Darren McFadden was one of the Cowboys’ brightest stars this season, as I wrote about previously right here. Playing on the first year of his two-year deal, he totaled 1,089 yards on 239 carries.
Perhaps the most important number for McFadden though is his number of games, as he saw the field for a full 16 for the second straight year – and the first two times of his career.
The future of the running back position in Dallas is still not set in stone, as McFadden will turn 29 this summer. However, let’s take a look at what the aging running back must do in 2016 to earn another short contract with the Cowboys.
As mentioned, the key for McFadden is his health. The resurgence he saw in 2015, running behind the Cowboys offensive line, was even more impressive when you consider that he was the team’s primary weapon all season long.
Cowboys fans should be very excited to see the combo of McFadden and Tony Romo under center, but McFadden has to stay on the field to maximize this opportunity. Should he see his third straight season of 16 games, while maintaining or exceeding his 2015 average of 4.6 yards per carry, McFadden will likely find himself back in 2016 on a one or two-year deal.
Entering training camp without Joseph Randle this season, the Cowboys can better prepare this offseason at the running back position. I expect them to take a back at some point in the draft, who can immediately see the field and split carries with McFadden to keep him fresh and boost his chances at staying healthy.
Oh, and rushing for 387 more yards than DeMarco Murray again might help McFadden as well.
Lastly, our Ryan Ratty has put up some great scouting reports on this year’s backs, which you can read here – 2016 NFL Draft Film Reviews: Running Backs.