The Dallas Cowboys are retaining head coach Mike McCarthy for the 2024 season, the team announced Wednesday night. McCarthy will return for the fifth and final season of his current deal.
“I believe this team is very close and capable of achieving our ultimate goals and the best step forward for us will be with Mike McCarthy as our head coach,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement Wednesday night. “There is great benefit to continuing the team’s progress under Mike’s leadership as our head coach. Specifically, there are many layers of success that have occurred this season as a result of Mike’s approach to leading the team, both with individual players and with our team collectively. Mike has the highest regular-season winning percentage of any head coach in Cowboys history and we will dedicate ourselves, in partnership with him, to translating that into reaching our postseason goals. Certainly, Mike’s career has demonstrated postseason success at a high level, and we have great confidence that can continue.
“Further, our loss on Sunday is shared by everyone here, not just Coach McCarthy. Our players. Our coaches. Our front office. Myself. There is accountability for our results. I am accountable for our results. The lens we use to view and evaluate Coach McCarthy is holistic. While we’re all disappointed with the result on Sunday and with our playoff record, I am 100 percent supportive of him as our head coach and ability to reach our goals. We will start our process of review and decision making regarding everything that impacts our team and roster and, while we’re not going to address specific players and extensions or free agents at this point, it deserves our deepest review and consideration, and it will get it.”
Many Cowboys fans were ready to kick McCarthy to the curb after the team’s latest crushing postseason exit — a 48-32 blowout loss to the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers on Super Wild Card Weekend. The loss ran McCarthy’s postseason record with Dallas to 1-3. It also ran Dallas’ streak of playoff appearances without reaching a conference championship game to 13, the league’s longest active such streak.
The Cowboys entered the postseason with a 12-5 record. They were the NFC’s No. 2 seed and boasted the NFL’s highest-scoring offense (29.9 points per game), quarterback Dak Prescott led the NFL in touchdown passes (36), wide receiver CeeDee Lamb led the league in receptions (135) and they possessed the NFL’s only perfect record at home (8-0). None of it mattered.
Dallas has at least 12 wins for three seasons in a row under McCarthy. This stretch marks the second time in franchise history for that to occur, joining the Cowboys’ 1990s dynasty run from 1992-1995 in which they won three Super Bowls in four seasons. McCarthy is the first Cowboys head coach to accomplish this feat. Only the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (37) have more regular-season wins than Dallas since 2021.
However, McCarthy’s Cowboys also became the first team to win 12 games in three straight seasons and fail to make the conference championship in any of them. That left everyone at The Star, the team’s headquarters, with unresolved feelings of grief and anger on Monday. McCarthy’s regular season record as the Cowboys head coach is 42-25 (62.7% win percentage), giving him the highest career win percentage of any coach in team history.
Prescott himself stumped for McCarthy’s retention after he bounced back from co-leading the NFL in interceptions (15) in 2022 to becoming the the first quarterback in Cowboys history to lead the NFL outright in passing touchdowns while compiling a career-high 105.9 passer rating in 2023 with McCarthy as the offensive play-caller. Prescott is set to have a $59.5 million cap hit in 2024, the second-highest in the NFL behind only Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s $64 million, in the final year of his contract.
One way or another, Dallas has to do something with its quarterback contractually. Restructure or extension. Following another January disappointment, Prescott’s long-term future as the starting quarterback of the Cowboys may begin to get murky.
“He’s been amazing,” Prescott said postgame. “I don’t know how they can be (calling for his job), but I understand the business. In that case, it should be about me as well. I’ve had the season that I’ve had because of him. This team has had the success that they’ve had because of him. I understand it’s about winning the Super Bowl. That’s the standard of this league and damn sure the standard of this place. I get it but add me to the list in that case.”
McCarthy remains one of the most accomplished coaches in NFL history, ranking 10th in all-time playoff wins (11), including a Super Bowl XLV victory in AT&T Stadium as the Packers head coach in 2010, and just outside the top 30 in all-time regular-season wins (167).