First, the elephant has taken a seat and asked for a cup of tea.
We all knew it was coming (at least those of us who have been paying attention). The only thing that is a bit of a surprise is that Dallas did not make the tag exclusive.
The two parties now have until July 15th to come to an agreement. In the meantime, Dez could meet with other teams if they're willing. But the idea of a team signing Dez to a big enough contract that the Cowboys wouldn't match, while also giving up two first-round picks seems, very unlikely
The actual cap figure has been set, and now the Cowboys know what they have to work with in cap space, pending moves like restructuring contracts or doing something about Brandon Carr.
With the salary cap set at $143.28 million for 2015, the Dallas Cowboys officially have a cap of $148,298,313, according to ESPN's Stats & Information.
That gives them $19.15 million in cap room, but that does not include the $12.823 million franchise tag tender for Dez Bryant.
Tom Condon is Bryant's agent, and he outlines the scenario that may make things a little hard for the Cowboys to manage.
"He's a special player, so if you're picking late in the first round, let's say you're in the last 4-5 picks of the first round, and you know that Dez Bryant is a superstar, do you give up a very late pick in the first round this year and a very late pick in the round next year to ensure that you're competing for the Super Bowl for the next several years? That part of it is pretty interesting."
One team that has plenty of cap space and would likely be giving up some very late draft picks is the Indianapolis Colts. Imagine Andrew Luck throwing to Bryant for the next seven years or so. It is easy to see how Indy might be tempted to make a run at this.
While the Cowboys have used the tag to buy some time to get a deal done with Bryant, they are going to let DeMarco try the market to see what it will take to keep him, and if the team is willing to pay the price. But the demand may not be as great as it could be.
An NFL executive was asked what he thought about Murray and free agency. He said Murray is a good player who had a great year. But, he isn't a great player who had a great year.
Everyone can take that differently, but for me, that's saying not every team in the league will be lining up at Murray's door ready to hand him a large contract.
A look at some likely players that the Cowboys may lose, and who they might already have on the team that can step up. There are a couple of either/or situations, including this one.
Justin Durant/Bruce Carter: The chances of Durant returning are better than Carter, but if they lose both, then Anthony Hitchens would be the replacement at weak-side or strong-side linebacker. Hitchens is more of a weak-side linebacker. The coaches credited him with 100 tackles to go with three tackles for loss, two quarterback pressures, one interception and four pass deflections. Kyle Wilber could be a strong-side candidate.
If this is an accurate take, then this decision may be already made.
Four running backs are on this list, reflecting the concerns that Murray will not return. (The fifth is a backup QB to replace Brandon Weeden, who is Dallas' own second coming of Rodney Dangerfield.) One name has been linked to Dallas in other places lately.
Mark Ingram. Jerry Jones spoke so highly of Lance Dunbar at the scouting combine that I believe the restricted free agent will be back in 2015. Dunbar is best outside in space. Without Murray, the Cowboys would likely be targeting a physical runner. Ingram would fill that void. The 25-year-old former first-round pick is coming off his best season, rushing for 964 yards and nine touchdowns for the Saints in 2014.
Todd Archer takes a look at the obvious tension between Adrian Peterson and the Vikings, but wants to make sure you don't turn this into a lot of hope for the Cowboys to get AD to come play in Dallas.
Before you get too excited, that doesn't mean he's playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.
You're certainly entitled to dream about it. And feel free to drop to your knees and pray about it too. Consult a psychic, if you want.
It ain't happening.
Archer also sees the team taking the same approach that they took when DeMarcus Ware tested the market - and decided to take the money and run to the Denver Broncos.
Stephen Jones said at the combine that if Murray hits the market it would not preclude his return, in the same way Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek hit the market in the past but eventually returned.
It's a risky strategy.
Murray will be under no requirement to offer the Cowboys a chance to match or come close to an offer before signing elsewhere.
Among a lot of other things (in an article written before the official announcement), the Sturminator looks at the very limited leverage that the player has once the tag is applied.
Otherwise, he can not sign it, threaten to hold out, and negotiate from an adversarial position, but his leverage is only so high and honestly, the public isn't going to quite understand how a 1-year deal for $13 million or so is a real insult. He has the public on his side, but it doesn't take much to lose the public when they hear you are mad about $800k a week. One thing we do hear periodically, is the conditional agreement which usually is a player agreeing to report with this 1-year deal under the condition that the team signs an agreement that they will not use the tag again in 2016. They certainly don't have to do that, but the player sometimes can get the team to agree to that. I would not expect the Cowboys are interested.
MJ making the list is very cool, but there of course is one name we all expect to find on these rich guy lists (and Jordan notwithstanding, the real money in sports is in ownership, just in case you were not aware).
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (No. 393, $4.2 billion)
393rd richest person on the planet. Not bad.
I love the take Alfie Crow has at out sister site of the possible interest the Jaguars might have in Murray.
I'm firmly against paying running backs in free agency, but with how much money the Jaguars have in cap space the next two years, plus all the young players who are cost-locked... why not? Right?
Murray did have the benefit of playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football and with one of the best wide outs in the game, as well as a good quarterback, but he's also very talented himself.
Nothing to say about this, other than that he last was on the Cowboys practice squad.