Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Shopping Alfred Morris for Trade; Who’s Left at RB?

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Alfred Morris

It was reported yesterday that the Cowboys are actively seeking a trade partner for running back Alfred Morris. With both Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar entering free agency, this would leave some gaps to fill at the RB position. What would be Dallas' next moves?

Other than Morris, the Cowboys only have Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith under contract for 2017. You only have to be so concerned with the depth chart given Elliott's workload and franchise-player status, but you certainly don't want to leave the cupboard bare.

Today we're going to discuss how realistic an Alfred Morris trade is. We'll also consider the Cowboys' options for finding depth to put behind their superstar starter ("super-starter," anyone?) and what Morris' exit could mean for the possible return of Darren McFadden or Lance Dunbar.

Alfred Morris

RB Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris Trade Potential

The other NFL teams would be justifiably uninterested in trading for Morris after 2016. Even though he was playing behind the league's best run-blocking offensive line, Alfred had a career-worst average of 3.5 yards on his carries. The explosiveness he showed during the preseason quickly fizzled out in September.

Even if Morris had been more productive, teams would likely be worried that he couldn't match that performance behind an inferior offensive line. Having a sub-par year makes it highly unlikely that a team will want to pay Alfred his $1.2 million base salary or the $438k roster bonus he's owed if he makes it through final cuts.

For a guy with Morris' red flags and contract, shopping him for a trade is as good as telling the rest of the NFL that you'll be releasing him soon. Any team that would be interested has little incentive to toss you a draft pick when they now anticipate him becoming a free agent. As little regard as we have for sixth and seventh-round picks sometimes, they are still assets that teams don't part with lightly.

So no, I don't see the Cowboys finding a trade partner for Alfred Morris. That it's even out there right now is a sign that Morris is done in Dallas. I expect that he will soon be released for the $1.6 million in cap savings that his contract offers.

Darren McFadden

RB Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar Returning?

As we discussed on the new Inside The Star Podcast yesterday, Darren McFadden is a better complimentary player to Ezekiel Elliott than Alfred Morris. He has the blocking and receiving skills to be a great third-down back and has logged a lot more time in our offense, both in years and touches.

If Dallas were to cut Morris and re-sign McFadden, they could probably do that for about the $1.6 million they'd free up by releasing Alfred. The two-year deal that McFadden signed with the Cowboys in 2014 averaged $1.5 million per year with some additional incentives. Dallas should be able to work out a similar contract with him now.

There has also been talk that, to the surprise of many, Dallas is still interested in keeping Lance Dunbar around as well. Other than his flourish of receiving plays in early 2015, Dunbar has never found a consistent role in the Cowboys offense. Still, he knows their system well and gives you added value as an option on kickoff returns.

With Rod Smith already available as a potential short-yardage back and special teams player, Dallas could decide to bring back McFadden and Dunbar on the cheap and settle their RB depth chart quickly this offseason. It would free them up to pursue other issues on the roster and not feel like they have to spend a draft pick on a RB, even in the later rounds.

Sean Lee, Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

Could the Cowboys pursue Jamaal Charles for their RB depth?(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Other Running Back Options

The big name out there is Adrian Peterson, but the most recent reports are that he is looking for a bigger role and contract than what the Cowboys would be able to give. Our own R.J. Ochoa wrote recently about how Peterson coming to Dallas would not be realistic.

Jamaal Charles is another household name who is now a free agent. Similar to Peterson, Charles grew up in Texas and also played college ball in Austin. If Charles is ready to accept a backup role, would he be interested in Dallas?

Having turned 30 in December and coming off two years of knee problems, Charles is hardly without risk. He's only appeared in eight games over the last two seasons. There are two sides to that coin; he's has some major injury risk but also has avoided some general wear-and-tear during these seasons.

If Charles is healthy now then he could be an exceptional change-of-pace back for the Cowboys. You could get the offensive line out in space, where Charles excels, on tosses and screen plays. Charles can even move out into a receiving position and run routes off the line. Essentially, he may be a much more talented version of Lance Dunbar.

While 30 is a dreaded number for running backs, we have recent examples of older guys like DeAngelo Williams in Pittsburgh and Chris Johnson in Arizona who had productive seasons in backup roles. As long he doesn't have medical issues holding him back, Charles has a reasonable shot of similar success in the Cowboys' offense.

If not Jamaal Charles, other free agents possibilities include Rex Burkhead (Bengals), Andre Ellington (Cardinals), or Latavius Murray (Raiders). For any of these players, it will come down to them being willing to accept a limited role and light compensation for a chance to contend for a championship and play behind Dallas' great offensive line.

As for the draft, there is little chance that Dallas will spend a significant pick at running back. They have many other needs to address and limited cap space to work with, leaving draft picks as a key resource for talent acquisition. Perhaps they use a sixth or seventh-round pick, as they did last year on Darius Jackson, but that might yield a player who you can't rely on in their rookie season.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



Continue Reading

Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Continue Reading

Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending