Before I dive into today's topic, I want to first say thank you to Dave Halprin and the rest of the Blogging The Boys community for making this my new home. I'm so very gracious for the opportunity and hope that I can bring as much to the table as everyone involved. This is the best Cowboys Nation has to offer and I'm proud to have the privilege to be a part of it.
The Dallas Cowboys were perhaps one "non-catch" away from the NFC Championship game. Though it is a painful pill for many of the fans to swallow; it has shed rays of positivity and hopes for continued success in 2015. The first important part of business has already been conducted with the organization retaining Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and thankfully Rod Marinelli. Now the front office will feel a little more heat under their feet.
It appeared that a deal with Dez Bryant might happen before the season even began, then Bryant emphatically told reporters that he would worry about his deal after the season. Basically, he was saying that the two parties weren't as close as many believed. Contract talks always come down to the guaranteed money, which is exactly what we're talking about here. A Dez Bryant deal, though not imperative, could really help the organization moving forward in trying to sign another prized free agent - DeMarco Murray, the NFL's leading rusher. I believe that the Cowboys want to have both of these players back, but at what price?
I refuse though to even discuss the ongoing adage that the Cowboys will be in "cap-hell". Why? Well, how about the fact that in the past few seasons this front office has exhausted every option to lower that figure. Losing DeMarcus Ware may have not been popular, but at 32 when training camp began in 2014, it certainly was the right move.
Let it be known that Stephen Jones and the accounting department can make just a few clicks on the computer and suddenly they have millions to spend. Tony Romo's deal could be restructured, his $27 million figure seems stifling to me. They could also make a move and restructure Tyron Smith. In addition, they could decide to move on from Brandon Carr, and by designating him a post-June 1 release, save even more money against the cap for 2015. There is Henry Melton's contact, too. The point is, if the Cowboys want to free up some money to retain their own free agents, they can certainly do that.
If the Cowboys really want both, I believe they will have both. The worst thing would be to have Dez and then witness a serious drop off in production due to the loss of Murray. Yes, Murray has only played in one full season. Yes, he has only one season with gaudy numbers, but Murray is not some guy that can be discarded for the "next-man-up" theory. He's the exact type of runner that Jason Garrett wants, and is the guy that can get you those "dirty" yards when you need it.
He's an opener and closer, an all-around back that isn't so easy to come by. Murray carried a heavy load in 2014, and it's likely he will not replicate those numbers but he's a significant cog in what this team likes to do. It's no coincidence veterans such as Tony Romo and Jason Witten are standing on tables for his return.
Dez Bryant is also a one-of-a-kind player that doesn't come around too often. You have number one receivers and then you have guys such as Bryant. Dez has made a steady climb into the "top three in the league" category. He is going to command top dollar from this organization. We all are aware that he is not going anywhere, which is why his deal is the most important of all. If Dez signs, it opens a few doors that otherwise would be closed.
We've heard Stephen, Jerry and company speak to availability of the franchise tag. However, I don't think that is where they want or should go. If you franchise Dez Bryant, he's going to cost you $13 million. That's almost 9% of your cap space gone. Bryant's 16-touchdown performance will certainly be worth whatever he ends up getting, but to really help this team, a deal with money upfront and a respectable guaranteed figure will do wonders. Trust me, Dez will get his money, sooner or later.
The best way to go for Dallas would be to have both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray inked. The value of the running back in the NFL is an old wives' tale at this point. Though some may not agree, the true sweet spot is the first three years. Murray is past that mark, but he'll only be 27 at the start of the season. He still has gas in the tank.
If the Cowboys want both of these marquee players to return; this is the most likely of options. Murray's tag number will be $10-$11 million. That number is relatively as steep as Bryant's would be. Though there are reports suggesting that Murray could command up to $10 million a year, that is an insanely ridiculous hypothetical. Dallas could run the risk of allowing Murray to test free agency, but will they be able to counter an offer from elsewhere? There is always that one crazy team that believes they're only one player away.
Realistically speaking, Murray will likely receive $6-$8 million a year. That alone would rank him in the top earners at his position. The Cowboys' first offer was rumored to be a four-year, $16 million deal. That is far too low to expect him to take. However, if Dallas would like to keep the cap hit to a minimum; there is always the option of guaranteeing more money. Let's imagine the Cowboys giving Murray a deal for four years, $24 million with $12-14 million guaranteed. Maybe he takes it. Knowing that Dez Bryant will certainly be the next Cowboy to join the $100 million club; it's going to be the most interesting free agency period in a long time for Dallas. Make no mistake it can be done, but just what will it take?
If the Dallas Cowboys are serious about continuity, they will exhaust all options in re-signing Dez Bryant in order to also bring back DeMarco Murray. It's not going to be easy, but nothing ever is in the world of cap figures and casualties. Yet, with the age of the Cowboys quarterback, and the window suddenly busted wide open, now is as good a time as any to pony up the dough. They've come this far, why would they ever look back?