Is Lincoln Riley destined to become the Dallas Cowboys next head coach?

In the final year of his current contract, will the Dallas Cowboys move on from Jason Garrett after 2019? If so, is Lincoln Riley destined to replace him?

It’s hard to imagine Jason Garrett not being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. That’s despite the fact that many fans dream about that very scenario on a daily basis. But Garrett has been at the helm of America’s Team for nearly a decade now. The only person to have a longer tenure as the head coach of the Cowboys is the legendary Tom Landry, whose amazing 29-year run will likely never be matched.

Entering the 2019 regular season as a lame duck coach, Garrett is in the final year of his current contract in Dallas. A reported five-year, $30 million deal he inked back in 2015. And owner Jerry Jones has been adamant about two things when it comes to his longtime head coach. One, Garrett has his full support. And two, Jones has no intentions of giving him a contract extension before the start of the season. The reason for the latter? A lack of postseason success.

During his eight-year tenure as the Cowboys’ official head coach (not counting his interim run in 2010), Garrett has taken Dallas to the playoffs three times and posted just two postseason victories. The Cowboys have yet to make it past the Divisional round under his watch.

With likely his best overall roster yet, Garrett and his Cowboys are expected to once again make a deep playoff run. But it is believed Jerry Jones will need to see progress if he’s going to retain the 53-year old head coach beyond 2019. That means it could be an NFC Conference Championship game appearance or bust for Garrett this upcoming season.

And the fact the Cowboys haven’t made it to a conference championship since 1995 doesn’t bode well for Garrett’s future in Dallas. And a likely successor has already emerged in Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. The 36-year old has led the Sooners to an impressive 24-4 record during his two seasons as head coach. His last two starting quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, both won the Heisman Trophy. And both were also selected first overall in the past two NFL drafts.

When asked if the $4.6 million buyout required to obtain Riley’s services next year from Oklahoma would hinder his possible hiring in Dallas next year, here’s how Cowboys’ former defensive end Marcus Spears responded during a recent appearance on ESPN

“Not a chance in hell. $4.6 million to Jerry Jones is a part of doing business … there’s a history of Oklahoma’s head coach coming to Dallas. It’s right down the street, number one. It’s relatable to Dallas Cowboy fans. You got a lot of Sooners that translate to Dallas Cowboys fans. And now you have an offensive mind like Lincoln Riley who everybody’s enamored with the way he calls plays, and the trends of the NFL and what Dallas is trying to do with all this offensive talent. It just makes total sense.”

It appears that Jason Garrett is going to have to coach the Dallas Cowboys into accomplishing something the franchise hasn’t done in 23 years in order to keep his job. That’s take America’s Team to the NFC Championship Game. If he is unable to do so, the $4.6 million buyout to get Lincoln Riley to Dallas in 2020 would not appear to detour an aging (currently 76-years old) and Super Bowl-desperate Jerry Jones in any way.