Sometimes the best moves are the ones you do not make.
Happy trails, DeMarco, and thank you. Seriously, let’s start off with the real truth about DeMarco Murray – he’s a good person, a heck of an athlete, and a warrior. He deserves everything he is getting in his new contract with the Eagles. This was the one time in his entire life to guarantee cashing in.
There may be other contracts down the line, but this was THE big one for Murray. Did you know that he “only” earned $2.97 million over his first four years in the NFL? The man just pocketed $21 million, guaranteed. Good for him.
And good for us that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys didn’t match it or get anywhere close to it. This is not the Jones way of doing business that we’re used to. That is to say, he’s now doing some smart business.
In the salary cap era, there literally is only so much money to go around. It has created the parody we see every year that gives small markets like Green Bay and Jacksonville the opportunity to compete on the same playing field as the entire league. Thus, a GM must make his choices wisely.
Stars are still going to get paid, but teams cannot keep everyone on the roster fat and happy. Quarterbacks, pass rushers, lock-down corners and stud wideouts are going to get paid first. Oh, and left tackles (thanks, Lawrence Taylor).
Running backs? Not so much. Heck, they don’t even get drafted in the first round much any more. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if the Cowboys spent every one of their draft picks on offensive and defensive linemen, I’d be happy. Of course that will not happen, but I’m one of the believers that football games are won in the trenches, and you never can have enough linemen.
Contracts in the NFL are also given on past performance with a belief (or hope, in some cases) that the production will continue. Murray earned this contract, with the past production coming for the Cowboys and the hope for future gains being paid by the Eagles.
Murray had an incredible year for the Cowboys in 2014; there’s no denying that. But he put some serious milage on his body in the process (392 carries) and the previous three seasons were filled with injuries that kept him sidelined way too often (he missed 11 games in his first three campaigns). Plus he’s 27 years old; most running backs begin to slow down considerably by 29 or 30.
OK, so now he’s gone. Now what? Well, Tom covered the major options at running back for the Cowboys. Do not expect Dallas to spend a ton on a veteran back to replace Murray. Instead (despite my wishes for more big uglies on the line), look for the Cowboys to draft one. Want to take advantage of the extra money saved by not retaining Murray? Look to the other side of the ball and go sign some good depth players on defense.
Those of you still in a panic of losing the NFL’s leading rusher last season need to remember one thing – possibly the best (and young) offensive line in the league that blocked for Murray is still here and is actually the key to why the Cowboys were so balanced.
Oh by the way, all of those linemen have, or will be coming up soon on their second contracts in the league and that money is going to have to come from somewhere. Not retaining Murray today could translate to keeping Travis Frederick and Zack Martin tomorrow.
Now those are some moves I can get behind. I’m still in favor of drafting linemen every chance we get. But retaining them for the long haul also means you can mix in a safety or linebacker in this year’s draft class. And, of course, a tailback to run behind them.