NFC East Notes: Murray, Manning, Eagles

The Cowboys entered the offseason knowing that two of their best players, wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back DeMarco Murray, were unsigned and scheduled to become free agents March 10. Dallas will solve one of those problems, at least temporarily, when it officially places the franchise tag on Bryant on Monday. Doing so will enable the Cowboys to keep Bryant for the 2015 season at approximately $12.8MM. That figure will take a significant portion from the team’s cap space, which will affect Murray, writes the Dallas Morning News’ David Moore. The 27-year-old Murray led all NFL rushers in yards (1,845) and tied for first in touchdowns (13) last season, and he’ll soon test the open market as one of the top skill players available.

“I think DeMarco wants to be in Dallas. We want him here,” said Cowboys COO Stephen Jones, according to Moore.

Regardless of what Dallas wants, it’s tough to envision the club matching any potential mega-offers Murray might receive. Nevertheless, if an enticing offer for Murray to sign elsewhere comes, Jones hopes the four-year veteran gives the Cowboys an opportunity to keep him.

“There’s an expectation that he will get back to us before he signs with another club,” Jones said. “But that would be unfair to him and for other clubs to say he’s going to bring something back.”

While Murray’s time in the NFC East could be on the verge of ending, here’s more from his current division:

  • Dan Graziano of answered fans’ questions in a Twitter mailbag. One of the subjects Graziano touched on was the future of Eli Manning, who is due to count a team-high $19.75MM against the cap in 2015 – the last year of his contract. Per Graziano, if the Giants sign Manning to an extension this offseason, it could save them as much as $11MM on the cap. However, given their sufficient spending space (roughly $25MM) and “no big-money necessities outside of Jason Pierre-Paul,” it might not be necessary. The Giants are “comfortable” with Manning taking up a large chunk of their cap, according to Graziano, and could wait to sign or tag the two-time Super Bowl winner until next year.
  • In a series of pieces highlighting potential free agent targets for the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Geoff Mosher of examined whether the team should have interest in two safeties – Da’Norris Searcy (Bills) and Tyvon Branch (whom the Raiders recently cut) – and Browns linebacker Jabaal Sheard. Frank and Mosher had differing opinions on Searcy, while they both endorsed signing Branch to a short-term deal and expressed no interest in Sheard.
  • Tarik El-Bashir of took a look at possible free agent outside linebacker options for Washington. El-Bashir doesn’t think new general manager Scot McCloughan will pay big money for a free agent OLB, but he could see the team re-signing Brian Orakpo to a “prove-it deal.”
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