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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

12 Comments

  1. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    May 5, 2017 at 7:35 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      May 5, 2017 at 8:00 am

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

      • M. Murdoch

        May 5, 2017 at 1:04 pm

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

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          May 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm

          I agree

  2. Randy Martin

    May 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      May 5, 2017 at 10:27 am

      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

        May 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        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

          Brian Martin

          May 5, 2017 at 4:36 pm

          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

            May 5, 2017 at 6:46 pm

            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

            Brian Martin

            May 5, 2017 at 6:58 pm

            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.

  3. M. Murdoch

    May 5, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Speed kills man get the blazer!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      I would give him a shot

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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