecutive losses, Jones emphatically shot down speculation that Garrett’s hot seat could consume the 53-year-old at some point during the regular season.
“Well, yes. Dispel it, yes,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan when asked about a possible firing. “Don’t bet any money against that happening. You’ll lose it.”
Jones Holding Coaches to ‘Very High Standard’
This, according to La Canfora, who reports “Jones told several confidants around the league prior to the season that he believed the Cowboys have a Super Bowl quality team, and expects a strong playoff run this season.”
In other words, it’s Super Bowl-or-bust in Big D, and falling short of that goal could require someone landing on the proverbial sword. That someone, after a decade at the helm, is likely to be Garrett.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL