IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett spoke a lot about the future for a guy who technically does not have a job.
The conclusion of the Cowboys' season on Sunday means that Garrett has finished the final season of his current contract with the team. Negotiations are ongoing for a new deal, as Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones alluded to on Monday, but there isn't one currently in place.
Despite that, Garrett had no problem taking big picture views on Tuesday at his final press conference for the 2014 season.
"I really believe that we've built something here that we're all proud of and we're all excited about taking the next step with this football team," he said. "I think we have the right kind of guys on our staff, the right kind of guys on our team and we're excited about the opportunities and the challenges ahead."
The Cowboys certainly laid building blocks during 2014 – a season that saw them win 12 games, a division title and a playoff game. The present reality of the offseason, however, is that the franchise has several coaches out of contract, headlined by Garrett. There are also plenty of big roster decisions to make, with the longterm futures of Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray taking precedence.
"There is a business aspect to all of this we're trying to go through right now. It happens with players, it happens with coaches and we'll try to resolve that the best we can," Garrett said.
Logically, the head coach would take top billing on the Cowboys' to-do list, and Stephen Jones said as much Monday, listing Garrett as his top priority in an interview with 105.3 The Fan.
Of course, the fact that Garrett's contract is up technically makes him a free agent – a rare scenario for head coaches who have not been fired. It's theoretically possible that other franchises with head coach openings could want to talk to him, given his recently-completed 13-win campaign.
Garrett declined to speculate, however, citing the need to wrap up the 2014 season before looking ahead.
"I don't want to get into the details of all that," he said. "One of the things we talk to our players about all the time and we live with as coaches is focusing on the task at hand."
It's not exactly surprising that Garrett would opt to keep contract negotiations out of the public eye. The language he used in assessing the Cowboys' future projected a clear image – an image that included all of the team's critical players, as well as himself.
"Whatever the makeup of our team is going to be when we reassemble in the spring is going to be different than it is right now," he said. "The 2014 Dallas Cowboys are a unique entity. But I'd like to think that when we get together we're going to have these cornerstone pieces and we're going to have these experiences that we've had together that we can build on and we can benefit from."
That quote is pretty telling to begin with. But just in case it wasn't, Garrett was also asked whether he'd like to be with the Cowboys going forward.
"Oh, absolutely I want to be here," he said. "We're proud of the team that we've assembled, the staff we've assembled the players we've brought in here. I think we're building it the right way."
All signs point toward Garrett remaining in Dallas to build from the blueprint he developed in 2011, when he was given the job full-time. Before that can happen, though, the contract talks continue.
"We have to take of the business. Then get back to work," Garrett said. "Hopefully, we can get everything resolved with me and our staff members and get back to work as quickly as we can."