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Should Cowboys Cut Ties With Alfred Morris Or Darren McFadden?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Cut Ties With Alfred Morris Or Darren McFadden?
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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.

RB Alfred Morris

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris

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.

RB Darren McFadden

RB Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden

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?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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22 Comments
  • tom

    Irvings comes back, Moore sent to PS. If a “good” CB/DB gets released/cut by another team, then DMC will be toast.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t see the Cowboys trying to get Kellen Moore back on the PS. But, a roster spot is going to be needed for David Irving next week. That’s why I believe Morris and McFadden could be seeing their time with the Cowboys come to an end.

      • tom

        other option is Bene

        • Brian Martin

          That’s probably the way they would prefer to go, but with all that the injuries at CB, I kind of doubt it happens now.

  • Fatfan

    I tend to agree with Tom…they’d prefer to release bene; but simply cannot right now. So, a rb being released will do, and in a few weeks after that, bene gets released to make room for Rico; provided the cbs are finally healthy enough to not need to rely on bene.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t disagree. I really think that’s the direction they would prefer to go, just can’t because of injuries at the CB position. And, the last I heard Rico Gathers is still dealing with concussion symptoms. I don’t know if he will be added to the roster this season.

  • Hollis Holcombe

    I’d go with the younger back, but DMC has that Arkansas connection with Jerry.

    • Brian Martin

      I think you’re talking about Rod Smith and I completely agree. I think he looked better than either Morris or McFadden in preseason. I don’t think McFadden’s Arkansas connections carry that much weight. Otherwise, he would probably be active on game days instead of Morris.

  • dmj182

    I like McFadden better than Morris. He has more speed than Morris. I think Dallas may be trying to trade McFadden that is why he is inactive. With Dallas who knows. Cooper Rush out plays Kelvin Moore and Moore is named backup to Prescott.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s definitely a mystery. I think the coaching staff just liked what they saw from Morris in practice and preseason more than McFadden. I haven’t heard any rumors that McFadden is on the trade block.

      • dmj182

        I don’t think Dallas is trying to trade him now because they have wait and see how the Elliot situation turns out but if Elliott is cleared the rest of the season then I could see them trying to trade him.

        • Brian Martin

          Exactly! I kind of find it hard to believe anybody would want to trade for him though. Teams would likely wait to see if the Cowboys cut him. But, all it takes is one interested team

  • Russ_Te

    Well McFadden is only 30 and had numerous seasons with little wear, including last year. I don’t think he’s lost it yet from the dominant RB he was in 2015, and IMO Morris is a chugger with less ability.

    Plus, if EE were to go out and McF were on another team, what does Morris look like on 3rd down? Much rather have McFadden’s speed in the game.

    Unless Morris comes alive in some way, I think we’ll see the shift back to McF and they’ll turn to him to spell Elliott, as we start getting into games with lots of carries.

    Besides, when Terrance Williams is traded for draft picks, a roster spot will open… ;^)

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t really think McFadden was all that dominant in 2015. Yes, he rushed for over 1000 yards, but only found the end zone three times. Also, he didn’t look very explosive in preseason. To me, he looked like he has lost a step. I don’t know if the Cowboys will continue to keep Morris and McFadden, but it just seems like a luxury to me to keep two veteran RBs who don’t really contribute anywhere except the running game. They’re not going to get on the field very often unless Elliott ends up getting suspended this year or gets injured.

      I also highly doubt Terrance Williams gets traded. I know a lot of Cowboys fans want to see it happen, but the Cowboys coaching staff really values what he brings to the offense. If Brice Butler continues to show up, he may be the one on the trading block though. But, I kind of doubt that happens either.

  • Grumpy

    Let’s not forget, when Irving comes back that makes 10 D line men; do we need that many??

    • Brian Martin

      Probably not, but I would rather have more depth that there. Defensive lineman are more difficult to come by during the season.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Yes they should cut ties with both at the end of the season and pick-up a RB in the draft. This is all based on the assumption that Zeke plays the rest of this year. As far as David Irving, they might cut Bene, but we have a ton of CBs on/off injury list.The timing is crappy. Irving is eligible after this Sunday. Zeke /NFL court hearing happens Monday. Zeke may not be playing for 6 games after that court date. So to let a RB go for Irving, this Monday, seems daring, at the least. I like Brian Price, but I think that is the direction they may go. Irving and Crawford can both slide into the middle to relieve Paea…..what do you think?

