As DeMarco Murray continues to rack up big yardage behind the Cowboys’ offensive line, much thought has been given to the team’s future plans at the position. While Murray is in the middle of an extravagant campaign that will put him on the short list for Offensive Player of the Year, he is a free agent after this season and will likely be looking for a long-term contract with guaranteed money.
The team has already made an effort to keep him, offering him a four-year deal earlier this season. The two sides were unable to agree, and Murray has played out the year on his rookie deal.
Murray’s leverage has since been complicated, as the prospect of other high-profile backs hitting the open market became more likely. Seahawks‘ star Marshawn Lynch is a candidate to be released this offseason, despite no signs of immediate decline in his performance in Seattle. He is an older back and carries a price tag that the Seahawks may be unwilling to pay, but could accept a modest deal elsewhere if the right opportunity calls.
Things change quickly, but signs point to this being his final season with the team. A player like Lynch could cut into the team’s need for Murray.
An even better fit could be Adrian Peterson, who has a future similarly in flux with the Vikings. Peterson admitted that he might be better off with a fresh start when he returns to the field following his suspension concerning his legal troubles. Peterson had been linked to the Cowboys before, and now with his tempered value and chance of being released, the connection could come to fruition.
Of the three players, Peterson might actually be the top target this offseason over Murray should he come available. Peterson’s unique talent could vault him to the top of many team’s wish list, as long as they are willing to deal with the off-field controversy.
Peterson may be a top commodity for many teams if he is available, but his counterpart in offseason controversy could be a low-risk high-reward backup plan. Ray Rice‘s play dropped off before being suspended and released by the Ravens, but the lack of clamor for his services could lead him to a team on a short-term deal without guaranteed money. With his fresh legs after the year off, a return to his 2012 form could yield high dividends for his next employer.
If all four of the players are available this offseason, which player would be the best runner for the money, whether with the Cowboys or another team in search of a star halfback?