This would explain why the Dallas Cowboys allowed Jason Garrett to coach without a contract beyond 2019.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Cowboys, using “back channels,” reached out to New Orleans Saints head man Sean Payton last year to gauge his interest in leaving the Big Easy for Big D.
Payton, obviously, declined after some brief hemming and hawing. And earlier this season, he officially signed a monster five-year extension to remain in New Orleans, where he won a Super Bowl — an extension catalyzed by Jerry Jones’ courtship.
“Last year, after the season — through back channels, nothing official — the Cowboys made it known that they would be interested in Sean Payton if he was interested in them,” Rapoport said. “And obviously a lot of things would have to happen. Payton considered it; he helped use that leverage to land a massive contract extension that was actually agreed to last winter, not before the season.”
Payton has long been linked to the Cowboys’ head-coaching gig due in part to Garrett’s repeated inability to capture a championship and Payton’s own prowess as an offensive mastermind, as well as the fact that he functioned as Dallas’ assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach from 2003-05.
Ultimately, Payton opted to stick with future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees rather than take on a new pet project in Dak Prescott. The decision paid off; 11-3 New Orleans is vying for the NFC’s No. 1 seed while the 7-7 Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives.
The AP Coach of the Year in 2006, Payton has amassed a sterling 130-77 regular-season record and an 8-6 postseason mark across 13 years at the helm of the Saints.
With the Payton pipe dream dying a quick death, Rapoport named former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, ex-Ohio State HC Urban Meyer, Baylor’s Matt Rhule and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley as the top candidates to replace Garrett if (when?) he’s dismissed.
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Stephen Jones Denies Payton Speculation
Not that you’d expect him to utter anything else, but the Cowboys’ vice president shot down Rapoport’s report during Monday’s appearance on 105.3 The Fan, labeling the conjecture as just that — conjecture.
“Yes. That’s just untrue,” Jones said. “Obviously, we don’t comment on rumors like that. Everybody knows what we think of Jason. If anything, we’ve been criticized to a fault for what we do think of him. He just did a great job getting this team back on track yesterday, and we’re focused on beating the Eagles.”
A fun aside: Cowboys insider Mike Fisher speculates the Joneses’ may make another attempt at Payton this coming offseason, offering him the “financial moon” and the Saints “a draft-pick package and more.” Good luck.
Jones Appraises Garrett’s Future Following Rams Rout
Just as he wasn’t ready to give up on Garrett in the worst of times, the Cowboys owner isn’t committing to the walk-year coach in the best of times.
The middle ground is where Jerry Jones resides after Dallas destroyed the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Perspective is needed following the 44-21 beatdown at AT&T Stadium, which moved the Cowboys to within one victory of an NFC East title.
“That implies that I’d concluded and had assessed the future, and that’s not correct,” Jones said Sunday evening when asked if he reassessed the coaching staff, via Pro Football Talk. “So I had not reached that point, and wouldn’t under any circumstances until this season is over. What it does is remind me the season’s not over. That’s a plus thing. We’ve got a long road to hoe, but we’ve got a huge challenge coming up here this weekend up in Philadelphia. But this is what the doctor ordered to go get ready to play the Eagles.”
Jones has already stated his intention to retain Garrett for the duration of the 2019 campaign, and Garrett — whose contract is set to expire — reportedly needs to make the NFC Championship game likely to ensure he sticks around.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL