Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Dallas Cowboys Give DeMarco Murray an Extension?


Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball as Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) attempts to make the tackle in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As recently reported by DCNation, Bryan Broaddus mentioned a few weeks ago that the Cowboys were quietly discussing a contract extension for DeMarco Murray. Very little has been heard since then but the DeMarco Murray situation continues to be a cause for concern to many. Some are concerned the Cowboys will let a talented RB like Murray get away for nothing while others are concerned the Cowboys will pay an injury-prone RB like Murray too much.

Whichever side of the fence you are on (or if you’re uncomfortably straddling the fence) how the Cowboys handle DeMarco Murray is an interesting storyline to follow. So the question we ask today is, Should the Dallas Cowboys give DeMarco Murray and extension?

DeMarco Murray’s value is a difficult appraisal to make. Nearly every complement paid to Murray seems to require a “but”.

DeMarco Murray is a star. He posted career numbers last season rushing 217 times for 1,121 yards averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He even caught 53 passes for 350 yards averaging 6.6 yards per catch. Combined he scored 10 TDs in 2013. He’s getting better and better.

But…

DeMarco Murray is injury prone. He has missed valuable time every season he’s been in the league. He’s never been used as workhorse and gives no indication he can successfully carry the full load without increased injury. He’s streaky. One game he will be a game-breaker and an unstoppable force, other games he will be completely irrelevant.

Fair or unfair, DeMarco Murray cannot escape those “buts”. And those “buts” are exactly what is standing in the way of a possible contract extension. This much is true, ability alone says Murray is an every-down back. He can break off a long run, break tackles in the back field or open field, pass-block, and catch passes. His short yardage running isn’t great but that’s more a product of poor run-blocking than anything. How many backs in the NFL can do all of that?

Not many.

But the durability needs to be considered, doesn’t it? Is it worth it to pay him $5M a season to only play 13 games?  He averaged 15 carries per game last season. Can he handle more than 15 carries or will that just lead to more injuries?

If the answer was clear we wouldn’t need to debate this.

What do you think? Should the Cowboys extend Murray or not? Is he replaceable or irreplaceable? If he’s an underutilized weapon would he be worth a big-money extension if the Cowboys once again failed to use him enough?

The next couple days we will look at the Running Back Situation in Dallas. We will look at DeMarco and the RBs behind him on the depth chart. We will look at it from a Salary Cap perspective and a talent perspective.

Later today: Is DeMarco Murray Really Injury Prone?

Tuesday: Smart Business: Extending RBs?

Wednesday: The Dallas Cowboys RB Depth Chart

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Sport DFW on twitter @TheRealSportDFW Check out more of Reid’s articles here: http://sportdfw.com/author/reidhanson/

Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray

  • Gregory Isaac

    Let’s be fair you also have to look at the play calling. Murray has been a bery productive back although injury prone, when given the opportunities he has been a good back for our team.

  • Old Frog

    Depends on the deal. $3 million a year is a good deal; $5 million is probably too much.

    • Reid Hanson

      I agree. I think you hit the nail on the head. That’s the money I have in mind too. If he commits to the lower amount, his possible reward outweighs his risk to me. I just don’t see him settling for that lower number though. But I see most RBs as replaceable parts (tomorrow’s article) and think you should always replace them. Unless of course you get a deal, or his name is Adrian Peterson that is…

  • SmartThinking

    I think Dallas should peg his, and all players’ incentives, to a graduated performance schedule. The more negotiated levels he makes the more he’s paid.

    In Murray’s case, a few should be a) playing in 16 games; b) reaching 1,000 yards; c) surpassing 1,000 yards; d) making the playoffs and, e) making the Pro Bowl.

    I’m for telling these guys, ” you tell me you’re elite. Prove it!”

    • Reid Hanson

      But that would make too much sense! You and I are graded on our work performance and then, often times, compensated accordingly. I think we can all say we work harder when compensation is linked to actual performance rather than just a guaranteed rate.

  • Scott.

    If they will commit to offensive line and sure it up with a strong offensive guard then yes he’s worth it. If not no. Your only as strong at rb position as you are on oline.

    • Reid Hanson

      But then if the O-line is built into a dominant force why would we need Murray at all? I say Invest in the O-line and restock RB with cheap draft picks. I’m largely dedicating this week to the RB situation in Dallas and you have just come up with one excellent solution, Scott.

      • SmartThinking

        It’s easy to say, “Give Murray the chop and move onto someone cheaper.” But, when do you cut the man? When his performance reaches it’s peak? Who’s to say he won’t have two or three peak years more? So you sell a Pro Bowl back for chump change because he wants more money or he sits out three games with an injury?

        My point is, it’s hard to know when to dump a productive player and using the logic of, “when he wants more money, sell him to someone else,” is a foolhardy approach which has lost this team the likes of Ware, Hatcher, Ratliff, etc.

