Jason Garrett

Cowboys Rumors: Earl Thomas, Witten, Draft

Seahawks free agent safety Earl Thomas is expected seek $15MM a year with his next deal, The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins tweets.

Watkins notes that figure might be too high for the Cowboys. Though possessing plenty of cap space this offseason, the team is expected to use most of that money in signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal and working on extensions for players like Dak Prescott and Byron Jones.

Thomas and the Cowboys have long been linked ever since the All-Pro safety told head coach Jason Garrett to “come get him” following a 2017 game. The Cowboys and Seahawks were in talks on trades for the star defender in the offseason but could not come to an agreement on draft-round compensation.

Thomas, a Texas native and longtime Cowboys fan, reportedly will not take a “hometown” discount with the team and is also expected to be courted by the 49ers.

Here’s more surrounding the Cowboys:

  • When asked whether the newly signed Jason Witten is a “coach in waiting,” owner Jerry Jones said that he will be with the team in the future, whether that is as a coach or in another position, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. After a year-long hiatus, Witten made a shocking decision when he decided to come back for another season in 2019. Long considered a future NFL coach, Witten is sure to make a move in that direction following what is, presumably, his last season.
  • Speaking of Witten, when the future Hall of Famer rejoined the team, it was expected the Cowboys would not take a tight end early in the draft. That might not be the case, as the team has already met with Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, The Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Though they might have interest, the Cowboys do not possess their first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade and the college standout will likely be gone before their Day 2 selection.
  • Like we said earlier, the Cowboys are expected to use most of their cap space to resign their own players this year. The team has already met with the agents for Prescott, Jones and Cooper, and are expected to meet with Lawrence’s agent tonight, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. tweets. They have not met with Ezekiel Elliott‘s agent yet, but have indicated plenty of interest in resigning him at some point.

 

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Payton, Eagles

Take this with a grain of salt, but there’s an ongoing theory that the Cowboys are eyeing Saints coach Sean Payton as the eventual replacement for Jason Garrett, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Of course, there are a number of complications and roadblocks involved in such a plan, including Payton’s contract with New Orleans, which runs through 2020.

Garrett is a lame duck heading into 2019 and the team does not plan to give him an extension between now and the fall. Of course, Garrett’s job has been in jeopardy before and he could easily turn things around with a big season in Dallas.

If the Cowboys are indeed interested in Payton, then this wouldn’t be the first time another team has tried to pry him away. The Colts and Rams reportedly explored the idea in January 2017, but Payton wound up staying put in New Orleans.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles may be hoping to “tag and trade” quarterback Nick Foles, but Foles’ representatives should be prepared to fight any attempt to block his path to the open market, Mike Florio of PFT writes. The QB’s camp could communicate that they won’t cooperate with the plan or they could fight it based on the rules of the CBA. Article 4 of the CBA reads: “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Tendering Foles strictly to trade him would potentially be in violation of that clause.
  • The Giants are likely going to use Eli Manning as their starting quarterback in 2019, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY opines. The Giants, he writes, are more likely to seek his heir in the draft and potentially explore a negotiation to trim his $23.2MM cap hit.
  • Former Eagles quarterback G.J. Kinne has agreed to become an offensive assistant with the Eagles, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweets. Last year Kinne worked an analyst/assistant QB coach at Arkansas. Kinne, a Tulsa product, worked the practice squad circuit up until he was released by the Giants in May of 2016.
  • The Eagles also promoted assistant wide receivers coach Carson Walch to full WRs coach, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He takes over after the team moved on from Gunter Brewer.

Jerry Jones Confirms Jason Garrett Will Not Receive Extension

Several days ago, we learned that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett may not receive a contract extension this offseason, thereby making the 2019 campaign a lame-duck year for him. That was quite the reversal from a report that emerged on the morning of Dallas’ divisional round matchup against the Rams, which suggested that the Cowboys were planning on negotiating a long-term deal with Garrett as soon as their season was over.

Speaking at the NFL Honors ceremony last night, team owner Jerry Jones confirmed that Garrett would not, in fact, receive an extension prior to the 2019 season, per Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jones said, “We have been there before without a contract. He trusts me. I do trust him or he wouldn’t be the head coach to begin with. Our business is made too much of when you look at extensions and non extensions.”

Garrett did not have much to add on the subject, saying, “I don’t spend a lot of time on the business of football. I spend time trying to build a team we all can be proud of.”

As Jones noted, Garrett coached into a lame-duck year in 2014, when a 12-4 Cowboys team nearly voyaged to the NFC championship game. Garrett signed his current deal, a five-year, $30MM pact, after that season, but he has not been able to get his club over the divisional round hump. He has three division titles to his credit, but just two playoff wins.

It is difficult to say what Garrett will need to do to earn a third HC contract with Dallas, but he will probably have to at least get back to the playoffs.

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No Extension Planned For Jason Garrett?

