Nothing is imminent, and it’s not clear if negotiations are even underway, but the Cowboys would be open to working out an in-season contract extension with DeMarco Murray, says Ed Werder of ESPN.com (via Twitter). While talks may not get serious until after the season, a deal could be completed earlier than that if the two sides can agree on fair value for the NFL’s current leading rusher.
Murray, 26, is off to his most impressive start yet, leading the league in rushing yards (534), rushing touchdowns (five), and yards from scrimmage (602) through the Cowboys’ first four games. Even if he doesn’t keep up his 2,000-yard pace, the former third-round pick is on track to have another big year after setting career-highs in rushing yards (1,121) and touchdowns (10) en route to a Pro Bowl nod last season.
2014 is the final year of Murray’s rookie deal, and it’ll be interesting to see how he and the Cowboys assess his value. Although running back contracts have been on the decline as of late, no player of Murray’s caliber was available on the free agent market this past offseason. Murray won’t land a massive deal like those once signed by Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, but he could sign the sort of pact that would help rebuild the position’s value. A salary in the range of $7-8MM per year seems about right to me.
As the Cowboys decide whether to work on an extension for Murray sooner rather than later, the team will have to maintain flexibility to lock up another one of its offensive weapons — Dez Bryant is also eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.