Cowboys Rumors

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/26/23

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Dan Quinn To Stay With Cowboys, Withdraw From HC Searches

After receiving extensive interest from head coach-needy teams for a second straight year, Dan Quinn is once again planning to stick with the Cowboys.

The veteran defensive coordinator informed teams that have considered him for their HC job he will remain in Dallas, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This will be a big gain for the Cowboys, considering Quinn’s performance through two seasons, and it stands to affect the Broncos, Cardinals and Colts’ HC searches.

Quinn, 52, was once again among those in the mix for the Broncos’ HC job, but after a second straight year in a Denver search, the former George Paton coworker bowed out. The Cardinals and Colts may have been more interested. Arizona brought Quinn in for a second interview this week, and Quinn agreed to a second Indianapolis meeting Wednesday night. That summit was set for Saturday, but it is now off.

This is big for us. It gives us continuity. Frankly, on a personal note, I can’t tell you how thankful I am,” Mike McCarthy said (via The Athletic’s Jon Machota) of Quinn’s return. “Clearly, Dan is in the position to be selective, and I’m extremely excited about the decision.”

The former Falcons HC remains under contract with the Cowboys, via the multiyear extension he signed in January 2022. Quinn interviewed with five teams during the ’22 hiring period, advancing to the finals of Denver search that produced Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos may or may not have rushed that process, due to Hackett agreeing to a second Jaguars interview. After the Hackett hire, Quinn recommitted to the Cowboys.

Quinn remaining in Dallas led to the team taking another step defensively, ranking second in DVOA. The team’s defensive muscle showed in its divisional-round matchup with the 49ers, though DeMeco Ryans‘ unit prevailed in a low-scoring matchup. Still, Quinn’s unit — after intending to retain Randy Gregory and then losing him at the 11th hour — built on its 2021 season. Working more as an edge defender, Micah Parsons maintained the dominance he showed as a rookie. Dallas’ rebuilt D-line led the way in the team’s 54-sack season — 13 more than the 2021 unit registered — and has led the league in takeaways for the past two seasons. After the Cowboys set a franchise record for points allowed during the 2020 season, Quinn’s arrival has made a considerable difference on their 24-10 record since.

This decision could point Ryans toward securing the Denver job. A Thursday report indicated the San Francisco DC had become a frontrunner for it, seemingly blunting the early momentum Quinn had as a potential Sean Payton backup plan. With the prospects for a Broncos-Payton partnership fading, Ryans is in line to capitalize. The Colts are planning to have roughly seven candidates go through second interviews. That is on the high side, but Indianapolis has led the way in terms of interview volume. Jeff Saturday remains in that mix, though a few others have met or will meet with Jim Irsay and Co. Brian Floresname has come up most often in connection with the Arizona job, but Payton is at the Cardinals’ facility Thursday afternoon.

Going into his third season as Dallas’ DC, Quinn will need to hire multiple new staffers. The team moved on from senior defensive assistant George Edwards and longtime assistant D-line coach Leon Lett.

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-26-23 (4:36pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Cowboys Move On From Joe Philbin, George Edwards, Four Other Staffers

Coming off their second straight 12-win season, the Cowboys will still make some notable staff changes. They are parting ways with six assistants, including senior defensive assistant George Edwards and offensive line coach Joe Philbin.

The Cowboys jettisoned Edwards, Philbin, running backs coach Skip Peete, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett and assistant Rob Davis, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill (all Twitter links). The staffers’ contracts were all up, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com, who adds (via Twitter) offensive assistant Kyle Valero will also not return. But this still marks a fairly significant shakeup for the resurgent NFC East team.

A former Dolphins HC, Philbin was a Mike McCarthy staffer for much of the latter’s Packers tenure. Hired before McCarthy arrived in Green Bay, Philbin stayed on under McCarthy through 2011 and returned to Green Bay after his Miami stay ended. McCarthy rehired Philbin as his OC in 2018, and the Packers named him interim HC following McCarthy’s firing later that year. Philbin, 61, oversaw a position group that featured some moving pieces this season. Tyron Smith‘s injury led to first-round pick Tyler Smith sliding to left tackle in late August, and the All-Decade blocker played right tackle when he came back. Jason Peters also transitioned to guard during his age-40 season.

Edwards joined McCarthy’s staff a year before Dan Quinn‘s arrival, but the ex-Vikings DC served as Micah Parsons‘ position coach. Edwards expressed confusion at the Cowboys’ decision, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, noting that Quinn — upon returning from his second Cardinals interview — was also caught by surprise by the move. A defensive coordinator for three teams before coming to Dallas, Edwards joined Lett in assisting with unleashing Parsons’ unique skillset over the past two seasons.

