The Dallas Cowboys' offseason moves haven't exactly displayed much faith in running back Darren McFadden.
To make matters worse for McFadden, the Cowboys added yet another running back in the sixth round when they drafted Eastern Michigan's Darius Jackson.
There's no way McFadden is loving his chances to be a Cowboy come September at this point. However, I do believe there is hope for the NFL's fourth leading rusher from a season ago.
In 2015 the Cowboys did just about everything they could to avoid having to start McFadden.
Whether that was due to his poor-scheme fit, injury history, or just general questions the team may have had about his talent, McFadden basically became the running back of last resort.
Joseph Randle started the season as the lead back before running into a slew of personal problems. Lance Dunbar saw time as the change of pace back before injuring his knee and missing the majority of the season. And, the Cowboys went and traded for Christine Michael, with hopes of expanding his role at the Meadowlands following the bye week.
Instead, it was McFadden who saw his role grow that day.
McFadden started every game the rest of 2015, finishing with over 1,000 yards and possibly the best season of his entire career.
He showed resiliency, toughness, and willingness to work and fight for a spot on the roster and a chance to play on Sundays. No, he wasn't the ideal choice for the Cowboys but at times he was able to make it work and be a formidable back for the team.
Flash forward to this season.
OTA's are right around the corner, and position battles are starting to heat up. We all know Elliott will be the starter, and the odds are certainly in Alfred Morris' favor to be the number two back.
Rod Smith has moved to fullback and Lance Dunbar will likely begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
That leaves two running backs fighting for potentially one roster spot, Darren McFadden and Darius Jackson.
As I talked about in my film review of Jackson, I love his athleticism. He has breakaway speed, and has an ability to score each time he touches the ball that McFadden simply does not have.
I would also argue that Jackson is a much better scheme fit for the Cowboys, and could possibly fill the Lance Dunbar role until Dunbar returns to full health.
However, Jackson is coming from a small school where he didn't exactly shine through as a star. Rarely will a player stay as under the radar as Jackson has at a school like Eastern Michigan, only to make it big in the league and perform consistently at a high level.
McFadden has two things that Jackson doesn't which may go a long way with helping him make this team:
He has shown dependability as a Cowboy, and he has gained the trust of the coaching staff.
No, the injury concerns for McFadden haven't gone away simply because of one healthy season. But I do believe that he has shown a level of dependability for this team by carrying the load for the majority of 2015, and performing relatively well while doing so.
I will be the first person to tell you all the reasons why McFadden does not fit on this team. I will also be the first to root for Darius Jackson to make a run for the 3rd running back slot this season.
However, I don't believe that the coaches are really ready to let McFadden completely go just yet.
What he can bring to the team with depth and veteran experience at the position may be more valuable to the coaching staff than any extra flash Jackson may show.
Besides, we all expect Elliott to carry the bulk of the load anyway, so the 3rd running back very well may be just a veteran guy who can be trusted in game situations to simply not screw it up when called upon.
And to be honest, McFadden did more than just "not screw it up" a year ago.
I wouldn't count Darren McFadden out just yet.
Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.
Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.
I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.
After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...
Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.
And Landon Collins had this to say...
@NYPost_Schwartz The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need💯
If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.
The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.
Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.
The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.
Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.
Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.
We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.
Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans
The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.
Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw
Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.
The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.
The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.
But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.
Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.
It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.
Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.
BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.
Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.
Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.
After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.
The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.
While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.
While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.
The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.
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