The Dallas Cowboys have arguably the NFL’s best running back in Ezekiel Elliott. But behind him on the depth chart are two rookies and two other players with almost no pro experience. If Dallas wants to bolster the RB group for 2019, signing former Redskin Rob Kelley may be a cheap way to do it.
Kelley has spent three years in Washington since joining them as an undrafted free agent in 2016. His rookie season was his best one; Rob started nine games after an injury to Matt Jones. He rushed for 704 yards and had six touchdown, plus another score and 82 yards off receptions.
In 2017, Kelley lost playing time to Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine. He still started seven games but was eventually used more for short-yardage situations. He finished the season on injured reserve from a high ankle sprain in mid November.
Last season, Kelley again found himself on injured reserve after an early-season toe injury. Before then, Washington had already added Adrian Peterson as the new starter. However, Rob had made the team at final cuts in a continued reserve role.
Rob Kelley became an unrestricted free agent after the Redskins decided not to place an RFA tender on him this offseason. He remains available, and at this point could probably be signed for the veteran minimum.
Over the last few years, the Cowboys have typically had an experienced player as their number-two running back. From Rod Smith to Alfred Morris to Darren McFadden, the team has had solid depth throughout Ezekiel Elliott’s time as the starter.
But currently they have two rookies, fourth-round pick Tony Pollard and seventh-round pick Mike Weber. While he has some exciting athleticism, Pollard is considered more of a gadget player in the mold of a Lance Dunbar. He may not hold up with the pounding of full-time touches if Elliott were to go missing.
Weber is the more traditional back but, again, is a late-around rookie. Other options include Darius Jackson and Jordan Chunn, who have almost no playing time on their resumes.
Rob Kelley isn’t a dynamic player but he’s still young and brings valuable experience. His physical running style also suit this team well; he can get a head of steam with the running lanes that the Cowboys’ offensive line creates.
While Kelley’s injuries the last two years are worth noting, they weren’t major knee issues or anything that should linger into another season. If anything, they’ve kept his mileage down.
Even if Dallas is hoping for success out of its two rookies running backs, it wouldn’t hurt to sign Kelley for the minimum and let him compete. There would be no risk and you might get more out of him than Washington, with their offensive issues the last few years, ever could.
The Cowboys are always looking for good deals, and Rob Kelley offers one of the better combinations of youth, experience, and minimal expense among the current free agents. If they want to add more depth to the running back position, he could be a smart way to go.