We're barely in the wild-card weekend and the Dallas Cowboys are busy planning their next offseason move, but one of the hottest sports topics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and really the NFL, is New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick.
Specifically, the possibility that one of the greatest coaches in league history could soon become a free-agent.
Early Friday morning, ESPN's Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. published a lengthy story that examined an ever-growing power struggle between Belichick, team owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady. The line really stood out: "Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group."
The writers have a long history of producing insider exposes, including the piece from last October that publicized how Jerry Jones was deliberately not invited to the contentious player-owner meeting designed to address the national anthem controversy. They also published a story detailing the hostile battle between Jones and Goodell over the Ezekiel Elliott suspension.
So, if Belichick did walk away from the franchise and the quarterback that have helped him build such a monumental legacy, how much would Jerry Jones have to pay for him to come to the Cowboys?
For the sake of this exercise, let's set aside whether Belichick would even want to coach another franchise. This also is not a ranking of which teams would have the best shot to land the future Hall of Famer.
For starters, Belichick would likely demand to be head coach and general manager, the same titles he currently holds in New England. That means Jones would have to step down as general manager, an action he's been extremely unwilling to do. Again, for argument's sake, let's say the Cowboys' owner managed to put his ego aside.
In Belichick's view, having total control of football operations is extremely important from a logistical standpoint. And the additional general manager title would also raise his salary.
Recently, OregonLive.com collected and averaged the reported coaches' salary figures from ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and NFL.com. Those figures were updated Friday.
This past year, Belichick was the third highest paid head coach in the league at an estimated $7.5 million per year, trailing only the New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton ($8 million) and the Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll ($8 million-plus).
New reports indicate that there will soon be a new number-one on atop the list. Friday afternoon, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network was told that the Oakland Raiders will make Jon Gruden the highest paid coach—and general manager—in the history of the league by a comfortable margin. Rapoport said the deal will be for $100 million over 10 years, and will pay Gruden $10 million annually.
Belichick, a five-time Super Bowl champion head coach, will turn 66 in April so it's unlikely any potential contract would cover that many years. As for a $10 million per year salary, that would probably be his starting point. Ultimately, the dollar amount of Belichick's salary would have to account for two things. How much is building a different organization his way really worth to him? And how much is Belichick's wildly successful pedigree worth to Jones?
Given Gurden's new deal and the two questions above, Jones would likely have to offer somewhere between $11 million and $12 million a year to convince Belichick to come run the Cowboys.
Of course, the organization and the owner have been in this situation before. Back in 2003, it took a big contract to lure coaching legend and Belichick mentor Bill Parcells out of retirement. Jones didn't give up the role of general manager, but Parcells almost certainly had more input than most of the team's head coaches before or since when it came to personnel matters.
It's also unclear how much it would cost to remove current coach Jason Garrett. Garrett fully took over as head coach in 2011, and after winning the Associated Press' 2016 NFL Coach of the Year award, the owner handed him a five-year, $30 million extension.
While that deal made Garrett the seventh highest paid coach in the NFL for 2017 (at an estimated $6 million per year), the team's disappointing non-playoff campaign in 2017 prompted changes to the team's coaching staff and put him right back on the hot seat.
In a 2014 profile written by, you guessed it, Don Van Natta Jr., Jones told the reporter: "I've never wanted anything as much I want to win the next Super Bowl. You wouldn't want to see the size of the check that I would write if it would for sure get the Dallas Cowboys a Super Bowl."
The Cowboys' owner might never put his ego aside, but if Belichick somehow does become available, we might get to find out of Jones will at least put his money where his mouth is.