Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray will head into free agency in three weeks with the same mindset he had carrying the football for a team-record 1,845 yards in 2014.
He’s patient, focused and determined.
Murray wants to be rewarded with a big payday.
But his main focus will be finding a place that gives him the best chance to win a Super Bowl, whether that’s in Dallas or somewhere else.
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“It’s not about the yards for me,” Murray said before a dinner Tuesday at Boardwalk Ferrari. “It’s about winning a Super Bowl. If this place gives me the best chance I’m going to stay here. Winning a Super Bowl means more than anything.”
The Cowboys have exclusive negotiating rights with Murray until March 7, when he can begin talking to other teams. He can’t sign a deal elsewhere until March 10.
Murray is coming off the finest individual season by a running back in franchise history. The Cowboys want to bring him back, but they have decided that re-signing receiver Dez Bryant, also an unrestricted free agent, is a bigger priority and hope to work Murray in on a budget.
Murray understands the process, but there is no stress. He’s gliding into free agency and is ready to dart through whatever hole opens up.
“No, not at all. It’s just not [stressful],” Murray said. “I feel like whatever the case may be, if I’m here, I think it’s going be a great situation. If it’s going to be somewhere else it’s going to be a great situation. Obviously I think they want me here. I want to be here. It’s just ... what helps them, what helps me. Things like that. I think both sides want to be here, so I think we’ll see where it goes.”
Murray said he plans to be a big part of the negotiations with the Cowboys or anyone else. He has heard the talk of the Cowboys not wanting to pay top dollar. He has heard the talk of the diminishing value of running backs.
He understands why people believe he should maximize his value on the free agent market because this might be his last chance at a lucrative contract. He turns 27 on Thursday.
“I’m very patient, so ... if that’s the process I have to go through then that’s the process I have to go through,” Murray said. “I think you hear that a lot. Everyone’s talking about the devaluing of a running back and he’s blah, blah, blah. I’m 26 and I feel like I haven’t even entered my prime yet. … 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. Obviously it has to be the right opportunity, the right team for me, and like I said since Day One, my goal is to simply win a championship.”
Murray also doesn’t buy the talk that anyone can be successful behind the Cowboys’ dominant offensive line.
“I mean, at the end of the day it’s all about respect, and I think different people show their appreciation in different ways,” Murray said. “I don’t need a pat on the back. I don’t need someone telling me how good I am on a constant basis. I understand my value, so to speak, and I understand what I bring to the table.”
Murray wants to be in Dallas, but he also sounds like a man who is at peace with whatever happens in free agency. He said he has great relationships with his Cowboys teammates and that won’t change no matter where he ends up.
“Those are my guys,” Murray said. “Like I said, I made it clear to everyone if I’m not here next year, Romo will be my guy, [Jason Witten] will be my guy, [Dez Bryant] will be my guy. Jason will always be a great [friend]. The Joneses will always be great friends. Just great people in my life. There’s no hard feelings.”
Kiffin won’t return
Monte Kiffin’s tenure with the Dallas Cowboys has ended, sources confirmed Tuesday.
Kiffin spent last season as the Cowboys’ assistant head coach/defense and was not expected to return in 2015. He was replaced as defensive coordinator by Rod Marinelli after the Cowboys had the third-worst defense in NFL history in 2013.
His contract expired after the 2014 season.
Although a source said Kiffin hopes to continue coaching, this could signal the end of a long, successful career. Kiffin, who turns 75 later this month, did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Kiffin joined the organization before the 2013 season after spending the previous four seasons in the college ranks. He is best known for his 13 years (1996-2008) as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator and being the architect of the Tampa 2 defense. The Bucs went to the postseason seven times while Kiffin was with them and won Super Bowl XXXVII after the 2002 season.
Kiffin joins Bill Callahan as the only coaches who won’t return to the Cowboys’ staff next season. Callahan left to join the Washington Redskins this off-season.
The Cowboys added an assistant offensive line coach on Tuesday, with a source confirming they have hired Steve Loney. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema first tweeted the news.
Loney spent six seasons as the offensive line coach in St. Louis from 2008-11 and in Tampa Bay from 2012-13 before serving as a consultant with the Razorbacks last season.
Loney is also familiar with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. The two worked together for three years when Linehan was calling offensive plays in Minnesota.
The Cowboys promoted Frank Pollack to offensive line coach when Callahan left.
Staff writer Charean Williams contributed to this report.