REGARDLESS OF who you are, there's a pretty good chance that there is more than one somebody out there who can find something bad to say about you. At least one of those somebodies is likely a co-worker, or a boss, or an underling. That's just the way personalities and skill sets work. Now, imagine if a reporter offered one of those somebodies a chance to say something about you in print without requiring that somebody to put his or her name by it.
It's a thought worth considering as we share the latest drop of information that has dripped onto our faces in the ongoing water torture known as Days of DeMarco's Life. In a piece for the NFL Network, national reporter Albert Breer cites one of DeMarco Murray's "former co-workers" as saying, "The guy is a pro in his preparation and toughness and competitiveness. But he's also entitled, selfish and condescending. He's a great 'team' guy when he's the guy."
First and foremost, this assessment is nothing new, because the national press has been telling us for at least five years that all millenials are entitled, selfish and condescending. The co-worker might have been working on a think piece for Time. Second, the three negative traits ascribed to Murray don't really seem to have much correlation with a player's ability to matriculate a football down the field. You don't pay a player to make you feel good about yourself - they've got books for that - you pay him to help you win. Joique Bell has a reputation as one of the most good-hearted, selfless players in the NFL. I still wouldn't give him the ball on third-and-1 (the Lions clearly disagree).
Therein lies the actual relevance of any potential aversion on the part of the Cowboys to a reunion with their former co-worker/employee. The team decided last year that Murray's on-field production was not worth what the Eagles were willing to pay him. That's why they didn't match what the Eagles offered, and despite Dallas' 4-10 record and lack of name-brand ballcarriers, Jerry Jones hasn't seen much to make him think that he made a mistake in his valuation.
Let's keep in mind that Dallas is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season with three running-back fumbles in 320-plus carries. Last year, Murray averaged 4.7 yards per carry with six fumbles in 392 carries. Murray is clearly a better fit for Dallas' scheme than he is for Chip Kelly's shotgun-based zone-read system, but there isn't much evidence to suggest that the Cowboys would be a better team with Murray and the negative $8 million in cap space that he will cost in 2016.
In other words, it doesn't really matter what a member of the Cowboys says anonymously about Murray, because the market has already spoken. The Cowboys already decided that Murray was not worth $8 million in 2016. Granted, markets are fluid, and valuations can change from one year to the next, but seeing as though the Cowboys arrived at their valuation of Murray in the wake of his best season as a pro, it's hard to see how that valuation would suddenly increase now that Murray is another year older and coming off his worst season as a pro.
If he wasn't worth $8 million to them then, why would he be worth $8 million to them now?
This is why I wrote earlier in the week that the Eagles and Murray are stuck with each other, regardless of the seemingly mutual feeling that they'd be better off seeing other people. We've already established that it would be ludicrous for the Eagles to cut him, since it would cost $5 million less against the cap to keep him on the roster. I suppose Murray could spend the offseason doing situps in his driveway in an attempt to increase the palatability of such a waste of resources, but I don't think we can project that type of carnival. At least, not at this point.
Which is why a trade seems as unlikely to occur as a release. Keep in mind that it would still cost the Eagles a substantial chunk of change to trade Murray. They still owe him $4 million of a prorated signing bonus, which they would be responsible for paying and charging to their cap in the event of a trade, per the NFL collective bargaining agreement. Even if they traded him for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, they would still end up with $4 million less in cap space in 2016. So it would cost $8 million against the cap to keep him, and $4 million against the cap to trade him. Even if the Cowboys - or another NFL team that valued him at less than $8 million last offseason - was willing to trade for him, it probably wouldn't make fiscal sense for the Eagles to agree to a deal. Murray might not be worth $8 million, but that doesn't mean he is worth nothing. As long as he is worth at least $4 million, the Eagles should keep him.
In simpler form (based on a $160 million NFL salary cap):
Eagles' salary cap if they keep Murray: $152 million (-$8 million).
Eagles' salary cap if they release Murray: $147 million (-$13 million).
Eagles' salary cap if they trade Murray: $156 million (-$4 million).
What is the likelihood that the Cowboys decide Murray is worth $8 million AND the Eagles decide that he isn't worth $4 million?
Murray suiting up for the Eagles in 2016 seems pretty close to self-evident. Again, barring a carnival.
On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy