More Important For The Dallas Cowboys In 2014: Dez Bryant Or DeMarco Murray?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Which player is more important to the 2014 success of the Dallas Cowboys? Wide receiver Dez Bryant or running back DeMarco Murray?

Dez Bryant is already being talked about as one of the top wide receivers in the league. His coming contract extension is not a question of "if," but a question of "how much." Bryant himself would probably tell you that he deserves a big payday in part because he's put up big numbers on par with the likes of Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Percy Harvin (via ESPN Dallas):

"Bryant, 25, has produced at that level the past two seasons. Since the start of the 2012 season, he is tied for first in the NFL with 25 touchdown catches, ranks sixth in receiving yards (2,615) and seventh in receptions (185).

There is little doubt that Bryant will continue to be Tony Romo's go-to receiver and that he'll put up huge numbers in Scott Linehan's offense in 2014. Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com writes that a fair contract extension for Bryant in 2014 would be a seven-year, $105 million ($15 million per year) contract with a $20 million signing bonus, $31 million fully guaranteed, and $45 million guaranteed for injury.

DeMarco Murray on the other hand isn't even sure he'll get a contract extension despite also making the Pro Bowl last year. While there have been whispers out of Valley Ranch that the Cowboys are talking to Murray, there have also been reports from sources outside of Valley Ranch that the Cowboys may be trying to take advantage of a soft market for running backs and try to lowball Murray with a three-year, $10 million contract

Yet if you compare last year's production from both players, that gap in contract value seems rather excessive, the recent lack of appreciation for running backs notwithstanding.

Player Receiving Yards Rushing Yards Total Yards Touchdowns
Dez Bryant 1,233 1 1,234 13
DeMarco Murray 350 1,121 1,471 10

Murray and Bryant combined for half the Cowboys' yardage and TDs. There is little doubt that the two players are key elements of the Cowboys' offense, and while market economics will ultimately determine which player gets paid how much, which of the two do you think is more important for the Cowboys' success in 2014?

A healthy Murray, who gets enough touches in every game, would likely be a big help for the entire offense, taking pressure off Romo, allowing the offensive line to beat up some defensive linemen, and probably even making the passing game more effective. Without Murray, the offense would probably still be able to put up points, but they'd likely become a little more one-dimensional in the process.

Losing Bryant would probably generate a lot more headlines, but the Cowboys have repeatedly shown the ability to compensate when their top wide receivers have missed time due to injury, be it Dez Bryant himself or Miles Austin before him.The Cowboys would simply distribute the balls more evenly among their tight ends, running backs and remaining receivers. The Cowboys would be a lot less exciting, a lot less explosive, and might lack their emotional leader, but they'd probably still be able to put up points.

Over to you: Between Bryant and Murray, who is more important for the Cowboys' success in 2014? Let us know your thoughts in the attached poll and in the comments section.

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