FRISCO, Texas – Mike McCarthy will return for a fifth season as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, it was announced Wednesday.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones met with McCarthy on Wednesday after the coach completed exit interviews with the players.
“I believe this team is very close and capable of achieving our ultimate goals, and having Mike McCarthy as our head coach is the best step for us,” Jones said in a statement released by the team. “There is great benefit in continuing the team's progress under Mike as our head coach.”
The Cowboys left Jones “on the floor” in a wild-card loss to the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. After the regular-season finale against the Washington Commanders, Jones praised McCarthy but added, “We'll see how each game goes,” when asked about the coach's future.
All this led to speculation that Jones could replace McCarthy.
“Our loss on Sunday is shared by everyone here, not just Coach McCarthy,” Jones said in a statement Wednesday. “With our players Sunday and our playoff record, I'm 100 percent supportive of our ability to reach our goals as our head coach.”
McCarthy 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 one conference title game. That gap.
McCarthy has a 1-3 postseason record in Dallas, losing at home to the San Francisco 49ers and the Packers in the wild card round in two of the last three years. Tom Brady's only playoff win came in the 2022 wild-card round at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what turned out to be the final game of his career.
McCarthy was hired a year after being fired in 2020 in Green Bay, after doing what his predecessor Jason Garrett couldn't: win a Super Bowl. The Cowboys still hope that will happen, giving McCarthy two championships. He won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Mike's approach to leading the team in partnership with individual players and our team has resulted in multiple layers of success this season,” Jones said in his statement. “Mike has the highest regular season winning percentage of any head coach in Cowboys history, and together with him, we will dedicate ourselves to achieving our postseason goals. Certainly, Mike's career has demonstrated a high level of postseason success. We have great confidence that can continue.”
Unless the five-year deal he signed in 2020 is reworked, McCarthy's arrival sets up an interesting dynamic. Twice, Jones coached Garrett in 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 given a five-year extension. In 2019, Garrett went 8-8 and missed the playoffs, which led to his exit.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is set to enter the final year of his four-year, $160 million contract in 2024. His contract has a no-trade clause and the Cowboys cannot place the franchise tag on him through 2025. Count that $59.4 million against the NFL's second-biggest salary cap figure.
Prescott, now 2-5 in the playoffs, will have a huge influence on the franchise that selected him if he can lead the Cowboys to at least one conference title game — if not the Super Bowl — in 2024. Fourth round of the 2016 draft. If he doesn't, the Cowboys could be free to move on from him as the starter after nine full seasons without a final playoff win.
A defensive coordinator could be on the market with Dan Quinn scheduled to interview with five teams: the Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Commanders, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.
“We'll begin the decision-making process by reviewing everything that affects our team and roster,” Jones said in his statement, “and we're not going to talk about specific players and extensions or free agents at this point. It deserves our in-depth review and consideration, and it will get that.” “
In 2023, McCarthy took over playcalling duties from Kellen Moore and oversaw Prescott's best season (36 touchdown passes, nine interceptions), in 2022 the quarterback had 15 interceptions, 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 ranked fifth in yards per game (376.1).
With the recent replacements of Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, McCarthy's 167 wins are currently third among active coaches behind Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin.