INDIANAPOLIS – Assuming the Cowboys don't change their minds and designate him their franchise player, it stands to reason that DeMarco Murray is going to have his choice of several futures next month.
Murray is expected to be one of the highest-profile free agents in the NFL when the league year begins in March. Unless the Cowboys blow him away with an offer before then, he's going to have several suitors hoping to sign him long-term.
That thought isn't lost on Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones as the team continues to negotiate a deal.
"There are a lot of things we have to evaluate before we make the ultimate decision as to how what our number is going to be with DeMarco versus what some others' number may be," Jones said. "At some point he'll have to make a business decision, which no one will respect more than us."
That plays at the heart of the issue surrounding Murray's next contract. He's the reigning NFL rushing champion by a huge margin, and he has an argument as the league's most complete running back. He also plays a position that's been devalued by a sport that has trended steadily toward the pass over the last 10 or so years.
"It's difficult. He's a great player. He's even, in my opinion, a better man off the field in terms of the way he goes about his business," Jones said. "So all of those things are difficult. As we all know, running back is a difficult position in terms of how these running backs are valued."
None of that is to say the Cowboys won't be in the running for Murray's services – it's just at what cost. In that regard, they've done their due diligence in determining the situation at hand. Murray just turned 27, and he just finished a season that saw him compile just shy of 500 total touches on the year.
"Everything comes into play," Jones said. "What backs historically do, what backs go on and play well after they're 27? Which ones consistently do it from start to finish?"
Murray said a week ago that he thinks both sides would like him to remain in Dallas, but he's not blind to the way the negotiating process works.
"Obviously I think they want me here. I want to be here. It's just finding the … I think, the, you know … just what helps them, what helps me," Murray said last week at an event for Hublot. "Things like that. I think both sides want to be here, so I think we'll see where it goes."
The process is bound to pick up, starting here at the NFL Combine and continuing from there. For his part, Murray reiterated his familiar stance from the season that he feels he can only go upward. That's sure to play a factor in his business decision.
"I feel like I haven't even entered my prime yet," he said. "Like I said, wherever I go next year, I think I'm just getting started and I don't worry about trying to get the most here, trying to get the most there."