Decision To Pay DeMarco Murray Lies Within Cowboys Supporting Cast


First things first. Wide receiver Dez Bryant will be with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 and beyond. This article is really not about him. And frankly, I think Bryant would be offended if anyone were to refer to his role with the Cowboys as supporting cast.

My gut says Dez comes back with a five-year deal ranging between $60-80 million. And the front office has already stated publicly that if they were not able to lock him up long term, the one-year franchise tag (approximately $13 million for 2015) is waiting for him.

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Rather, this article is about running back DeMarco Murray, the recently voted AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and more importantly, the supporting cast that surrounds him.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that most Cowboys fans are under the assumption that the crucial decision looming over this team is whether to re-sign Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray. In reality, the element that is being overlooked goes far beyond that single personnel decision.

Quite simply, the goal is to try and figure out, of the supporting cast, who all comes back if we re-sign both Murray and Bryant.

Make no mistake; the salary cap room will be there to welcome back both Pro Bowlers. As oppose to previous seasons, we are currently under the cap by about $10 million. That figure is expected to rise, with the increasing NFL salary cap seemingly pointing higher and higher.

In addition, the contracts of cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, as well as quarterback Tony Romo are likely to be restructured, which is a fancy way of saying moving money around. Dallas could also either cut defensive tackle Henry Melton or renegotiate his three-year option, which is set to kick in next month.

So, the money and/or flexibility will be there to keep both in the fold for another Lombardi run in 2015. The personnel decisions that would then happen next would perhaps decide the fate of our beloved franchise for the foreseeable future.

Bring them both back. Then what? Here’s what. You would then have to decide on these things…

Do you bring back your second leading tackler that was just nominated for NFL Comeback Player of the Year? The guy that brought back the toughness our defense was desperately lacking in 2013. What to do with linebacker Rolando McClain?

Do you bring back the linebacker that was having a career season, but cut short due to injury? He’s smart. He’s instinctive. What to do with linebacker Justin Durant?

Then there’s linebacker Bruce Carter, who just completed a season with five interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Do you have room for him?

Do you bring back the player that many thought would never return to a football field just a year ago, due to the grueling rehab and recovery of micro fracture knee surgery? He defined what the team is all about. Fight. Finish. Mentally tough. What to do with defensive end Anthony Spencer?

Which right tackle, if any, are you willing to bring back? The younger, cheaper Jeremy Parnell, or the more polished veteran, Doug Free? Big decisions, literally.

What about the cornerback that stepped up and replaced the injured Mo Claiborne? Sterling Moore filled in and rose to the occasion when this defense needed him most. Are you willing to let him walk, especially with the uncertain futures surrounding Brandon Carr and Claiborne?

How about holding on to “White Lightening,” as we like to call him around my house. This mismatch nightmare is gaining more and more trust with Romo and is getting better and much more involved with each season. What call do you make on the diminutive Cole Beasley?

Speaking of offensive mismatch problems, what about running back Lance Dunbar? He had a limited role in 2014 but you just know offensive coordinator Scott Linehan would love to have him back for another season or two. Talk about a secret weapon.

Are you willing to replace wide receiver Dwayne Harris with potentially four or five guys? One to cover punts. One to return punts. One to return kicks. Another to be your fourth receiver. Not to mention his blocking in the running game. He’s never been picky. He’s the ultimate team guy; literally does everything. Wiggle room for him?

He’s technically an exclusive rights free agent, but surely the Cowboys are not willing to move on without their starting left guard, Ron Leary. Have to have him back. What’s a young offensive line without continuity?

Like I said, decisions and more decisions. They can bring back both Murray and Dez if they want them bad enough, but at what potential cost to the remainder of your roster? A roster that just completed a 12-4 regular season, with an NFC East crown and playoff win to boot.

And we didn’t even mention key role players such as defensive tackle Nick Hayden, defensive end George Selvie or fullback Tyler Clutts. Or core special teamers like linebacker Cameron Lawrence and safety C.J. Spillman. All these dudes are set to become free agents come March 10.

The personnel and salary cap guys have some big decisions to make in the next month. Decisions that could very well help determine our fate in 2015. Decisions that will likely affect how to attack the NFL Draft in April.

Decisions that will certainly decide which new free agents are brought into Dallas. Most importantly, decisions much more numerous than simply Bryant or Murray.