- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys have let it be known they want to sign Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith to long-term contract extensions. They don’t have the same sense of urgency with running back DeMarco Murray.
Murray is entering the final year of his rookie contract, just like Bryant. The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Smith’s deal in the spring for 2015 but want to lock him up before they get to next season.
Just because the Cowboys do not anticipate an extension for Murray does not mean he is not part of their future.
“I think we’ll see kind of how his year goes and go from there,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s the type of player we want on our team. He’s young and he had a good year last year. But I’d imagine that he’s going to have a great year too and I hope he does.”
Murray ran for 1,121 yards last year and was added to the Pro Bowl despite missing two games. He has yet to play a full season, but he is critical to the Cowboys’ success. The Cowboys are 11-0 when he receives 20 or more carries.
But he plays a position that has been de-valued in recent years. The largest free-agent contract signed in the offseason averaged $3.5 million a year. The last time the Cowboys paid a running back big money was Marion Barber, who signed a seven-year deal worth $45 million that included $16 million guaranteed in 2008. The Cowboys cut Barber after the 2010 season.
Jones said contract decisions are made on individual basis, not on how good or bad a deal worked with a player at the same position in the past.
“Running backs, that’s kind of evolved in this league,” Jones said. “It’s tough for running backs to have a lot of longevity. But there’s ones that do. DeMarco is a leader. He takes good care of himself. I think his best football is ahead of him.”