    • Brian Martin

      I think they will wait until after they find out what will happen with Elliott before making a roster move. I don’t think they will release Brian Price. He is really the only other 1-tech on the roster besides Paea. CB is tricky also because of all of the injuries. That is why releasing one of the veteran RBs made sense to me. But, that can only happen if Zeke can play all season. Unfortunately, it’s one of those wait-and-see situations.

      • EverybodyTalks

        The 1st week in October will be an interesting one for the Cowboys.

    • Russ_Te

      Fortunately the NFL’s chances of fighting Elliot’s stay of suspension, are tied to an underlying case which has already been gutted. Most likely IMO that EE is playing 16 and playoffs this year. And then winning in court in the offseason.

      The Cowboys do need a coherent plan to spell Elliott as we get into the thick of the season. He’s best deployed long enough to get games won, and not long enough to wear him out before the playoffs.

  • Steve Trevor

    Trade McFadden to Minnesota… even for a 6th or 7th round pick. It’s something.

    • Brian Martin

      Trading McFadden is a possibility, but I think the Cowboys are waiting to see what happens with Ezekiel Elliott.

Player News

Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Week 15 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Making Sense of the "Garrett Guys" Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release

It's hard to believe that we're looking at the Dallas Cowboys potentially clinching the NFC East this week, but that's how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last five games. Week 15 could lock Dallas into the playoffs and give them a lot of freedom over their final two games.

If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
  3. Chicago Bears (9-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
    ----------------------------------
  7. Carolina Panthers (6-7)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
  9. Washington Redskins (6-7)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Cowboys lost to Seattle earlier this year, but still remain the 4th seed as a division winner over a wild card team.
  • The Panthers are ahead of the Eagles thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • The Eagles are ahead of the Redskins thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. They play each other again in Week 17.
  • The Redskins beat the Panthers earlier this year, but their loss to Philadelphia within their own division negates that tiebreaker.

In truth, there's not much intrigue left for the Cowboys in this regular season. One win gives them the NFC East, and it would take the Saints or Rams dropping all three of their remaining games for Dallas to have a shot at a top-two seed.

So, barring the nearly impossible, Dallas is locked into either the 3rd or 4th seed. They will host one of the Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs.

The biggest thing to watch now is how the seeding shakes among the bottom four playoff teams. The Seahawks seem a cut above the likes of Minnesota, Carolina, or one of our NFC East friends, so avoiding them in the first round would be lovely.

Here are this week's games involving the NFC playoff contenders:

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts

We've already discussed what the Cowboys need to do, so let's talk about the Colts. Not only do they have home field advantage this week, but they are fighting for their playoff lives.

Indianapolis is one of four teams with a 7-6 record battling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos are also in the mix at 6-7, giving none of these teams any cushion for losing.

Dallas has its own incentive to win, though. If they want to avoid Seattle in the first round, they probably need to take the #3 seed from the Chicago Bears. They need to keep winning and hope for the Bears to drop a game or two.

Ultimately, getting into the playoffs and starting at home is a huge reward. But anything that can help make the road a little easier is worth pursuing. It's no time to rest on your laurels.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

As we just discussed, we'd like to see Chicago drop a few games to give Dallas a shot at the #3 seed. This week isn't the worst opportunity, with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still not completely eliminated from playoff contention.

Expecting much from the Packers here is unwise. They've had a coaching change and appear to be in a state of organizational disarray. But they still have Rodgers, and crazy things always happens in rivalry games.

So while these are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, you never know what could happen given the variable elements. By all means, root for the Cheeseheads.

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings

Your rooting interest here comes down to a simple question; who do you prefer to play among that last bunch of Wild Card teams? Who does Dallas match up best against between the Vikings, Panthers, and Eagles?

I think we'd all agree that we don't want to see the Eagles a third time. Beating a team three times in one year is tough to do, and especially given how close last week's meeting was.

The Panthers beat Dallas in the season opener, but that was in Carolina and well before the Cowboys were playing at a high level. A second meeting could go very differently, especially with the recent slumping by the Panthers.

Both Carolina and Minnesota are struggling, with one on a five-game losing streak and the latter having lost their last two. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, so neither of these teams appear to be going into the postseason with any real momentum.

