IRVING, Texas -- When DeMarco Murray signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said if there was no salary cap the NFL's reigning rushing champion would have remained a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys weren't willing to offer Murray more than $12 million guaranteed, which was at least $6 million less than what he got from the Eagles. The Cowboys can talk about cost of living and no state taxes and all that, but it doesn't trump an extra $6 million.
Speaking at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Jones addressed the Murray departure.
"He's an outstanding football player," Jones said in this Dallas Morning News story. "Under the right circumstances it would have been good for everybody for him to be here. On the other hand, our best chance of getting better was to make the decision we made."
This doesn't get the Cowboys better offensively. It might help defensively. They were able to sign Greg Hardy. They added role pieces in Jasper Brinkley, Andrew Gachkar through free agency and cornerback Corey White through waivers.
One of the storylines last season was how Murray made the defense better. By running the ball so much and so effectively, the Cowboys' defense did not have to see as much action.
Jones repeated an oft-told story about when he first bought the Cowboys and a reporter tagged along with him on a private jet only to see Jones get into a muddy Bronco.
"You can't have it all," Jones has said more than 20 times. "The way you get an airplane is to drive the five-year old Bronco."
With a salary cap you can't have it all, but the notion the Cowboys couldn't have re-signed Murray is false. They could have done it. They could have paid him whatever they wanted to pay him. Not only could they have paid Murray, they could have had Hardy, too.
There were/are plenty of salary-cap tricks available to have made that happen. It would have been costly in terms of their future salary-cap situations, but not impossible.
What it would have done is added another high cap figures to the offense.
"We have great receivers. We have a great quarterback. We have a great offensive line," Jones said. "We're trying to get more defense so you have to make some tough decisions. "We felt like this was our best decision or we wouldn't have done it. Certainly, our players and everybody in our organization understands the concept that you can't have everything."