Cowboys To DeMarco: Shop + Drop - Back To Us

IRVING - The Cowboys have a financial range that they hope will keep DeMarco Murray in Dallas. But they also have explained to him a philosophy that they've developed for the star running back as he enters free agency: Shop yourself ... and then maybe drop yourself back into a Cowboys uniform. The exclusive story for Premium Cowboys fans with help from Stephen Jones:

DeMarco's Future

There has never been an "anti-DeMarco'' philosophy in the Valley Ranch front office. It's "anti-pay-runners'' and it's "anti-break-the-bank'' but it's not "anti-DeMarco.''

"We'd love to keep him in Dallas,'' COO Stephen Jones tells us in an exclusive interview. "(We'll) just see how things play out.''

How might they play out? The Colts or the Titans or the Jets or the Raiders might offer the NFL's leading rusher "market-value'' for a star runner -- the $9-million-a-year sort of deal Murray's agent Pat Dye Jr. has suggested to Dallas, using KC runner Charles as an example.

The Cowboys won't do that. But maybe they will budge from the "4X4'' (four years and $16 mil) reported was offered at midseason. Owner Jerry Jones recently talked of "brackets'' for a deal more than hard numbers.

Which takes us to the Cowboys' policy here, as we know they've explained to Dye and Murray: Shop yourself. Get your best offer elsewhere. More than brackets -- solid numbers.

Said Stephen: "He's probably going to get some peace (of mind) and see what's out in the market and then we'll talk and see. I do believe deep down he'd love to stay in Dallas. We've had some really good football players go into free agency; Novacek and Woodson and, you know, they still signed with the Cowboys.''

That "peace of mind'' mirrors something himself said at season's end.

“I’m not worried about my future,” Murray said. “Just not worried about it right now. Just relax with my family and get away from it for a little bit.”

Murray just turned 27 is and is coming off one of the finest seasons in NFL history, one that made him an MVP finalist. Everyone from Jerry to Stephen to coach Garrett to QB Romo has expressed a desire for him to return. But this is not, contrary what some have written, about the Cowboys "maybe not having the salary cap space to re-sign him.''

This is about Dallas dumping the antiquated idea that running backs lose tread on their tires at age 30; it actually might be more like age 27. The Cowboys are in possession of a study that shows when "standout'' runners turn 28, their yards-per-game production goes down 18 percent ... at 29, down 30 percent ... at 30, down 45 percent ... at 31, down 46 percent ... at 32, down 55 percent.

Maybe other bidders for DeMarco will take stock in those numbers. Maybe they will not. Certainly Dallas will wait and see.

This about Dallas taking it slow ... to let others set the market. Which is why Stephen can honestly answer regarding negotiations to this moment ...


"I would say 'slow,' Jones said of progress, adding that "there is only one franchise tag'' (meaning it's not going to be used on DeMarco). "(But) just because you're a free agent doesn't mean you're not necessarily going to end up back in Dallas.''

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