DeMarco Murray’s return to the Dallas Cowboys during the off-season was close. How close?
“It was like 95 percent sure I was going to come back there,” Murray said in a phone interview. “I have a lot of respect for those guys — the Jones family, Will [McClay], coach [Jason] Garrett obviously and [Tony] Romo and Wit [Jason Witten], all those guys. I still consider them a great franchise, and they’re great friends of mine.
“I was very close to going back there. There were some things that fell through and just didn’t happen. I think everything happens for a reason. I’m here, and I’m supposed to be here. They’ve got a pretty good young back over there as well.”
The Cowboys discussed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to bring Murray back to town. A source within the team agrees with Murray that a reunion was “close,” but the Eagles preferred to trade Murray to a nondivision foe.
I’m here, and I’m supposed to be here. They’ve got a pretty good young back over there as well.
Titans running back DeMarco Murray, on landing with Tennessee and not back with the Cowboys
So they sent Murray to Tennessee for a swap of fourth-round picks, the Eagles moving to the second pick from the 15th pick, ending Murray’s tumultuous one-year stay in Philadelphia.
“I was very involved in the talks,” Murray said. “Once the season ended, I talked to [new Eagles coach Doug] Pederson a little bit. My heart just wasn’t there. I felt it was a situation where I needed a fresh start, and I was granted that by [Eagles executive vice president] Howie [Roseman] and [owner] Jeffery [Lurie], who is a great guy. Really good people. I was fortunate to have that relationship with them, so I could tell them, ‘This is where it is. I think it would be best for both sides if I find a new home.’ ”
Murray, 28, ran for only 702 yards and six touchdowns on 193 carries last season for the Eagles, who signed him to a five-year, $42 million deal with $21 million guaranteed during the 2015 off-season. Murray wasn’t a match in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Murray joked that nothing about last year “helped” him.
Obviously, the scheme just wasn’t a fit for me, and I wasn’t a fit for them.
DeMarco Murray, on the Eagles
“Obviously, the scheme just wasn’t a fit for me, and I wasn’t a fit for them,” Murray said. “It wasn’t pointing fingers or anything. It just wasn’t a good relationship. Those things happen, and you learn from them. I was fortunate enough to come here and be here and be a Titan now.”
Murray once thrilled Cowboys fans with a league-leading 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014 while earning offensive player of the year honors.
He is back in a similar offense in Tennessee, with familiar results. Murray ranks second in the league in rushing with 461 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries.
“It’s exciting. A lot of hard work,” Murray said. “I knew what I wanted to do this year from a competitive standpoint individually and collectively as a team. I know where this team hasn’t been in the last few years, so my first and only goal is to make sure we get back to the playoffs, and I can lead these guys the right way. Obviously, whatever happens after that, happens.
He’s doing well for them. Those guys are blocking well for him. I wish them a good year as well.
Murray, on rookie Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys
“I’m not looking to get the rushing title or anything like that. I’ve been there, done that. I spent enough money for the [Cowboys] offensive line. I wouldn’t mind not getting it. All in all, I’m just trying to help these guys get to the playoffs. I think that’s going to be more important than anything.”
When the Cowboys didn’t get Murray, they drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick. Elliott leads the league with 549 yards and five touchdowns on 109 carries.
He has impressed Murray.
“He’s doing well,” Murray said. “He’s very elusive. He’s very fast. I didn’t know he was that fast, but he turned on the jets. He’s doing well for them. Those guys are blocking well for him. I wish them a good year as well.”