Despite no official word from the man himself, Ezekiel Elliott, there seems to be quite a bit of speculation he could be a holdout when the Dallas Cowboys report to training camp. I honestly have a hard time seeing Zeke pull such a stunt, but the Cowboys need a plan B in place just in case.
As the league's leading rusher two out of the last three years, Ezekiel Elliott is no easy RB to replace. There is absolutely no way the Dallas Cowboys can find a ballcarrier capable of handling the same kind of responsibilities as he has the past three years, but that doesn't mean they don't have options. That's what I want to take a look at today.
Let's get started…
Option 1: Roll the Dice With the Current Backups
The most obvious, and most likely, plan B option for the Dallas Cowboys is to just stick with the status quo and roll the dice with their current backups. They do have some intriguing running backs behind Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart, but most of them are all young and unproven.
Rookie RB Tony Pollard is expected to be the RB2 behind Zeke this season, but he is more suited as a change of pace back. It's unlikely Dallas would ask him to handle the same kind of workload #21 has. In fact, Pollard has never been that kind of RB, even during his time at Memphis. The next logical choice may be his fellow rookie draft mate, Mike Weber
Weber is more suited to be in every down type back in the NFL. He is more accustomed to a heavier workload, having played such a role for the Buckeyes during his time at Ohio State. He did end up splitting time with J.K. Dobbins the last few years, but he is probably better suited to play the workhorse role than any other RB behind Zeke on the depth chart.
I think the only other options currently on the roster the Dallas Cowboys would consider is Darius Jackson or Jamize Olawale. After all, they are the only two RBs who have received a meaningful carry in the NFL. To date, Jackson has a grand total of six carries for 16 yards on his resume and Olawale has a total of 55 carries for 206 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Neither have been all that productive, but their experience could prove invaluable.
If Zeke does hold out, and they stick with their current stable of RBs, the Dallas Cowboys will likely go to more of a committee approach as far as their running game is concerned.
Option 2: Sign a Veteran RB
The next most likely option for the Dallas Cowboys if Zeke holds out is to sign a veteran running back. This means they more than likely aren't all that comfortable with the current RBs on the roster or they simply view what they can still get on the open market as a slight upgrade.
Unfortunately, the vet RBs still available at this point in the year isn't all that inspiring. Jay Ajayi is arguably the best option, but he missed the last 12 games of the 2018 season with a knee injury. If 100% healthy though there's little doubt he wouldn't be the best alternative available to replace Zeke if it comes to that.
The only other vet RBs worth considering for the Cowboys would be LeGarrette Blount or Jacquizz Rogers. Both players have found some success in the NFL, but I'm not exactly sure either could be considered a surefire upgrade over what Dallas already has on the roster.
Sadly, that's about the Cowboys only options as far as available veteran ball carriers go.
Option 3: Trade for a RB
Trading for a running back seems like the least likely option for the Dallas Cowboys if Ezekiel Elliott chooses to sit out training camp. If it came to this, it clearly means the Cowboys don't like their current options behind Zeke, including the two rookie RBs they invested drafts pick on, or what's available on the open market.
If I were the Cowboys, I'd be looking to teams who are currently deep at the RB position. The New England Patriots immediately popped into my head as a possible trade partner. They've invested a first-round pick (Sony Michel) at the position last year and a third-round pick (Damien Harris) this year. They also still have veterans James White and Rex Burkhead.
The Patriots are known as a team willing to trade away any of their unwanted assets, and if the Cowboys are looking to make a deal I think I'd target Rex Burkhead. If New England is indeed willing to part ways with him, it likely wouldn't take more than a 2020 late-round draft pick.
This of course is just a potential option, but not the only one. There are other vet RBs the Cowboys could potentially trade for if they choose to go that direction.
Which option do you think the Cowboys would choose if Zeke holds out?
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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