Don’t expect the Dallas Cowboys to add a NFL Free Agent at running back
By Matthew Postins
Cowboys 2014 Free Agent Needs: Running backs
RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down the free agent needs at every position group for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the running backs.
Running backs: DeMarco Murray (starter), Lance Dunbar (backup), Phillip Tanner (backup), Joseph Randle (backup).
Other notable players: Fullback Tyler Clutts (signed late in season)
Cowboys quarterbacks entering free agency: Tanner (restricted).
Free agency need?: 3 (out of 10, 10 being most pressing).
Why: DeMarco Murray is under contract for one more season and coming off the best season of his career in 2013. All of his backups are under contract, except for Tanner, who as a restricted free agent likely isn’t going anywhere. This is what you hope for in this day and age of NFL running back rotations – options. Murray is the star, but Dunbar has certainly shown flashes of brilliance and can be that change of pace back if he can stay healthy. Tanner is good in a pinch and Randle needs another full offseason before we get a real feel for what he can offer the Cowboys.
Possible targets: The Cowboys probably won’t pursue a free agent. But there are some intriguing names that aren’t in the Cowboys’ wheelhouse financially, including Ben Tate, Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno and Maurice-Jones Drew. Should the Cowboys feel the need to bring in a veteran to compete for time or challenge one of the backups, think of a guy like Minnesota’s Toby Gerhart, Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Dwyer and Tennessee’s Leon Washington. It will be cheap and it will be a specialist the Cowboys believe brings them something the other backs don’t.
Looking ahead: The Cowboys face decision time on Murray, whose contract expires after 2014. His current contract pays him less than $1 million in 2014. That won’t be the case in 2015. So do the Cowboys bite the bullet now and extend Murray? He’s missed games to injury in all three seasons of his career, but he had nearly 1,500 yards rushing and receiving in 2013 despite missing two games. The Cowboys already have $107 million in player costs committed to 2015, and it’s hard to see the 2015 cap being more than $130 million. If they wait and Murray has another season like 2013, his cost will go way up after next season. The Cowboys feel they have some protection in Randle, whom they believe embodies some of the same qualities, talent-wise, as Murray. That’s another reason why the Cowboys might not be active when it comes to free-agent running backs, as they feel they may already have their succession plan.
Next up: Wide receivers.