March 13, 2015 / 12:42 AM / 3 years ago

Rushing king Murray leaves Dallas for rival Eagles

(Reuters) - NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray left the Dallas Cowboys and turned down more lucrative offers to join the rival Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

DeMarco Murray (29) runs past Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) in the fourth quarter in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Financial terms of the a five-year contract for the running back, one of the key prizes of the 2015 free agent class, were not disclosed by the team, though various reports said it was worth $42 million.

“I‘m glad and fortunate to be here. It’s a great organization,” Murray, who said he turned down a couple of richer offers to sign with Philadelphia, told a news conference. “It’s a privilege and an honor. I‘m ready to get started.”

Dallas won the NFC East division last season with a 12-4 record ahead of Philadelphia at 10-6, but Murray was confident of a reversal.

He said newly-acquired Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, his college teammate at Oklahoma, had a big influence on his decision.

“Obviously, Sam’s a great friend of mine, like a brother to me,” he said. “It was a huge influence.”

Murray, 27, was named the NFL’s offensive player of the year in 2014 after rushing for a Cowboys franchise-record 1,845 yards and catching 57 passes for another 416 yards.

He also tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with 13 and set the NFL record by opening the season with eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones praised Murray for his years with Dallas and said that the running back would still be with the team if they had room under the salary cap.

“If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently,” Jones said in a statement.

“At the end of the day, this is about finding the best way to collectively fit all of the individual pieces together, in terms of talent, offensive players, defensive players and dollars - under the salary cap structure - that gives you the best chance to have a championship team.”

Murray replaces LeSean McCoy, third in the NFL in rushing with 1,319 yards, who was traded to Buffalo this week.

Earlier on Thursday, the Eagles agreed to terms on a three-year contract with running back Ryan Mathews.

A first-round draft pick by San Diego in 2010, Mathews gained 4,061 yards and scored 23 touchdowns in five seasons. He also caught 146 passes for 1,110 yards and one touchdown.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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