Dallas Cowboys

Was DeMarco Murray’s initial free agent strategy flawed?

DeMarco Murray runs past Lions free safety Glover Quin during the Cowboys’ playoff victory in January.
DeMarco Murray runs past Lions free safety Glover Quin during the Cowboys’ playoff victory in January. Star-Telegram

It’s been mostly quiet on the DeMarco Murray free agency front during the past three days of the NFL’s “legal tampering” period. There have been media reports speculating teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars could be big spenders on Murray.

Teams like the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts are also in a position financially to make a strong play for Murray, if they choose.

As far as Murray and the Cowboys, each have stated a desire to keep their partnership in tact. In fact, it’s been reported that Murray is willing to give the Cowboys a chance to match or come close to his top offer.

Murray has stated a desire to play for a contender, and the Cowboys certainly fit the bill. But teams such as the Jaguars or Raiders might be able to convince Murray he is the missing piece that will get them to contender status and pay him accordingly.

But no offers have surfaced yet as far as what teams might be willing to pay for Murray on the open market. And it begs the question of if Murray has approached free agency the wrong way up to this point?

What team, after all, is going to make an offer when they know Murray is essentially going to use that offer against them and allow the Cowboys an opportunity to match it? Put another way, would Jerry Jones exchange numbers with a free agent he knew was hoping to re-sign with his original team?

We all know the answer to that.

So it seems that Murray might be changing course. It’s speculative as of now, but Murray has created a buzz by removing any Cowboys-related mention from his Twitter profile during the middle of the night.

Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it means something. But at this point, one has to wonder whether it’s a sign Murray is ready to move on.

It all reminds me of when Josh Hamilton became a free agent after the 2012 season. Everybody understood his value to the Rangers – he was the franchise’s best player during their best years – and the risk he brought.

Late in the season, Hamilton said he’d circle back with the Rangers once he received an offer to see if they could match it and he’d stay. But that simply is an unrealistic proposition as we’ve seen in any sport’s free agency.

Instead, the Angels made Hamilton a take-it-or-leave-it offer so he couldn’t take it back to the Rangers.

Murray might find himself in a similar situation. No team is going to want a player to use their offer against them.

Murray has question marks, too. The track record isn’t great for running backs the years after they take on the kind of workload he did last season, and last season was the only year he’s stayed healthy throughout.

On top of that, this year’s draft is deep at the running back position and the league in general has been trending towards devaluing running backs in recent years.

So Murray’s free agency remains a curious case and the three-day tampering window did not shed any light on it. That should change as early as this afternoon and in the coming days when teams can officially offer contracts to free agents.

Still, one has to question how Murray has played his cards up to this point.

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