As the Cowboys plan to make two recent backup quarterbacks their core offensive assistants, they are not planning an extension for their former backup-turned-longtime head coach.

After talk of a Jason Garrett extension surfaced earlier this month, nothing on that front is now being planned, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. No short- or long-term re-up is on tap at this time, per Archer. Garrett is going into the final season of his five-year, $30MM contract.

En route to the NFC East title, the Cowboys finished the season 7-1 and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2014 season. Garrett has been Dallas’ head coach since the 2010 season. He is now the NFL’s sixth-longest-tenured head coach. The five ahead of him — Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll — have each won Super Bowls, four of those coaches having been to at least two.

It would make sense for the Cowboys to apply pressure for Garrett to sustain success, as he enters his ninth full season as a head coach. He has not taken the Cowboys to back-to-back playoff brackets. The 52-year-old HC coached into a lame-duck year in 2014, when a 12-4 Cowboys team nearly voyaged to the NFC championship game. Garrett signed his current deal after the season. A similar timeline may have to occur this year, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeting another lame-duck season will be the franchise’s plan.

The Cowboys are tabbing 29-year-old Kellen Moore, who was still at Boise State when Garrett’s Dallas tenure began, to become the league’s youngest active OC. Moore is expected to call plays, leaving Garrett in his usual CEO role.

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Cowboys Leaning Against Jason Garrett Calling Plays?

With Scott Linehan now out of the picture and a potential first-time offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore the frontrunner to succeed him, Jason Garrett has by far the most experience on the Cowboys’ current staff calling plays.

A recent report indicated the longtime HC was in line to reclaim those responsibilities. Not so fast. The Cowboys like the setup of Garrett serving as the game-day overseer, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It is now expected Garrett will not call plays for the Cowboys in 2019.

The expected offensive-staff hierarchy is Garrett presiding over a team of Moore as OC, Jon Kitna as quarterbacks coach and tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier gaining influence, per Rapoport.

Nussmeier, 48, served as OC for Fresno State, Washington, Alabama, Michigan and Florida from 2009-17 before joining Garrett’s staff last year. Kitna has been a head high school coach since his 16-year playing career ended in 2012. Moore, 30, spent 2018 on Dallas’ staff after retiring following the ’17 season.

It would stand to reason Moore would act as the play-caller, as the assumed OC, but that may not be sorted out just yet. Regardless, it will be interesting to see where the NFC East champions go here given the less experienced staff they plan to assemble to run their 2019 offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Foles, Kitna, Belichick

It is all but certain that the Eagles will part ways with Nick Foles this offseason, and there has been plenty of speculation as to how that might happen given Foles’ present contract situation. The most-discussed scenarios involve the team basically forcing Foles to buy his way into free agency for $2MM, and even then, the Eagles could put the franchise tag on Foles and trade him, thus eliminating any voice that Foles might have in the matter.

But as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, Foles and the Eagles have an excellent relationship, as evidenced by the team’s most recent gesture of goodwill. As such, JLC suggests that Philadelphia could pick up Foles’ 2019 option, thereby triggering a $20MM salary, and then orchestrate a trade to a team of Foles’ liking. Realistically, there are only a handful of teams that will be in the market for Foles, so by going that route, Foles could keep the above-referenced $2MM and still end up with a team that he would have signed with anyway (and he and his new team would likely enter into a long-term pact whether he is traded or signs as a free agent). As La Canfora observes, the Dolphins and Jaguars are the two clubs who have been linked to Foles thus far.

Now for a quick roundup of a few more east-related items:

  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys could hire Jon Kitna as their QB coach and name Kellen Moore as their new OC. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Kitna will indeed become Dallas’ QB coach, which means that Moore — who served as the team’s QB coach in 2018 — may very well take the OC reins. Schefter’s ESPN colleague, Chris Mortensen, reports that head coach Jason Garrett is “in line” to serve as the team’s offensive play-caller in 2019 regardless of who the OC is (Twitter link).
  • In the past couple of years, we have heard a lot about the tension among the three pillars of the Patriots‘ franchise: owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, when Belichick recently commented on the upcoming 25th anniversary of Kraft’s ownership, he said, “[h]ope we can continue it for a long time.” That brief but telling statement is in keeping with what Reiss has been sensing of late, which is that Belichick, 66, will be coaching New England for the foreseeable future.
  • Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio tweets that the Bills could promote offensive assistant Chad Hall to wide receivers coach to replace Terry Robiskie, who recently joined the Jaguars’ coaching staff.

Cowboys’ Scott Linehan Back On Hot Seat?

Hold the phone. After giving offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a vote of confidence on Monday morning, head coach Jason Garrett walked back his comments just hours later. 

I think it’s a little early to be speculating about players, coaches, anything like that other than I really do think our group overall did a nice job,” Garrett told 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star Telegram).

Garrett went on to say that owner Jerry Jones has the final say on coaching staff matters, which probably means that Jones did not take kindly to Garrett’s Monday AM comments. For his part, Garrett claimed that he did not remember exactly what he said in the Monday morning interview.

