Cowboys off to good start to offseason

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys did not want their offseason to start so soon, but their start to the offseason could not have gone better.

On Tuesday, Jason Garrett agreed to a five-year deal to remain the head coach and Rod Marinelli agreed to a three-year deal to remain defensive coordinator. Late Wednesday, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that Scott Linehan will return as well.

The Cowboys' three-day window of exclusive negotiation rights came to a close on Wednesday, so they were able to lock up their head coach and top two assistants.

Since most of the discussions started on Monday, that’s a pretty impressive haul in a short period of time, and it’s likely the Cowboys have wrapped up or will wrap up most of the rest of their assistant coaches as well and we just haven’t been able to confirm those yet.

The one coach we know who will test the market is offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan. He has interest from a number of teams that could give him larger roles with their offenses than if he stayed with the Cowboys. And if Callahan goes, the Cowboys are expected to make Frank Pollack his successor as offensive line coach.

The Cowboys want to keep the continuity of systems and teachings in place for an offensive line that has three young Pro Bowl performers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin.

The Cowboys had a checklist once their season ended last Sunday in Green Bay. The work started perhaps as soon as they got on the planes back to Dallas, and Stephen Jones was able to knock out the deals fairly quickly.

Once the Oakland Raiders moved to make Jack Del Rio their coach, that took away Linehan’s only known potential landing spot as a head coach. Other teams wanted to talk to him about their offensive coordinator vacancies, but why would he want to leave what he has with the Cowboys?

There is that offensive line. There is quarterback Tony Romo. There is Dez Bryant. There is Jason Witten. There could be DeMarco Murray, but he might test the free-agent market to decide his future. Even if Murray doesn’t return, the Cowboys would appear to have an offense that could thrive.

By staying, Linehan could make himself a more viable head coaching candidate in 2016, if that is something he would want to pursue again.

But by keeping Garrett, Marinelli and Linehan, the Cowboys have kept together the band that worked so well together in 2014.

The next challenge is figuring out a way to keep their key players before free agency starts in March.