Cowboys Never Wanted ‘Romo Money’ to Pay Murray


With Tony Romo’s recent contract restructuring to clear Cowboys’ cap space, one must ask, “Why didn’t they do this sooner?”

It appears the Dallas Cowboys never wanted to keep DeMarco Murray. Sure, they made an offer, but that offer never even approached the financial ballpark DeMarco was looking for. Nope, the Cowboys knew for a very long time DeMarco Murray would be playing elsewhere in 2015, and Tony Romo’s delayed restructuring only reinforces it.

Clues were everywhere dating back to last season. First, DeMarco Murray’s workload was insane in 2014. Murray had 436 carries and 61 receptions (including postseason) totaling 497 offensive touches. It’s hard to get perspective on what kind of wear and tear a player assumes with nearly 500 touches. The biggest thing to consider is that minus the TDs, and a few runs out of bounds, every one of these carries ended with a tackle.

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I’m not sure of anyone who keeps stats on “tackles received” and/or “violent collisions per game”, but I’d be willing to bet if those were tracked, DeMarco would be approaching 750 times hit in 2014. Think about some of those runs. DeMarco is a very violent runner. He looks for contact many times. A sizable chunck of his runs, he was delivering the first hit, not the defense. DeMarco typically powered through the first tackler and was often hit 2 or 3 times before the whistle blew. That is a lot of punishment for one man to take.

With all of those hits in 2014, the Cowboys made absolutely no attempt to alivate the burden and share the workload with his RB brethren. The Cowboys obviously think highly of their depth. They tendered Lance Dunbar for well over $1M and are holding onto Joseph Randle despite his mounting legal troubles.

The Cowboys didn’t need to spare Murray the damage or reduce his snaps because they knew he’d be gone next season. They stuck with him and drove him into the ground. It was clear by the midseason what the Cowboys were doing, and it only became clearer later.

Second, NFL teams operate under a hard salary cap. Managing a cap is a zero sum game using a finite pool of cash. Money has to come from somewhere, and if you pay one man, you can’t pay another. When the Cowboys signed Doug Free to an extension, the writing was on the wall once again. The Cowboys couldn’t afford to spend any more on offense, and needed to start devoting money to the defense. Doug Free solidified the running game for much cheaper than retaining Murray would have cost.

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Finally there’s the Romo contract. Romo was on the books for roughly $27M and the Cowboys were convincing everyone that would listen, they had no intention of changing that number. When free agency was about to open, they made their offer to Murray. They explained this is the amount that we can pay you given our financial situation. All-the-while knowing the financial situation was anything but organic, and could be manipulated at any time.

The Cowboys had too many holes on defense to think they could fill them all on-the-cheap and in the draft. They had to upgrade players and they needed to re-sign players. They knew they would have eventually restructure Tony Romo to do so.

Romo wasn’t asked to restructure earlier because the Cowboys wanted to tell Murray the truth. They wanted to say, “this is all we can afford”, and not lie. They liked Murray. They just wanted Romo’s money to go elsewhere – like to the defense. Players like Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain.

Obviously this restructuring is going to conjure up Adrian Peterson specuation. Rightfully so. Peterson is the best in the NFL and would likely make the Cowboys favorites to win the NFC if he was added. But the Cowboys would still need Peterson to be made available and they would still need his price tag to come down. The Romo move could have waited if this was for Peterson.

Regardless of the Cowboys’ super sneaky plans, one thing is true – they didn’t do it for DeMarco. The writing was on the wall for a very long time. DeMarco was never going to come back to Dallas. It would have had to take a sacrifice from DeMarco to make it happen, not from Romo.

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