Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has decided to hire Jason Garrett to at least be Dallas' offensive coordinator -- and possibly to be the successor to retired head coach Bill Parcells.
A source told ESPN's Ed Werder on Wednesday night that Jones considers Garrett, a former backup to quarterback Troy Aikman, to be one of the most promising offensive coaches in the league and was so determined to bring him back to the Cowboys organization that he would have been added to Parcells' staff had Parcells decided to coach the final year of his contract.
Instead, Parcells stepped down Monday after four seasons with the Cowboys, ending a 19-year coaching tenure that included two Super Bowl champoinships with the New York Giants.
Jones must decide by Thursday whether to hire Garrett as offensive coordinator because the Miami Dolphins set a deadline for the Cowboys to hire their quarterbacks coach when granting the Cowboys permission to interview Garrett.
The Cowboys could appoint Garrett offensive coordinator to secure his services while eliminating the Dolphins from the equation. Then Jones could deliberate whether to appoint him as the head coach later after interviews with other head coach candidates, primarily San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips or San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
In related news, Cowboys passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Todd Haley is being released from his contract so he can pursue the offensive coordinator opening in Arizona, a team source told Werder on Thursday morning.
Haley -- the assistant coach whom Terrell Owens was seen screaming at on the sideline when the Cowboys lost in Philadelphia -- was one of Parcells' closest assistants.
The Cowboys also have denied assistant head coach and principal play-caller Tony Sparano the chance to pursue other jobs so he can be involved in play-calling once Garrett is formally hired, Werder reported.
Finally, the Cowboys have decided to permit assistant Chris Palmer -- the Dallas quarterbacks coach Tony Romo hoped to keep -- to interview with the New York Giants, Werder reported.
Garrett spent the last two seasons coaching Miami's quarterbacks. He played for the Cowboys from 1993-99, appearing in 23 games (nine starts). He also played for the Giants, Tampa Bay and Miami. Garrett retired in 2004.
Garrett's father, Jim, was a longtime scout for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys haven't had an offensive coordinator since Maurice Carthon served in that role under Parcells in 2004. This season, Sparano coached running backs and the offensive line and Haley was the passing game coordinator.
Jones earlier this week spoke to Sparano, Haley and secondary coach Todd Bowles, a candidate to replace Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator, about the head coaching job.
Phillips, who was in Mobile scouting Senior Bowl practices, said he hadn't heard from anybody yet, including the Cowboys.
"If it's true, we'll just go on with the process and see what happens," Phillips told The Associated Press by telephone. "I've got a great job where I am and a great football team. I wasn't looking for anything, but I've always wanted to do what I can do as a head coach, and Dallas is certainly a premier job."
The Cowboys have declared that finding the coaches who can develop young Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo is a point of emphasis in replacing Parcells.
Information from ESPN's Ed Werder and The Associated Press was used in this report.