Today's big stories:
The Cowboys signed the 29-year-old Collins to a one-year deal. Collins spent last season with the Lions, following a three-year run with the New Orleans Saints. He had eight carries for 19 yards and five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown last season.
Dallas is bringing in the veteran middle linebacker from the Vikings on a two-year deal. The Dallas Cowboys have been bargain shoppers so far in free agency, and that trend continues with the latest player they agreed to terms with, linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
After Bruce Carter signed a four-year deal with the Buccaneers on Wednesday afternoon, defensive tackle Henry Melton followed his lead, inking a one-year deal, and rejoining Lovie Smith, who was Melton's head coach for three of his four years in Chicago.
Melton is the fifth Cowboy to sign with another team in free agency, joining Dwayne Harris, Jermey Parnell, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter.
And baby makes six. Here's the Murray saga's terrible denouement, blow by excruciating blow...
From an Ed Werder source: the Eagles' final offer was "considerably ahead of the Cowboys' on all fronts" - including guaranteed money, average salary and the relative ease of earning incentive clauses.
Eatman with the details of the signing. Philly put a LOT of semolians on the table. Like, a LOT.
Lane has what I find to be the most apt summation of the Murray saga:
The Cowboys never wished to go above-and-beyond for Murray, judging him to be a good player who had a great year, and judging the position of running back as one that very rarely merit giving a high-dollar second contract to a guy at or older than 27. That was never an "insult'' to Murray, anymore than it was an "insult'' that dozens of other clubs didn't line up to pay him.
The analytics geeks over at ESPN Stats and Information compare Murray and the man he replaces in Philly, LeSean McCoy. One of the key statistical takeaways:
Murray and McCoy differ markedly in at least one statistic. McCoy had the third-highest percentage of rush attempts go for zero or negative yards the past four seasons (among running backs with at least 300 attempts). In that time, Murray had the ninth-lowest percentage (out of 57 running backs).
DeMarco Murray's greatest impact, Archer argues, might have been on Tony Romo, who was no longer required to carry the heaviest burden for the Cowboys to succeed.now, he's sad cat:
"It just happened, so you have to process everything," Romo said. "All the way up until today, I was still thinking we'd be able to keep DeMarco. Obviously, it's not an ideal situation. I'm losing a close friend, too, so that hurts. We have to trust in the process and the people making the decisions. We have salary cap implications and a bunch of other things that we have to decide. That plays a role.
Especially when your franchise QB is getting paid nine figures...
With the running game changing following DeMarco Murray's exit, Toddzilla opines, the Cowboys are smart to look at the defense. A couple of remaining targets: CB Patrick Robinson and DE Derrick Morgan
Mr. Sisemore lays down some truth:
There are a handful of running backs available in this draft that I would rather take a chance on than offer that big money contract to Murray. As I said on Twitter a few days ago, I'm not a DeMarco-hater, I'm a money-saver.
Archer tells us about both sides of the Murray coin: Heads: the Dallas Cowboys didn't want to overpay for him; tails: they didn't see the possibility of him joining an NFC East rival:
The Cowboys held the fort on what they thought Murray’s price should be and didn’t budge enough to make him want to stay. They cast their lot with the offensive line over the running back. Now they have to go get a running back. Or two.
Who is going to fill Number 29's sizeable shoes?
JJT proposes that Murray is gone because Stephen Jones is now calling the shots for the Cowboys (his sentimental papa would never have let the leading rusher go). As a result, Jones the Younger is tasked with finding a replacement. His final thoughts:
The Cowboys made a business decision. So did Murray. No blame needs to be assigned, but the decisions each man made has removed any doubt about the Cowboys' hierarchy: Stephen Jones is in charge.
For that, you should rejoice -- unless, of course, Murray's replacement is a bust.
Our boy Jeff Smith offers several free agent options,. One of these in particular caught my eye:
Stevan Ridley: It seems that Ridley is flying a bit under the radar to this point. During his four-year stint in New England, Ridley averaged less than 4.3 YPC just one time, which was in 2014. He only played six games this past year, but before that missed just two games. Ridley's best year came in 2012 when he was the workhorse for the Patriots, running 290 times for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Do you believe that the 26-year-old running back can repeat that type of performance in Dallas? I have no question that he could. If the Cowboys want to save some money and still get a very talented running back, then Ridley may be their man. Expect Dallas to take a long, hard look at the former Patriot.
The Cowboys were very interested in Ridley when he came out; he was one of four running backs invited to Valley Ranch in 2011, the year they selected Murray. Might they still have interest?
A review of the running backs that Sturm has analyzed for his draft prospect series. It appears Todd Gurley and Jay Ayaji warm the cockles of his heart...
Simply put: if the Cowboys decided not to pay up to re-sign DeMarco Murray, they probably won't pay the price for Adrian Peterson, either.
There is a silver lining (but, thankfully, no playbook):
If the Cowboys play their cards right in free agency this year, the Cool One writes, they'll likely get four extra draft picks in 2016. And it gets better:
Right now, the Cowboys could go out and sign two unrestricted free agents to contracts of up to $4 million dollars each per year and still be left with four high comp picks in the 2016 draft.
From the Great Minds Think Alike Department: The Noble Drummond offers a similar look at 2016's compensatories, complete with awesome charts (O.C.C.'s version boasts these as well) and pithy sayings with just a dusting of cynicism.
And that's why we love ourselves some KD...