Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will remain with the Dallas Cowboys, having agreed to a new three-year deal with the team, according to sources.
Marinelli told coach Jason Garrett when the season ended that he would return if Garrett wanted him back, according to a source. Garrett said at a news conference Tuesday that Marinelli wanted to stay, and that he wanted Marinelli back.
“I would absolutely like to see Rod Marinelli stay here,” Garrett said Tuesday morning. “He’s done a great job for us. … I express that to him on a daily basis.”
Marinelli’s contract expired after the 2014 season, as did many on the Cowboys’ coaching staff, and the team has an exclusive three-day window to negotiate new deals before the assistants can talk to other teams beginning Thursday.
Speculation had been that Marinelli could rejoin his best friend, Lovie Smith, in Tampa. Instead, he chose to remain with Garrett in Dallas.
Marinelli is a strong candidate for the league’s assistant coach of the year award. He took over the third-worst defense in NFL history, replacing Monte Kiffin, and the Cowboys ranked 19th in total defense and second in takeaways in 2014.
“Rod’s just done a fantastic job not only for our defense but our whole football team,” Garrett said. “He made our players better. He made our coaches better. He’s just a great football coach, and he’s a great person to have in your organization. He represents all the right things, and I thought the defense played remarkably well.
“We had a lot of questions coming into this season, and we had some injuries and at every turn that group just continued to overcome the different adversities that cropped up and handled the situations well and played very well. There are a lot of different ways to measure your defense, and a lot of people get caught up in yards and all the different ways that people use numbers in this game, but taking the ball away impacts the game. It impacts the game like none other and for us to be second in the National Football League taking the ball away, that’s a really positive impact on our football team. You look at the correlation between takeaways and points scored, and it’s a pretty direct correlation and has been for a long time, and points scored relates to winning. So their impact was significant, and I thought they handled all the different adversities really well, and I think his leadership had a lot to do with that.”
Marinelli has not commented since the season ended in Green Bay.
Pro Bowl bound
The NFL announced Tuesday that Garrett and his staff would coach one of the teams in the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys received that honor by being the losing NFC team this past weekend with the best record.
The Baltimore Ravens’ staff will coach the other team.
The game is scheduled for Jan. 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin will serve as team captains.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of a game like that,” Garrett said. “To get a chance to coach some of the best players in the league and interact with them, I think that’s a positive experience for everybody. You certainly want to embrace that.”
Tony Romo backed up his training camp proclamation that his best years were ahead of him. Most didn’t believe it at the time, but Romo put together his most impressive season yet, entering the MVP conversation and leading the Cowboys to the NFC East title.
Romo proved he can still play at a high level with a surgically repaired back, a promising sign for the Cowboys. So is Romo’s having a normal off-season for the first time in three years.
Garrett said Romo won’t need surgery on a torn ligament in his left ring finger or anything else that might have bothered him this season.
“You kind of go through that normal schedule that you would in a typical off-season, I think that’s going to help him,” Garrett said. “Help him lay a better foundation of just being a football player again. Again, I thought he did a fantastic job. His mental and physical toughness were on display again. Those are his best traits. He exhibited those all year long.”
▪ The Cowboys signed practice squad running back Ryan Williams and linebacker Mister Alexander to the reserve/future list. Williams announced on Twitter that he signed a two-year deal, which the Cowboys confirmed.
▪ Garrett said linebacker Sean Lee, who missed the season with a torn ACL, is making progress and should be a full go for off-season workouts.
Drew Davison and Charean Williams, 817-390-7760
Twitter: @drewdavison, @NFLCharean