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Darren McFadden: Ready to Work, But Cowboys Don’t Need Him

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys 2016 Roster Projection: Final Edition 2

Now that he's sat out the mandatory six weeks on the Non-Football Injury list, Darren McFadden is eligible to return to the Dallas Cowboys. The team is on their bye week now, meaning McFadden's first game back could be in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Unfortunately for the veteran, the Cowboys appear to be fully stocked at running back.

Cowboys Headlines - #DALvsCHI: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott is doing what was expected when he was drafted fourth overall last April; carrying a heavy workload and putting up big numbers. He has 137 carries of the team's 175 rushing attempts by running backs, which is 78% of the workload.

Obviously, nobody thinks McFadden should return and cut into Elliott's carries. The rookie is leading the NFL in yardage and has an impressive 5.1 average. His productivity is already blowing away what McFadden did in 2015.

The real question is if Darren McFadden could find a role with Alfred Morris, Lance Dunbar, and Darius Jackson already on the depth chart. Personally, I don't like his chances.

Morris hasn't been quite as flashy as he was during the preseason, but still has a respectable 130 yards on his 33 carries. What you like about Morris is that he is better suited to the same zone blocking scheme that the Cowboys use with Elliott, giving you more consistency in the offense regardless of who's carrying the ball.

Cowboys Headlines - Trade History: Who Was The Last Player The Cowboys Dealt Away? 2

Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News

McFadden is more of a one-cut runner. You want to make a lane and let him burst through it. He doesn't have the same wiggle of Elliot or Morris or a style that allows for quick shifts at the line of scrimmage.

That isn't to say McFadden can't be effective. We all saw him put up impressive numbers last year, becoming the NFL's fourth-best rusher despite not getting starter carries until Week 6.

The issue is more that Alfred Morris is better suited for the backup role. Not only does he give you the consistency in style of play but he is better for short-yardage and goal-line situations. If Ezekiel Elliott is gassed after you getting you down close to the endzone, Morris is a better fit to come in and finish the drive.

After Elliott and Morris, the Cowboys have runner-receiver Lance Dunbar and sixth-round rookie Darius Jackson. Could McFadden push one of these guys off the roster?

lance-dunbarShocking as this may to be read, Dunbar is currently out with a minor knee injury. He has missed the last two games but could be back after the bye week. When healthy, Dunbar gives the Cowboys a versatile, potentially explosive weapon and a backup kick returner.

Jackson has yet to be active in 2016 but the Cowboys clearly like him enough not to risk losing him off the practice squad. McFadden's return doesn't change that, so I wouldn't expect Jackson to lose his spot to the veteran.

If Darren McFadden has a shot here, it's that Dallas could decide they don't have a use for Lance Dunbar anymore. We've seen receiver Lucky Whitehead making an impact using the kind of sweep plays that would've probably been drawn up for Dunbar. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley is doing damage on WR screens that Dunbar ran in 2015.

Given his unreliable health, Dunbar might be the one who has less overall value. Dallas could decide that they'd rather have McFadden in the stable, even as the third option, for security over the rest of the season.

The bottom line is that somebody has to go. My gut says that it will be Darren McFadden, and it's only a question of when. The Cowboys have three weeks from when he returns to practice to when they have to activate or release him.

Cowboys Headlines - Darren McFadden: Ready to Work, But Cowboys Don't Need HimWhile I don't think he has much trade value, McFadden's future could be decided sooner thanks to the November 1st deadline. If Dallas can move him, they will have to do it shortly after their next game against the Eagles. If the Cowboys can't see a role for McFadden going forward, getting even a sixth or seventh-round pick is better than nothing.

That said, barring a landscape-changing injury, I don't expect to see Darren McFadden in a Cowboys uniform again. It's certainly a sad way for things to end after the renaissance season he had in 2015.

Such is life in the NFL.



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!

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4 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    Even if they can get a 7th round pick for him that would be icing. That being said it’s time for Dunbar to get his ticket punched. I have been an advocate of him leaving all along. His injury history outweighs his talent. Its really that simple.

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      While I think McFadden is the odd man out, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they cut Dunbar instead. That’s really the only other scenario that makes sense.

  • SnT

    Get out of the Lance Dunbar thing-let Darren Mcfadden back and you will confuse the he– out of defenses worse than now. Zeke and Alfred are awesome-but it’s a team effort here-not how many yards we can get out of Ezekiel. He’s going to be a new master at running but we fans are seeing a SuperBowl contention forming. Zeke will continue to burn them with the help of two awesome assistants to give him rest. Go Cowboys!!!

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      How will they be confused?

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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

Sean Martin

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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon's Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

It's Sunday morning and the Cleveland Browns are expected to make a questionable decision by tomorrow, which is far from news for a Dallas Cowboys team waiting around for a crucial Sunday Night Football home game tonight. With Cleveland expected to part ways with troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon though, the Cowboys have understandably been linked to Gordon, even more so now with the talented pass catcher stating his own interest in America's Team.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

As teams discuss potentially trading for outgoing #Browns WR Josh Gordon, I'm told he's got his eye on two in particular: The #Cowboys and the #49ers.

Before looking into this any further, it's necessary to point out an all-important missing detail. Without any reports of the Cowboys own interest in Gordon, the soon-to-be free agent is simply the latest player to say he'd like to play for the Cowboys - hardly anything new for the Jones.

The Cowboys need for a player like Gordon has never been more evident though. Heavily criticized throughout the offseason for how they handled their wide receivers, the Cowboys passing game was a non-factor in the team's 16-8 week one loss.

Signing or trading for Gordon could do little to fix this, but the risk may also prove worthwhile for Dallas. The Baylor Bears product did put up 1,646 yards in 2013 with minimal talent around him, and has a career 17.3 yards per reception.

His ability to take the top off a defense is something the Cowboys are sorely missing. What they won't miss from not acquiring Gordon is the off-field trouble, taking on a player that missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension.

Last season,  Gordon was reinstated for the Browns final five games.

The NFL is, at least cautiously, easing their policy on players suspended for marijuana usage. Look no further than the Cowboys own Randy Gregory to prove this, as Gregory has already become a success story for the league by being with the Cowboys this season.

Whether or not Gregory plays on Sunday night (officially listed as DOUBTFUL) after suffering a concussion in his long-awaited return last week is yet to be determined. So too is Josh Gordon's future as the latest player on his way out of Cleveland.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @gmfb Weekend: The #Browns plan to release Josh Gordon after he showed up late, injured his hamstring during a photo shoot, and in general completely lost their trust. https://t.co/cX2HGZPBXi

I'm of the belief that Gordon won't last long on the open market, meaning this won't be the latest Cowboys story/non-story to drag through the presses. Any fan looking to pass time between now and kickoff against the Giants could probably find me saying the same about free agent WR Dez Bryant however.

Thanks to Bryant still being a free agent along with former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the team has looked smarter than expected in the long-term on moves like these.

If there's a smart way to bring on Josh Gordon, Dallas should be considering that too.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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