I usually try to refrain from doing a post only about the Dallas Cowboys, but with this hot topic, I couldn’t resist. It comes as no surprise that I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, probably one of the most passionate of my kind, east of the Mississippi. Seriously if I had the money, I’d have season tickets on the 50-yard for the rest of my life. Hell, I’ve even considered moving to Dallas a time or two. All things considered, I try to keep it as unbiased as possible, although at times it’s quite a difficult task. Enough about me now onto the story everyone is talking about.
Early this afternoon, it became pretty clear that All-Pro RB DeMarco Murray, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, was going to sign with a division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Honestly, the moment I heard that Murray had reached out to Chip Kelly personally, I knew this was getting serious. I didn’t want to believe it. Many thought that any potential deal wasn’t going to happen once it was announced that former Chargers RB Ryan Matthews was set to sign a 3-yr-deal, but even Matthews delayed that process and didn’t sign until AFTER Murray inked his new deal.
That deal reported as 5 yrs/$42 million, with $21 million guaranteed is just the type of money Murray was looking for, even though at times the chances of him getting his way looked bleak. This is a historic signing as well. DeMarco Murray signing with the Eagles marks the first time since 1947 that the NFL’s Leading Rusher from the prior year signed with a new team. Thoughts from fans on this deal are all over the place, which isn’t especially surprising. Let’s explore it a bit…….
- Why did the Eagles make this move? If you ask me, some of it has to do with stealing a star away from a division rival, but that’s only a small part of it. Chip Kelly has received some backlash for the moves he has made this offseason. Trading Lesean McCoy, trading for Sam Bradford, and letting Jeremy Maclin walk made sense to very few at the time. It is apparent now that Chip is trying to get guys to run a specific system. Focusing on the run game seems to be a part of that. Both Matthews and Murray have had durability issues in the past, but utilizing both of them, combined with Darren Sproles, will likely assist in keeping them healthy. Chip Kelly seems to have a plan, an expensive one, as all 3 top RBs are making RB1 money, but we’ll see soon if it pays off. I question it, for now.
- Why didn’t the Cowboys match or better the offer by the Eagles? Simply put, they couldn’t afford it. From the start, the Cowboys were firm/comfortable giving DeMarco about $6 million/yr, some reports said Jerry was willing to go $7 million/yr, but an average of $8 million/yr was never going to happen, especially with the amount of guaranteed money Murray was after. Some reports say that the Cowboys were somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million guaranteed. No one will publicly come out and say it, but I think the Cowboys ran Murray into the ground (to the tune of 450 touches) anticipating he would sign with another team. They never believed he was worth the money he got from Philadelphia and Murray obviously felt disrespected and under-appreciated.
- How can the Eagles make this work going forward? Chip Kelly obviously has a plan. I’m sure he will utilize all 3 (possibly 4, if you include Chris Polk) RBs in a way that maximizes their effectiveness. My guess is that Murray out touches Matthews by 7-10 touches per game. I think we could see several split backs sets using the a combo of Murray/Matthews/Sproles. Splitting carries between these backs should keep all of them fresh and possibly even healthy, although I don’t see a scenario where neither of these RBs misses at least a couple games. Going forward, I think the Eagles need to focus on getting a playmaker at the WR position and possibly getting younger along the OL. I have one main reservation about this working, both Murray and Matthews are used to lining up mostly in “I-Form” or “Singleback” sets, but this offense Chip Kelly is implementing, features most runs out of the shotgun. This will likely be a focus in training camp and beyond, but something I’d be mildly concerned about, if I were an Eagles fan.
- How do the Cowboys replace DeMarco Murray? It won’t be easy. Some bitter fans say he was a product of the “best O-Line in football”, those same fans think it will be easy to replace the All-Pro RB. I know better. Obviously the OL helped make Murray an All-Pro last year, for the first time in his career. However, if you watch the tape, it is clear to me that it was a combination of a great line and a superb RB with great power, tenacity, and vision. Sure, on some runs he would be untouched until he got 4 yards beyond the LOS. Other plays, the tenacity and vision Murray showed on cut backs in the hole were outstanding. Sorry to break it to some of my fellow Cowboys fans, but you don’t find those type of skills in every RB. I think the Cowboys have more pressing needs in the draft than a RB, so I don’t like them to take one in the 1st round. However, I do see them taking a RB in the first 3 rounds. Possibly an Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) if he falls that far. The Adrian Peterson talk is all but over for me, especially since they would like have to pay him about $12-13 million this year if it came down to it. That just won’t happen.
One last note I have been Jerry Jones’ biggest critic and have questioned just about every move he has made over the years. However, I have to give him some credit over the last few years. Starting with the drafting of All-Pro Rookie Guard, Zack Martin instead of polarizing QB Johnny Manziel, Jerry has made several calm, rational decisions. I would’ve preferred Dez Bryant being signed to a long-term deal, but it appears Jerry has a plan and he is sticking to it. The disciplined approach continued all the way through the DeMarco Murray negotiations. Whether it is Jerry behind all of these decisions or his son Stephen Jones, it appears the Cowboys are taking a new approach that could lead to sustainable success. Only time will tell.
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