Not many opponents were able to tackle DeMarco Murray in 2014. Ultimately, it’s a former Dallas offensive player that’s throwing the NFL’s leading rusher and soon-to-be ex-Cowboy for a loss.
DeMarco Murray, meet Marion Barber.
Back in ‘10 owner Jerry Jones and his braintrust at Valley Ranch learned a valuable, painful lesson about paying for past performance. As a backup to Julius Jones, Barber made the Pro Bowl in ‘07 by rushing for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns with an aggressive, physical style that was Beast Mode while Marshawn Lynch was just an unheralded rookie in Buffalo. Part reward and part prediction, the Cowboys gave Barber a seven-year, $45 million contract before the ’08 season.
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With his durability and performance diminished, he was out of Dallas two years later and out of football after ’11.
Sorry DeMarco, but the Cowboys are committed to never making that mistake again.
Murray had a magical, memorable year in which he set a franchise record with 1,845 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He’ll be an MVP finalist. And he’s only 26, set to break the back in free agency. Just not in Dallas.
The Cowboys know all too well that NFL running backs begin to decline at 28. They also realize that runners coming off 392 carries tend to drop off following such a high-workload season.
Don’t get me wrong, Jerry will try everything to keep DeMarco. But the Cowboys will offer him around $4 million a year, compared to the likely $6-9 million he’ll get in free agency. If Murray decides to turn down a couple million a year to stay in Dallas, fantastic. If not …
Joseph Randle. Ryan Williams. Maybe even Adrian Peterson. The star of the Cowboys’ offense this year – and for years to come – was an offensive line featuring three first-round draft picks who are in the Pro Bowl years before reaching their peak. Switch above-average backs behind a consistently superior line? Or be saddled with a declining runner with a gigantic contract? You decide.
Jerry said it’s not financially reasonable to expect to keep Murray. Translation: The Cowboys have the cap space to do it, but the common sense not to.
Murray’s final run in Dallas was a two-yard gain off right guard, three plays before Tony Romo’s spectacular incompletion to Dez Bryant. It was his last carry as a Cowboy. His last memory however: The third-quarter fumble.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.