Dallas Cowboys are unlikely to retain Mike McCarthy as head coach due to……

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones met with McCarthy on Wednesday, after the coach had finished exit interviews with the players.

“I believe this team is very close and capable of achieving our ultimate goals and the best step forward for us will be with Mike McCarthy as our head coach,” Jones said in a statement released by the team. “There is great benefit to continuing the team’s progress under Mike’s leadership as our head coach.”

The Cowboys are coming off a wild-card loss to the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium that left Jones “floored.” After the regular-season finale against the Washington Commanders, Jones praised McCarthy but also said, “we’ll see how each game goes,” when asked about the coach’s future.

All of that led to speculation that Jones could replace McCarthy.

“Our loss on Sunday is shared by everyone here, not just Coach McCarthy,” Jones said in Wednesday’s statement. “Our players. Our coaches. Our front office. Myself. There is accountability for our results. I am accountable for our results. The lens we use to view and evaluate Coach McCarthy is holistic. While we’re all disappointed with the result on Sunday and with our playoff record, I am 100 percent supportive of him as our head coach and ability to reach our goals.”

McCarthy has posted a 42-25 regular-season record with NFC East titles in 2021 and 2023. The Cowboys became the first team in the Super Bowl era to win 12 games in three straight seasons but not advance to at least a conference title game in that span.

McCarthy has a 1-3 postseason record in Dallas, with home losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Packers in the wild-card round in two of the past three years. His lone playoff win came in the 2022 wild-card round at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what turned out to be the final game of Tom Brady’s career.

McCarthy was hired in 2020 after a one-year absence following his dismissal in Green Bay in part to do what his predecessor, Jason Garrett, could not do: win a Super Bowl. The Cowboys are still hoping that can happen, which would give McCarthy two championships. He won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“There are many layers of success that have occurred this season as a result of Mike’s approach to leading the team, both with individual players and with our team collectively,” Jones said in his statement. “Mike has the highest regular season winning percentage of any head coach in Cowboys history and we will dedicate ourselves, in partnership with him, to translating that into reaching our postseason goals. Certainly, Mike’s career has demonstrated postseason success at a high level, and we have great confidence that can continue.”

McCarthy’s return sets up an interesting dynamic if the five-year deal he signed in 2020 has not been reworked. Twice, Jones had Garrett coach the final year of his contract. In 2014, the Cowboys went 12-4, won the NFC East and lost to McCarthy’s Packers in the divisional round, and Garrett was rewarded with a five-year extension. In 2019, Garrett went 8-8 and missed the playoffs, which led to his departure.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is also set to enter the final year of his four-year, $160 million contract in 2024. There is a no-trade clause in his deal and the Cowboys cannot place the franchise tag on him in 2025. He is set to count $59.4 million against the salary cap, the second-largest figure in the NFL.

If Prescott, who is now 2-5 in the playoffs, can deliver the Cowboys at least to a conference title game — if not a Super Bowl — in 2024, then he would have tremendous leverage over the franchise that selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. If he doesn’t, then the Cowboys would be free to move on from him after nine full seasons as their starter without the ultimate playoff success.

The Cowboys also could be in the market for a defensive coordinator with Dan Quinn scheduled to interview with five teams: the Carolina Panthers, Commanders, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

“We will start our process of review and decision-making regarding everything that impacts our team and roster,” Jones said in his statement, “and, while we’re not going to address specific players and extensions or free agents at this point, it deserves our deepest review and consideration, and it will get it.”

In 2023, McCarthy took over playcalling duties from Kellen Moore and oversaw Prescott’s best season (36 touchdown passes, nine interceptions) after the quarterback had 15 interceptions in 2022, tied for most in the NFL despite Prescott missing five games with a broken thumb. The Cowboys led the league in points per game (29.9) and were fifth in yards per game (376.1).

With the recent changed statuses of Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, McCarthy’s 167 wins are currently third most among active coaches behind Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin.

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