        I’d rather use a carrot than a stick in my approach to compensating players. If Murray tells me he’s great, I say, “prove it.”! And I’ll pay you if you can reach these agreed-upon metrics. Otherwise, or, until you do, here’s what you’ll make.

        This is the logic the Dallas brain trust has used with Melton. And I believe it has merit with every Dallas player on the team currently and whomever will be drafted here on in.

        Cream rises to the top. And if you want the cream to rise faster, just show players who already have the talent how they can get even more money for doing what they already do better than anybody else.

        • Reid Hanson

          Your pay for performance compensation structure would certainly solve problems but it’s extremely unrealistic in most cases. Why would DeMarco Murray ever want to assume the risk of “possible” money if he can find another team willing to offer guaranteed money? Unless he suffers a major injury and/or misses more than 2-3 games, he will command guaranteed money on the open market. RBs in particular have very short careers and the 2nd contract is their one chance to build a nest egg for the rest of their life. They aren’t likely to gamble it.
          The reason the Cowboys signed Melton to that deal was because of injury and personal ties to Marinelli. Yesterday I wrote about most top RBs are injury prone to a degree and 2-3 games missed is just par for the course. If Murray misses in the 2-3 range he’s going to get paid well and will not need to settle like Melton did.
          This morning I just posted a very general strategy on avoiding contract extensions for RBs. That doesn’t necessarily mean to trade Murray or to let him walk free in 2015. I have yet to say what I would actually do for DeMarco Murray but plan to later in the week after more discussion.
          As for the other players you mentioned – different positions have different life expectancies. But rarely is it smart business to extend a player to a sizable deal when he’s in his 30′s. Because we don’t have the compensation structure you spoke of, teams must try to predict what a player will produce and commit to pay that in advance. The Cowboys have been terrible at predicting what their players will produce

          • SmartThinking

            There’s nothing unrealistic about structuring compensation to performance. If Murray doesn’t like it, he’ll move along without the Dallas braintrust rubbing his nose in it.

            I don’t care one whit what your rationale is for why Melton signed. Or, for who motivated him to come to Dallas. He signed. And a graduated performance compensation metric was put in place for him to meet … or not. So I know for a fact my performance/compensation metric idea is justifiable.

            The very nature of professional football management is changing before our eyes, assuming you open yours and see it. More and more teams, Dallas is Exhibit A, are moving to a performance for compensation paradigm.

            If Melton makes the metrics, he’ll grow rich as a result of his performance. If he fails, he move on … or out.

            I guarantee you there are more football GM’s watching to see the outcome so they can apply those metrics inside their own team structures.

            The days of big Jones paying millions to marginal players is over. Even Jones sees the writing on the wall. Most, or at the very least, many other teams are just as hard-pressed financially as Dallas and can’t wait to see how this expirament works out.

            One thing’s for sure. There are a whole lot more very good and pretty good players eagerly waiting in the wings, and even more coming up through the draft, all of whom are drooling at the thought that if Melton fails, that’ll just create more opportunities for them to succeed in his place.

          • Reid Hanson

            The rationale that you don’t care about is the most important factor in the equation. A player needs a reason to risk guaranteed money for the possibility of more. Melton’s contract is fantastic and I applauded to move but it is under a unique set of circumstances that cannot be ignored.

            I’m glad you came around and noticed the tide changing in Dallas as they start tightening the purse strings and stop paying huge amounts to marginal players. you weren’t a believer 3 weeks ago when you said this (“There’s no “era” here. At least not yet. All we’ve got so far are a couple of decent contracts offered to decent players. This is nothing special on any other team. And certainly no era. Dial back the sensational headlines and let’s wait and see what nonsense big Jones serves up next”) in response to my praise of Melton’s contract and my decree that the Cowboys are entering and era of fiscal responsibility

            As for the trend in the NFL, it’s trending the opposite direction just like all professional sports have been. The guaranteed money is growing every year and players are getting more protection from injuries and underperforming years.

          • SmartThinking

            The “era” you refer to is league wide. Not yet fully in place in Dallas. So let’s be specific with our quotes, shall we?

            With the exception of Melton’s contract based on performance, which should be the norm for all contracts moving forward, Dallas has yet to make the leap which I suggest. Certainly not use it as a guideline in dealing with other players who’ve proved themselves and are willing to place their professional performance on the line as proof they can walk the walk.

            Of course, if you had the way you’re suggesting, well, hell, it’d just be easier to cut them all after their rookie contract is up.

          • Reid Hanson

            I was speaking directly to the Cowboys as were you. The fact that you won’t even let yourself change your mind says we should end this conversation also. Ideally people can come to the comments to discuss things and learn from one another rather than just talk at people. Let’s just end this now. If you want to get the last word in feel free but its not getting us anywhere.