The Cowboys offense was inconsistent – to put it mildly – under Linehan’s command in 2018. The Cowboys did manage a playoff win, however, before meeting their end on Sunday against the Rams. It’s possible that Linehan keeps his job, but nothing is guaranteed for the OC or anyone else on staff.

Garrett went on to divulge that his agent David Dunn has not had any discussions about a contract extension with the team. Late last week, it was reported that talks were underway between the two sides.

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Cowboys Looking To Extend HC Jason Garrett

The Cowboys are focused on tonight’s playoff matchup against the Rams, but they’ll shift their focus to extending their head coach whenever their season ends. Appearing on Good Morning Football, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said that the Cowboys intend to begin negotiating a long-term contract with Jason Garrett during the offseason (Twitter link).

Following the Cowboys lackluster start, there were whispers that the organization could look to move on from Garrett. Furthermore, we heard that the team hadn’t considered extending the 52-year-old. However, the Cowboys finished the regular season with a 7-1 record, and they won last week’s playoff matchup against the Seahawks.

The recent run apparently convinced the organization that Garrett was “their coach of the future.” The head coach’s contract is set to expire at the end 2019 campaign, but the team is hoping to extend him before that time. After having previously signed a five-year, $30MM contract, Rapoport expects Garrett’s next contract to be among the most lucrative in the entire game.

Garrett has been with the organization since 2007, and he took over head coaching duties in 2010 after the team fired Wade Phillips. Garrett has put together a 77-59 record during his tenure as head coach, leading the Cowboys to three playoff appearances.

Meanwhile, defensive backs coach and passing-game coordinator Kris Richard wasn’t able to get a head-coaching gig this offseason (although Rapoport notes that he was a finalist for the Dolphins gig). However, based on his quick ascension through the organization, many believe the Cowboys will make Richard their full-time defensive coordinator in 2019. Rod Marinelli is the Cowboys current defensive coordinator, but Rapoport could envision a scenario where the 69-year-old transitions to a senior defensive assistant role.

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Jason Garrett Tried To Convince Jason Witten To Unretire

The 7-5 Cowboys have put together a four-game winning streak and now sit atop the NFC East standings, though the 6-6 Eagles are hot on their heels. Dallas hosts Philadelphia in a critical divisional matchup this afternoon, and according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has reached out to an old friend to give his club a boost.

Per Schefter, Garrett has made multiple attempts this season to convince former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten to come out of retirement and rejoin the team. Witten, of course, announced his retirement back in May, and he has served as a color commentator for ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasts this year (which have not gone nearly as well for him as his on-field career did). Even though Witten is now 36, he did put up 63 catches for 560 yards and five scores last season, and Dallas would kill to have that kind of production from its tight end corps this year.

The Cowboys’ have gotten next to nothing from their tight ends in 2018 thanks to injury and poor performance, and Garrett was convinced that Witten could step out of the broadcast booth and back onto the field without missing a beat. The team’s offense has come alive since adding Amari Cooper prior to the trade deadline, and Garrett believed Witten’s presence would further bolster the unit. However, Witten has firmly resisted Garrett’s overtures and is committed to honing his new craft.

The Cowboys drafted Witten out of Tennessee in the third round of the 2003 draft, and he never suited up for anyone else. He piled up 11 Pro Bowl nods and two First Team All-Pro selections in a remarkable career that places him near the top of all major statistical categories for tight ends.

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Cowboys Mulled Firing Scott Linehan During Bye Week; Latest On Jason Garrett

The Cowboys’ offense has been anemic all season long, and the unit ranks 26th in the league in points per game (19.3) and 27th in yards per game (317.1). Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was “thoroughly evaluated” at the end of the 2017 campaign, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterated today that head coach Jason Garrett strongly considered moving on from Linehan at that time (video link).

And while Garrett elected to keep Linehan on board and went along with Linehan’s overhaul of the wide receivers room, Rapoport says Garrett again considered firing Linehan during the team’s bye week at the end of October. Indeed, Rapoport said that he thought Linehan was going to be shown the door, but Dallas reversed course and elected to fire offensive line coach Paul Alexander instead. But unless the 3-5 Cowboys are able to make a surge in the second half of the season, the entire coaching staff could be on its way out.

Indeed, Rapoport confirmed today that the Cowboys are not planning to fire Garrett before the end of the season, which we heard earlier this week. But his job security is tenuous at best, and if owner Jerry Jones ultimately decides to ax Garrett, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is one name to keep an eye on. The Jones family is fond of Riley, who has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Browns’ head coaching job, so if Cleveland wants to reunite Baker Mayfield with his collegiate coach, it may have to battle Dallas, and perhaps other clubs, for the privilege.

In the interview with Rapoport linked above, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network briefly mentioned the possibility that Garrett could take control of offensive play-calling duties in an effort to save the Cowboys’ season and his job, but there does not appear to be anything concrete on that front at the moment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.