Jerry Jones acknowledged that the Dallas Cowboys likely can’t afford to keep both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray going forward.
Bryant and Murray are set to become free agents and are in line for hefty raises. Jones has said the organization would use the franchise tag on Bryant if the sides aren’t able to reach a long-term deal, while Murray is expected to find a more lucrative deal elsewhere.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “Is it financially reasonable? No. Is it possible? Yes. But if you just look at it from the standpoint of dollars and cents it probably doesn’t look reasonable.
“At the end of the day, you do realize it’s going to be costly to have one or the other.”
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Bryant is coming off another impressive season, setting a franchise-record with 16 touchdown catches. He also totaled 88 receptions and 1,320 yards, earning his second Pro Bowl trip.
There’s no question Bryant has established himself as an elite receiver in the league, and wants to get compensated as one of the top three. That comes with a starting point of roughly $13 million annually with $30 million guaranteed.
Murray, meanwhile, should be in line to be among the top-paid running backs. He led the NFL and set the Cowboys’ single-season rushing record with 1,845 yards, and was named a Pro Bowl captain Thursday.
The only thing going against Murray was the workload he took on, carrying the ball a league-high 392 times. Running backs have been known to have a sharp decline when taking on that kind of load.
But the Cowboys have yet to reach a deal with either, although Jones said they’re ready to get back into negotiations. Until Bryant and Murray officially become free agents in March, the Cowboys have exclusive rights to negotiate with them.
“We can talk to them anytime,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on our roster to be trite. So there’s no reason not to start now and not to have been started. We should have a little hay in the barn workwise already.”
Jones was named executive of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association on Thursday, the first time he’s received that distinction.
Jones was lauded for his work in building a 12-4 team that won the NFC East. He did particularly well in last year’s draft, passing on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for Notre Dame lineman Zack Martin, who earned a Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro honors as a rookie. He also talked Rolando McClain out of retirement, and signed veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who led the team with six sacks.
“I can’t tell you what an honor it is for that group to do that,” Jones said. “Obviously, I’ve had a lot of criticism over the years from that group in the area that we’re talking about. I had somebody ask me, ‘Well, do you feel like you showed [them] or do you feel vindicated or what have you?
“Well, the group was right in the criticism. What really came to play this year as much as any time, was standing on the shoulders of [executive vice president Stephen Jones], standing on the shoulders of [assistant director player personnel Will McClay], standing on the shoulders of a great staff. ... I know this is an old cliche, but that recognition really is for this organization.”
O-line coaching shuffle
Bill Callahan is heading to Washington to be its offensive line coach, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Thursday. But the Cowboys looked internally to fill that void.
Scott Linehan took over the “offensive coordinator” title that Callahan had the past two years, and assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack is being promoted to offensive line coach.
“He’s a really good communicator, he’s got command of the room, he’s got command of the field,” Garrett said of Pollack. “He has tremendous credibility with the players. They listen to him, they try what he’s asking them to do. He’s just been a really good coach for us.”
The Cowboys will still have an assistant line coach, too, and former tackle Marc Colombo is a candidate to fill that role. Colombo spent the past season working in the Cowboys’ personnel department.
The Cowboys signed free agent tackles R.J. Dill and Ryan Miller to the reserve/future list.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760