Lett, who enjoyed a memorable playing career in Dallas, has been with the team since 2011. The Cowboys added the former D-lineman to their staff early in Jason Garrett‘s tenure. Peete initially joined the Cowboys’ staff upon Wade Phillips‘ arrival back in 2007, staying six seasons, and returned upon McCarthy’s hire. He played a rather important role in Tony Pollard‘s development into a Pro Bowler. Davis worked with McCarthy for most of his Packers run, residing as Green Bay’s player development director before coming to Dallas in 2020.

Jerry Jones has repeatedly endorsed McCarthy and did so again Sunday, indicating the 49ers’ divisional-round win will not impact the three-year HC’s job. But the team moving on from multiple multi-stint McCarthy staffers, along with other experienced assistants, represents an interesting decision after going 24-10 over the past two seasons. Sean Payton has been linked to being interested in a Dallas return for several months, and a recent report said a mystery team loomed for the high-profile coach. Dot-connecting could point to the Cowboys, but NFL.com’s Jane Slater tweets McCarthy’s job is safe. The team has not contacted Payton, nor has it discussed any trade with the Saints, Slater adds (on Twitter). McCarthy’s fourth Cowboys staff stands to look remarkably different, especially if Quinn lands one of the three jobs for which he has interviewed.

Dan Quinn Gets Second Colts HC Interview

Dan Quinn is a finalist for another head coaching gig. According to Albert Breer of TheMMQB (on Twitter), the Colts are planning to conduct a second interview with the Cowboys defensive coordinator. The meeting is expected to take place on Saturday.

[RELATED: Cardinals To Conduct Second HC Interview With Dan Quinn]

With Dallas now out of the playoffs, Quinn was free to speak with any teams, and he’s been quickly moving through the interview circuit. He had a second interview with the Cardinals earlier today, and he was also a candidate for the Broncos’ head coaching job. The 52-year-old is expected to get a second interview in Denver.

Quinn spent five-plus years as Atlanta’s head coach, a stint which was highlighted by a Super Bowl appearance. He joined Dallas as their defensive coordinator prior to the 2021 season, and the Cowboys proceeded to finish first in takeaways and top-10 in points allowed in each of Quinn’s two years at the helm. Quinn was also a popular HC candidate last offseason, generating interest from the Bears, Jaguars, Dolphins, Vikings, and Giants.

The Colts are now moving on to the second phase of their interview process. After conducting virtual interviews with a league-high 13 candidates, owner Jim Irsay will now meet with seven or eight finalists for the position. Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, and interim head coach Jeff Saturday were among those who moved on to second interviews, while Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone are also expected to garner in-person meetings.

Jim Harbaugh was initially considered a candidate but ultimately stuck with Michigan, while Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson interviewed for the Colts job before deciding to stay in Detroit. The team also still wants to speak with 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who they’ve struggled to secure for a first interview. Otherwise, Indy conducted first interviews with six other candidates:

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/24/23

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

  • FB Tyler Coyne

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

  • OT Jarrid Williams

Pittsburgh Steelers

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard Suffers Broken Leg

JANUARY 24: Pollard underwent surgery to repair the high ankle sprain, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins, who adds (via Twitter) the Pro Bowl running back did not go through an operation to address his fractured fibula. This tightrope procedure addressed ankle ligament damage, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Despite that being the more significant of the two maladies, Watkins notes a second surgery to address it is not expected.

JANUARY 23: The Cowboys’ season came to an end yesterday, meaning attention will now turn to their moves made in advance of the new league year. One of the team’s top pending free agents is now dealing with a significant injury.

Running back Tony Pollard was carted off the field late in the first half and initially ruled out with a high ankle sprain. However, further testing revealed that he had additionally suffered a fractured fibula, as detailed by ESPN’s Todd Archer. Surgery will be required, and the recovery time after that will likely take between three and four months.

The news dealt a significant blow to Dallas’ offense for the remainder of the contest. The team relied exclusively on Ezekiel Elliott without the option of continuing his tandem with Pollard. The former totaled just 26 rushing yards on 10 carries, making Sunday the fourth straight contest (and sixth overall) this season in which he averaged fewer than three yards per rush.

2022 saw the timeshare between Elliott and Pollard continue to swing towards the former fourth-rounder. Pollard reached the 1,000 yard mark on the ground for the first time this season, earning him a Pro Bowl nod. His efficiency and pass-catching ability was on display during Elliott’s midseason absence in particular, and the latter increasingly took on a short-yardage role. That development sets up an intriguing offseason for the Cowboys from a financial perspective.

Pollard, 25, is a pending free agent due for a considerable raise given his production, especially in 2021 and 2022. It was reported yesterday that the franchise tag is an option Dallas would consider to keep him in the fold for at least one more season, but doing so would carry a cost of roughly $10MM. That figure, coupled with the outstanding commitment due to Elliott over the next four years, could make the RB position a hugely expensive one for the Cowboys unless they cut the latter or re-work his contract.

