Big decisions are best made without emotion or bias, and with an objective thought process.
Tough to do at times for any person in charge of an NFL team; twice as hard if that man is Jerry Jones.
The elephant(s) in the room for Jones and his Cowboys this spring are the contracts of Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Both were key cogs in Dallas’ return to relevance and a division title. All things being equal, any GM wouldn’t flinch at re-signing both.
Ah, but things aren’t equal. There’s this little hurdle called the salary cap that limits what a team can spend, and signing both would prove tricky, not only to this year’s roster, but for years to come.
Then there’s the matter of other free agents that possibly need to be re-signed. How about Rolando McClain, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Nick Hayden, George Selvie and Anthony Spencer on defense? Then there’s the O-line, which will need at least one of Doug Free or Jermey Parnell back.
All are important considerations for Jones, but all come behind the primary decisions around Bryant and Murray.
Jones has been down this road before. He’s a loyal man, a sentimental soul, willing to give his players anything possible within his empire. And then some.
That track record hasn’t been kind to his football team. To win (or attempt to win) in the present, Jones has often mortgaged the future, restructuring contracts and moving money, limiting flexibility for future roster needs.
Here’s some free advice Jerry: this isn’t show friends; it’s show business. Let DeMarco go.
Hey, we don’t blame you for wanting to keep DeMarco. The guy just led the league in rushing and was one of the greatest workhorses the league has ever seen in one season (he had 393 rushing attempts. Consider the fact that only five men in NFL history have ran the ball more than 400 times in one season). Therein lies the problem.
Would you pay full price for a set of tires that just put on some serious mileage over the span of one year? Of course you wouldn’t. And never mind the fact that Murray missed 11 games in his first three seasons; last season was somewhat of an anomaly. Can he continue to stay healthy?
Murray turns 27 on Thursday, an age where many NFL scouts agree that a running back has peaked and chances are it is downhill from here. Despite that, he would be great to have back on the 2015 roster, especially when one remembers that another important age on this team is Tony Romo’s; he turns 35 in April. The window on this Cowboys team to have a shot at a Super Bowl is beginning to close.
Add to that these two facts: 1) Bryant is a no-brainer for Jerry to re-sign and will demand top-5 wide receiver money, 2) Like Bryant, Murray is coming off his rookie contract, one where the running back earned a grand total of $2,973,438 over his four years in the league.
If you think that some NFL team not named the Cowboys won’t throw an offer of $8 or $9 million a year at Murray with a huge signing bonus, you’re nuts. And he’d be nuts not to take it. This is the contract Murray must maximize to take care of him and his family for the rest of his life.
That’s what it comes down to, really (doesn’t it always – money). Of course Jerry wants to re-sign both Dez and DeMarco. And both want to stay here.
But for that to happen, it will take a combination of Jerry making some more salary cap maneuvering and DeMarco taking a hometown discount.
“It’s a big challenge,” Jones said. “You can’t have it all. But on the other hand, you can try to have it all. You have to make sure you’re making the right decisions on who gets the assets, which in this particular case, it’s the room under the salary cap.”
Try as you might, Jerry, sometimes the biggest decisions are the easiest ones to make. Re-sign Dez and let DeMarco walk. Draft yourself another good, young running back in the second or third round and give him his chance behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.
And then do it all over again in four years.