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.
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.
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?
Shocking 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.
While 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.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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