The last three days have been murder for us Cowboy fans. I don't know about some of the other social networks but Twitter has been ablaze with talks of DeMarco Murray and his impending decision on where to go for 2015.
I wish I had a magic ball that would tell me where he's going to go, but I don't. No one does.
Instead, I have the good sense enough to realize that DeMarco Murray will go where the money is right for him, and that is almost certainly not the Dallas Cowboys. The hardest thing to accept seems to be that Dallas just doesn't see the running back position in the same light that many fans see while they're jumping up and down screaming as he breaks off a long run.
Nobody here is knocking DeMarco Murray.
He is a fantastic RB who has done some good things for the Cowboys. But one of the most obvious concerns is that Murray only had the success he did once the entire NFL community began to buzz about this hot new offensive line in Dallas. Yes, he was just as good in short stints before 2014, but unable to stay healthy enough for the long run.
Here are some questions being sent to us via @CowboysNation the last day or so regarding DeMarco Murray.
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) March 12, 2015
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) March 12, 2015
And the conversations spawned from some of those tweets got even more ridiculous.
Setting aside all ideas of Adrian Peterson coming to Dallas (I know, I know, it's his lifelong dream to play for the Cowboys and everything ESPN reports is gold, but...), fans are just having a hard time understanding why Jerry Jones isn't lying down in front of DeMarco Murray's car to keep him from leaving.
I've got two words that do explain it all: defense & value.
After restructuring Tyron Smith's contract, and factoring in the tenders offered for Lance Dunbar and Chris Jones, the Cowboys are looking at around $8mil in cap space this year. How much of that would it take to keep DeMarco in Dallas? We'll know for sure once he signs a contract but smart money is on all of it.
Justin Durant and Bruce Carter have signed elsewhere already. Henry Melton has agreed to terms with Tampa Bay too. Even with all 2014 defensive players returning for 2015, the Cowboys were going to have to make some changes and bring in new people to increase that unit's performance. These departures only add to that issue because that's three fewer options the Cowboys have. And there are more free agents on defense that haven't made a move, yet.
There simply isn't enough money to cover all of the Cowboys' needs. And you can bitch and moan all you want about Tony Romo's contract and Jerry's fascination with restructuring contracts, but we've got an elite quarterback (ring or no ring), a stud wide receiver, an aging but still hall of fame bound tight end, and hands down the most dominant offensive line in the NFL. All of that costs money.
Thank goodness Frederick and Martin are still on their rookie contracts!
When money is short and needs are long, you have to harder at your prospects and make decisions about what traits are the most valuable. Right now, DeMarco Murray's biggest advantage over Randle or a rookie is his name, and the number of yards and touchdowns associated with that name in 2014. Speed, vision, burst, quickness; all things not exclusive to Murray.
But to be honest, it's the value portion of this scenario that really has people up in arms. They understand the money aspect and the large need for improvements on defense well enough, but they can't seem to grasp Murray's real value.
I've already said it, and I don't mind saying it again - DeMarco Murray is a fantastic talent. That's the truth.
Does anyone know why the Cowboys have selected offensive linemen in the first round of 3 of the last 4 drafts? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Because the best offensive line in the league can and will boost the stats of anyone playing behind them. Tony Romo is better because of that line. His attempts and yardage were lower in 2014 but his QB rating and overall efficiency were higher.
DeMarco Murray has only played one full season start to finish because of injuries, and that line is the difference between him playing all of 2014 and playing only half of 2014.
Any running back in the game would love to line up behind those big guys up front, and any running back in the league would become instantly better behind that line. Not great, but better than they would be behind a lesser line.
Murray took a beating in 2014 with more than 400 carries. Sure, he's only 27, but for a guy who has been seriously injured in 3 of his 4 seasons, even 27 is old after so many carries. The days of the workhorse back are long gone. I firmly believe that the only reason we got away with that last year is because of that line, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten. And throw in Cole Beasley for good measure.
The Cowboys currently have Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, and Ryan Williams secured for 2015. There are many who doubt the guy falls to #27 in the draft, but there is an outside chance they can pick up Todd Gurley as well. But even 2nd round talent would suffice (not excel) behind that line.
In truth, nobody is saying the Cowboys will have the same league leading rushing attack in 2015 without Murray. Most of us just believe we won't have that much success even with Murray.
There are no guarantees in football. Murray could go down week 1 - for whatever team he's with in 2015 - or he could survive 30 carries a game straight to the Super Bowl.
His chances are just as good as any other back available, only his price tag is any different.
At this point (about noon on March 12th), the Dallas Cowboys need to secure a running back to replace DeMarco Murray and address many holes on the defense. Whether DeMarco Murray is the back they sign or it's someone else via free agency or the draft, the Cowboys have the same personnel situation to address.
But without Murray, the Cowboys can fill his hole for less money and still have a reasonable expectation of performance from their backfield, and still have some money to address needs on the defense.
Like it or not, the Cowboys have greater potential without Murray, thanks to his price.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
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?
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.
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.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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