The Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2020 season with one of the best running back duos in the league, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. But as good as these two are, should Dallas be looking at adding one more experienced, veteran RB to at least take to training camp?
For three out of the last four camps the Cowboys have enjoyed the presence of veteran Alfred Morris. While he didn’t make the team last year after Zeke got his new contract, Morris was around to provide his savvy and professionalism for the younger RB prospects and improve offensive functionality in practice.
But now in 2020 we have Elliott under contract, not suspended, and entering his fifth season. We have Pollard in his second year. Even prospect Jordan Chunn has spent the last two years on Dallas’ practice squad.
Even with some interesting veteran free agents available, is it a time for the Cowboys to just stand pat and let the young guys play?
Still on the open market are big names like Devonta Freeman, LeSean McCoy, and Lamar Miller. Also looking for work are Carlos Hyde, Theo Riddick, and Jonathan Williams. A former Mike McCarthy player, Ty Mongtomery, could be interesting in a hybrid RB/WR role.
A player like Devonta Freeman likely wouldn’t want to come to Dallas to be buried behind Elliott and Pollard on the depth chart. He’s still just 28 and would want a more substantial role on his next team.
But we’re now a week into May and job openings are harder to find. Some guys might be willing to take what they can get.
One guy I can’t dismiss easily is LeSean McCoy. It might be familiarity bias after all his years with the Eagles, but last year he did some solid work as a roleplayer in the Kansas City offense.
McCoy brings a lot of experience in the West Coast offense. We expect to see more of that influence in Dallas after McCarthy’s arrival. Even before now, Kellen Moore was starting to put more emphasis on running backs as receivers.
Having a third running back who can preserve the offensive style could be important if either Elliott or Pollard were to miss time.
Sure, we typically think of the third RB has a guy who plays special teams and only gets seen in a crisis. But that need has been mitigated somewhat by the rule change for gameday rosters, which allows one extra spot for a potential specialist.
Of course, this may all be a moot point if the Cowboys plan to just keep two running backs again like last year. Only Zeke and Pollard were on the RB depth chart, with fullback Jamize Olawale and Tavon Austin both able to play the position in an emergency.
Elliott will still be just 25 this season and has been incredibly durable, but the odds get worse every year for him to keep avoiding a major injury. At some point, Dallas may need to consider some extra insurance on the roster.
Perhaps 2020 is still too soon for that concern. And even if the Cowboys do keep a third RB, they may prefer a guy like Jordan Chunn for his youth and special teams ability. There are also a few undrafted rookies who could earn a spot this year.
But all it takes is one injury, to either Zeke or Pollard, and Dallas could find itself wishing it had something more on the depth chart.
So no, 2020 doesn’t have a critical need for more RB talent. But with so many available and now well into the offseason, some significant players could be had for a major discount.