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Dallas Cowboys: 5 Free Agent RB Options To Replace Lance Dunbar

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys: 5 Free Agent RB Options To Replace Lance Dunbar

Lance Dunbar's decision to take his talents to Los Angeles and become a member of the Rams organization creates a hole on offense for the Dallas Cowboys. As things stand right now, they don't really have that change of pace/3rd down running back on the roster. But, fortunately I think there are five free agent options still available that fit that criteria.

Of course, we could see Ezekiel Elliott get involved more in the passing game, but he is already expected to handle a heavy workload. Darren McFadden would be the next logical choice, but even he's not quite as elusive as he once was. And I don't even think the Cowboys would consider Alfred Morris in that type of role. He is simply not that kind of RB and probably a long shot to make the roster in the first place.

The next logical step would be to turn to free agency once again because there are options available that could be acquired rather cheaply. Keep reading below to see the 5 available free agent RB options that I think make sense for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dexter McClusterDexter McCluster (5'8", 170)

I personally like the idea of the Dallas Cowboys bringing in Dexter McCluster to take over the role left by the departed Lance Dunbar. I think he is the player the Cowboys were hoping Dunbar would turn into, but that never really materialized because of his reoccurring injuries.

McCluster has survived in the NFL as a change of pace running back and wide receiver. He is definitely not someone you want starting for you on a regular basis, but that's not why he would be brought in. He would be nothing more than a RB3, but would be able to fill a variety of different roles.

He would be used on gimmicky plays and is a mismatch weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. He would also factor in as a return man on special teams. He does have three punt returns in his career in the NFL and has experience as a kick returner as well.

He could be exactly what the Cowboys are looking for as a RB3 behind Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden.

Dri ArcherDri Archer (5'8", 173)

Dri Archer is another intriguing option, but would come with some questionable decision-making on his part. He was a third-round draft pick by the  Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014, but ended up getting released in November 2015. He was picked up by the New York Jets, but that didn't last long either. After being released by the Jets, the Buffalo Bills picked him up, but Archer never even bothered reporting to the team.

All of this would certainly put into question his commitment to the game and whether or not he really wants to pursue a career in the NFL. But, I personally would be willing to give him a shot in training camp to see where his head is at.

Archer would be one of the fastest players in the entire NFL (4.26 40 yard dash) and that speed could definitely be utilized in several different ways by the Dallas Cowboys. He could become the primary return man on both punts and kickoffs, while also taking over Lance Dunbar's role on offense as a change of pace/receiving RB.

There are definitely questions that need to be answered, but the Cowboys could use a player with that kind of speed.

Ronnie HillmanRonnie Hillman (5'10", 195)

Ronnie Hillman may just be the most proven option on this list. He had his best season in the NFL as a member of the 2015 Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. He rushed for 863 yards on 207 attempts and added another 111 yards through the air with 24 receptions.

Hillman wouldn't be asked to receive that kind of workload with the Cowboys, but he would add some valuable depth behind both Elliott and McFadden. He is a reliable target in the passing game, but is also capable of stepping in and carrying the load as a RB if needed.

Hillman has the speed to be home run threat and the zone blocking scheme that the Cowboys' offensive line utilizes perfectly fits his strengths as a player. He may just be my favorite free-agent option for the Cowboys.

Jonathan GrimesJonathan Grimes (5'10", 210)

There is really nothing special about Jonathan Grimes or what he has been able to accomplish in the NFL, but teams around the league like these kinds of players. He is a role player and knows his place on a roster depends on doing what is asked of him.

When given the opportunity, Grimes has proven that he can be a reliable threat in both the running and passing game on offense. He is a good fit in the zone blocking scheme and has the patience and vision be a threat the running game. He also possesses soft natural hands to contribute in the passing game.

Grimes is also a solid special-teams player, which the Cowboys like in their players, especially a RB3. He isn't likely going to receive a lot of interest, so he could be brought in for next to nothing.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Free Agent RB Options To Replace Lance Dunbar 5

Mandatory Credit: Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports

Denard Robinson (6'0", 213)

The Dallas Cowboys just drafted two Michigan players in 2017 NFL Draft, so why not bring in a former Wolverine to replace Lance Dunbar. Denard Robinson was a QB at Michigan, but hasn't really been able to find his niche as of yet in the NFL.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were unsuccessful trying to find ways to get Robinson involved on offense, but I don't think Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan would have that problem. In fact, Robinson's background as a QB could allow Linehan to get even more creative with him than any other running back on this list.

I personally think Robinson could step in and do everything that was asked of Dunbar while he was a member of the Cowboys. I would be on board with bringing him to training camp to see if the Cowboys could tap into his natural physical abilities.

Do any of these free agent RB options make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?



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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12 Comments
  • Jess Haynie

    I really like the idea of Denard Robinson. I always liked the way Pittsburgh would use Randle-El for some trick plays throwing and it’d be cool to have that in our bag.

    • Brian Martin

      Jess, I thought the same thing. It would add yet another wrinkle to the Cowboys already potent offense.

      • M. Murdoch

        Jahad doesn’t have the speed Dri has 2 take it 2 the house!

        • Brian Martin

          I agree

  • Randy Martin

    I like some of the options here but feel they are going to see if they can develop Jahad Thomas into this role first. If successful I think they cut Morris and stay on that path. If not they may look at FA options such as these.

    • Brian Martin

      Randy, I completely agree. Thomas is a good receiver out of the backfield but isn’t at all what you would consider explosive. I think rookie minicamp will be big for him. And I don’t see any way Alfred Morris makes the team.

      • Randy Martin

        Yeah I read that Broaddus also made the comment that he isn’t suited to replace Dunbar. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Switzer in the backfield from time to time as he was a RB in high school and has all the traits for that position. Plus another way to have both him and Beas on the field and still have Witten.

        • Brian Martin

          I like the idea of getting Switzer involved in the offense, but I’m not sure about using him as a RB. Playing RB in high school is a lot different than playing RB in college and especially in the NFL. I would rather have someone with a more proven track record at the position.

          • Randy Martin

            Oh no I’m not at all talking about having him play RB. I’m just 5along about having him line up back there. I think you probably listed the best options for the true Dunbar role. The question is how much do they value the position. Aside from these, there will be a number of potential candidates released during cutdowns so plenty of options.

          • Brian Martin

            I think they will add another RB at some point this off-season. I don’t know if it is a current free agent or somebody that gets released, but there is a need. I think Alfred Morris’ days are numbered with the Cowboys.

  • M. Murdoch

    Speed kills man get the blazer!

    • Brian Martin

      I would give him a shot

Star Blog

Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.

By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.

In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.

Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.

While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.

Dak Prescott's Top 10 Plays of the Dallas Cowboys' 2016 Season

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.

This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.

Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.

NFC East Preview 2018 | T2F Podcast

On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!

Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before

The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.

There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.

Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.

These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.

Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.

These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.

Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott: Top 5 Moments of The 2016 Cowboys Season

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact

With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.

One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.

There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.

He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.

Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.

Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."



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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

Brian Martin

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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.

I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?

With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.

I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.

I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?

Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler

The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.

I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.

Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.

There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?

Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.

How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?



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Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.

Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.

The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.

Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.

Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.

It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.

Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.

This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.

Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.

The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.

Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.



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