Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy will not receive extension, will coach 2024 in contract year

It has not been even a full week since the Dallas Cowboys were trounced in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers and yet it feels like so much has changed. This is, of course, the opposite of what has really happened as quite literally nothing has changed.

Despite getting humiliated in the postseason yet again, team owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones announced this week that the Cowboys would be bringing Mike McCarthy back in 2024. Notably it is the final year of the contract that he signed with the team back in 2020.

While it was assumed that Dallas would not be extending McCarthy before the season, nothing is ever truly off of the table with this franchise. You can put those questions to bed though as Saturday afternoon ESPN reported that McCarthy will enter the season in a contract year.

Mike McCarthy is not expected to receive any sort of extension from the Dallas Cowboys and will coach the 2024 season on an expiring contract, league sources told ESPN.

Ever since Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced this week that McCarthy would return in 2024, there have been questions about whether McCarthy’s contract could be adjusted in some way — even something as simple as having one more year tacked on.

The answer, simply enough, is no. Jones believes that a person in the last year of a contract is challenged in a different way, and it often can bring out the best in people — which he is banking on the happening in 2024 with McCarthy.

This is hardly breaking news, but the acknowledgement of it is significant. The Cowboys have made two decisions in bringing McCarthy back and forcing him to go at the season with his job on the line.

Some could argue that this is a good thing as the intensity of the situation may “bring out the best” in Mike and therefore the team. The argument against that is that this situation creates a constant distraction as evidenced by how Jerry Jones handled McCarthy’s predecessor in Jason Garrett. Dallas forced Garrett into a contract year on two consecutive occasions. The Cowboys delivered in 2014 with a 12-4 record and Wild Card win (before losing to Mike McCarthy’s Packers in the Dez Caught It™️ game) but failed miserably the second time in 2019 which led to him not returning and the McCarthy era beginning.

The latter line of thought is apparently something that ESPN’s sources believe could be a factor as well. From the report:

Some sources around the league believe that McCarthy could have a more challenging time filling potential openings on his coaching staff since he will be in the last year of his deal. Others say that, during periods of adversity, McCarthy’s lack of an extension could hover over the team.

Some other sources question how the Cowboys players will react to McCarthy’s contract status later in the year if the 2024 season is not going well.

It goes without saying that this will, in fact, be a thing. What is obviously to be determined is how the Cowboys respond to it. History says it will not go well.


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