Could Shanahan end up in Dallas?

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
12:15
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

From the moment I heard about Mike Shanahan's firing in Denver on Tuesday, I knew it wouldn't take long for him to be linked to the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, AFC West blogger Bill Williamson beat me to the punch Tuesday evening with his entry that listed several possible destinations for Shanahan.

After making several calls around the league this morning, here's what you need to know about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Mike Shanahan:

They're in love with each other.

Shanahan has told reporters and colleagues over the years how much respect he has for Jones as an owner. And now that I think about it, I've heard Jones sing Shanahan's praises on numerous occasions.

I realize Jones has come out in support of Wade Phillips, but that was before Shanahan became a free agent. The toughest thing for Shanahan to accept would be that Jones has final say on all personnel decisions. Shanahan was one of only three coaches in the league who had final say in his organization, and adjusting to a more hands-on owner might be tough. But if Shanahan's willing to swallow a little pride and about $7 million or so per year, then there's a chance he could make things work.

As a personnel man, Shanahan has delivered quite a few busts. The Broncos don't have a single member of their 2003 draft class on the roster and 2004 and 2005 don't have many representatives. But Shanahan certainly brings a lot of intangibles to the table, not the least of which are his two Super Bowl trophies from the 1990s.

He became intoxicated with Jay Cutler's arm strength and mobility despite the fact that the former first-rounder committed turnovers at the worst-possible moments.

In Dallas, Shanahan would inherit another franchise quarterback who is struggling with turnovers. But it was Shanahan who attempted to sign Tony Romo as a free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003. In fact, the Broncos outbid the Cowboys, but Romo alertly noticed that Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson were in front of him in Dallas.

Shanahan also has an affinity for Terrell Owens, which is something else he has in common with Jones. The Broncos coveted T.O. before he signed with the Cowboys in 2006.

Jones would probably have to fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to make room for Shanahan, who would take over play calling. And it would be the second time Shanahan would've replaced Wade Phillips, who was fired in Denver before the 1995 season.

There's a good chance Shanahan ends up somewhere else, but I guarantee you that Jones is thinking things over as we speak. Shanahan's one of the few men in the league who would cause Jones to make a drastic move.

That is, if you think firing Phillips qualifies as a drastic move.

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