The NFL still allows teams to enter into a firm and binding agreement to promote an assistant coach to head coach at some point in the future. In 2009, Jim Caldwell succeeded Colts coach Tony Dungy and Jim Mora succeeded Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren pursuant to a prior agreement.
A the Fritz Pollard Alliance said in 2018, “When a Club has established a firm succession plan that involves an internal coach or executive replacing a departing Head Coach or General Manager, no external search is required.”
Thus, if the Cowboys hope to keep offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a firm agreement can be reached to have one of them replace coach Mike McCarthy. Some league insiders believe that, in 2016, the Buccaneers surprisingly fired coach Lovie Smith in order to promote offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who was drawing attention elsewhere.