Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett entered the 2014 season as a lame duck in the final year of his contract.
After leading the Cowboys to the NFC East title with a 12-4 mark and their first playoff win since 2009, there was never any mystery surrounding his future in Dallas.
He and the Cowboys began working on a contract extension immediately following the 26-21 season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday.
Per sources, they came to terms on a five-year, $30 million deal late Tuesday evening. An official announcement is expected Wednesday.
Even though Garrett could have capitalized on his success with a bidding war on the open market, it was a foregone conclusion that he would return to Dallas once the team started winning.
Since the loss to the Packers, Garrett has gone about the business of preparing the team for next season and has operated in the mode that he would continue to be the coach of the Cowboys.
“Oh, absolutely, I want to be here,” Garrett said earlier in the day before the deal was complete. “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.
“There is a business part to this profession. Over the next couple of days, we’ll try to resolve some things. But we’re excited about what the future is for this football team, the team we’ve put together.”
Garrett is 42-32 since taking over as the Cowboys’ coach midway through the 2010 season, and it looks like he will have many more seasons to become this generation’s Tom Landry, as owner Jerry Jones has long envisioned.
Jones has always been one of Garrett’s biggest proponents, going back to his days as a backup quarterback with the Cowboys in the 1990s. It was Jones who brought Garrett back to the team as offensive coordinator in 2007, even before he hired Wade Phillips as head coach.
But he admittedly needed to see results on the field before pushing the button on a new deal.
Even Jones had questions of whether Garrett deserved a future with the Cowboys after going 29-27, including three consecutive 8-8 seasons, before the 2014 season kicked off.
But that was before he took the Cowboys on an improbable run that began with Jones admitting they were going to have their backs against the wall.
Few people expected the Cowboys to surpass the 8-8 mark of a year ago.
The Cowboys played beyond expectations and maximized their potential like no team in recent memory, winning 12 games for the first time since going 13-3 in 2007 and breaking a four-year postseason drought.
“We don’t go compare teams very much,” Garrett said. “But I think at different times the group of guys we had really maximized their potential, and that’s one of the things we’re most proud of as a coaching staff is to be able to do that. That’s what we strive to do more than anything else.
“But again, our goals are higher than what we accomplished this year.”
Garrett laid the foundation for success when he took over the team in 2010, but he came into his own as coach in 2014. The team fully bought into his preaching and it manifested with its success on the field.
Garrett remembered talking to the players at the start of the off-season program about what he wanted them to become and the need to fight and become mentally strong.
They began this season with the motto of “fight” and ended with “finish the fight” as they went undefeated on the road and overcame their long-standing struggles in December with a 4-0 record to clinch the division title and a playoff spot.
Garrett said the Cowboys might not have achieved their ultimate goal of making a Super Bowl run for the first time since 1995, but they reached many of the goals he set last spring.
“Our goal is to win the Super Bowl, but maybe the more overarching goal is to be part of a team that everybody that was associated with the team — players, coaching staff, anybody in the organization, fans, anybody associated with the National Football League — is proud of,” Garrett said.
“That’s a big thing for me. We pride ourselves on how we represent ourselves, how we play, and I told them that. I’m really proud to be a part of it. It started way back when, and we accomplished a lot of those things.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760