Cowboys Dez OR DeMarco? No, Not How It Works

IRVING - The question was posed, innocently, in a way that is kind of a bear trap. 'Jerry, can the Cowboys sign both Dez and DeMarco?' This is 'Have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife?' territory, and owner Jones botched his answer. We're here to help guide him, and you, away from the loaded question.


It comes from the family of "Logical Fallacies,'' and it's called a "loaded question." It's designed as a conversational trick, a way to win a debate, and is recognized most famously by this example:

"Have you stopped beating your wife?"

That is indeed loaded. There is a false presupposition (that you've beaten your wife), there is complexity (because it appears to be one yes/no question when it fact it is several questions meriting several answers), and it is in the form of the "Excluded Middle'' (as it presents only the most black-and-white options).

"Have I stopped beating my wife? I mean, no ... I mean, yes, but ... I mean, I'm not even married to her!''


Jerry Jones loves the sound of his own voice and his reputation as "accessible'' and they can be among the man's charms. But a few days ago he allowed himself (again, due to an innocent questioner who is probably unaware of the conversational tricks he unloaded on the owner) to stumble into "Have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife?" territory.

"Hey, Jerry,'' a reporter asked the owner after the Garrett/Linehan/Marinelli press-conference announcement at Valley Ranch (and I'll paraphrase), "Can the Cowboys sign both Dez and DeMarco?''

“Let me put it like this: It’s going to be a challenge,” Jones said of re-upping both of Dallas’ biggest-name free agents. “But is it — you use the word `financially reasonable’? No. Is it possible? Yes.”

Jones did his a-geein'-and-a-hawin' best to be honest and to boil this complex/loaded question down to a simple yes-or-no question.

But it is not at all simple. It is complex. Nevertheless, the horses were out of the barn, and away they galloped.

*From the Associated Press: "The question of DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant staying in Dallas could end up a tough choice between the NFL rushing leader or the league’s highest-scoring receiver.''

*From USA Today: "The Cowboys must choose between DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant.''

*From The Dallas Morning News: "Can the Cowboys afford to bring back both players?''

If you understand the finances and if you understand the Dallas Cowboys' desire to maintain its talent base while maintaining finance responsibility and financial flexibility ... you understand what is about to happen here.

This isn't "Dez vs. DeMarco.'' There are 53-plus puzzle pieces to fit into a 2015 salary cap (expected to be around $145 mil) but Dez and DeMarco are two separate entities. It's a logical fallacy to think they are pitted against each other, or that it's either/or, or that it's black-and-white.

The Cowboys can absolutely afford both players. Not only that, they could "afford'' to make both Bryant and Murray the highest-paid players at their positions. (See "Fish's Cowboys Salary-Cap Primer'' for more ... and you see that there is the potential for $49 million of room, meaning they "can'' do ANYTHING).


But "could'' isn't "will.'' And "can'' isn't "should.'' And one more thing: The plan -- which features the retention of Dez with an eventually "Cowboy For Life'' deal and also features some acceptance that Murray's desire for a market-value contract figures to see him in another uniform next year -- isn't a "vote'' for one and an "indictment'' of the other.

Coach Jason Garrett raves about both. Wishes both to be back. Says in general, “We want to do everything we can to keep this group together, help this group get better and take that next step.'' And then says specifically of their makeup:

“They were talking about Derek Jeter, and (John) Madden said `Jeter is one of those guys who you pick first and decide what game you’re playing next,”‘ Garrett said. “I think about that really every day. That’s a really important concept for our organization — the idea that you want these guys here, whether they’re coaches, players.”

DeMarco is that guy. But Dallas' ballpark for his salary fit is in the $4-mil-a-year range and that's half what (in some previous years, anyway) someone else might bid. (Regarding what back in October we started reporting in this space as a "4X4'' offer: It's since been misreported as a "standing offer'' that is "on the table,'' or an offer that's been jacked up this week to four years and $17 mil. None of that is necessarily true, but rather adaptations and bastardizations of the original 4X4 story.)

So DeMarco will hit the market. Hey, maybe the Raiders or the Jets or whomever will decide that running backs aren't worth $8 mil anymore. (See our study of what Dallas is doing with DeMarco here for more info.) Maybe the market will be dry and Dallas will get lucky.

But the Cowboys aren't planning on that.

They are planning on Bryant, though. Dallas can use the franchise tag at about $12 mil to lock Dez in (an idea neither side loves) and then begin to negotiate a long-term deal with Bryant. That is the "financially reasonable'' thing to do, and it, along with not overspending on DeMarco, follows the path of a watershed moment in Cowboys front-office history when last year Jones reluctantly parted ways with all-time great DeMarcus Ware.

Historically, Jerry "gets what he wants'' by spending for it. Increasingly, he and the franchise get what they want and need by saving on it.

“You remember when that cap makes you 'poor' and you wake up and have those days when you don’t have the money and don’t have the flexibility,” Jones said reflectively. “That dream was out the window, and there you were paying the bills on it.”


That's a smarter way for Jerry to explain what is about to happen with Dez and DeMarco than allowing him to step into this logical-fallacy quicksand. The good news is that while what Jerry is saying isn't always clear, there is clarity in what the Cowboys are planning to do.

Blame Game

The Cowboys have effectively put "The Overturn'' behind them. Heck, they don't even want an apology, Jerry Jones noting, “There’s no consolation. … That’s just a little bit like throwing dirt in your face, or salt on your wound.''

No dirt. No salt. No blaming of the refs for the Dez non-catch call. Blame the Cowboys, because that's who they blame for the 26-21 loss in Ice Bowl II. ... and the Cowboys franchise will be better, stronger, for having done so. We explain here.

Tips, Tendencies and Tells

Do we know what the Cowboys will do in the draft about 100 days from now? Yes, we do, in a sense, based on what we've discovered in "The Cowboys Draft: 6 Tendencies And Tells.'' Fascinating work by KD here.

Romo recap

"I just believe it so much in my heart that Tony Romo's greatest traits are his physical and mental toughness," coach Jason Garrett said. "All the great players in this league have those traits. Tony certainly exhibits them week-in and week-out. ... he's just a helluva football player.''


Review Tony Romo's milestones in 2014 - living up to his "best version of myself'' prediction -- here on

Pro Bowl update

Jason Witten will receive the honor of playing in his 10th Pro Bowl. Dez Bryant has received the honor but will decline to play in this Sunday's game in Arizona, with what we'll call a "disinterested groin.''

Witten was added to the Pro Bowl roster on Sunday after Denver’s Julius Thomas pulled out. Bryant declining means Green Bay’s Randall Cobb will step in.

Bryant, entering free agency, is likely taking a play-it-safe measure here. Meanwhile, teammate DeMarco Murray, also a free-agent-to-be, is expected to play and is one of the team captains chosen by the NFL. (He's also engaged to be married, reports his sweetheart, actress Heidi Mueller is announcing. Also expected to participate for Dallas -- in the Pro Bowl, if not the wedding -- are Tony Romo, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith and late add L.P. Ladouceur, the long-snapper.

Witten’s 10th selection ties him in Cowboys history with Hall-of-Famers Mel Renfro and Larry Allen. Bob Lilly leads all players in franchise history with 11 Pro Bowl trips.

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