Day one of the free agent signing period has come and gone, and with it any hope that Cowboys fans had of seeing their team sign either Doug Martin or Lamar Miller to pair with incumbent Darren McFadden in the backfield. Despite our collective frustration as the front office passes on yet another "perfect fit", now we must turn our attention further down the free agent list. Running back has become a nearly interchangeable position in today's NFL, and with few exceptions it is more about scheme-fit than talent. So here are two second-tier free agent runners that make sense for Dallas.
[UPDATE]: Looks like Powell is going to re-sign with the Jets.
Jets are re-signing RB Bilal Powell, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2016
Bilal Powell - New York Jets
Powell is not a flashy runner, but he is relatively durable and consistent, He has been with the Jets since they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He has gained over 1,600 rushing yards in his career so far, but has never been more than a rotational back. Powell will not be looking for starter-type money but is likely interested in an increased role with his next team. While he doesn't do anything at an exceptional level, he can be trusted to do everything an NFL back is asked to do. Powell is a capable pass catcher and also understands is responsibilities in pass protection. He is not a splash player by any means, but Powell is a solid bridge player who could be had on the cheap.
Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins
Morris burst onto the scene in 2012 with 1,613 yards rushing as a rookie. Since then he has seen both his usage and production decline in each subsequent season. Coming off a 751 yard campaign in 2015, the former sixth-round pick is set to hit the open market. Morris is a powerful and quick runner who is very well versed in the zone blocking scheme that Dallas likes to employ. The one major knock on Morris' game is that he is not a threat in the passing game. Pairing Morris with a back like Run DMC however could be just what he needs to get his career back on track. Interest seems to be low around the league right now, but a runner with 4,713 career yards and 29 touchdowns in his first four seasons should see his market heat up sooner rather than later.
The Cowboys have remained disciplined and are sticking with their plan to avoid overpaying for splash free agents. As frustrating as that can be from a fans point of view it is important to remember that the high-salary guys rarely pan out for their new teams. So while you watch other teams jump in head first and throw money at free agents, remember this little factoid from NFL Network's Albert Breer:
Good segue to my reminder: 86 players were selected to the Pro Bowl in December. Two of those 86 (Revis, Iupati) were 2015 free agents.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 10, 2016