And so it begins, the cusp of the start of free agency. With four hours of the three-day legal tampering period under our belts, Dallas Cowboys fans are chomping at the bit for every nugget of news out of Valley Ranch.
With only a handful deals with the nearly two-dozen free agents from the 2014 roster solidified heading into this weekend, reports this morning from ESPN’s Todd Archer that Doug Free has returned to the fold with a new three-year deal was seen as a welcome development in Cowboys Nation.
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Many more questions persist, however, and while we won’t get all of them answered in the next 72 hours or so, here are a few I am hoping to get some additional clarity on:
Whose show is this?
Owner and CEO Jerry Jones was name Executive of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America, but much of that is to be attributed to the moves made by the supporting cast he’s empowered in recent years as his own. With Stephen Jones and Will McClay taking on more responsibility for the evolution of the roster and Jason Garrett‘s opinions seemingly carrying more weight, whether the Cowboys decide to be more/less aggressive during free agency could be an indication of what’s to come in future years for the organization.
How are the Cowboys approaching the development of their defense?
Rod Marinelli made the most out of this crew last season, but all signs indicate that they’ll be looking to improve upon last year’s efforts in much the same way the team invested in their offensive line – slowly, but surely with homegrown talent and some faith in others that had either been previously overlooked or were snagged at a discount.
While DeMarcus Lawrence came on strong after returning from injury at the tail end of the season, the need for desperate need for pass rush talent is a gap that should be addressed and it remains to be seen if Will McClay and Co. will try to utilize free agency in order to do so. If they don’t go after someone who has shown a decent level of productivity already, does it mean they’ll try to grab someone in the draft and develop them as well? Does that mean they are thinking this is not a ‘need to do this now’ kind of moment?
What is the value of a running back?
Ok, ok. This is clearly a meta question that is unlikely to get answered by anything the Cowboys do, but given the various moves made by others clubs this past week it’s difficult to truly ascertain the true value of a running back in the league and therefore gauge what’s going to happen with DeMarco Murray when he hits the market.
Over on the East Coast there was the unanticipated development that the Philadelphia Eagles were trading LeSean Sean McCoy to Buffalo in exchange for Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso. Then juxtapose that the news out of the Pacific Northwest that the Seattle Seahawks signed Marshawn Lynch to a new two-year extension where he’ll get paid $12 million for 2015.
How is one really supposed to make sense of it all? To be clear, I’m not saying Murray is the same as McCoy who is the same as Lynch. Nor am I saying that I don’t fundamentally get that they all have a different intrinsic value to their respective clubs and that’s dependent upon coaching styles and the eighteen strategic chess moves that will be made over the next several months in order to achieve the exact right roster make up. But all things considered, it’s made predicting how things are going to play out for Murray even more muddled in my mind.
As it goes in the offseason, the waiting game continues.