The Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 offseason was dominated by contract negotiations with Ezekiel Elliott, which went all the way down to just a few days before Week One. Thankfully, with Zeke and Tony Pollard both firmly planted on the roster, running back business in 2020 should be a lot calmer.
Indeed, if the season started today, Dallas would arguably be fully stocked at the RB position as currently constituted.
2020 Running Back Contract Statuses
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Tony Pollard
- Jordan Chunn
- Free Agents
Could it be this simple? We all know who the top two are, and the Cowboys ran with just Elliott and Pollard on the RB depth chart in 2019. They could do it again this year.
Jordan Chunn has spent two years on the practice squad and has some intriguing value both as a bruising runner and special teams player. He is the kind of RB that would make sense in the number-three role.
It doesn’t appear that Dallas has any need to spend costly resources at the position in 2020. They could arguably go with just the current players and a couple of camp bodies from among available free agents and undrafted rookies.
However, despite Zeke’s presence since 2016, the Cowboys have spent recent late-round draft picks on the likes of Darius Jackson, Bo Scarbrough, and Mike Weber. They at least seem committed to keeping a pipeline of RB talent going, perhaps guarding against offseason injuries.
Really, the only big change involving the running bcks in 2020 is in the coaching staff.
Skip Peete returns to the Cowboys as the new Running Backs Coach. He held the same job in Dallas from 2007-2012, and was replaced by Gary Brown in 2013. With Mike McCarthy’s arrival as the new head coach, he decided not to retain Brown and brought Peete back to Dallas.
What McCarthy liked about Peete over Brown is hard to say. He did get a closer look at Peete’s work in the NFC North from 2013-2014 when Skip was working for the Chicago Bears. McCarthy also may feel that what Peete’s done the last four years with the Los Angeles Rams is a better fit for his offensive vision that Brown’s experience in Dallas.
Whatever the case, the change has happened and it means both a new head coach and position coach for Ezekiel Elliott for the first time since he entered the NFL.
The key thing in all of this is that, despite the coaching changes, the running back position offers some real stability in 2020. It’s much needed this year given all the uncertainty on offense; Elliott and Pollard are signed and ready to go unlike Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and others.
At the most, maybe we see another late-round pick spent at RB for depth and competition purposes. But with Zeke as the franchise back and Pollard already emerging as a dangerous second option, the Cowboys won’t need to do much else at the position.
With everything else going on in 2020, one less worry is more than welcome.