Darren McFadden is on PUP and while he wants to come off it this week, Stephen Jones tells Fish they're not going to rush this. Two career backups are competing for chairman of the Running Back by Committee, with Joe Randle playing well but now Lance Dunbar -- also off to a good camp start -- having spent a day in a boot with an ankle problem.
So why don't the Cowboys need to seek a proven free agent for help carrying the rock?
I know. I can't believe I'm writing something like this. An article in this vein seems right out of a fanboy fantasy where you can go out and bring in big names ... and Fish is the editor here so I'm even surprised CHQ is running it ... but read me out on this one before clicking away to more newsworthy links here at CowboysHQ.
Heading into training camp, I was one of the scoffers who laughed at the idea the Cowboys should sign Chris Johnson off the street and bring him to camp. I mean, why would Dallas need to bring in a washed-up ball-carrier? You know, 2009 called and they said they want their running game back. The Cowboys had Jerry-blessed Joseph Randle, free agent Darren McFadden, scat-back Lance Dunbar, and dark-horse Ryan Williams vying for the top spot on the running back totem pole. This isn't Madden; let CJ2K stay on the couch munching on Cheetos.
Two days before camp, Williams was released, possibly due to his inability to stay healthy, what with the swollen knee he had been battling during OTAs. Then, McFadden landed on the PUP list to start training camp after tweaking his hamstring the week prior. And now, down goes Lance ...
In less than a week, the competition field for DeMarco Murray's successor dwindled, and a down had yet to be played in San Diego.
Sure: Dallas has street-FA Lache Seastrunk in the fold and added another undrafted free agent, Gus Johnson, to the 90-man roster in Oxnard. But these running backs are camp bodies and future "Uber squad" members. When Dallas is sitting at 8-4 in December, as a Cowboys fan, how confident would you feel with either one of those rookies carrying the ball 20 times a game and deciding whether to flair into the flats or protect Romo on third down?
The agent community has certainly made its push ...
But back volleys Fish ...
Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing with Fish. (And Mr. Getlin seems to be doing somebody a favor here by drumming up a half-truth.) Also, I'm not alleging Randle is injury prone or guaranteed to get hurt this season. For a guy who hasn't missed a game through five total years of college and pros, "injury prone" is an inapplicable label. However, what if he does get injured? What if he doesn't, but Dunbar and McFadden are? Even last year as Murray was leading the league in rushing, Randle and Dunbar came in to spell him.
It is likely true that Chris Johnson has been in contact with the Cowboys, though I'm sure that's more of a one-sided kind of contact, like how I'm "in contact with" Kate Upton despite her having never responded to a solitary tweet of mine. Any contact between the Cowboys and Johnson has been initiated from the latter's end.
Look. Signing one of these guys does not mean you are giving them the throne. All it means is the Cowboys have a proven veteran in place should the worst happen. In 1990, the Cowboys had Timmy Smith and Alonzo Highsmith along with first-rounder Emmitt Smith. In '94, Dallas also had Blair Thomas backing up Emmitt. In 2004, the front office hedged their bets with second-rounder Julius Jones with the Eddie George acquisition. In some of these cases, the backups weren't needed, while in the others they were.
The one thing Chris Johnson has going for him is durability. Out of 112 possible regular season games played between 2008-14, Johnson only missed one. As nothing more than a spare behind Chris Ivory with the Jets last year, Johnson managed a 4.3 yards per carry behind an offensive line nowhere near as dominant as that in Dallas. Between the two, Johnson actually caught more passes out of the backfield (24) than did Ivory and racked up 151 yards receiving.
Again, you don't bring in Johnson to be the lead horse, but as one of the horses in the sleigh.
You certainly don't bring Johnson to Dallas on anything other than a veteran minimum. Try a two-year, $1.7 million contract. According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys have the seventh-highest cap space with $17.4 million. What's a base salary of $850,000 going to hurt? It would hurt a lot less than having to start Lache Seastrunk in December when the Cowboys are making a playoff run.
Ultimately, it all comes down to whether personnel boss Will McClay still thinks Johnson has anything to offer,
Said Stephen: "There's big names out there. There's people that think, 'Well, maybe they ought to have that guy in camp.' And what you always have to remember with the big names is what they used to be. And our guys obviously led by Will McClay do a great job, I think, of really working with our coaches, really showing them where they think a particular player is at some point in his career; really informing Jerry and myself where they are in their career. And then we have to make a decision."
So, Bryan Broaddus, when there is room ... ?
Nope. https://t.co/tYC7KnvMzT— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) July 28, 2015
If Johnson can play, then the Dallas Cowboys ought to consider welcoming him to the committee. "Come holler at me!'' he says. And I know, McClay and Fish and Bryan presently think Dallas should not holler because he cannot play ... but somebody around here's got to, right?