Every season fans are reminded that football is much more than what lines up between the hashmarks; professional football is about dollars and cents. Football is a business. Dallas Cowboys fans held a heavy heart last offseason when future Hall of Fame sack specialist, DeMarcus Ware, became a cap casualty and signed with the Denver Broncos.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but come next season, star running back, DeMarco Murray, could very well be running down the sidelines without a star on his helmet. While putting together the best season of his career, and the best single season of any running back in Dallas, Murray tallied 1,845 yards on the ground which culminated in 13 touchdowns on the season.
Tasked with the challenge of retaining his best players is general manager and owner, Jerry Jones and the rest of the Cowboys’ front office. Jones will see 21 players from the 2014 roster as pending free agents for the 2015 season.
The list of free agents is headlined by star players such as Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Rolando McClain, and Anthony Spencer. Tack on the rest of the eight starting free agents, add heavily used wideouts Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris— you can see the predicament that the owner finds himself in.
As of today, Dallas has only just over $13 million to sign all of these players, plus their draft picks. If Bryant gets the franchise tag as is expected, they will be left with just $2.5 million to sign everyone else. Now, the Cowboys could alleviate some cap tension in other ways, for example by cutting oft-struggling cornerback Brandon Carr and free up about $8 million in cap space. They have other options like scrupulously restructuring deals for their veteran stars, but eventually they will have to pay the piper. It will take a lot of wheeling and dealing to make room for his stars.
Jones said it himself, signing just two of these potential free agents– Bryant and Murray– will be difficult with their current situation.
"“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Jerry of signing both his all-pro free agents. “Is it financially reasonable? No. Is it possible? Yes.” Jones continued, “But if you just looked at it from dollars and cents, it probably doesn’t look reasonable. You have to figure out how you get there, but at the end of the day you realize it’s going to be costly to have both of those players.”"
Jones made the weight of the situation known when he offered his star running back a measly offer of $16 million over four years, an offer that was called “insulting” by NFL.com writer, Chris Wesseling. A contract of that nature would put Murray at a similar value to the likes of Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, and Reggie Bush. Guess what– throughout 2014, those three players totaled less yards together (1,667) than Murray did by himself. Jones said in a Tuesday press conference that the team is better off with Murray in the backfield, but if his contract offer is any indication, Jones doesn’t believe the words enough to speak with his pocketbook.
Through the comments and contract offers made by Jones, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that Cowboys fans should start preparing for life after Murray. Options are available for his replacement– a deep 2015 running back class in the draft or heck, maybe even Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson at the right price.
However, like a child getting a new toy to replace one that has been worn out, anything new just wont feel the same. Football is about dollars and cents, and with little cap space, bringing back DeMarco Murray doesn’t make much sense at all.