If you have not been on the internet or listened to any sports media at all in the past day or so, you may have missed a little tidbit of information. The Philadelphia Eagles (read: Chip Kelly) traded running back LeSean McCoy one-for-one to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The move took almost everyone by surprise, and Twitter lit up. McCoy was the 2013 NFL rushing leader, and although he had a down year in 2014, he still is seen as a real weapon, especially when he can get in space with the ball.
Meanwhile, in a much less noticed development, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has reportedly provided his team with a list of other franchises he would be willing to facilitate a trade to by restructuring his contract. As you might expect from recent reports, the Dallas Cowboys are believed to be at the head of his list.
With the uncertainty about the ability of the Cowboys to retain the services of DeMarco Murray, who supplanted McCoy as the 2014 rushing leader, the second item would at first glance appear to be the one of most importance to Dallas, outside of the implications it may have for the landscape of the NFC East this year. However, the two taken in combination may actually indicate that the chances of the Cowboys keeping Murray may just have gotten a huge boost.
As David Moore has pointed out at the Dallas Morning News, the McCoy trade was probably more about dumping his salary and clearing cap space as anything else. He was the second-highest paid running back in the league, and the Eagles will clear about $7.5 million in cap space with him (they are also releasing Cary Williams and Trent Cole to free up a lot more space, which is another topic). This is a fairly clear indication that the idea that large salaries for running backs are no longer worth it is the new reality in the NFL. Of course, it took the acknowledged genius of the league to make this move to truly give it validity.
The Eagles are brilliant for moving McCoy because of salary and the Cowboys fools if they let Murray go for the same reason? GM Twitter— Keith Mullins (@KeithDeuces) March 4, 2015
Sarcasm aside (just in case you missed the point there), this does put some downward pressure on the expectations that Murray can have for what he is worth. And now the Peterson offer has doubled down, with the highest paid running back in the league tacitly admitting that his price tag is now unrealistic.
This was probably not what the Cowboys were expecting when they decided to let Murray test the free agent market, but there has to be some pleasure at Valley Ranch at these unexpected developments. Murray's leverage has just been decreased. While there is no assurance that he will not still be lured away from Dallas by a higher offer than the Cowboys feel justified in meeting, or at least getting close to, the chances of keeping him have to be improved by the combination of the two highest-paid backs in the league having their futures negatively affected by their salaries. There is the additional pressure of Peterson trying to make himself more attractive as a possible replacement for Murray.
We will still have to wait and see how all this plays out, but if you believe that the best thing for the Cowboys is to re-sign Murray, you have to feel better about the chances of that happening.