Cowboys Private Meeting: DeMarco + Garrett
Welcome to the Wild, Wild West of NFL media, where, as evidenced by a Tuesday night with the DeMarco Murray, the territory is ruled by lawlessness. Once Upon A Time In The West it was about which man at the fastest and most accurate gun.
That's changed. Oh, it's still about the "fastest.'' But instead of a gun, it's a Twitter account. And instead of "accuracy,'' it's irresponsible scattershooting, just in case somehow, a target is hit.
I sat in Row 5, Section 105 at the AAC on Tuesday to watch Cavs and Mavs. A little basketball pleasure mixed with my football. I did a 7:30 p.m. call-in to 105.3 The Fan, talked to an agent to learn that Henry Melton was in Tampa, talked to a Valley Ranch source to slow Cowboys Nation's roll on the C.J. Spiller and Antonio Cromartie rumors, and was told by a friend of DeMarco Murray's to be "heads-up'' for the NFL rushing champ and Cowboys free agent.
Taking a moment to scan Twitter I discovered:
The Raiders were in the middle of their "hot-and-heavy'' DeMarco Murray courtship.
*The Eagles, having just rid themselves of a $9-million running back in McCoy, were willing to give DeMarco that same number to replace the "overpaid'' back.
*The Jags were so close to a deal with Murray that they were hosting him in Jacksonville for dinner.
And then I looked up from my phone and glanced to my left. And who did I see, seated six chairs away from me?
DeMarco Murray, enjoying the Mavs game alongside old buddy Miles Austin.
The usually taciturn Murray did not want to say much to me about free agency and the possibility he is leaving the Cowboys. He joked with friends about being hungry, joked with fans about Austin someday running for mayor of Dallas, and gave some OU fans a "Boomer Sooner'' as he posed generously for a bunch of fan photos.
And then, after the game, DeMarco didn't leave the AAC. Instead he found Dallas coach Jason Garrett -- who I swear was not at the game but must've shown up very late ... almost as if he'd heard Murray was there and decided to scoot on downtown. Sources tell me the two men, who are close friends, met for 10 minutes in a private room, one friend of Murray's telling me the session was "significant.''
And then, I'm told, the group discussed leaving the AAC to continue a social visit with a larger group of pals.
The Cowboys are not budging from their budget-minded approach in attempting to bring Murray back to Dallas. But as I write this, other teams aren't budging much either. Oh Bleacher Report wrote that the DeMarco is going to get $10 million a year. And Yahoo wrote that DeMarco-to-Dallas was a done deal on Saturday (and then un-wrote it a few hours later. And ESPN keeps breaking DeMarco tidbits that have been known to readers of this space for weeks, the latest being the "non-negotiation'' approach Dallas has taken here.
I don't know how much Philly will spend, but their first choice to replace McCoy was Frank Gore, and they were going to only guarantee him $7 million total. I don't know what the Raiders are going with Murray, but they just signed running back Roy Helu -- so maybe "sources'' misunderstood "Helu'' for "D-Mo.'' I don't know if Jacksonville is flying him in as I write this, only that he wasn't dining with the Jaguars because he was sitting next to me, asking Miles Austin to go get him a Dr Pepper.
The $9 mil is never happening in Dallas. I'm told Stephen would like to keep his "parameters'' at $1 mil less than Jerry is willing to go; read that as $6 mil a year being what Stephen might match and $7 mil at what Jerry might match. This is clearly about money, in part. But Garrett showing up at the AAC is "good-cop/bad-cop'' in these negotiations. The Joneses are playing rough; Garrett can soften the blow. He's sincerely a friend of Murray's (as are Romo and Witten; all these basketball outings aren't intended as photo-ops)
These conversations require smarts and reason and precision. Involving Jason Garrett in a "negotiation,'' if you will, with his friend DeMarco demonstrates an understanding of that.
Now if only the media irresponsibly waving its six-shooters around would aim for a little smarts and reason and precision, too.
Dwayne Harris considers himself the NFL’s most versatile special-teamer and now the Giants will pay him that way, luring him away from Dallas with what sources tell us is a five-year, $17.5-million contract.
"Will be taking my talents to the Big Apple,'' Harris tweeted Tuesday, shortly after the NFL's free-agency shopping period opened.
Harris caught just seven passes for 116 yards (with four carries for seven yards). But offense wasn’t his Cowboys forte as much as special-teams play was. He dipped a bit in 2014, averaging 24.7 yards per kick return and 9.2 yards per punt return. But the year before he averaged 30.6 yards per kick return and 12.8 yards per punt return, in addition to perennially being Dallas’ best kick-coverage guy. He also led the Cowboys with 18 special-teams tackles.
Meanwhile ... A couple of days ago we spoke to Justin Durant and despite his impending free agency, he was optimistic about returning to the Dallas Cowboys.
"I'm glad people are interested," The team captain told me. "And hopefully we get it done."
It turns out the "people'' that are most interested are the Atlanta Falcons, who are hiring away Durant after his two seasons in Dallas.
The Cowboys have prioritized the return of Rolando McClain, will get Sean Lee back from injury, have Anthony Hitchens coming off a fine rookie season, and have signed NFL veteran Keith Rivers to a deal.
But Durant was the consummate pro during his time here even as he missed two thirds of last season due to injury. He earned a reputation as a playmaker and was even voted team captain by his mates as he began his second year at Valley Ranch.
*We reported Monday afternoon that agent Tom Condon has no face-to-face meeting scheduled with the Joneses regarding client Dez Bryant's cap-compliance-deadline-beating "Cowboys For Life'' deal. This is not a good thing. We will monitor.
We reported on Sunday that the "Tyron Trigger'' would happen before cap-compliance time, 3 p.m. Monday. It's done, and now Dallas has about $9 million of room (with Tyson's $8 mil of space created). In addition to DeMarco, Rolando McClain is a priority and Dallas is touching base there.
*The Cowboys are sitting on the Brandon Carr talks right now, likely to re-explore if/when needed.
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