Entering his 27th offseason in charge of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones faces one of his career’s biggest challenges in the coming weeks: finding a way to keep Tony Romo‘s two biggest weapons, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys’ owner, president and general manager addressed this glaring issue Sunday with the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota. Dallas operates with a scant $7.4MM of cap room as of Sunday, per OverTheCap.com, and Bryant’s likely franchise tag will hover around the $13MM-per-year figure. As Pro Football Rumors mentioned in January, Murray already balked at Dallas’ four-year offer worth around $16MM — a pay increase from the $1.4MM Murray earned in his dominant fourth season in 2014 but one not on par with the highest-paid running backs in the league.
So as of now, the math is stacked against the Cowboys retaining two of the NFL’s top unrestricted free agents, and Jones knows it after seeing his team go through salary cap turmoil in recent years.
“You remember when that cap makes you poor and you wake up and have those days when you don’t have the money and don’t have the flexibility,” Jones said to Machota. “… If you can revisit how you felt, that will make you a little more prudent about this cap when you have had a lot of years when you really paid the piper.”
Although the mercurial Bryant’s future with the team appears secure after a no-nonsense 16-touchdown campaign in his contract year, a future without Murray, the NFL’s rushing leader with 1,845 yards and new holder of the all-time-touches-in-a-season standard with 499 in 18 games, appears likely for the Cowboys — even with the latest trouble surrounding primary backup Joseph Randle — barring some cap wizardry in the coming weeks.