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Mailbag: What Is DeMarco Murray's Longterm Future?

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JAMES SMITH
DC, DC

Does Caesar Rayford step into a bigger role at defensive end this season?

Rowan: Well, he begins the year on the reserves/futures list. Barring a phenomenal camp, he'll likely be on the practice squad to start the year. He'd need injuries or unfulfilled expectations from the Cowboys' new signings to have a bigger role than he had last season. Remember though that it was his fantastic preseason elsewhere that got him on the Cowboys' roster in the first place. So this is where he could shine.

David: I'm interested to see how he performs having had a year to adjust to playing this scheme, and playing a new position. Remember: he shined for the Colts as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, so he had to transition to being more of a down lineman. The coaching staff clearly thinks they can coax something out of him, or else they wouldn't have kept him around. Whether that means he cracks the defensive in rotation is harder to say. I'm assuming the Cowboys will draft a defensive end with an early pick, which would put at least three or four guys ahead of Rayford on the depth chart. But we'll see if it plays out like that.

JOHN JOHNSON
NORFOLK, VA

Do you think that if DeMarco Murray has another 1,000 yard season that he will be considered our franchise running back?

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Rowan: I think they're going to try to get him extended at least a year before that ends up happening. But if you're asking if another 1,000-yard year means a long term extension, it's just too early to tell. It has to do with their cap situation, obviously, and second contracts on running backs are harder to guarantee these days with the amount of wear and tear on their bodies and the amount of them available. If I had to guess, this isn't Murray's last year in Dallas. If the Cowboys draft a running back early, though, that tune will change.

David: It's got to be encouraging for the Cowboys that the running back market isn't exactly booming in free agency this year. In the modern NFL, you just aren't seeing running backs getting a boatload of money. With that in mind, I think they might be able to hold on to Murray for a reasonable fee, even if he does have another big year in 2014. It might not hurt to work out a deal before the season, though, before he has a chance to increase his maximum value. If the Cowboys can secure his services without breaking the bank, it seems like a good idea.  

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