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.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should the Cowboys Restructure LB Sean Lee’s Contract?
NFL Draft1 week ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog6 days ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Familiar Faces Remain in the Fold for Cowboys Mock Drafts
Star Blog1 week ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?