Pollard will now begin the recovery process as the Cowboys weigh their options with respect to their pending free agents and possible moves to free up cap space for the spring.

Cardinals To Conduct Second HC Interview With Dan Quinn

With their new general manager in place, the Cardinals are continuing their search for a new head coach. That process could be nearing an end, as their second round of interviews is set to begin tonight.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that Arizona will conduct an in-person meeting with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn tonight (Twitter link). Arizona had met virtually with the 52-year-old this past weekend, as he and the Cowboys were preparing for their game against the 49ers. With Dallas having lost that contest, Quinn is free to meet with prospective teams during the week, meaning clarity on his future could be coming soon.

Quinn has also undergone first interviews with the Broncos and Colts; Pelissero notes that both of those teams are also interested in lining up a second meeting in the coming days. That comes as little surprise, given how highly-regarded Quinn is during this year’s coaching cycle, as he was last offseason as well. His decision to ultimately remain in Dallas for 2022 paid dividends for the Cowboys, who finished the regular season with the league’s No. 5 scoring defense.

To open up the playoffs, Quinn’s unit held the Buccaneers to 14 points and an average of only 4.8 yards per play. On Sunday, they delivered another noteworthy performance by limiting San Francisco to 19 points, 3.5 yards per carry and less than 200 passing yards. That has, unsurprisingly, kept him squarely on the radar to receive a second head coaching opportunity.

Quinn spent five-plus years as Atlanta’s bench boss, a stint which was highlighted by a Super Bowl appearance. His tenure with the Falcons was preceded by a pair of seasons as the Seahawks’ DC, so a move to Arizona would mean a return to the NFC West. It would also allow new GM Monti Ossenfort to shift the coaching staff to a defensive mind as a replacement for Kliff Kingsbury. Such a move has been hinted at by Arizona’s DC Vance Joseph being named an early candidate to take on the job, along with Brian Flores being rumored to be a serious contender and multiple other defensive staffers receiving interest.

With Quinn set to kick off the second round of Arizona’s interviews, here is the current breakdown of their search:

Ezekiel Elliott Would Consider Pay Cut To Stay With Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott had one of the least-productive seasons of his career in 2022, making his $10.9MM salary in 2023 potentially unpalatable. However, it sounds like the veteran running back is willing to take a pay cut if it means sticking with the Cowboys. A person familiar with the player’s thinking told Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News that Elliott would consider reducing his salary if it meant he’d stick around Dallas.

[RELATED: Cowboys RB Tony Pollard Suffers Broken Leg]

As Gehlken notes, there’s no real rush to reduce Elliott’s salary, although it may be in the organization’s best interest to renegotiate a deal before the league year starts on March 15. Still, the fact that Elliott is even willing to hit the negotiating table should be a positive sign for everyone involved.

The Cowboys are equally interested in keeping their star running back. The reporter notes that Elliott is considered a “selfless teammate” who supported Tony Pollard‘s increased offensive role, and the veteran RB has also earned praise for his pass blocking ability and ball protection (Elliott has only one fumble over the past two years). The Cowboys also have a bit of leverage when it comes to negotiating, perhaps explaining why Elliott is so eager to discuss a reworked deal. As Gehlken notes, the Cowboys don’t have any guarantees tied to Elliott’s salary for the first time since they inked him to a six-year, $90MM extension in 2019. The team could theoretically cut Elliott and be left with ~$6MM dead cap hits in 2023 and 2024, although that route is naturally “believed to be counter to the club’s intentions.”

Further complicating negotiations will be the status of Pollard’s impending free agency. Following a productive fourth NFL season that saw him finish with 1,378 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, Pollard was eyeing a sizable pay raise as a free agent this offseason. While a broken leg during this past weekend’s playoff loss may have cost him a bit of money on his next contract, there’s no denying that the Cowboys would have to budget if they hoped to maintain their RB depth chart. Reducing Elliott’s salary could provide the front office a bit of extra wiggle room when it comes to working out a new contract for Pollard.

Following the Cowboys’ loss to the 49ers last night, Elliott made it clear to reporters that we wants to stay in Dallas.

“I’ve definitely thought about it,” said Elliott (via Gehlken). “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball; I can’t tell you the future. But I definitely want to be here.”

Elliott had the fewest touches of his career in 2022, but it didn’t lead to better production. The veteran’s 3.8 yards per touch marked a career-low, and he failed to hit 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career. The RB especially struggled as the season went on, as the 27-year-old averaged 2.6 yards per carry (82 carries, 213 yards) in the final six games of the regular season.