At this point, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Panthers and Vikings. Both are much preferable to seeing the Eagles again, so I would just keep rooting for both to win. In either case, they knock out Philadelphia.

We'll reassess the threat level of Carolina and Minnesota as playoff opponents in a few weeks.

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

I didn't mention the Redskins among those last three teams because they may not win another game this year. Their QB situation is so bad that even the Jaguars look good by comparison.

Granted, Jacksonville is lousy right now. Washington might be able to go down there and get a win, but neither team has anything to play for now. This one may come down to whether or not the Jaguars have gone into tank mode.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Seattle just walloped the Niners 43-16 a couple of weeks ago, and changing venues is unlikely to make that much difference. The Seahawks are a legit NFC contender and San Francisco is already thinking about the offseason. A Seattle loss would be great, but it ain't happening this week.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

While catching the Rams and getting a top-two seed would be great, it's barely plausible. The far more concrete benefit here is seeing the Eagles lose and getting them further away from a possible Wild Card spot.

In fact, an Eagles' loss this week would give Dallas the NFC East even if the Cowboys fall in  Indianapolis. That's not the way we want to win the division, but you take what you can get.

With the breaking news that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week with a back injury, you'd generally think this suits the Cowboys' interests. But Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still the backup in Philadelphia, so is anything really for certain?

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

We have every reason to root for Carolina here. For one, it helps the Panthers stay ahead of the Eagles in the Wild Card race. Also, it brings the Saints one loss closer to possibly being caught by Dallas. A Saints win doesn't really benefit us all.



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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

The Dallas Cowboys came away with a huge win against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, putting them in a commanding position in the NFC East. They're up two games in the division and one of the more underrated story lines from the victory is Ezekiel Elliott's game. He had a huge day that no one is talking about.

Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and then caught 12 passes on 13 targets en route to his big performance in the 29-23 win over the Eagles. That's probably the quietest 40 touch, 192 total yard game you'll ever hear about. And yet, that's where we are. Please read that stat line again, because in all of our talk about Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and the defense, Ezekiel Elliott's stat line is absolutely ridiculous.

The receiving element that Elliott is providing the biggest difference to the offense this season. He's been a huge asset to Dak Prescott in the passing game as both a primary target and a check down option in the short part of the field. If Elliott isn't showing that he's the best running back in the league, with what he's doing with a broke down offensive line, then people will never give him the credit he's due.

For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys and their fan base has known what an elite player the Cowboys have in Elliott. He's easily one of the best runners in the NFL, but if you talk to the general NFL fanbase or analysts around the league, Elliott doesn't get the same kind of love as players like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell receive from the national media. The knock against Elliott has been that he doesn't bring the same value as a receiver. With what he has done over the last six weeks, and really all season long, it's safe to say, that won't be a knock against the Cowboys All-Pro running back.

Among running backs this season, Ezekiel Elliott ranks sixth in targets (77), fifth in receptions (65). seventh in yards (502), and is tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with three. Elliott is the seventh highest rated running back when targeted among running backs with at least 50 targets this season.

Over the last six weeks, since the Amari Cooper trade, only Christian McCaffrey has more targets, receptions, and yards than Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott's previous career high was in 2016 when he caught 32 passes on 39 targets. With three games left in the season, Elliott has more than doubled his previous career high from that season. Over the last six weeks, he's caught 40 passes with an average of 6.7 receptions per game.

Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best total yardage season in the NFL. If he continues at his current per game averages, Elliott would finish the season with 330 carries for 1,553 rushing yards, 80 catches on 100 targets for 618 yards and 10 total touchdowns. He's been great this year, but he's been even better over the last six games. At his per game averages for the last six games, over a 16 game season, Elliott's numbers would look like this; 363 carries for 1,715 yards rushing, 107 receptions on 120 targets for 872 yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

It's rare that Ezekiel Elliott has a game like he did on Sunday and it goes largely unnoticed by Cowboys Nation, but that's just how tremendous Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were. In a game where the Cowboys got big games and big plays through the passing game, it was Elliott's steadiness that held things together and helped sustain drives like the fourth and one conversion in overtime. Even with Amari Cooper elevating his game since coming to the Cowboys, there's no question that Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys best skill position player. Expect more big games for Elliott as the Cowboys continue to "Feed Zeke."



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