Cowboys Rumors: Mike McCarthy Assured He Will Remain HC After Payton's Saints Exit

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 27, 2022

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy speaks during a press conference following an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. The 49ers won 23-17. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

Dallas Cowboys brass has assured head coach Mike McCarthy that his job is safe in the aftermath of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton's retirement, per Jori Epstein of USA Today:

"The assurance came as early as in conversations after the Cowboys' 23-17 wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers and as recently as this week after Saints coach Sean Payton announced he was stepping down, a person with knowledge of the conversations told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the information."

McCarthy led Dallas to a 12-5 record and the NFC East title in his second season with the Cowboys before the division champs fell 23-17 to the San Francisco 49ers in a game they trailed 23-7 prior to a late comeback attempt.

The 58-year-old previously led the Green Bay Packers from 2006-2018, winning Super Bowl XLV in Feb. 2011.

The ugly loss to end the season created speculation that McCarthy could be fired, and team owner/general manager Jerry Jones didn't outright give his coach a vote of confidence after the loss.

"I don't even want to discuss anything like that at this particular time," Jones said, per NFL.com, after ESPN's Ed Werder asked if a coaching change could be on the table. "That's not on the table. The game speaks for itself."

Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones later cleared the air on 105.3 The Fan, saying that he "absolutely" thought McCarthy would be back for a third year.

However, as Epstein noted, Jones once again did not fully endorse McCarthy when asked about the coach's status on 105.3 The Fan last Friday:

"I'm not going to get into any conversations that I've had with anybody relative to anything to do with the staff. So I've got a lot to think about regarding these coaches. I've got a lot to think about regarding these scouts. I've got a lot to think about regarding various aspects of this organization."

Payton served as the Cowboys' assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach from 2003-05 before moving on to serve as the Saints' head coach.

After his retirement, a connection to the Cowboys became a natural link.

"You don't have to connect many dots to see Payton coaching the Cowboys, which is something Jones has thought long and hard about numerous times since losing Payton to New Orleans in 2006," ESPN's Todd Archer wrote.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also reported that Payton nearly became Dallas' coach in 2019.

That never happened, and it appears Payton isn't interested in coaching Dallas (or anywhere) in 2022 at least.

Nick Underhill @nick_underhill

Payton: “I don’t like the word retirement.” Says he still has a vision for doing things in football.<br><br>“That could be coaching again in the future, but that’s not where my heart is at all right now”

For now, McCarthy is still leading the Cowboys as they look to improve upon their 2021 season.

They got some good news Thursday when Archer reported that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who oversaw a unit that improved from 28th to seventh in points per game in his first season with the team, would be returning to Dallas.