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Potential Replacements for Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

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Cowboys Blog - Potential Replacements for Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

Among the 20 Cowboys bound to hit free agency, star running back DeMarco Murray is the biggest question mark. Following an All-Pro season that featured more than 2,200 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns and the NFL rushing title, Murray's future in Dallas is foggy. The 2015 Offensive Player of the Year played the entire season en route to setting a franchise rushing record. The former 3rd round pick out of Oklahoma should gain plenty of traction in contract talks with interested teams.

Dallas may be forced to choose between Murray and Bryant this offseason. Bryant's elite status as a receiver, paired with Murray's injury history, the Cowboys are likely to lock-up Dez long-term and have expressed their willingness to tag him if a deal isn't reached during the offseason. The running back position is arguably the most dispensable in today's league, particularly when running behind the NFL's best offensive line.

In the event that DeMarco Murray signs elsewhere, there are viable replacement options via the draft and free agency.

Joseph Randle

Randle would assume the role if Murray were to leave Dallas. We've seen flashes of his speed, patience and vision while he averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 51 attempts in the 2014 season. Randle's issue isn't his performance on the field, rather his conduct off the field. In October 2014 he was arrested for shoplifting. Then, earlier this month, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. If not for his behavioral issues Randle is the clear-cut favorite to be the starting running back in Dallas.

Mark Ingram

The former Alabama star and 1st round pick has had a somewhat disappointing career thus far. In four seasons with the Saints, he compiled just over 2,400 rushing yards. Ingram has suited up for all 16 games just once, and he isn't quite the receiving threat Murray has provided. Ingram, 25, has youth on his side. The 2014 season was a career year for the former Heisman Trophy winner, logging 964 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. He's a tough runner and a strong pass blocker. His hard-nosed rushing style could be a devastating duo with speedster Lance Dunbar.

Knowshon Moreno

The 28 year-old former 1st round pick missed the final 13 games of the 2014 season after tearing his ACL. He showed his potential when healthy in a week 1 victory versus the Patriots, torching them for 134 yards and a touchdown. Moreno is an all-around back that has been hobbled with injuries throughout his career. Durability is his biggest issue, but when healthy he can be great. He rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns during his 2013 season as a Bronco.

Adrian Peterson

A long shot for sure, but still worth mentioning. The 2012 MVP is returning to the NFL after serving a suspension in 2014. He was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child after pictures surfaced on the internet of bruises he inflicted on his 4-year old son.

The Texas native has expressed interest in coming home to play for the Cowboys. Unless the Vikings cut him this offseason, a trade would be required for Peterson to play in Dallas. Peterson has been the NFL's best back since his debut in 2007. He fell just 9 yards shy of surpassing Eric Dickerson's single season rushing mark during his MVP season. Jerry Jones faced tampering charges this past August after an Outside the Lines report revealed a phone call between the Cowboys owner and Peterson. Jones admitted to being a fan while Peterson informed him of his desire to play for the Cowboys. But there are a lot of moving parts at play for Adrian Peterson to wear a star on his helmet.

Regardless of where he plays next season, it will be interesting to see how the NFL and fans welcome his return.

Melvin Gordon

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay projects the Cowboys will choose the Wisconsin running back with the 27th overall pick. Gordon is the consensus top back in a draft that is rich in running back prospects. He ran for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns in the 2014 season. The Heisman finalist capped off a stellar collegiate career with a 251 yard, 3 touchdown performance in an Outback Bowl victory over Auburn. It will be interesting to see if Dallas is willing to use their first round pick on a back rather than fill one of many bigger needs on defense.

Other names to look out for in this year's draft include Todd Gurley, Jay Ajayi and Duke Johnson.

An offense that features three first round lineman has evolved into a run-first attack. Replacing Murray and his 1,845 yards will come easier due to the fortified offensive line in Dallas.


I'm a 20-year old journalism student at Stony Brook University. I was born and raised on Long Island and have been a diehard Cowboys fan all of my life. My earliest memory as a Cowboy fan was watching my all-time favorite player Emmitt Smith break the NFL rushing record. I'm a movie buff as well as a lover of all things Breaking Bad and New York Mets!

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1 Comment
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    Adrian Peterson better not come to Dallas. We don’t need guys like him. Randle is young, so are Ingram and Moreno. Randle has some of the field issues to work out but Dallas has gotten better at rehabilitating it’s criminally challenged players.

    Not sure if Randle/Dunbar can carry the load, even with this o-line, so I’d like to see a YOUNG guy come into the rotation while we evaluate Randle another year. Gorden is a good option for that. But Moreno might come at the right price given his injury history.

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Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10

Kevin Brady

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.

Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.

Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."

After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.

According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.

While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.

Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.

The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.


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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?

Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.

After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.

Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.

Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Bene Benwikere (#23)

The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.

Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.

Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.

The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.

Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.

As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.


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