As of now running back Alfred Morris is still a Dallas Cowboy, and many are surprised after the last few months of news and rumors. It appeared Morris was on the way out, but now it’s possible that he will be with the team for the rest of the offseason and perhaps even longer.
Before the start of free agency, rumors began that Dallas was actively trying to trade Morris away. This was even two weeks before the Cowboys had re-signed Darren McFadden, another sign that they were ready to move on from Morris.
From Weeks 11-13 last season, Morris only got four total carries. He got zero touches in Week 14 and was then inactive for the last two meaningful games, plus the playoff game. He was clearly replaced by McFadden as the number-two RB and there’s no reason to think that has changed now.
The rumor of Dallas trying to trade Alfred, as I said at the time, seemed a clear statement that they intended to release him. I did not expect teams to have much interest in an aging RB with declining production, but I especially did not expect a trade partner to emerge after such an obvious announcement that you were looking to dump the player.
However, that was two months ago. Alfred Morris is still here and Dallas did not draft any running backs last weekend. They also haven’t added anyone in free agency who is sure to push Morris out of the number-three spot.
Morris’ toughest competition will be Rod Smith, who began the year on the 53-man roster and finished it on the practice squad. Smith is moving back to running back after being tried at fullback. He is a power back and a strong special teams performer.
The only other RB in the mix right now is undrafted rookie Jahad Thomas, a smaller player who projects more like a Lance Dunbar replacement. He would need a very good camp and preseason to earn a role in the offense and justify a roster spot.
All week we’ve seen teams cutting veterans in the aftermath of the 2017 NFL Draft. Morris could still be one of those names as the Cowboys get $1.63 million back in cap space if he’s cut. However, that would leave them with few bodies at RB for their offseason program.
With no incentive to cut Morris before those final preseason roster moves, Dallas may just be holding on to him through the rest of the offseason. It’s insurance in case something unfortunate happens with Darren McFadden or they happen to get that trade offer they hoped for.
As it stands, I don’t expect Alfred Morris to be a Cowboys come Week One. The longer he stays around, though, the more opportunities there will be to change his fate.