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Murray: Money Won't Be The Only Factor In Free Agency
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones faces a conundrum all too familiar to fantasy football owners in Dynasty and keeper leagues; the difficult issue is keeping high-end talent. ... In this case, the Cowboys face the prospect of both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray becoming unrestricted free agents next month.

Jones has already said Bryant won't be going anywhere, implying that they’d simply use the franchise tag to keep him from reaching free agency. The situation for Murray, however, is more complicated, and Jones admitted as much when discussing the pair last week.

“That’s a big challenge,” Jones said. “You can’t have it all. But on the other hand, you can try to have it all. You have to make sure you’re making the right decisions on who gets the assets, which in this particular case, it’s the room under the salary cap.”

As's Darin Gantt put it, "That’s a subtle way of suggesting that someone’s going to end up with less than they think they deserve."

Gantt went on to point out that's probably going to be Murray, who had an MVP-caliber season, but faces the supply-demand realities many at his position have experienced. And with previous suggestions that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has a future in Dallas, Murray’s the one who’s going to get squeezed.

All that said, Murray doesn't sound like a player with a foot out the Cowboys' door.

"Obviously I think they want me here," Murray told earlier this week. "I want to be here. I think both sides want to be here, so I think we'll see where it goes."

Of course, a long-term deal for Bryant could afford some flexibility when it comes to Murray's deal.

But money won't be the only factor in keeping Murray.

"At the end of the day, it's all about respect, and I think different people show their appreciation in different ways," the star halfback 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 and whatnot like that. I understand my value, so to speak, and I understand what I bring to the table."

Murray also has his eye on a bigger prize.

"It's about winning a Super Bowl," Murray said. "If this place gives me the best chance, I'm going to stay here."

According to's Andrew Brandt, Murray’s strong production may have actually hurt his contract value, with teams more focused on future rather than past performance. Indeed, free-agent running backs with fewer carries may actually procure better contracts.

Remember, Murray shocked the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL, leading with 392 carries for a team-record 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. Murray's previous season high in carries was 217, last season. Murray surpassed Emmitt Smith to become the Cowboys' all-time single-season rusher during Week 17's win over the Redskins.

He showed toughness and durability by playing all 16 games for the first time in his career -- despite undergoing surgery on a fractured bone in his hand the first week of December.

Assuming he returns to the Cowboys, playing behind one of the best offensive lines in recent memory will continue to serve Murray well. And much like Brandt's contention that last season's heavy workload will hurt Murray in free agency, it's equally likely to diminish his fantasy draft value this summer. Perhaps to a point that will allow more risk tolerant owners to cash in. ...

If he moves on?

Then we'll all need to reassess based on his landing spot and the supporting cast surrounding him there. I'll be following up in coming weeks.

For the record, Murray would not say this week whether there have been ongoing negotiations between his agent and the Cowboys. Murray said he would be involved in the talks with the Cowboys or other teams should he not re-sign before free agency begins.