The Dallas Cowboys were forced to carry four running backs on their 53-man roster to start the season due to the unknown availability of Ezekiel Elliott for the entire 2017 season. But luckily, Elliott's fate for the rest of the season may be determined as soon as sometime next week. That means the Cowboys could decide to finally cut ties with one of their veteran running backs, Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, if Elliott avoids suspension this year.
I'm not trying to jump the gun here or anything, but I believe having Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden is an unneeded luxury, especially when roster spots are so valuable. This is even more true considering the fact David Irving will be returning from his four-game suspension after this week's matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Irving would be a welcomed addition on defense, but finding him a roster spot isn't going to be easy.
Hopefully we will know whether or not Ezekiel Elliott can play the remainder of the season before a roster spot is needed. If #21 is suspended though, Irving would likely take his roster spot, because Elliott would have to start serving his suspension immediately. But, if Elliott is cleared to play, I think Morris or McFadden's job security is in doubt.
Let's break this down a little bit further to determine whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should cut ties with Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden.
It was a complete shock that the Dallas Cowboys decided to go with Alfred Morris as the primary backup running back to Ezekiel Elliott to start the 2017 season. Nearly everybody thought that Darren McFadden was the surefire RB2, but supposedly the Cowboys coaching staff believed Morris outplayed him in preseason and in practices.
Alfred Morris may have suited up the first three weeks of the season as the RB2, but you wouldn't know it by his involvement on game day. To date, he has only four rushing attempts for 1 yard and a total of only nine offensive snaps. I doubt there's another backup running back in the entire NFL to play less snaps than Morris. To me, that signals a wasted roster spot.
The fact that Alfred Morris has been active every week of the 2017 season and Darren McFadden inactive might be the only thing we need to know in regards to how the coaching staff views the RB position. It's a scary thought to think Morris has outplayed McFadden the point where he's among the inactive's every week.
It may just be me, but that kind of indicates that if a roster spot was needed and it came down to Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, the latter might be without a job sometime soon. Of course, we know that these types of roster moves typically comes down to who is making the most money. Unfortunately, that's not in McFadden's favor either. McFadden's cap hit in 2017 is $695,000, while Morris' is $2,137,500. Money speaks!
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All of this may come to nothing though. There is no way of determining whether or not the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff plans to cut ties with Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden anytime soon. It may make sense to me, but they obviously value their veteran RBs more than I do.
I personally think Rod Smith is capable of becoming the RB2 if Elliott is indeed able to play the entire 2017 season. He looked better than any of the RBs on the Cowboys roster, not named Ezekiel Elliott, in the preseason and off-season practices. But, he has never had to hold down such a significant role so far in his NFL career.
Regardless, a roster spot is soon to be needed and to me the running back position would be the one I target. Depth at the cornerback position is needed due to inexperience and injuries, and the same can be said about linebacker. It's doubtful that they cut anybody along the defensive line or just about anywhere on offense except RB. Wide receiver could be a possibility, but the youth the Cowboys currently have shows quite a bit of promise.
So, you can see why I believe Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden could be seeing their time with the Dallas Cowboys coming to an end. Who knows? Maybe the Cowboys decide they don't need either RB if Ezekiel Elliott remains available, but that's probably unlikely.
Do you have a preference between Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden?
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstatement Decision Due Soon
The Dallas Cowboys should know by the end of this week if Defensive End Randy Gregory will be reinstated by the NFL from his indefinite suspension.
Gregory, who has missed nearly two seasons with drug-related bans, requested in May for Roger Goodell to allow him to return to football. The exact date of the request isn't known, but multiple sources put it somewhere around May 18-20.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL has 60 days to rule on a reinstatement request. That would put the approximate deadline no later than this Friday, July 20th.
Gregory was a second-round pick for Dallas in 2015. He was considered to have potentially elite pass-rushing skills but red flags about behavior and drug use hurt his draft stock.
Obviously those warning signs were warranted. Over three seasons, Randy has missed 30 out of 48 games due to suspension.
But reports from around the Cowboys organization and others who've dealt with Gregory rehabilitation efforts are positive. His appeal request appears strong, backed up by several testimonials that he's turned his life around.
Will Roger Goodell agree? Will Randy Gregory return to the Cowboys 2018?
We should know the answer soon.
Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL
Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.
Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.
Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.
At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.
From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.
In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.
In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.
As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.
We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.
It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.
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