The Dallas Cowboys, like every other team in the NFL have to abide by the salary cap rules whether they like it or not. Sometimes that means they have to make some tough decisions regarding their roster and 2017 should be no different. The Cowboys cap casualties have yet to be announced, but one player that might be feeling a little nervous about his time with America's Team is coming to an end is backup running back, Alfred Morris.
The former Washington Redskin and two-time Pro Bowl running back was signed to a two-year, $3.5 million contract in 2016 by the Cowboys. Alfred Morris was expected to form a 1-2 punch with the former 2008 first-round draft pick, Darren McFadden.
It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was short-lived with the selection of Ezekiel Elliott in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Elliott went on to have one of the best seasons for a rookie running back in the history of the NFL. Morris was Elliott's backup for the majority of the season, but was made inactive once McFadden made his return from his elbow injury that wiped out the majority of his 2016 season.
McFadden is now a free agent, while Morris is in the last year of his contract and could end up being one of the Cowboys cap casualties, saving them $1.6 million in 2017. That $1.6 million savings could be used to bring back Darren McFadden, who seems to be a favorite of the Cowboys coaching staff.
Let's dive into this little bit deeper though to determine who might be the better fit.
RB Alfred Morris: 2-Time Pro Bowler
Alfred Morris is a two-time Pro Bowl player and has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark three out of five years in his NFL career. He's not the biggest or fastest running back in the NFL, but he is a good fit to run in the zone blocking scheme that the Cowboys offense uses the majority of the time.
Morris' willingness to remain patient in the running game allows the blocks in front of him to develop. When he sees a crease, he puts his foot in the ground and relies on his vision and low center of gravity to pick up his yardage. He's not going to break many long runs because of his lack of top end speed. Instead, he is more of the type of RB that will wear defenses down throughout the ballgame.
Another plus about Alfred Morris is his ability to stay healthy. He has never missed a game in his NFL career because of injuries.
Unfortunately, Morris really isn't a three down player. He's not a very good pass catcher out of the backfield and he also really struggles in pass protection. These are some of his biggest flaws as a player, especially with the Cowboys who like to utilize their RBs in the passing game.
It's Alfred Morris' flaws as a player that could make him one of the Dallas Cowboys cap casualties.
RB Darren McFadden: Former First Round Draft Pick
Darren McFadden is the more talented of the two players, which is why he was drafted so highly in the 2008 NFL Draft to begin with.
McFadden has never been voted into the Pro Bowl and has only eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark twice in his NFL career. He is a downhill runner and that would probably be a better fit in a power blocking scheme. But, he has already proven that he can be effective running behind the Cowboys impressive offensive line.
With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden is the most complete back the Cowboys have had the last few seasons. He is an underrated receiver out of the backfield and is excellent in pass protection. He may not have the breakaway speed that he once had earlier in his career, but he can still challenge defenses out on the edge.
His biggest flaw is the fact that he has struggled to remain healthy during his nearly decade-long career in the NFL. This is a little bit worrisome because the Cowboys will need a RB that they don't have to worry about being available when needed.
Despite what his size would suggest, McFadden isn't going to pick up a lot of those tough yards in short yardage situations. He doesn't run with a lot of power and tries to run away from defenders instead of delivering the blow.
Which Player Has Most Continued Upside With The Cowboys?
Generally when you compare players and analyze their future upside with their respective team, their age comes into play. Alfred Morris (28) is younger than Darren McFadden (29), but I believe McFadden still has more upside for the Dallas Cowboys.
McFadden is a more complete running back that can stay on the field for all three downs. Plus, he has already proven that he can be the workhorse back for the Cowboys offense. You may have forgotten, but in 2015 he started 10 games for the Cowboys and finished fourth in the NFL with 1,089 rushing yards.
We never really got a chance to see what Alfred Morris could do as the featured back for the Cowboys in 2016. But, given the small sample size we saw last year, he didn't inspire a lot of confidence that he could handle the job as well as McFadden did in 2015.
Verdict: Darren McFadden
Who Survives The Cowboys Cap Casualties Game In 2017?
As things stand right now, the running back that survives the Cowboys cap casualties has to be Alfred Morris. He is still under contract for the upcoming 2017 season, while Darren McFadden will test his market value and contemplate his offers from other teams in free agency.
Having said all of that, I believe the Dallas Cowboys would prefer to have Darren McFadden return over Alfred Morris. Once McFadden returned to the lineup last year, he pretty much made Morris an afterthought.
The Cowboys coaching staff clearly values McFadden's ability to be a three down player and his veteran leadership. So, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he is the one they try and make a part of the 2017 plans if they had to decide between the two players.
Verdict: Alfred Morris because he is under contract.
Who do you think the Cowboys should go with, Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden?
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.
In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.
There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.
While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.
Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.
Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.
In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.
Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.
Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.
At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.
The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.
QB Dak Prescott Named Cowboys’ Nominee For Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award
As the quarterback of America's Team, Dak Prescott is faced with a level of criticism each week that few athletes have to deal with. He is constantly questioned for his play, and even when things are going well, Prescott must answer his critics. But one area absolutely no one can question Prescott is his leadership, both on and off the field.
Dak Prescott is the perfect role model for children and adults alike. He is constantly doing fantastic work in his communities and making sure he uses his platform for good to his best ability.
This week it was announced Dak Prescott was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and will be the Cowboys' candidate in the race.
@Dak Prescott has been announced as the #Cowboys nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year - for 'commitment to philanthropy and community impact.' DAL past winners of the NFL-wide honor: Staubach, Aikman, Witten. @1053thefan
Of course, Prescott is well-worthy of the honor, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being both a finalist and the recipient of the award this year. As mentioned by Mike Fisher in the above tweet, three Cowboys have won the award previously; Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Jason Witten. Each of which is deserving, as is Prescott.
Considering the award is given out for "commitment to philanthropy and community impact," I can't think of many more worthy players around the league than quarterback Dak Prescott. We can see this impact in the locker room and on the field as well, as Prescott was voted a captain in just his sophomore season. The Cowboys clearly respect Prescott, despite some of the flaws in his game, and seem to play hard beside him every week.
Congratulations to Dak Prescott on this nomination.
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