NFL Insider Reveals Unforeseen Development on Cowboys’ Coaching Search

Kyle Pitts Cowboys

Getty Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could pull off a draft day surprise.

Unless the Dallas Cowboys back into the playoffs and outlast superior competition, the team is “expected to move on” from head coach Jason Garrett, whose contract expires after the season, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday.

This, we knew.

“Among those who are gonna be considered: [Oklahoma coach] Lincoln Riley, [Baylor coach] Matt Rhule, and potentially [former Panthers coach] Ron Rivera,” Rapoport added.

This, we also knew.

But here’s something we didn’t, courtesy of Rapoport’s coworker, NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is doing market research within The Star regarding the club’s next head man.

“As much as people talk about Jerry Jones being the guy that makes all the decisions in the Cowboys’ building, he has actually sought the advice of some key players this past week and is expected to do so going forward,” Garafolo said. “Jones [is] really taking the feedback on what went wrong because he wants to know what the players think as he goes forward and makes some key decisions for the Cowboys organization.”

Dallas’ coaching search will kick off in earnest if (when?) they’re formally eliminated from playoff contention Sunday, either by a loss to the Washington Redskins or a Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New York Giants.

A win against the Redskins combined with an Eagles loss would award the NFC East title to the Cowboys.

“Make no mistake about it, winning this game is very important to me, very important to the players, very important to this team,” Jones said Sunday on 105.3 The Fan, via Maven Sports’ Mike Fisher.

Continual reports, and strong intimation from Jones, suggest that Garrett would need to reach the NFC Championship Game — something he hasn’t accomplished in a decade at the helm — to retain his job in 2020.

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Garrett Curiously Addresses Potential Final Game as HC

Nearly nine years to the day of his introduction as Cowboys head coach, Garrett faces the prospect of unemployment — as soon as Monday.

Barring a post-Christmas miracle, the 7-8 Cowboys’ bitter season will end Sunday at AT&T Stadium, where they’ll host the Redskins in the 2019 finale. And if (when?) it does, Garrett will officially be on notice, his pink slip fully expected.

Perhaps resigned to his fate, the appropriately-nicknamed Clapper claims he’s “taking the same approach as I’ve always taken” entering Week 17 despite the increasingly likely reality of his departure.

“Don’t really think much about that stuff,” Garrett said Thursday, per ESPN’s Ed Werder. “Come to work today and do everything I can to help our team have a great Thursday in our preparation for Sunday.”

When will the 53-year-old focus on his future?

“I guess some point in the future,” Garrett responded.

Cowboys Have Top College Coach ‘Very High on Radar’: Report

Urban Meyer has serious competition for the Cowboys‘ soon-to-be-vacant head-coaching position. While many consider Meyer a front-runner to replace Garrett, the team’s brain trust — Jerry Jones and VP Stephen Jones — are heavily interested in Sooners coach Lincoln Riley, Rapoport and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero recently reported.

“He’s very high on the radar of the Jones family, in the event the Cowboys miss the playoffs and Jason Garrett is on the way out, Rapoport and Pelissero reported for an article previewing the expected 2020 coaching candidates. “Few college coaches have had as much success with the quarterback, and Riley (36-5 in three seasons) is popular among NFL people for that. The only question: Would he actually leave?”

The Riley-to-Dallas hype train picked up steam earlier this month following the Big 12 Championship between Oklahoma and Baylor. It was an instant classic in which the teams traded scores for five quarters until the Sooners landed the overtime knockout blow in a thrilling 30-23 victory.

Jerry Jones kept an eye on the contest, held at AT&T Stadium, and emerged with praise for Riley and Bears coach Matt Rhule.

“I’m impressed with him. But, boy, I’m impressed with Baylor’s coach, too,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “Those were two outstanding coaches at the stadium this weekend. … They’ve done great jobs. … That was a great chance to see a couple great coaches out there.”

Two of the best offensive minds on the planet, Riley and Rhule have resisted NFL overtures in recent years, but the temptation might be too great this time around. One or both could make the leap to the pros in the coming months; the latter reportedly is “very interested” in the NFC East-rival Giants’ gig.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL