Recent reports have suggested that the Cowboys are open to the idea of extending running back DeMarco Murray‘s contract during the 2014 season, and in fact have begun negotiating a potential deal with his representatives. However, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the sense is that an in-season extension for Murray is unlikely, since the league’s leading rusher has too much leverage for the sort of team-friendly deal the Cowboys would be seeking.
It’s not hard to see why Murray’s leverage has increased significantly over the last two months. The 26-year-old has piled up 913 rushing yards during the season’s first seven weeks, surpassing the 100-yard barrier in each of Dallas’ first seven contests and averaging a touchdown per game. His current pace has him on track for 2,087 rushing yards, which would be one of the best seasons for a back in NFL history, particularly during an era when the game is more pass-heavy than ever.
Of course, in addition to leading the league in rushing yardage, Murray has also racked up the most carries by a wide margin, and there should be some concern about his long-term durability if he keeps getting the ball at this rate. He’s presently on pace for 427 carries, which would be an NFL record and is virtually unheard of for a modern-day running back. In 2013, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch were the only backs to crack 300 attempts, with McCoy leading the way at 314.
Considering Murray has had some health problems throughout his rookie contract, having never played more than 14 games in a season, it makes sense that the Cowboys would be wary of making a huge offer at this point. If Murray isn’t willing to accept a more team-friendly contract, which he probably shouldn’t, then it seems reasonable for the two sides to postpone serious negotiations until after the season. Assuming Murray continues on his MVP-caliber pace, he won’t come cheaply for Dallas at that point, but at least the team would know with more certainty what sort of state he’d be in for the 2015 season.