ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys were met with a sobering reality as they trotted to the locker room following their 47-16 throttling of the Washington Redskins in Week 17, any elation instantly siphoned by news of the Philadelphia Eagles' defeat of the New York Giants. With that, the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, and that matters to no one more than Jason Garrett, who might have coached his final game for the club.
With no contract extension in hand, a source affirms the expectation is the Cowboys will allow his contract to expire with the ushering in of the new calendar year, bringing Garrett's nine-year tenure (with an 85-67 record) to an end.
Garrett will then be free to sign with any team in the NFL, and a separate source tells CBS Sports that several teams already have strong interest if the 53-year-old hits the market -- assuming the Cowboys don't throw a curveball and offer him a position in the front office. The latter is not expected, but is also far from impossible, the source said.
Owner Jerry Jones wouldn't confirm the status of Garrett after the game, but his tone did all the talking. A "disappointed" Jones alluded to a timetable existing regarding when he'll make the final decision on Garrett and the head coaching position as a whole, but he refused to share it with media.
"I'm not going to get into it all," the 77-year-old Hall of Fame owner said. "[Not] an evaluation or an assessment. I'm not. I'm going to do exactly what I always do and get up, go forward and do the best job that I can. We'll make those decisions accordingly."
Full of lament, however, it felt as if Jones was losing a best friend -- a hint at what appears to be barreling toward Garrett. Jones was as complimentary of Garrett as he could be under the circumstances, and it's understandable he would be when considering all he's invested into Garrett becoming a successful NFL head coach.
To that end, he continues to take a hefty chunk of the accountability himself.
In that same breath, Jones also made it clear he's not afraid to shake things up in a big way this offseason when it comes to his own role within the organization, as both owner and general manager. That doesn't mean he'll "fire" himself, something Jones says is an "impossibility," but rather that he's ready to take a long hard look in the mirror at his own decisions and likely accept that much more feedback from those in his inner circle, such as team exec (and owner's son) Stephen Jones.
"I really thought we did some dramatic things last year when we made some changes [within the coaching staff]," he said. "And I had a lot to do with that. So don't hang that one totally around Jason Garrett's neck. There's a lot of blame to pass around here and I certainly accept my share of it. ...
"I've made changes. And I can see myself making a lot of changes -- in a lot of areas. The times call for that. I am about change."
An emotional Dak Prescott took to the podium reflective of a failed season, and while he doesn't want to see Garrett leave, .
"That's somebody I respect -- look up to in every way," he said as tears appeared in his eyes. "He's a great coach, a great person, a great man. Of course [I want him back with the Cowboys], but obviously I don't make those decisions, or I wouldn't be in the position I'm in."
For his part, Garrett is unequivocal about what he wants in 2020, even if the odds are better he'll win the lottery three times on his way home from AT&T Stadium.
"I want to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys," he said, before finally caving to a moment of clarity. "We will see what happens. ... I have no idea [if I will be]."
He'll find out in the next few days but, by all accounts, his wish won't be granted.