IRVING, Texas -- Discipline has become the buzz word around the Dallas Cowboys.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones mentioned it in his goodbye statement to DeMarco Murray. Jason Garrett talks about his team needing to be disciplined on the field, but now the Cowboys are more disciplined off the field, as the Murray talks show.
There was a time agents would purposely leak their client had interest from the Cowboys to drive up the price because other teams knew the Cowboys would pay top dollar. There was a time the emotional attachments Jones had with players would lead to a bigger deal than the Cowboys wanted to pay.
Those days are clearly over.
It’s something Dez Bryant’s camp should notice.
The Cowboys have placed the franchise tag on Bryant, guaranteeing him $12.823 million this season. They want to sign him to a long-term deal and keep him with the Cowboys for at least the bulk of his career.
But it will only happen at their price.
How the Cowboys dealt with Murray, a player they loved personally, is proof emotional attachment will go only so far. The Cowboys moved up from their original offer to Murray, but held firm at four years and $24 million, according to sources. They maxed out the guaranteed money at $12 million.
Not even seeing the threat of Murray go to the Eagles swayed the Cowboys’ opinion. Now that’s discipline.
While the Murray departure has brought national attention to the Cowboys’ “new” way of doing business, this is actually how they have operated the past few years. The last time they made a big play in free agency came in 2012 when they signed Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal. That hasn’t worked out.
They said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware last year. They never tried to keep Jason Hatcher. They signed Henry Melton to a “prove it” deal last year that included a three-year option. When he didn’t prove it, the Cowboys declined the $9 million option.
With the exception of Tony Romo’s $106 million extension, the Cowboys’ deals for their own players have been team friendly. Sean Lee’s contract included some insurance against top-dollar should he get hurt. Tyron Smith received $40 million guaranteed, but he could have commanded a lot more.
From a salary-cap standpoint, it’s not the best thing for the Cowboys to have Bryant count so much, but it’s not impossible. If they had Bryant at a lower number, theoretically it could have helped them keep Murray, but the Cowboys were not going to go above their final offer even with more cap room.
There is no threat of Bryant leaving the Cowboys, but his camp needs to realize these are not the Jerry Jones’ Cowboys of the past. These are more the Stephen Jones’ Cowboys.
The Cowboys want to pay Bryant a lot of money. It might not be the amount Bryant wants, but it’s still a lot of money.
The guaranteed money the Cowboys will be willing to give Bryant dwarfs what they committed to Murray.
The Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Bryant to a long-term deal or he has to play the season on the franchise tag.
If they don’t get a long-term agreement, you can be assured the Cowboys will put the franchise tag on him again in 2016.
It is a disciplined approach.