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.
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
"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 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
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.