The free-agent signing period for the NFL is just a matter of hours away and it’s looking more and more like running back DeMarco Murray will not return to the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. You could certainly argue that this has been the case since last season’s final game during the postseason in Green Bay.
Murray’s accomplishments last season are well-documented. It’s also been mentioned repeatedly that the running back position has been greatly devalued in the NFL over the last several seasons. While circumstances concerning NFL star running backs like LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch might contradict these ideas about running backs, the same thing really can’t be said for Murray – at least not in Dallas.
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In the last week, the Cowboys have chosen to start spending significant dollars on their own players, most notably third wide receiver Cole Beasley, a restricted free agent before the deal. The former SMU Mustang, who almost decided to pass on the NFL completely, signed a four-year contract worth in excess of $13 million – no word on exactly what’s going through the mind of number two wide receiver Terrance Williams right about now.
According to the Dallas Morning News, right tackle Doug Free, previously an unrestricted free agent, has now signed a three-year, $15 million extension that keeps the NFL’s best offensive line intact for the foreseeable future. There’s more resources allocated to a player who was more important to the Dallas rushing attack last season than some may realize.
There’s also the fact that wide receiver Dez Bryant has been tagged as the team’s franchise player for ’15 regular season. Bryant figures to earn about $13 million for the upcoming campaign, whether he likes it or not.
So, what exactly is there for Murray at this point?
It’s really hard to say, but it sure doesn’t look like the Cowboys are leaning towards spending significant dollars on the defending rushing champion of the NFL.
Now, a possible exception is that owner and general manager Jerry Jones has more information than anyone outside the organization realizes with respect to what the market will be for Murray. In other words, if his sources and contacts around the league seem to indicate that Murray isn’t going to fetch big time dollars, like those other running backs mentioned above, then perhaps he’s simply maneuvering financial parameters he’s already familiar with.
I’m not sure how likely it is that Jones already knows what Murray will command in terms of dollars and duration, but he’s likely got more than a clue.
Having said that, Jones could also be plenty aware that more than one team will be ready to outbid the Cowboys for Murray’s services next season and beyond.
It’s a complicated situation for sure, but so far the writing on the wall appears to read that the Cowboys are willing to replace the former Oklahoma Sooners star tailback with somebody other than himself, a move that might not seem popular with Cowboys Nation, but also a decision that allows for other resources.
Forget trying to make the defense better – the Cowboys are trying to figure out simply how to maintain that defense right now. This week’s free-agent acquisition Keith Rivers, a linebacker who played with the Buffalo Bills last season, isn’t exactly the end of that project.
How about additional defensive free agents from other teams, such as Ndamukong Suh, Kevin Hardy or Brian Orakpo? While Suh might be a pipe dream, those other two could factor into things for the Cowboys, but probably not if Murray is signed for anything close to what he’s expecting based on last seasons performance.
Time will tell what’s to become of Murray pretty quick, even if his future income is destined to improve by a lot. But Dallas is appearing less and less to be a place that Murray can find his best paycheck for next season.