With the Cowboys having won five of their past six games and now in control of their playoff destiny, calls for Jason Garrett's job have quieted. But Sean Payton still does not have a new contract with the Saints and could become a free agent when he is reinstated by the league.
Payton makes his off-season home in the Westlake area, and he has a close relationship with Jerry Jones after spending the 2003-05 seasons here as an offensive assistant. Thus, he naturally has been linked to the Cowboys.
Garrett, whose Cowboys play the Saints on Sunday, said he is unconcerned about speculation that Payton might replace him in the off-season.
"I don’t think so much about that kind of stuff," Garrett said. "What I try to do is the same thing I try to emphasize to our players – focus on this day, the task at hand and do your job the best you can do it."
Garrett counts Payton as one of his mentors. Payton was the Giants offensive coordinator from 2000-02 when Garrett was a backup quarterback.
"He’d be very high on the list," Garrett said. "I played for Sean for three years in New York, and he was our offensive coordinator. I learned a great deal from him, not only about the X’s and O’s of football and of quarterback play and of offensive football and strategy and all of that, but also just how he was, how he interacted with players and coaches and just his demeanor. I learned a ton from him. I was one of the older guys on the team and so he and I hit it off really well right from the start. He really made my experience in New York a really important one for me where I learned so much, but also a very enjoyable one."
Fox Sports insider Jay Glazer, who is close to Payton, reported Sunday that the Saints and Payton are "not close" on a new deal. If the contract isn't done soon, Glazer said, Payton will keep his options open. Payton is expected to become the highest-paid coach in football, making somewhere in the $8 million per year range.
His contract extension from 2011 was voided by the league because of a clause that permitted Payton to leave if Saints general manager Mickey Loomis departed his job.
-- Charean Williams