The Dallas Cowboys have a conundrum: which of their two star offensive players should they keep, DeMarco Murray or Dez Bryant?
The answer has become more clear. The Cowboys are expected to give Bryant the franchise tag on Monday and are expected to let DeMaro Murray leave and test Free Agency. Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones confirmed to FOX Sports Southwest that the team expects to apply the franchise tag to wide receiver Dez Bryant by Monday’s deadline.
This is a ringing endorsement for Dez considering how much the star wide receiver has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons.
1. Bryant Has Been 1 of the NFL’s Most Consistent Wide Receivers in the Last 3 Seasons
In 2012, Dez Bryant entered the NFL’s “elite” wide receiver group and finally put it all together. In his last three seasons, Bryant has averaged no less than 88 receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2014, he set a career-high in touchdowns with 16.
Bryant is as valuable to the offense as his teammates Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray were. Considering the offensive line is filled with former 1st-round draft selections and Pro Bowlers, it makes sense to invest the money on the outside as opposed to in the backfield.
2. The Cowboys May Only Have $10 Million in Cap Space
According to the Cowboys salary figures on Spotrac.com, their projected salary cap total should come between $130-135 million, depending on roster cuts that could be made between now and Free Agency — this doesn’t include the likely salary cap space the team will need to reserve for May’s NFL Draft.
3. The Franchise Tag for a Wide Receiver in 2014 Was $12 Million
Last year’s franchise tag figure for a wide receiver was $12.312 million. That number will likely stay around the same figure for 2015.
Assuming the franchise tag figure does not go up dramatically, the Cowboys will most likely to be able to pay Dez and remain under the salary cap.
4. The Cowboys Also Need to Reconfigure the Rest of the Roster
The Dallas Cowboys lost Sean Lee, their best defensive player, early in July for the entire 2014 season. Despite his loss, reclamation project Rolando McClain stepped in, did not skip a beat, and helped the Cowboys defense finish respectable enough to complement their elite offense and finish 12-4 and win the NFC East.
Jerry Jones has done an excellent job rebuilding the offensive line and replenishing skill-position players (Terrance Williams for Miles Austin), but, now, he has to target the defense should the Cowboys want to remain consistent. Their highest-paid defensive player is Brandon Carr and the highest draft selection on defense is Morris Claiborne, and neither was a difference-maker in 2014. The Cowboys should target defense early and often in the Draft. This, once again, does not make DeMarco Murray a priority.
5. Dez Has Had Controversy Surrounding Him in the Past Week
Incidents that Bryant has been in the news this week for include:
– A Wal-Mart tape that may not even exist, although Adam Schefter says it does.
– A 2011 incident in a Wal-Mart parking lot involving his girlfriend.
– A 2012 incident at home involving a fight between his uncle and mother.
It has not been a good week, but those incidents occurred years ago and Dez has since changed and cleaned up his act.