With most teams now using multiple backs to piece together a running game, it has become popular to devalue the running back position. However, DeMarco Murray is a special back and the Dallas Cowboys would be making a big mistake if they don’t re-sign him.
Through three seasons, Murray has rushed 542 times for 2,681 yards on his way to averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He’s had seven games of at least 125 yards, including a 253-yard performance against the St. Louis Rams during his rookie season of 2011.
His ability to be effective boils down to a couple things:
1.) Murray has to be on the field. He’s missed 11 games due to injury.
2.) The offensive strategy must be more focused on getting him the ball.
There’s only been 11 games where he has been given the ball 20-plus times. Over those games, he’s had 116 carries for 1,284 yards for 5.2 YPC. The numbers are pretty telling about Murray’s ability to be an explosive playmaker when given the opportunity. However, the most important stat is the fact that the Cowboys are undefeated, 11-0, when he gets 20 or more rushing attempts.
I understand the argument that he’s an upright runner who is often injured. Nobody would want to throw a ton of money at a guy who is often riddled with injury. But… That didn’t stop Dallas from forking over a six-year, $51 million deal to Sean Lee, who has never played a complete season in his professional career.
The depreciation of the RB position may help Dallas in this instance. The biggest free-agent contract this offseason was three years, $10.5 million.
So if the Cowboys decline to re-sign him, they would be making a statement saying that Murray isn’t worth at least $3.5 million a year. Yes, he was a third-round pick, and yes, he’s been injured but he’s still at the spry age of 26. So why not sign him to a deal that takes him to the dreaded cut of age of 30?
It would make sense to give him a deal for the next four seasons for $16-20 million. Obviously, those numbers would pay him an average of $4-5 million a season.
Those numbers are comparable to other backs like C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles, Ryan Mathews, Fred Jackson, Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson. Stop me when you’ve heard a name that hasn’t missed time due to major or minor injury in the past several years.
The Cowboys need to finally give Murray the respect he deserves. His deal wouldn’t break the bank, and would keep a potent and explosive option in the Dallas backfield for the rest of his prime.