Cowboys Sign McFadden + Here's Why

IRVING - It is the Cowboys' position, in the wake of DeMarco Murray's big-money departure to Philadelphia, that there are 30 different directions for Dallas to go at the running back position. The just-signed Darren McFadden represents part of one of those directions.

The signing of former Arkansas and Raiders fist-round running back Darren McFadden to a two-year deal is only part of one of those directions, sources tell

McFadden is at Valley Ranch right now agreeing to a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys at what is reportedly "up to'' a $5.8-mil deal (we'll need to check on the guarantees, which is all that matters here), but the Cowboys recognize this is not the end-all to their search to replace Murray, the NFL rushing champ who joins the Eagles with a new $42-million contract. The running back options at Valley Ranch include a "by-committee'' approach, the examination of using a first- or second-round pick on a runner (Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman?) and even the exploration of a deal to bring unhappy Vikings star Adrian Peterson to Texas.

The AD idea isn't one anybody really says out loud. But it exists.

McFadden is a gifted and explosive runner when healthy, as exemplified by the fact he was the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft in 2008 after a stellar career at Arkansas. There is a Jerry and Stephen Jones connection with Arkansas, of course. But this is a scouting department move and a cap move based on what McFadden has done in his seven NFL years ... and how affordable he is because those years have been plagued by injury. Last season, McFadden rushed for 534 yards on 155 carries in 16 games. In his career, he has averaged 4.1 yards per carry and has rushed for 4,247 yards and 25 TDs.

Why him and not others? A quick review of what the Cowboys department thinks here:

*Reggie Bush - Not a full-time guy and too expensive.

*Trent Richarson - A plodder - and Jason Garrett can gather this info from his 'Bama buddy Nick Saban.

*CJ Spiller - Maybe you don't completely rule this out, but he turned down $4.5 mil in Buffalo. It's possible Stevan Ridley belongs in this category, too -- but these type of guys will have to be financial losers in the game of Musical Chairs to still be around at a later tier, and they probably won't be.

*Ryan Williams, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar -- Dunbar is a specialist. Williams still needs to prove something. And Randle simply isn't trusted inside the building.

Item by Item

*Heads up on the compensatory picks Dallas will be getting for losing DeMarco and the rest. Done right, this will be a Cowboys windfall in 2016, as KD brilliantly explains here.

*Dwayne Harris considers himself the NFL’s most versatile special-teamer and now the Giants will pay him that way, luring him away from Dallas with what sources tell us is a five-year, $17.5-million contract.

"Will be taking my talents to the Big Apple,'' Harris tweeted Tuesday, shortly after the NFL's free-agency shopping period opened.

Harris caught just seven passes for 116 yards (with four carries for seven yards). But offense wasn’t his Cowboys forte as much as special-teams play was. He dipped a bit in 2014, averaging 24.7 yards per kick return and 9.2 yards per punt return. But the year before he averaged 30.6 yards per kick return and 12.8 yards per punt return, in addition to perennially being Dallas’ best kick-coverage guy. He also led the Cowboys with 18 special-teams tackles.

Meanwhile ... A couple of days ago we spoke to Justin Durant and despite his impending free agency, he was optimistic about returning to the Dallas Cowboys.

"I'm glad people are interested," The team captain told us. "And hopefully we get it done."

It turns out the "people'' that are most interested are the Atlanta Falcons, who are hiring away Durant after his two seasons in Dallas.

The Cowboys have prioritized the return of Rolando McClain, will get Sean Lee back from injury, have Anthony Hitchens coming off a fine rookie season, and have signed NFL veteran Keith Rivers to a deal.

But Durant was the consummate pro during his time here even as he missed two thirds of last season due to injury. He earned a reputation as a playmaker and was even voted team captain by his mates as he began his second year at Valley Ranch.

*We reported Monday afternoon that agent Tom Condon has no face-to-face meeting scheduled with the Joneses regarding client Dez Bryant's cap-compliance-deadline-beating "Cowboys For Life'' deal. This is not a good thing. We will monitor. Research here for how the Dez deal works.

We reported on Sunday that the "Tyron Trigger'' would happen before cap-compliance time, 3 p.m. Monday. It's done, and now Dallas has about $9 million of room (with Tyson's $8 mil of space created). In addition to DeMarco, Rolando McClain is a priority and Dallas is touching base there.

*The Cowboys are sitting on the Brandon Carr talks right now, likely to re-explore if/when needed.

*The Buccaneers signed Bruce Carter to $20.5-mil deal for four years. Last year Carter recorded 68 tackles with five interceptions. Henry Melton is also signing with Tampa. And Sterling Moore is visiting there.


*Should we be angry at Cowboys management for opting to avoid paying "star-market-value'' for a good player they think is replaceable? Should we be mad at DeMarco Murray for being told Dallas loves him near $6 mil and Philly loves him near $9 mil ... so he loves the $9 mil back more? We've got the details on DeMarco's departure to Philly here.

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