FRISCO, Texas — With a number of general manager jobs open across the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have made sure nobody will be able to lure away Will McClay, agreeing to a new contract with their Vice President of Player Personnel, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
While owner and general manager Jerry Jones has final say, McClay has been the Cowboys’ chief personnel man since 2014, heading up the team’s draft and free-agent processes, working closely with executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Since 2014, the Cowboys have drafted nine players who went on to earn Pro Bowl honors: Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Dak Prescott, Leighton Vander Esch, Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons.
In free agency, the Cowboys have not signed big-money players recently, but this season they found value in the likes of Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, Malik Hooker, Jeremy Sprinkle, Keanu Neal, Carlos Watkins, Tarell Basham and Brent Urban in winning the NFC East with a 12-5 record.
“Excellent personnel man and an even better person,” coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week. “I really enjoy working with Will. I can’t say enough about him. He’s very astute at his approach and how the inner workings of the personnel department and the collaboration between Will, Stephen and Jerry. We spend a tremendous amount of time together and I enjoy working with him.
“He’s obviously someone that I know as an organization we would not want to lose. But he’s definitely worthy of any opportunity that pursues him. Will does a tremendous job.”
McClay also helps the defensive coaching staff on gameday, and players appreciate his personnel and coaching background.
“He’s on the ground floor with us every single day,” cornerback Jourdan Lewis said Wednesday. “He’s at practice every day and I mean we always joke back and forth. He’s an amazing mind. He knows football. He knows people. That’s one of the good qualities that he has. He’s a great judge of people and a great judge or character. He gets the right guy in here like you see.
“All these guys, a lot of us are draftees that he drafted or helped draft coming here. You can see the productivity we’ve had since then. I know he’s garnering a lot of attention too, but at the same time everybody is thinking about that ring, getting to the Super Bowl.”
The Cowboys’ success this season has led to teams looking their way. Coordinators Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore have been requested for head coaching interviews. Moore interviewed virtually last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
McClay, 55, is in his 20th season with the organization. He served as a pro scout from 2002-10 while also coaching the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League. In 2011-12, he was the director of football research before being named the assistant director of player personnel in 2013. In 2015 he was named the senior director of pro/college scouting and was given the vice president title in 2017.
McClay has had opportunities to talk with other teams in recent years, but he has opted to remain with the Cowboys and the team made sure they did not lose a vital piece to the organization this year.