Falcons officials on Monday requested and were granted permission by the Cowboys to discuss their vacancy with Sparano, who has been on the Dallas staff since 2003. Sparano is also a favorite of new Miami vice president Bill Parcells, and would likley receive an interview should a head coaching vacancy open with the team.
Sparano, 46, worked primarily with the Dallas offensive line this season. But under Parcells, he had much broader responsibilities and, while he didn't hold the title of coordinator, called the team's plays in 2006.
Although he has worked in the league only nine seasons, Sparano is widely respected for his offensive acumen, and his demeanor with players. Before joining the Dallas staff in 2003, Sparano worked with Cleveland (1999-2000), Washington (2001), and Jacksonville (2002).
The Falcons, who are seeking a new general manager as well, have also sought and been granted permission to speak with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett about their head coaching spot. But Garrett, who is believed to be an early front runner to replace Brian Billick, dismissed by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, has not yet agreed to the interview.
If Garrett does agree to meet with Atlanta officials, the interview will also take place Friday in Dallas.
Because the Cowboys have a bye in the playoffs, teams interested in interviewing their assistant coaches for head coach positions may do so this week. All interviews must be conducted by Saturday, however, and then the Dallas assistants will be off-limits until the team is eliminated from the playoffs or, if the Cowboys advance to Super Bowl XLII, the open week before that game.
Other early candidates for the Atlanta vacancy, which was created when Bobby Petrino resigned with three games remaining in his first NFL season, are believed to be defensive coordinators Mike Smith of Jacksonville and Jim Schwartz of Tennessee and Indianapolis assistant head coach Jim Caldwell.
Parcells, who fired Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller on Monday morning, will interview Dallas vice president of college and pro scouting Jeff Ireland on Tuesday, sources said. Ireland, who worked with Parcells in Dallas, is the leading candidate to become the Dolphins' new general manager.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.