Cowboys make Garrett highest-paid assistant in NFL

Updated: January 17, 2008, 10:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

IRVING, Texas -- After looking into two coaching jobs, Jason Garrett decided to remain offensive coordinator of the Cowboys after Dallas made him the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL.

ESPN.com Analysis

Despite his reported raise, Jason Garrett opted for sense, not dollars, in staying with the Cowboys, writes Len Pasquarelli. Story


If you thought Wade Phillips acted paranoid down the stretch of the 2007 season, just wait until 2008, Matt Mosley writes. Hashmarks

The Cowboys promoted Garrett to assistant head coach and gave him a new contract that will pay him in the ballpark of $3 million per year, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting.

Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips' salary is also in the $3 million range. There is no word on whether the team plans to adjust Phillips' salary.

Garrett went through second interviews in Baltimore and Atlanta earlier this week, then returned to Dallas to meet with team owner Jerry Jones.

"This is huge because changing systems right now would have been really tough on Tony [Romo]," a source told ESPN's Ed Werder.

Jones, who hired Garrett last year before hiring Phillips, apparently convinced him his future was just as bright with the Cowboys, who are coming off a 13-3 regular season with eight of his offensive players going to the Pro Bowl.

Garrett Stays At Cowboys' Controls

It's safe to say that Jason Garrett is working with better offensive personnel in Dallas than he would have found in Baltimore or Atlanta had he become head coach of either franchise.

2007 offenses
  Total yards/
game (rank)
Team points/
game (rank)
Cowboys 365.7 (3rd) 28.4 (2nd)
Ravens 302.0 (22nd) 17.2 (24th)
Falcons 300.8 (23rd) 16.2 (29th)

Garrett held a news conference to discuss his decision to stay, which included a promotion to assistant head coach. He insisted that he seriously considered the other jobs and didn't just see what was out there for the experience of going through the process.

"They weren't exercises," he said. "They were great opportunities. ... I think maybe this decision to stay here has a lot more to do with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and what the Dallas Cowboys can be in 2008."

Garrett gave thoughtful answers to all questions but one. Asked if he was promised he'd replace Phillips, Garrett said, "No," then turned his head to seek a question from the other side of the room.

League rules prevent team owner Jerry Jones from anointing Garrett as the heir to Phillips, but the way things have played out sure seems to indicate the likelihood.

"We're thrilled that Jason will be with the team in 2008 and moving forward," Jones said in a statement. "We believe that what we accomplished in 2007 is just the beginning of many productive years ahead. His vision and direction on the offensive side of the ball will only help us improve and get to where we want to be."

In Garrett's first year of building a game plan and calling plays, the Cowboys averaged the second-most points, third-most yards and fourth-most yards passing in the NFL. Tony Romo shattered team passing records, Terrell Owens set various receiving records and Jason Witten had one of the most prolific seasons by a tight end in league history. Running back Marion Barber even made the Pro Bowl despite being a backup.

"We made great strides this year," Garrett said. "We didn't achieve all of our goals, but we're heading in the right direction. When [wife] Brill and I looked at each other we said, 'Boy, we have a great chance here in Dallas.' "

Phillips said the importance of having both coordinators back is something "I don't think you can emphasize enough."

"That familiarity allows us to build upon what we were able to teach last year and puts us so far ahead of where we were at this time a year ago," he said. "The players learned and accepted two new philosophies on both sides of the ball last year. We will now be able to build upon that."

In other Cowboys news, offensive line coach Hudson Houck agreed to a three-year contract worth an estimated $3 million, team sources told Chris Mortensen.

Houck, who coached the Cowboys' line for two of their three Super Bowl titles in the '90s, will replace Sparano, who was named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday. Houck had been dismissed as the Dolphins' line coach when Bill Parcells was named vice president of football operations in Miami.

Information from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Ed Werder, ESPN.com's Matt Mosley and Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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