Jerry: Phillips back for 2010, maybe more

We've been reporting since Monday that the Dallas Cowboys are bringing back head coach Wade Phillips for 2010, but now owner Jerry Jones is hinting Phillips' contract could be extended beyond next season. Jones has been indicating for a month that he would exercise a club option for 2010, but he finally came out and made a definitive statement (by his standards) Tuesday.

"We've got to work out the details of what we want to do besides the option, but I want him back," Jones said on ESPNEWS. "I said that early in the season before we got on the run that we got on at the end."

Jones never wanted to fire Phillips because he loves their relationship. Phillips heads up the defense and acts as head coach, but Jones gets to remain front and center. But if the Cowboys had faded in December again this season and missed the playoffs, I think Jones would've been forced to fire Phillips because of an irate fan base.

The somewhat surprising part of this story is that it looks like Jones will extend Phillips through 2011 or beyond. I think Phillips probably earned the right to be extended through 2011 with the way his team played down the stretch, but I wasn't sure Jones was ready to make that type of commitment. So what's holding up this process?

Well, I think the potential of a lockout in 2011 is probably making a lot of owners rethink the way they do contracts. The Cowboys actually broke the news that Phillips had a three-year extension on their own Web site, but the story was taken down.

"There are no announcements today and nothing has been finalized," said Cowboys director of public relations Rich Dalrymple.

The Web site said the Cowboys had a "three-year agreement in place" with Phillips before removing the story. This set up the unusual scenario of a team's P.R. staff having to shoot down the team's "scoop." This could only happen with the Cowboys organization, which once launched an internal investigation into a Pacman Jones incident that took about 37 minutes.

ESPNDallas.com was able to secure a screen shot of the Cowboys' original story: