INDIANAPOLIS – During his meeting with the media on Tuesday at the scouting combine, Mike McCarthy reference having 84 players in the building last season, either on the roster, practice squad or injured reserve.
Last year, it's also been pointed out the Cowboys had up to 29 assistant coaches.
But on Tuesday, McCarthy also spent some time talking about someone outside the building, and said it's not something he enjoys too much.
But the speculation of Sean Payton one day coaching the Cowboys has been well-documented here in the last few weeks and it came up again in McCarthy's press conference.
"It's a narrative I don't want to be a part of," McCarthy said. "I don't think anyone wants to be a part of it – on either side of the fence. In fairness to Sean, he's being asked the questions. Nothing good comes out of that."
Payton, who was a former Cowboys assistant coach from 2003-05 under Bill Parcells, was the head coach of New Orleans and even won a Super Bowl, before suddenly announcing in January that he's stepping away from the Saints. That has led to plenty of speculation about Payton reuniting in Dallas, where he has lived in the offseason and has kept a good relationship with Jerry Jones and the Jones family over the years.
Immediately after the Cowboys' playoff exit against the 49ers, Jones was non-committal in talking about the future of any coaches, when specifically asked about McCarthy. That, along with the Payton news, led to speculation about Payton perhaps coming to Dallas at some point.
"But I think you do need to understand that I get to spend a lot of time with Jerry, both as the owner and the GM," McCarthy said. "In our conversations, you talk about the partnership between the head coach and the GM, those are the conversations I have. The strength of the partnership, what's in front of us. We have big decisions to make on the roster. He addressed it. We laughed about it and moved on. That's really where it is. It's something for externals to talk about but I don't see it as any type of topic or anything that gets in the way of winning."
McCarthy and Payton have similar results over the last 15 years. Both have won a Super Bowl and did so with a Hall of Fame quarterback. Payton does have a better winning percentage at .631 with a 151-89 record. McCarthy's percentage is .608 and 143-92 overall record, although it's been at two stops – Green Bay and Dallas.
McCarthy kept pointing out his regular conversations with Jerry Jones, which he called "extremely healthy" that seemingly gives him the confidence to move forward.
McCarthy also said he's concerned about the outside perceptions and rumors leaking into the minds of his players.
"We ahve a tremendously strong locker room culture," he said. "I can't say enough about this group of men that we have – just the way it all came together. You could feel it in the offseason program we had last year. I give the veteran leadership a ton of credit. We have the growth of young players. I really like the dynamics of our locker room."