IRVING, Texas – Just from the sights and sounds of Jason Garrett's press conference Tuesday afternoon at Valley Ranch, it certainly would seem like he's got every intent on returning as the head coach of the Cowboys next year.
While he's one of several coaches on this staff whose contract will soon expire, Garrett's 36-minute press conference was filled with "we" and "us," not to mention plenty of references regarding "building something" for the future.
However, until a contract is actually in place, then the only thing we can really do is assume and we know the words you can make from that.
But the tricky part here is that Garrett is the first domino. Once his falls, then it'll be easier to get the other coaches done, and I think that still includes Rod Marinelli.
But it all starts with Garrett.
Some will say this is an easy process. In fact, I was under the impression earlier this week, and even as of Tuesday morning, that it's a foregone conclusion that Garrett will be back. And currently, I still think at the end of the day Garrett will remain the head coach.
But this negotiation process might be a little sticky. And frankly, it should be.
My job is to form opinions and write about them. But in this case, I can definitely see both sides of the argument. When that happens, you'd like to think the two sides can meet in the middle on a fair deal.
But if I were to argue for the Jerry Jones side, I'd make sure and point out just how much patience the Cowboys have had with Garrett and this "process." Let's not forget that Jones handpicked Garrett from the Dolphins back in 2007, just two years after he got into the coaching business. Jerry had a vision for Garrett that someday he would be the type of assistant who would be a great head coach.
He got the opportunity to make him the coach in 2010 and he's stuck with him through three difficult 8-8 seasons where the Cowboys were so close to making the playoffs, but came up short in the final week of the season.
Honestly, I don't know if Garrett would've made it to his fourth full season after three 8-8 years with other teams. But Jerry wanted so badly for Garrett to succeed that he's stuck by him.
And it proved to be a wise one. After a 12-4 record, a playoff win and close-call to the Packers in the divisional round, the Cowboys are certainly looking like a team on the rise and one that will be among the favorites to contend for the Super Bowl next year.
Jones even made a comment about Garrett last week when he was asked about wanting to see Tony Romo succeed. But he switched gears on his answer and said, "It would be my dream for Jason. … Just think about what it could imagine for at this stage of his career if he got a Super Bowl."
Obviously, the Cowboys came up short on that, but it's even more obvious this Garrett-led team will be primed to compete for it next year.
And that's where it flips over to Garrett's argument. Here's a coach that went into the 2014 season on the final year of his deal. That "lame-duck" status is uncomfortable for all coaches, especially if you're roaming the sidelines for America's Team.
Garrett's hot seat was on fire, and has been for years. So to answer the bell – and his critics – with a 12-4 season was a remarkable feat. Not only that, but he's helped change the culture and perception of this team, which won four straight games in the month of December. They entered the month trailing the Eagles in the NFC East and shot past them with a brilliant month of football that saw the Cowboys at their best.
That's the definition of a well-coached team that had its players at the top of their game when it mattered the most.
Garrett has earned the right to remain the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and even more so, has earned the right to be paid as one of the NFL's best. You can say he's only had the one playoff win, but I'll argue that winning and succeeding with the Cowboys, and all the pressure that surrounds the job, should be worth much more than your average head coaching position.
They both have a case and that's why the negotiations won't be a slam dunk.
But when it's all said and done, two factors can't be ignored:
Jason Garrett wants to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, a team he's helped turn around and build.
Jerry Jones wants Jason Garrett to succeed and become the head coach he envisioned nearly eight years ago.
If both of those statements are truly the case and haven't changed, then a deal will get done. But if keeping the majority of this coaching staff intact is a priority, the sooner Garrett's contract is resolved, the better.