The Dallas Cowboys will be a looking for a new lead back in the 2015 season. DeMarco Murray has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys were waiting for other teams to set the market and then hopefully match the offers and bring Murray back, but the Eagles gave him a huge deal. The reports are that it is for five years and $42 million, with $21 million of that guaranteed. (Technically, $40 mil base, max of $42 mil, $18 mil fully guaranteed, $21 million total guarantees.) The Cowboys wisely passed on matching that, showing more of the new-found discipline in free agency they have acquired in recent years.
"It was never about the money in any situation," Murray texted ESPN.com's Todd Archer. "If it was the money, I could've taken that a long time ago on a very high deal. It's about winning a Super Bowl and being fair."
Let's just suffice it to say, that seems dubious. Why the Eagles are a better shot at winning the Super Bowl than Dallas is curious, maybe it really is about the money.
Earlier today Murray's father told the Dallas Morning News that Murray was "hurt" by the way the Cowboys approached his contract.
Kevin Murray told The Dallas Morning News that though DeMarco feels "hurt" right now that the Cowboys haven't made a stronger offer to keep him, his son hasn't made up his mind yet on where he will play next season.
"My impression from talking to him this morning is that he loves his coach, he loves his teammates and the Dallas fans," Kevin Murray said, "but he's just hurt that something hasn't happened to lure him not to take the trip right now."
The Cowboys played hardball on this one and lost. Or won, depending on how you view it. There is plenty of historical precedence showing that backs who rush the ball over 375 times in a season start to see a rapid decline. There is also a movement in the league to not re-sign running backs to large second contracts. Both of these ideas were at play for the Cowboys in not giving a big contract to Murray. The Cowboys showed remarkable discipline in sticking to what they believed was the proper offer for Murray.
Of course, the debate rages about how much of Murray's success in 2014 was due to Murray, and how much of it was due to the Cowboys offensive line and dedication to running the ball.
By signing with the Cowboys division rival, Murray has just raised the stakes on what was already a bitter rivalry. The two games the teams play in 2015 should be entertaining to watch. The build up in the week before the games will be off the charts. The Eagles and Chip Kelly are remaking the team this offseason, but can all these new parts fit together quickly enough to challenge Dallas for the NFC East title?
With Murray out of the picture, the Cowboys could reach out to some of the remaining free agent running backs like C.J. Spiller, or they could wait until the draft which is stocked with talent at the running back position. Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams are currently on the roster. Randle and Williams are possible candidates as every-down backs.
The Cowboys made a calculated gamble by letting Murray get away, only time will tell if it was the right move.