Cowboys DeMarco Extension? Anatomy Of A Scoop

IRVING - How did flattery and willingness turn into a supposed four-year contract extension offer to DeMarco Murray? How soon does 'reportedly' become 'reality'? Come behind the Cowboys scenes for the anatomy of the 'scoop' ...

Dallas Cowboys officials have in recent days said flattering things about NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray ... flattering to the point of almost being bad negotiators.

In those same breaths, the Joneses have expressed an on-the-record willingness to talk about a contract extension with the Pro Bowler, presently excelling in the final year of his rookie contract.

Somehow, on Sunday morning, those two facts have been transformed into a "scoop" complete with details of serious negotiations, four-year offers and dollar specifics -- all of which represent "jumping the gun," a Cowboys source tells CowboysHQ.

The origin of the appearance of momentum? An on-the-record interview with Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones a week ago on 105.3 The Fan.

“We always want to keep our good football players," Jones said. "Obviously, DeMarco Murray is one of those. It has to work and it has to fit from a business standpoint, not only us, but for him.”

By Sunday morning, NFL Network reported an offer of a four-year deal. NFL Network also reported, rather breathlessly, that Dallas is willing to pay more than any free-agent runner got last summer.

How did Monday's on-the-record and in-the-open discussion become Sunday's "sourced scoop''?

First know that this is how the national network guys pay their mortgages. Citing The Fan on Monday? That is NOT how the national network guys convince their bosses that they have "inside info.''

Second, in regard to a structured four-year deal, Cowboys officials suggest to me talks haven't gotten that specific yet. That can change in a heartbeat, and with Jerry Jones saying things about DeMarco like, "He's inspirational,'' Dallas seems willing to advance this ball.

But again ... you already knew that. Because Stephen said it out loud last Monday. Oh, and he did it again on Friday. Same tune. Second verse. Only this time, the questions weren't even about Murray but about "quality guys in the locker room,'' with the focus on the three young O-linemen. And yet Stephen made sure to include DeMarco.

And then the network made sure to include DeMarco, because Cowboys news "sells'' and sells double when it's about the NFL's leading rusher.

Third, to the notion that "Dallas is willing to pay more than any free-agent runner got last summer'': Whether the reporting network realizes it or not (or maybe the reporting network assumes the unwashed masses don't realize it), that's all but a foregone conclusion.

In a dried-up market last summer, Chris Johnson and Toby Gerhart signed deals in the $4-million-year range. Johnson got a two-year contract from the Jets that includes a $3-mil signing bonus. Gerhart got $3.5 mil a year for three seasons with a $4.5 mil signing bonus.

There are certainly different ways to structure a deal and have it sound like "$4 mil a year.'' But Murray, 26 and playing on the final year of a rookie deal that pays him $1.4 million for 2014, would've laughed at the notion that while he is matching single-season NFL records that put him in company with Jim Brown, OJ Simpson and Emmitt Smith, he should sign a contract that (barring something unprecedented and unwise like full guarantees) puts him in company with Toby Gerhart.

There is a top tier of runners (Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy) who are in the $8-mil-plus range. In this era of disposable backs, that seems to be a dying breed - though Murray's eventually-serious talks with Dallas might help prove or disprove that concept.
Said Stephen Jones: “We’re always open to extending good football players and guys who are leaders, and DeMarco is the type of person you want on this football team. He’s a smart guy, he’s tough, he represents the team well."

Part of Murray's representation is to sidestep public talk of his contract situation. The closest he's coming to discussing dollars? A few days ago he was asked if he planned to buy expensive gifts for the blockers who help make his big numbers possible.

"If I was making (Tony) Romo money," Murray said with a wink and a nod toward his buddy's locker stall, "I would."

DeMarco Murray will never make "Romo money." But he also has no reason to be involved in "serious discussions" about settling for "Gerhart money," either. The Joneses' public comments are a sign of conversation. A sign of true momentum comes, if it comes at all, when both sides decide what a record-setting star can make without being paid like a first-tier star.

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