The Cowboys had a reason to re-explore the DeMarco Murray idea, as we lay out here. The Cowboys have a reason to be pleasantly surprised with Darren McFadden's production in 2015, and his one-more-season at $1.5 million (even though he's not an idea scheme fit.)
But they have even better reasons to at least examine the possibility of bringing in free-agent running back Lamar Miller from Miami, and have surely "touched base'' on the idea. (Agent Drew Rosenhaus would have it no other way.)
The scouting report here: Miller is extremely agile, has great vision and makes hits his lanes quickly. He’s also elusive in the open field and has the speed to take it the distance on any given play. Miller's skill set and strengths are much more compatible with this offensive line than McFadden’s. If used correctly, Miller could be a top-tier RB in the NFL and here are some numbers to back up the argument.
Miller has a 4.9 YPC over the last 2 seasons, which is the 2nd most in the NFL among all RB’s with at least 300 carries in that span. Miller also has the 3rd most rushing TD’s and 4th most total TD’s among RB’s in that span. Jeremy Hill and DeMarco Murray are the only RB’s who have more rushing TD’s than Miller since 2014. On top of that, Miller had 5 more rushing TD’s than Darren McFadden in 2015, despite carrying the ball 45 fewer times.
Here’s another selling point for you: Lamar Miller has far less mileage on his body than most starting RB’s do at the same point in their careers. Miller has averaged 151 rushing attempts per season in his 4 years in the NFL. Comparatively, Marshawn Lynch averaged 203 rushing attempts per season in his first 4 years in the NFL. That’s 208 more rushing attempts than Miller. DeMarco Murray averaged 233 rushing attempts per season in his first 4 years in the NFL. That’s 328 more than Miller. On top of that, Miller only played 2 years in college while Lynch and Murray played 3 and 4 years, respectively.
Lamar Miller has openly discussed his disappointment in his lack of carries in Miami. He has publicly said that the number of carries he’ll receive and scheme fit will play a huge part in where he decides to play next. Luckily, he’s a perfect scheme fit in Dallas and would get more carries here than he ever has at any other point in his career. And if all of the wasn’t enough to get him on board, he also happened to grow up a huge Cowboys fan.
To be determined: If there is an affordability match. The Cowboys last spring told CHQ about being willing to pay a starting RB about $4 mil a year ... and inched up to $5 mil for DeMarco, who of course bolted to Philly for a larger payday.
We'd like to see Dallas inch up there again. How true are the reports that the Cowboys are a "front-runner'' here is entirely dependent on how willing Lamar Miller is to listen to line-in-cement numbers that have $5 million a year as a ceiling. ... vs. how willing the Texans (or any other bidder) is willing to jack that number up to a reported $6.5 million a year. Miller can't be blamed for ignoring all the evidence we've pointed out here ... but the Cowboys can't be blamed for being fiscally responsible, either.
And why? Think beyond this year. It's not that Dallas won't spent up to the $155 million to build its 53-man roster for 2016; it's that the budgeting also encompasses 2017, 2018, 2019 ... Be smart now and you'll look even smarter later when it's time to re-up Byron, Frederick, Martin and the rest. How much will Dallas budge off $5 mil? How much will Miller budge off 33 percent more than that? How often will Rosenhaus text reporters in multiple NFL cities saying "Team X is a front-runner''? Stay tuned!