Dallas Cowboys: Management was smart to let DeMarco Murray walk


First, the Dallas Cowboys let future Hall of Famer defensive end DeMarcus Ware walk. Then it was All-Pro defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. This offseason, it was running back DeMarco Murray‘s turn.

The bottom line was clear for Cowboys owner and general manger Jerry Jones: Did he want to keep the aging players in order to sell tickets now or, did he want sell playoff tickets in the future?

The math in this transaction is simple. Jones knew it. And that’s why the Cowboys let Murray walk on their terms.

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Let’s not forget that the franchise tag could have been designated for the running back; the Cowboys wisely chose wide receiver Dez Bryant, a player in his prime and arguably a top 10 player in the NFL right now.

This isn’t a knock on Murray and what he accomplished as a Cowboy.

But the future of team realistically couldn’t absorb a five-year, $42 million ($21 million guaranteed) type of contract the Eagles drew up.

If Murray were to fulfill his contract in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love will take a $5 million cap hit 2015, a $8 million cap hit in 2016, and a $9 million hit from 2017 to 2019.

For a bit perspective, take a look at the top running backs commanding the highest cap hits in 2015:

Numbers Pulled from Spotrac

1. Adrian Peterson | Minnesota Vikings | $15,400,00

2. Matt Forte | Chicago Bears | $9,200,00

3. Arian Foster | Houston Texans | $8,906,250

4. Marshawn Lynch | Seattle Seahawks | $8,500,000

5. Jonathan Stewart | Carolina Panthers | $8,300,000

8. DeMarco Murray | Philadelphia Eagles | $5,000,000

10. Darren Sproles | Philadelphia Eagles | $4,100,000

*34. Lance Dunbar | Dallas Cowboys | $1,542,000

*41. Darren McFadden | Dallas Cowboys | $1,150,000

*64. Ryan Williams | Dallas Cowboys | $705,000

*82. Joseph Randle | Dallas Cowboys | $632,220

Of the top five running backs in the list above, only Lynch from the Seahawks made the playoffs last year. When combining the current running backs on the Cowboys roster the cap hit totals $4,029,220. That is a total for four running backs and, again, Murray’s hit in 2015 is $5 million.

Will the Cowboys miss Murray’s production? Sure. He was the king in 2014 with 1,845 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns, and 57 receptions. Murray was also an exceptional pass blocker for Tony Romo too.

But he also turned 27 last February. He has never finished a 16-game season until 2014. He also touched the ball 497 times when including playoff rushing and receiving touches.

When you have the luxury of having an elite quarterback (yes, Romo is elite), tight end, wide receiver, and offensive line on your squad, hard choices about whether to keep a player like Murray are easy to decide.

The key here will always be about the offensive line. In the end, the offensive line had greater success than Murray in 2014.

Not only did they contribute to Murray’s success, but under their protection Romo had his best season as a pro, finishing the season with the best quarterback rating (113.2) and QBR (82.7) in the NFL. Bryant caught 88 balls, 1,320 receiving yards and 16 touchdown grabs, which led the NFL.

Running backs Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle combined averaged 5.05 yards per carry on 150 carries in 2014. Murray averaged 4.7 yards per carry with 392 touches.

Dallas may have lost a great running back to their rival, but Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are thinking about all the gains they’ll get by letting Murray walk.

The extra cash in the bank account can’t hurt the team’s financial health either.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Is the team growing frustrated with this starter?