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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: What Will It Cost To Keep DeMarco Murray In Dallas?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Proposed contracts for Murray range from $5 million to $7.5 million per year; Cowboys will focus on re-signing their own free agents over free agents from other teams; Henry Melton not drawing a lot of interest (yet).

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Bob Sturm: Here are two deals I think are fair for DeMarco Murray | Dallas Morning News
In a recent chat with fans, the Sturminator outlines what he thinks would be a fair deal for Murray:

If you want a guy, you make him a fair offer because he has earned it. You don’t wait for someone else to make a fair offer and then respond. In fact, most teams now only offer deals based on the idea that you either sign it or it goes away for just this reason – to keep you from shopping the deal around to have an auction. If Murray wants to be here, then I hope they have made him a fair offer.

For me, that is 3 for $18m or 4 for $24. $6m a year is fair. The report I read in the fall that they had drawn a line at 4 for $16m is not. I don’t think that is anything more than an insult to a guy who has meant this much to this team. 4 for $16m is Reggie Bush in Detroit money. That isn’t a serious bid for a heavyweight workhorse like Murray. At least get to 3 for $18 or $19m like Frank Gore.

Personally, I think a deal will have to be closer to four years and $30 million to work for Murray's camp, but all these topline numbers may be moot anyway - the guaranteed money in such a contract is the make-or-break part of the contract negotiations.

To protect themselves, the Cowboys could use Sean Lee's contract extension as a model. Lee's contract included playtime incentives that could make Lee's base deal of $42 million over six years worth up to $51 million over six years.

Marshawn Lynch-type deal for DeMarco Murray? - CBSSports.com
Jason La Canfora also has a take on what type of contract Murray might command:

Dez Bryant is headed for the franchise tag, it certainly appears, so I'm doing all I can to figure out if there is a team willing to give DeMarco Murray a Shady McCoy-type contract? If not, I'll offer him what Marshawn Lynch is making and push toward $6M a year. At the same time I would try to gauge the likelihood that Adrian Peterson is reinstated in April, and what it might take to entice the Vikings to trade him your way.

McCoy's deal was for 5 years, $45 million, with $20.7 guaranteed. Lynch is playing on a 4-year, $30 million contract with $17 million guaranteed.

DeMarco Murray is the Seahawks' best fallback option at running back - Jim Moore, ESPN Seattle
Jim Moore of ESPN Seattle seems to be under the impression that Murray can be had for less than Marshawn Lynch, and no more than $5 million.

If I were [Seattle GM John] Schneider, my best backup model behind the one with Lynch has DeMarco Murray as the starting running back. Thursday on "Danny, Dave and Moore," John Clayton said it was 50-50 on Murray returning to the Cowboys.

Murray turned 27 Thursday and is two years younger than Lynch. You could argue that he had a better line to run behind in Dallas and couldn't possibly gain 1,845 yards here, but I'm not so sure about that. If you could get Murray for $5 million a year, maybe you could save some money that you would have paid Lynch and increase your chances of retaining cornerback Byron Maxwell.

If DeMarco Murray departs, either of these RBs would make sense as Cowboys' first draft pick | Kevin Sherrington, DMN
If the Cowboys don't believe Murray is worth a second contract after his franchise record performance, then logic dictates that no running back will ever be worth a second contract for the Cowboys. So why should the team invest a first-round pick in another running back who won't receive a second contract either?

No such worries for Kevin Sherrington, who proposed two first-round RB options in a recent chat with fans.

If Murray's situation is decided before the draft, which I would expect it will, and he's not here, they'd probably go after one or the other. Picking 27th, there's probably not an obvious impact player on defense, at least not a pass-rushing DE or shut-down CB. A guy from that part of the draft certainly could develop into one, but it wouldn't be obvious. I think either Gordon or Gurley is going to be very good. You'd like to think with your first pick you're getting a sure thing. I think both of those RBs probably are.

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Cowboys will keep free agency in house | Davis Moore, DMN
Cowboys beat writer David Moore answered questions in a chat recently, and argued that the Cowboys will focus on re-signing their own free agents over free agents from other teams.

If the Cowboys aren't able to keep Murray, I think Ingram is a strong possibility. I believe the team's emphasis will be in retaining their own free agents, a list that extends deep beyond Murray and Dez Bryant, rather than picking off others. The Cowboys have only signed four free agents - two a year - during this period in the last two years combined.

Cowboys offensive lineman Doug Free's contract is void - CBSSports
The final two years on Doug Free's contract voided yesterday, which means Free will be an unrestricted free agent. The $3.98 million of prorated signing bonus left on Free's contract accelerates immediately and will count as dead money toward the team's salary cap. The Cowboys are expected to try and re-sign Free to a new contract.

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After the Cowboys declined to pick up Henry Melton's contract option, there's some minor chatter among team blogs about Melton. And if these lukewarm reports are anything to go by, there's a good chance Melton could end up back in Dallas on a moderate contract.