Will McClay wants to be NFL GM, but unfinished Cowboys business, son are primary focus

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The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is in flux.

Head coach Mike McCarthy, heading into the final year of his contract, is searching for a new defensive coordinator and possibly more coaches after Dan Quinn became head coach of the Washington Commanders and could take other assistants with him.

Meanwhile, Will McClay, the Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel, spent the past week entrenched in his element at the Senior Bowl and firmly in place.

The chief scout behind the building of a roster that has won 36 games over the last three season took time away eyeballing prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft to expound on his decision to turn down offers from the Washington Commanders and Carolina Panthers.

McClay has been with the Cowboys since 2003 and in his current role since 2017. He said he stayed in Dallas to honor a commitment to his son and because he still has unfinished with an organization that has come up short in the playoffs in each of the last three seasons and is still searching for it’s first Super Bowl title since 1995.

“Number one, my son is going to high school. He is going to be a senior,” McClay said. “When I got into this, I told him that if I didn’t have to that, I wouldn’t leave. I’d let him finish school. That’s important.

“But we got an unfinished business to.”

This the not the first off season in which McClay has turned down opportunities for a promotion with another franchise.

He wants to be an NFL general manager and that will never happen in Dallas, where owner Jerry Jones holds that title and Stephen Jones is the team’s chief operating officer and executive vice president of player personnel.

McClay is not worried that opportunities are slipping away.

“If I continue to do my job and we continue to do our stuff, then those opportunities to come,” McClay said. “It they don’t, I still gotta be good. Titles don’t mean (expletive). But if the situations right? Yeah, I want to do that. I would love to do that. But the situations got to be right. Being happy with the job that you have now and doing it, that’s where I grew up. My dad said, ‘hey, you do the job you got. If you do it well enough someone will always come and find you.

“That’s where I am.”

Most importantly, he likes where he is. He likes the job he has. He is comfortable with Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones, who both value the job he is doing for the franchise.

“Part of when you go to a new organization, it’s the owner. It’s the structure,” McClay said. “It’s all those things that you got to go through. There’s the familiarity in the process in what we’re doing and what we’re building. I’m comfortable with the people and how they treat me, all those things. It’s wherever you are you comfortable.”

The Cowboys are certainly comfortable with him.

McCarthy was pleased when he found out McClay was staying on with the Cowboys.

“He’s very important to our operation, without a doubt,” McCarthy said. “The most important thing to want as an organization when you know things are right is to build off the consistency. Very happy for Will personally. Because I know the amount of work he puts into this. But this is obviously great for the Dallas Cowboys.”

The work is continuing for McClay as draft season is underway and free agency starts in March.

With his son graduating next year, he may have a different answer if other team’s coming knocking at his door again next winter.

His focus now is finding players to improve the Cowboys and finish the job.

“We haven’t won The Game and we haven’t gotten that point,” McClay said. “We gotta get over that hump. But to win 36 games in three years, you know we have talent. I feel like we’re doing the right thing and getting the right kind of players. We just got to find a way to finish.

“Filling our needs and finding better players that can help us get to that point. That’s the offseason for me, improving in any way that we can.”