Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys' impending decision whether or not to resign the NFL's leading rusher from last year, DeMarco Murray. In light of Dez Bryant's most recent reception of the franchise tag, something everyone pretty much knew was going to happen, it would seem the Cowboys have chosen Bryant over Murray. However, the man with his finger on the trigger at the top of the Cowboys pecking order is still named Jerry Jones, so anything is possible.
Conventional wisdom and general consensus seems to lean towards the Cowboys moving on from their newly anointed “star” running back; what with his brittle injury history, his ridiculous over-usage last season, and the devaluation of running backs as commodities in today's NFL, it makes sense, right? Especially given the newly minted “NFL Executive of the Year” Jerry Jones' born again philosophy regarding player personnel: avoiding sentimentality and not doling out huge contracts to one year wonders (cough, Marion Barber). He's a new man, and while he's always put the Cowboys first, it now seems that Jerry Jones finally has accrued the smarts, or put the people in place, to actually get the Cowboys to first.
Let's just keep in mind who we're talking about here. This isn't Bill Belichick trading Logan Mankins or letting Wes Welker go. This is Jerry Jones. This is the same Jerry Jones who this time last year was being fingered by the entire Cowboy nation as the main culprit for the Cowboy's lone playoff win in nearly 20 years. The only GM in the league who has total job security because, guess what? He's his own boss. The same man who fought every person in the draft room until the final seconds to draft Johnny “Anything But Football” Manziel instead of future rookie Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin. The same man who, according to the wonderful article by ESPN the Magazine's Don Van Natta Jr., was quoted after passing on Manziel as saying “I'm... not... happy...” 2014 NFL Executive of the Year, people. Let the good times roll.
Oh what a difference a year makes. A 12-4 season, a division title, and their first playoff win since 2009. All thanks to Jerry Jones, a new man.
Which brings us back to the DeMarco Murray question. To sign, or not to sign? On the one hand, you have an incredibly versatile back who can do everything you ask him to do including catch passes out of the backfield and block in pass protection, who didn't miss a game last year despite playing with a plate in his left hand to secure a broken bone, and who led the NFL last season with 1845 yards, nearly 500 more yards than the next guy. On the other hand, this is also a player who was nearly beaten to a pulp carrying the ball an Eric Dickerson-like 392 times last year (just 24 attempts shy of the NFL record, with well documented fall off after such seasons. See: Larry Johnson), a player who has never completed a full season until last year because of numerous injuries, and a player playing behind arguably one of the NFL's top offensive lines that may be able to make any running back look good.
Difficult choice indeed. Especially with the type of runners likely to be available when the Cowboys pick at #27.
But one thing people don't seem to be taking into consideration is the chance that, just maybe, sentimental Jerry rears his head once again? It seems he's stumbled into another modern day set of triplets. And after the agonizing loss at Green Bay (it was a catch), you don't think Jerry is aching to get the band back together? Relive the old glory days of Troy, Emmitt, and Michael with their new counterparts of Tony, DeMarco, and Dez?
The decision of what to do with DeMarco Murray can be easily argued from both sides, which is what makes it such a challenging one. There is inherent risk in starting with a new back, but there is also risk in retaining the back with an injury history coming off an abusive season. It's a decision that falls on the Dallas Cowboys organization and, ultimately, on the shoulders of Jerry Jones. Which Jerry will show up?