With both Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith‘s contracts up in 2015, they are the clear priorities for the Dallas Cowboys. After Tony Romo, Bryant and Smith are probably the two most important players on the Cowboys’ offense. In addition to these two, there is another contract that the Cowboys need to seriously consider in 2015, and that is DeMarco Murray‘s.
In an NFL where rules and style favor the passing game more and more, running backs are seeing their value drop faster and faster. Last year’s draft had zero running backs go in the first round, and there is a possibility that it happens again this year. Given the amount of hits they take, there is always a durability concern with RBs, and it’s rare you see one have success after the age of 30.
All of this suggests that the Cowboys may not re-sign Murray when his contract is up in 2015, especially with both Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar showing potential. Murray has had injury issues throughout his career, and the Cowboys will have to consider using the money that would be spent on him elsewhere.
Not only will the Cowboys be taking all of this into account, but so will Murray. With Adrian Peterson as the only RB making over $10 million in 2014, the Cowboys will have a ton of leverage in negotiating with Murray. The Cowboys should be able to get Murray for a relatively cheap price, which would make it more than worth it to re-sign him.
When healthy, Murray has done an outstanding job with the Cowboys. Last year, he was near the top of the league with 5.2 yards per carry. Last season, the most frustrating moments for the Cowboys were when the run game was abandoned and the offense became one-dimensional. If they Cowboys do not re-sign Murray, there is no guarantee how well Randle or Dunbar will do, which will potentially force the Cowboys to resort to that one-dimensional offense at all times.
Murray has proven that when he is on the field, he gives the Cowboys the kind of offensive balance that has become scarce in the NFL. Losing Murray would put the Cowboys back in the familiar position where all the pressure will fall on the back on Romo.
That’s not to say that the Cowboys do not have a good passing game as Romo throwing to Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams can be one of the more dangerous passing offenses in the NFL. The balance that Murray provides will keep the defense honest, allowing the passing game and the offense as a whole to flourish.