Garrett in demand by Ravens, Falcons, Cowboys

OWINGS MILLS -- The anticipated coronation of Jason Garrett didn't unfold as the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator left the Baltimore Ravens' training complex Tuesday night without accepting an offer to become their head coach.

This development doesn't spell the end of the Ravens' pursuit of Garrett, who's still regarded as the frontrunner for the job as well as the Atlanta Falcons' vacancy as Baltimore launched a second round of interviews.

Despite Garrett's unexpected departure after seven hours of meetings and negotiations with high-ranking Baltimore team officials for a scheduled flight to Atlanta for a second interview with Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' stated desire to match any monetary contract proposal, negotiations are ongoing between the Ravens and Garrett's agent. There was also speculation that Garrett had cancelled his flight to Atlanta.

"I had a really productive day," Garrett said before leaving the Ravens' headquarters with his wife, Brill. "I'm going to continue through this process that I'm in right now. At some point, we'll make some decisions on both sides."

It's believed that money could be one sticking point for Garrett, 41, a third-year NFL coach who was reportedly $500,000 apart from Baltimore in contract talks when he was driven away from the building in a luxury car. Garrett could earn between $2.5 million and $3 million annually on a multi-year contract.

There's also the possibility that Garrett may prefer to remain a coordinator and eventually succeed Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. Or that Garrett's agent, David Dunn, is trying to incite a minor bidding war between the Ravens, Falcons and Cowboys.

While the Ravens will keep searching for a replacement for fired coach Brian Billick, they aren't scheduled to meet with anyone today because general manager Ozzie Newsome will be scouting NFL draft prospects at the East-West Shrine game in Houston.

Hours prior to Garrett leaving, Newsome went to his car to retrieve a suit and was asked twice if he had hired a new coach. Each time, he replied, "I'm going to the East-West game."

The next candidate that could garner a second interview could be Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh, who impressed team executives with his high-energy attitude and organizational skills last week. A finalist for the UCLA job that went to former Baltimore offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel, Harbaugh could interview with the Ravens as soon as Thursday.

"We had a good day of interviews," Ravens team spokesman Kevin Byrne said. "It's the start of our second round. He's the first one in for the second round. We have more interviews in the second round coming up later in the week. And that's what we have to say right now."

Meanwhile, the Ravens had yet to make contact again with former San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who has a 200-126-1 record with just two losing years in 20 NFL seasons.

"There's still a chance," said Trace Armstrong, Schottenheimer's agent. "I think Baltimore could be a good fit for Marty. Yes, he still has a great passion for the game and he could definitely assemble a great staff. Honestly, Marty is happy doing what he's doing, but if it's the right fit, he'll be happy to listen."

Potential concerns about Schottenheimer are his age (64) and playoff record (5-13), including no playoff victories since 1993 when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Earlier in the day, Armstrong expressed confidence that Garrett was going to be the Ravens' choice amid a buzz that included incorrect broadcast reports that he had been officially hired.

"If you want a guy who's 41 years old and only been a coach for three years, then you don't want Marty," Armstrong said. "Jason is a charismatic young guy. I'm sure it will be a popular hire. From what I understand, it's going to happen. Barring some radical action by Jerry Jones, my understanding is Baltimore will hire Jason Garrett."

As the team spent the day talking with Garrett while his wife went on a tour of area neighborhoods for potential house-hunting, former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan returned to Baltimore after receiving a second interview for the Falcons' opening. Garrett and Ryan were both at the Ravens' offices simultaneously.

Ryan is a strong candidate for the Atlanta job, but isn't expected to wind up as the Ravens' next head coach. A fallback door for Ryan closed Tuesday as Mike Zimmer was named the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive coordinator.

Besides Garrett, the Ravens have interviewed Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, Ryan, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Harbaugh.

If Garrett gets the Ravens' job, there's a possibility he could hire former Miami Dolphins coach Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator possibilities include former Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers or Harbaugh.

Garrett arrived at the Ravens' headquarters at 9:56 a.m. and was greeted by team president Dick Cass after spending Monday night having dinner with team owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome and Cass.

"It's been an exciting time for me to be here, be around this organization," Garrett said. "I've heard nothing but great things about it prior to coming here, and everything that I've seen since I've been here has been really off the charts.

"It was a great second visit with these guys, and I really enjoyed the process of doing that. I was excited to come back, and this visit has been everything I've expected and more. So, I'm just excited about the whole thing."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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