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.
Zack Martin, Xavier Woods Suffer Preseason Injuries, Cowboys Down 2 Starters
Last Saturday night didn't end well for the Dallas Cowboys, who saw multiple players go down throughout the game, most notably Zack Martin and Xavier Woods. Preseason injuries are always the more painful ones, and when we're talking about someone like Martin, it just makes it worse.
Martin suffered a knee injury and was ruled out after going down. ESPN's Todd Archer tweeted out that a source had claimed the injury was a hyper-extended left knee. This surely would be great news considering the fear right now is a season-ending injury.
A source said the initial diagnosis of Zack Martin is a hyperextended left knee, but he will undergo an MRI on Sunday. The Cowboys do not practice again until Monday and play Aug. 26 against the Arizona Cardinals. Depending on the severity of the... https://t.co/1MPbJfQph8
Zack is set to have an MRI on Sunday and the team is hopeful the injury isn't that serious. We probably won't see the All-Pro left guard return in the preseason but could see him back on the field as soon as September 9th when the Cowboys kick their season off at Carolina.
Besides Zack Martin being the best offensive guard in the NFL, the Cowboys' offensive line depth is definitely not good. If his injury proves to be worse than what the front office believes, this offense will have to play without arguably their best player.
As we nervously await more news on Martin's knee, there are more injured players to talk about.
Xavier Woods injured his hamstring as he made an effort to intercept the ball and was also ruled out for the game. We still don't know about the severity, but we do know it's the same hamstring that he dealt with last year.
Although Woods isn't anywhere near Zack Martin as a football player, his injury comes at the team's weakest position in depth. Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier and Xavier Woods are the Cowboys' only legitimate safeties that will earn a roster spot.
If the hamstring injury is serious enough to keep him sidelined for multiple weeks, we could see the Cowboys getting outside help for the defensive backfield. Whether that means trading for Earl Thomas, some other safety or looking at the free agents available, I don't see the team going into the season with two safeties on the roster.
For now, we need to wait for more results regarding both of these players who will be detrimental to this team's success in 2018. The Cowboys suffered more injuries than these ones, though.
And the injuries continue... Jameill Showers is down on the Cowboys sideline with what looks like a knee injury. Still down. Duke Thomas Datone Jones Bo Scarbrough Xavier Woods and the big one, Zack Martin That's the injury list for the Cowboys tonight.
Datone Jones has been impressive during his stay in Dallas and is a quality DT and was ruled out for the game after getting tangled up with the Bengal's offensive line. Seventh-round draft pick Bo Scarbrough suffered a hip injury and is apparently not severe either.
Compared to Woods' and Martin's injuries, these ones won't keep Cowboys' fans up at night. However, hopefully they all turn out to be okay and ready to play as soon as possible. The team's starters make this team a legit threat in the NFC, but when it comes to depth, they're not in a good position.
Report: Center Travis Frederick Undergoing Shoulder Evaluation
After missing the team's walkthrough this morning, it is being reported that Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated due to multiple stingers. According to reports, Frederick has been dealing with stingers all training camp, and the Cowboys are unsure what is wrong with his shoulder.
Frederick rarely misses any practice time at all, and has not missed a start since he entered the league in 2013. He's the catalyst of this offensive line, and will be greatly missed if his injury is severe enough to make him miss regular season game time.
Jason Garrett says Travis Frederick is getting his shoulder looked at in Los Angeles. He's been dealing with stingers. No update behind that #cowboyswire
Joe Looney has been tasked with replacing Frederick for the time being, taking first team center reps during today's walk through and practice.
Given how meaningless Saturday's game is, I'd expect Looney to start at center against the Bengals this weekend as well. Hopefully the evaluation reveals that Frederick's issues are not serious and he will be ready for game one, but consistent stingers will always make fans fear for the worst.
Cowboys G Marcus Martin Needs Surgery; Impact on 53-Man Roster
Marcus Martin, the veteran guard Dallas signed as a free agent last March, suffered a potential season-ending injury in the team's preseason opener last Thursday night. Just how long he'll be out is still be determined, but it still should impact the Cowboys' final 53-man roster this season.
Martin tore ligaments in his right big toe against the 49ers. However, as of yesterday, it was not decided if he would pursue surgery.
The Cowboys don't expect backup OG Marcus Martin to play this season after he tore ligaments in his big toe in the preseason opener, but he's seeking a 2nd opinion before deciding whether to have surgery. Martin signed a 1-year deal with Dallas as a free agent this offseason.
A former third-round pick in 2014, the 24-year-old was brought in as a potential reserve at both guard at center. He was still in competition with Joe Looney and others for a roster spot, though, and his minimal one-year contract suggested nothing was guaranteed.
Even if Martin doesn't have surgery, he is almost sure to miss the start of the season. Dallas would likely place him on injured reserve, but still have the option to recall him after Week 8.
Marcus' absence all but guarantees that Looney will return in 2018. This will be his third year in the system and his ability to play center is critical.
In my 53-man roster projection last week, I had both Looney and Martin making the team. So if I had that right, that means a spot has opened up for probably fifth-year veteran Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second unit in the preseason opener.
The notorious Chaz Green, who has played guard at times, could also be the beneficiary of the open roster spot.
Damien Mama, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who Dallas added this offseason, is the only other guard currently on the roster. We should get to see more of him as the preseason continues.
Marcus Martin's availability, or lack thereof, and how it ultimately impacts the roster will be determined in the coming weeks.
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