In one breath, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insists that coach Jason Garrett would have had five job offers if he’d been available two weeks ago. In the next breath, Jones refuses to rule out that Garrett will be available two weeks from now.
So what’s going on? We’ve got an idea. And it involves the head coach of a team that is still playing.
Here’s what Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas when asked to commit to the 2019 return of his head coach, with emphasis added: “Why would I put some kind of statement out that says this is what we’re going to do when we might have an opportunity here next week? This is the time when these things are thought about. This is the time when they are chewed on. This is when you may see an opportunity next week that you didn’t know existed this week in the area of personnel or in the area of coaching. And I’m not trying to be cute here. I’m just saying that one of the advantages that we have is that we can operate with that kind of flexibility.”
So what opportunity could arise next week? Short of the cloning of Sean McVay or the reanimation of Vince Lombardi, the universe of potential coaches is set. The universe of available coaches, however, will soon grow.
After Sunday, an AFC finalist and an NFC finalist will lose. Next week, coaches will be available, in theory, who aren’t available now.
And given that a month of Sunday Splash! reports has speculated on Saints coach Sean Payton moving on and, more specifically, linked him to the Cowboys, it’s fair to consider Jones’ comments through that lens. Is Jones suggesting that, if the Saints lose, the Cowboys would explore upgrading from Jason Garrett to Sean Payton?
Despite the practical complications that arise when trying to fire one coach and hire another (Rooney Rule compliance would become an obvious issue), Jerry Jones tends to do whatever Jerry Jones wants to do. He has said he’d write a huge check if it would guarantee a Super Bowl win, and whether those huge checks are to the league for violating the Rooney Rule, to Payton to lure him to town, or both, Jones’ cryptic yet loaded comments from Tuesday suggest that he’s thinking about making a run at hiring Payton.
Of course, Payton has said or done nothing to suggest an inclination to leave the Saints. But this isn’t about Payton; it’s about Jones. If Jones has decided that he’s willing to blow the coaching compensation curve in order to make it happen (and to give up draft picks to get Payton from the Saints), nothing stops Jones from at least trying.
And that may be the only way to properly comprehend the things that Jones had to say on Tuesday when talking about his current head coach.