Garrett snubs Ravens

OWINGS MILLS -- Jason Garrett snubbed the Baltimore Ravens, rejecting their offer Thursday morning to become their next head coach and he emerged as the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL. He will remain the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator after receiving a raise to the neighborhood of $3 million and was also given a promotion to assistant head coach.

Garrett, 41, was the top choice for the Ravens' search committee, which met with him for seven hours Tuesday while his wife, Brill, toured the area. Now, the Ravens will explore other options, including Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh, former San Diego Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer and New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Marty's son.

"We did negotiate with Jason Garrett to become our head coach," the Ravens said in a statement. "In the end, he decided to stay in Dallas. We're continuing our second round of interviews. We're excited with the candidates, and we're confident we will select the best head coach for the Ravens."

Following a second interview with high-ranking Baltimore team officials, his agent driving up the price in negotiations and a second interview with the Atlanta Falcons, Garrett was convinced by Jones to stay with the NFC East champions with a lucrative counteroffer. The Ravens reportedly offered $3 million and the Falcons were dangling $3.5 million, which is a lot of money for a prospective first-time head coach.

It was a fairly surprising early-morning decision by Garrett that caught the Ravens somewhat off-guard and caused disappointment internally even though the team remains optimistic that it will still wind up with a suitable replacement for fired coach Brian Billick.

"I understand these opportunities don't come every day," Garrett said during a news conference at the Cowboys' headquarters after being granted the position vacated by new Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano.

Garrett was emphatic in his denial that he didn't use the Ravens for leverage to get more money and authority from Jones.

"They were not exercises," Garrett said. "They were great opportunities. I'd be crazy not to continue to try to evaluate those situations. I think maybe this decision to stay here has a lot more to do with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and what the Dallas Cowboys can be in 2008."

Garrett's salary now approaches the compensation of Wade Phillips, whose days as the Cowboys' head coach.

Garrett answered, "No," when asked if he had been guaranteed by Jones that he will eventually replace Phillips. Jones isn't allowed to make such a promise, according to league rules, even though there's nothing to stop him from firing Phillips and inserting Garrett at some point.

Garrett acknowledged that he planned all along to talk to Jones before making his final decision.

"I think I did, I know in my mind that I did," he said. "We wanted to go through the process of visiting Baltimore and going through that and then visiting Atlanta and going through that, then coming back here and talking to Jerry and kind of evaluating the Cowboys situation after having gone through those."

Garrett repeatedly praised the Ravens, seemingly trying to make amends for how he left them hanging in the middle of a search process that began Dec. 31 when Billick and his entire staff were fired following a 5-11 season.

"I don't want to get into anything other than these were great visits with these people," Garrett said. "They were great learning experiences, and to be around a guy like Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome and Dick Cass and some of the other people in that organization I was fortunate to visit with, they're really special people.

"It was a really unique experience for Brill and I to be able to visit with them in detail, ask them questions. So, the talks and the discussions were just so positive, and at the end of the day, it's hard not to say, ‘Boy, what a great situation this is.' At the end, we told ourselves, ‘Let's go through this process.'"

Garrett said that his primary reasons for staying in Dallas were his relationship with Jones, a feeling that he had unfinished business with the Cowboys following a 21-17 NFC divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants and the return of Pro Bowl selections like quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Terrell Owens.

"When Brill and I looked at each other, we said, ‘Boy, we have a great chance here in Dallas,'" said Garrett, a former backup to Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. "We have a great feeling for Dallas, we have a great feeling for the Cowboys organization, and a lot of it goes back to our history here.

"You make decisions intellectually, you make them emotionally, you make them with your gut. I think I might have made this decision when I was standing in front of our offensive team on Monday after we lost to the Giants."

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

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