You would be hard pressed to find a running back in the NFL right now in a weirder situation then Darren McFadden. Acquired ahead of 2015, McFadden had the breakout year that we all knew the former fourth overall pick could behind the Cowboys' offensive line.
Despite his 1,089 yard effort, McFadden's Cowboys went 4-12, earning them the fourth overall pick. With that pick, he then saw Dallas draft his replacement, in Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys even went out to steal Alfred Morris in free agency, as another back that fit their scheme more than McFadden, but saw their lead back from 2015 get "veteran-courtesy" first team reps in mini camp. Before training camp in Oxnard though, McFadden broke his elbow in the strangest way, officially launching the Zeke Elliott era in Dallas.
Darren McFadden has been on the NFI list, ineligible to return through the first six weeks of the season. Now, like James Hanna (who has been on the similar PUP list), McFadden has a four week window to return to practice, and three weeks after his practice return to be activated, placed on the injured reserve, or released.
Ezekiel Elliott is obviously making it difficult for any other running backs to find prominent roles with the Cowboys, but having a veteran around like McFadden down the stretch to help manage the rookie's workload could be invaluable.
Depending on what this team also does at quarterback, McFadden could make for another solid option in the backfield with Tony Romo forcing defenses to back up. McFadden excels at hitting the hole quickly and bursting to the second level, something that cannot be taken for granted if you factor in the Cowboys' passing game with it.
As it is right now, Alfred Morris is still taking Elliott off the field on the third offensive possession for the Cowboys each week, and he is getting the job done at 3.9 yards per carry, securing the ball and running hard.
Could we see the Cowboys use both Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden to rest their emerging star in Ezekiel Elliott?
One recent sign that may help us answer this question is how the Cowboys have handled McFadden's contract situation.
Dallas has been paying Darren McFadden his full salary ($1.25M) while on the non-football injury list. They don't have to pay him anything.
McFadden is still earning his salary with the Cowboys, which likely means that they envision him helping this football team at some point later in the season. Dallas would have to make a roster move to eventually bring McFadden in, and they have seen Lance Dunbar miss the last two games due to injury - already on a one-year deal signed this off season.
While Scott Linehan loves the versatility that Dunbar can bring, his availability is anything but reliable, potentially making him easier to move on from. McFadden would then have a chance with the Cowboys, showing some newfound durability in 2015 by playing in all 16 games for just the second time in his career, and for the second consecutive season.
Ezekiel Elliott is clearly the present and the future for the Dallas Cowboys at the running back position, but all along this team has showed a ton of respect for Darren McFadden - a bright spot from a miserable 2015 campaign.
Before Ezekiel Elliott became the running back of America's Team, I wrote in detail right here why McFadden should have had the edge on the top of the depth chart going into 2016 with Alfred Morris signed and Tony Romo expected to start at QB.
Darren McFadden: "I'm healthy. I'm ready to go. Whenever I get a chance to get out there, I'm going to be ready for it.
Now, when it comes to McFadden being healthy and ready to fight for carries alongside Elliott and Morris, only time will tell if the fourth leading rusher from a year ago will still be running the rock in the silver and blue anytime soon.
Do you think we will see Darren McFadden with the Cowboys this season? Let us know! Use the comment section below to share your thoughts on the veteran running back, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
REPORT: Police Detain Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford After Bar Fight
According to TMZ, Tyrone Crawford was involved in a brawl at a bar in Panama City, FL last Friday night. The Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman and team captain was detained by police but apparently was not arrested.
The level of Crawford's involvement has not been substantiated, but TMZ's report does have him shoving police officers at some point in the action. The incident was reportedly captured by surveillance equipment at the bar.
Given that he was not arrested, one could assume that Tyrone was not one of the primary players in the melee. But that doesn't mean the NFL won't still review this matter as it relates to the personal conduct policy, and Cowboys fans know too well how "fair" that process can be.
This is certainly not a story you'd expect to see attached to Tyrone Crawford, who has been a model citizen and leader since entering the league in 2012.
Dallas elected to keep Crawford this season despite solid potential savings. He will count $10.1 million against their 2019 salary cap, which is high for his average production. However, he can play multiple positions and is one of their most experienced players.
Even if Tyrone were to get suspended by the league, it likely wouldn't be more than a one or two-game ban given his record and reputation. It shouldn't change anything about his status with the team.
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