Not well written, but had to get something out of my mind on Murray. Such a big transition to not say anything.
Free agency, the intensely scrutinized by the media portion anyway, has come and gone. Even though the period technically lasts from the first day of the league year through training camp, the media judge the winners and losers of the entire free agency part of the calendar by the actions of 72 hours. It’s wrong, misleading, and impossible not to watch.
All the headlines and talking heads purport that the Cowboys lost free agency. They’re not listed in the “winners” section of blogs, and more attention is paid to what players left the team instead of the reasons for them leaving. Which is fine, it’s the way the world works. Cowboys fans know that championships aren’t won in free agency. Otherwise, we’d have a lot more Lombardi Trophies than anyone else.
The prevalent line of thought I’ve read and heard regarding DeMarco Murray leaving the Cowboys for Philadelphia has been that the Cowboys have no one to blame for this but themselves. It’s true, the Cowboys can’t blame Murray choosing a division rival who offered more money on a natural disaster or a supernatural creature from another dimension. But I have to say that I’m surprised at how many in the media are 100% sure this is a bad thing for Dallas. By all accounts, Dallas had a number in mind for what they wanted to pay the league’s leading rusher in 2014–both in per year and guaranteed money amounts. They weren’t going to go over that, even if he threatened to switch to a rival. The Eagles, doing who knows what in free agency, were very willing to go over the Cowboys self-imposed spending limit, and added Murray to an increasingly crowded backfield. Jamey Newberg has a litmus test for when a player is considering leaving, or does leave, your team. Picture him in your archrival’s uniform. Are you terrified?
I’m not terrified of seeing DeMarco with eagle wings on his helmet instead of the iconic star. I don’t like it, but it won’t keep me up at night. Going into 2014 the storyline for Cowboys runningbacks was “who is going to pick up for Murray when he gets hurt?” It was an assumption, based on years of evidence. He’s never played healthy for 16 games (he was still hurt in 2014, but was just able to play through it), and it’s hard to assume that he has the injury thing “figured out”. Players rarely get healthier as their careers progress, especially at positions that take beatings like runningbacks. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that the year the Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league is the year Murray doesn’t miss a game. The Eagles also have a really good line (PFF had them as the best run-blocking line in the league last year), but they’re still paying him about 8 million per year. That’s a lot. Not only do I think it’s a gross overpay for a player that is all but guaranteed to regress in production and appearances, it hurts your ability to upgrade or retain players at other positions. Thus, you hurt two (or three) positions on your roster with one mistake. I love me some Chip Kelly, but I’m glad he made this move. I want a front row ticket to their dumpster fire.
Mike Greenberg from ESPN tweeted some tweets implying that Murray was dealt with poorly since Dallas didn’t pay him for his performance last year. They offered him what they felt like his future value equated to, and not what he had already done. That’s an idiotic statement, even from an ESPN front man. Any educated fan knows that you don’t pay a player based on what he did do, as opposed to what he will do. That’s the way the league is run now, and it’s a sound strategy. Sometimes, you’ll see a player excel for another team. Most of the time, though, you’ll see examples of why you didn’t offer that big contract. The team who taught the league this lesson is lauded for doing this time and time again. No one says that the Patriots did Darrelle Revis dirty by not paying him to help them win a Super Bowl. The story on that franchise is that “The Patriot Way” dictates that you set a price on the player and let him go if need be. And they’re praised for it. As it should be. But, the Cowboys, and (to some unknown extent) Jerry Jones take a page from that book, and are criticized. Jerry can’t win. If he gives a huge contract to Murray and it blows up in his face in 2015 or 2016, he’s “Same ol’ Jerry”. But the team tries to turn a new leaf, and are called “losers”.
It’s not fair. I get it. It’s not fair that Murray can’t get paid for his past performance. It’s not fair that he can only live the dream that he has worked so long and hard for a few years, and then for the rest of his life is a “former player”. The dream recedes to the back of his mind as a fuzzy memory. It’s not fair that a player I’ve enjoyed watching leaves for a rival. It’s not fair that after dealing with games without Murray he finally plays in all of them, just to move on down the road. It’s also not fair that a guy who can run really fast gets paid more money than some people make in a lifetime. It’s not fair. But it’s the way the world is, and I have to accept it.
Dallas wants to win, and has decided this is the best way. I understand it. I like it. I just wish that I could have it both ways.