FRISCO, Texas — Mike McCarthy has brought a different theme to each Dallas Cowboys season. In 2023, “corp omnia” is Latin for conquering everything.
With owner and general manager Jerry Jones bringing McCarthy back for a fifth season, the head coach won't have to think too much about the 2024 theme.
How does “All or Nothing” sound?
McCarthy signed a five-year contract with the Cowboys through 2020, and no extension was agreed to when the coach met with Jones on Wednesday.
That quarterback, Dach Prescott, will enter the final year of his contract with the Cowboys, and it's all or nothing.
The Cowboys have time to work out a Prescott extension between now and the start of the season, but he's set to count $59.4 million against the salary cap. Without an extension or void years added to Prescott's contract, it will be difficult for the Cowboys to add free agents or retain their own key players. But Prescott has gone eight years as a starter and has a 2-5 postseason record without appearing in the conference title game.
The Cowboys must weigh the importance of signing him to a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game — in the neighborhood of $50 million a year — and put the franchise tag on him in 2025 knowing they can't, without proven playoff success.
There are other questions to consider when McCarthy returns:
Why keep McCarthy?
He has a 42-25 record. Has won two NFC East titles in the last three seasons. McCarthy is playing this season for the first time in his tenure with the Cowboys, and Prescott responded with his best campaign, leading the NFL in touchdown passes (36) a year after missing five games and leading the way in interceptions. With a broken thumb.
The Cowboys have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since a six-year run from 1991 to 1996 that included wins in Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX. McCarthy became the first coach in team history to record three straight 12-win seasons, albeit with some playing 17-game schedules. With McCarthy as the playcaller in 2023, the Cowboys ranked No. 1 in points per game (29.9). 1 and finished 5th in yards (371.6).
Ultimately, though, McCarthy will be judged on his postseason success. So far, they've lost twice in the first round of the playoffs — at AT&T Stadium — including Sunday's 48-32 embarrassment against the Green Bay Packers.
Was there any consideration for the change?
If anything, it was quiet. Bill Belichick, who won six Super Bowls before parting ways with the New England Patriots, or Jim Harbaugh, who won a national championship at Michigan, and Jones, who previously led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, could have been put forward. Former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel may have been another option to consider.
Because Jones is considered impulsive and a risk-taker, he hasn't made a big move since taking cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round and signing cornerback Brandon Carr to a big contract in free agency in 2012.
Jones turns 82 next season. He wants to win another championship. It would be a stretch to think he would have made a play for an up-and-coming offensive coach like Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson or Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slovic. He can't wait for a young coach to learn the ropes. He did it with Jason Garrett.
What about the rest of the coaching staff?
Dan Quinn is interviewing with five teams (Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks) regarding head coaching vacancies, so the Cowboys could be looking for a defensive coordinator in days or weeks.
Is there anyone on the staff ready to step in, like Joe Witt Jr., who will be the defensive passing game coordinator starting in 2020, or defensive line coach Aden Durte, or secondary coach Al Harris?
Could an outside coordinator like Wink Martindale, who spent the last two seasons with the New York Giants, be an option?
The only other position coach not signed is wide receivers coach Robert Prince. Every other position coach is signed through 2024, matching McCarthy's original contract.
Another sign that 2024 is all or nothing.