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

Jess Haynie

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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.

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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!

Dallas Cowboys

Can Cowboys Trust Guard Jonathan Cooper in 2018?

Jess Haynie

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Jonathan Cooper

One of the big decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 offseason is at left guard. Veteran Jonathan Cooper started 13 games last year and is now a free agent. Should Dallas bring Cooper back, or should they look elsewhere for next season’s starter?

With a lot of money already being spent on the rest of the starting offensive line, the Cowboys need a bargain at left guard. They didn’t re-sign Ronald Leary in 2017 for that very reason, hoping Cooper or Chaz Green would be able to handle the job for a fraction of what Leary got from the Denver Broncos.

Cooper took over for Green in Week 4 and held the job the rest of the season. The Cowboys rushing attack remained one of the league’s best, even performing well later in the year when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. It looked like Jonathan could become part of future plans.

However, in Week 17, Cooper went out of the game with a knee injury. It thankfully wasn’t serious and he is expected to be ready for 2018. However, it was a reminder of the injury-plagued past that has caused the former first-round pick so much trouble.

Jonathan Cooper

Dallas Cowboys Guard Jonathan Cooper

Taken seventh overall in 2013 by the Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Cooper was one of the true blue-chip guard prospects in recent draft history. He seemed like a can’t-miss pick, and interior linemen don’t often go that high in the draft. The Cowboys have even said they coveted Cooper in that class.

But constant battles with injuries caused Cooper to be traded, released, and discarded by the Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns over his first four seasons. While 2017 was looking like a turning point for him, Jonathan’s injury in the season finale was a sobering reminder of why he’s become a bargain-bin player.

Still, at just 28-years-old, Cooper has good years left and will now have another offseason for continuity and chemistry development with the Cowboys.

Dallas should have to pay more than a few million to keep Cooper on the roster.

If Dallas is leery (no pun intended) of Cooper, they will have options. La’el Collins could move back to the guard position, allowing the Cowboys to go find either the best guard or tackle who would fit with their existing group.

Given so many other considerations this offseason, Dallas will likely try to simplify things by giving Jonathan Cooper another chance. His history is a red flag, but sometimes you have to take those gambles and save salary cap space to handle other needs.

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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