Bill Belichick Exit

Belichick to Cowboys? Playoff exit sparks fascinating scenario

The stars could align for the former Patriots coach.

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There are a handful of intriguing NFL head coach openings for Bill Belichick to pursue this offseason. But they would pale in comparison to a potential opportunity in Dallas.

The No. 2 seed Cowboys suffered a shocking upset to the No. 7 seed Green Bay Packers on Sunday, losing 48-32 at home to bow out in the NFC Wild Card Round. While they've gone 12-5 in three consecutive seasons, they've won just one playoff game during that span and haven't advanced past the Divisional Round in four seasons under head coach Mike McCarthy.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was mum on McCarthy's future when asked about the game, but it certainly wouldn't be shocking if Jones decides to fire McCarthy -- since Jimmie Johnson won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993, only one head coach (Jason Garrett) has lasted more than four seasons in Dallas.

Another potential motivating factor for Jones dismissing McCarthy? The opportunity to replace him with a coaching legend.

In the wake of Dallas' loss Sunday night, speculation surged around the possibility that Belichick would join the Cowboys, a talent-laded team that could help him earn the 15 coaching wins he needs to pass Don Shula for the most in NFL history.

As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio pointed out Sunday night, McCarthy has just one year on his contract -- just as Belichick did when he and the Patriots parted ways last week.

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer noted Belichick's "very solid" relationship with Jerry Jones and his son, Cowboys CEO and director of player personnel Stephen Jones, while former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett added Sunday on NBC's Football Night in America that Belichick and Jerry Jones are "good friends" who "like and respect each other."

Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz revealed that a "rival executive" believed Jerry Jones would target Belichick to replace McCarthy if the Cowboys lost to the Packers.

There's a reason why Belichick joining the Cowboys would make sense for both parties. Our Patriots Insider Phil Perry identified Dallas as a team to watch for Belichick back in November, noting that the combination of the Cowboys' wealth of talent and Belichick's incredible coaching acumen could help Dallas get over the top.

"If they get blown out in the first round of the postseason, is Jerry Jones not looking at it and saying, 'Wait a second, I can get Bill Belichick to coach Dak Prescott and one of the best defenses in football?'" Perry said at the time.

Jones is a very hands-on owner, however, and the question would be how much control he'd allow Belichick, who had final say on all personnel decisions in New England for the better part of two decades. Would Jones really stay out of the way if Belichick made the unorthodox decisions that defined much of his Patriots tenure?

NBC Sports Boston contributor Michael Holley believes Jones and Belichick would find a way to make it work because they share the same motivation.

"They both need something at this stage of their careers," Holley told co-host Michael Smith on a recent episode of NBC Sports' Brother from Another podcast. "They both need something -- they're desperate for that thing.

"Jerry Jones is desperate to do it with a new era of players, to get to the Super Bowl and win it without people saying, 'He won those two with Jimmy (Johnson), then that Barry Switzer one, but that was Jimmy's players, he built that team.' He has not been back this century.

"And Bill Belichick -- it may seem silly to you, may seem silly to others -- he wants to catch and pass Don Shula. That means a lot to him. He would never give up control in New England, but if he goes somewhere else where it's a better operation?"

Long story short: Keep a close eye on Dallas over the coming days, and don't expect Belichick to commit to a new head coach job before the Cowboys decide on their path forward.

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