When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff looks at the scenario that would keep DeMarco Murray on the team for years to come.
18) What does DeMarco Murray have to do to prove he's the long-term RB option?
Rowan Kavner –* *The obvious key for DeMarco Murray to prove he's worthy of a long-term deal is to demonstrate he can stay healthy for 16 games. Murray rushed for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging a tick more than five yards per carry, and he did that all while missing two games. Imagine what he could have done with another two performances. With the addition of Zack Martin, the offensive line should be an even more solid group. The longevity of running backs in the league isn't particularly great, so for the Cowboys to trust that Murray's worth a long-term deal, he needs to prove he's got more left in the tank and not too much wear and tear. That, and he should be able to put up at least another 1,100-yard season, which shouldn't be an issue for him if he can play all 16 games for the first time in his career.
David Helman: Firstly, I think he needs to play. Last season was Murray's healthiest to date, and he still missed two games. To date, he has played in 37 of a possible 48 games during his career. By contrast, Adrian Peterson has appeared in 103 of a possible 112 games in seven regular seasons. LeSean McCoy has played in 74 of a possible 80 regular season games in five seasons. Matt Forte has played in 91 of a possible 96 games in six regular seasons. Even though running back is a physically demanding position, longterm longevity is possible. Another season with 13 or more games would prove plenty about Murray's durability. On top of that, I think he needs to be willing to play ball – so to speak. Even if Murray chalks up another 1,000-yard effort in 2014, I don't know how big of a deal he could conceivably get. The position just hasn't been valued that highly in the past few years. If Murray is going to be with the Cowboys longterm, he needs to prove he can stay healthy – but he also needs to agree to a more modest fee for his services. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: More than just specific numbers, he's got to prove he can be healthy throughout the entire season. That's not easy for any running back, but with his track record and injury history, it's a must for Murray right now. Even the nagging injuries that cause him to miss some practice or a few starts, will still make it hard to financially commit to him long-term. As for stats, Murray needs to be better than last year. I think rushing for about 1,200 yards and maybe 400 or so more as a receiver will help keep Murray among the Top 10 of NFL backs and possibly get him back to the Pro Bowl for a second straight year. But for him, he's got to be injury-free and on the verge of elite for the Cowboys to even think about extending him.
Bryan Broaddus: This might sound completely unfair to DeMarco Murray but regardless of what he does in 2014, it will most likely not get this front office to pay him what he believes he is worth. What Murray is dealing with here is history and this history is fresh on the mind of this front office that sank a large amount of money into Marion Barber, than watched him become less and less effective in each carry he got. It's not that the front office doesn't appreciate Murray, but it's the new way that business is done in the NFL with these running backs and extensions. I believe the Cowboys have a number in mind that they are comfortable with and are more than willing to offer but need convince Murray that is the best they can do. I believe that this is one of those deals that will be on Cowboys terms because if not, they would just move on.