Trading a Dallas RB? Tough Choice

There is no reason to believe the Dallas Cowboys actually want to trade a running back. Is there?

After all, the three-headed running monster that is Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice proved very effective this season.

But if the Cowboys want to acquire any additional assets — either in the form of a draft pick or another team's player — they will have to give up something, and the most inquiries from other teams have centered around the team's gifted trio of ball carriers.

Most seem to agree that Jones is virtually untouchable. Of course that's not really true — if a team offered a proven young star or a load of picks, he could be had. He certainly is not in the same "untouchable" category as someone like DeMarcus Ware — a proven superstar who is among the top players in the league at his position.

But for the right price, Dallas might be willing to part with either Barber or Choice. Make no mistake — the team does not want to move either one, and a team interested in either will have to dazzle the Cowboys with a strong offer.

So if the Cowboys decide they want to trade one for a pick or a player, who should be moved?


Financially, Choice makes far more sense for the Cowboys, or for any other team pursuing him. Barber just finished the second season of a seven-year, $45 million contract; Choice, on the other hand, has two years remaining on a four-year deal with $2.144 million. (Getty Images)
Break down the numbers, and there are two ways to look at this:

1. Statistically, Barber is the most productive of the two. Barber carried the ball 225 times for 950 yards and seven rushing touchdowns this season (including the playoffs); Choice rushed 79 times for 392 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The only category in which Choice had an advantage was in yards per carry: 5.0-4.2.

2. Financially, Choice makes far more sense for the Cowboys, or for any other team pursuing him. Barber just finished the second season of a seven-year, $45 million contract; Choice, on the other hand, has two years remaining on a four-year deal with $2.144 million.

So while Choice's contract is far more affordable — and shorter, which is key if a team decides to go in another direction — there's one other aspect to consider: durability. Barber and Choice both have reputations as extremely hard workers who put in the necessary time to take care of their bodies and arrive in shape at the beginning of OTAs and mini-camps.

But Barber is 17 months older than Choice, and has a violent running style that many think will lead to wear and tear and could cause his body to break down, perhaps even before the end of his current contract. He's extremely strong, and often dishes out as much punishment as he absorbs, but all of those collisions eventually take their toll on even the strongest of physiques.

Is this to suggest that Barber is starting to break down?

No. But given the fact that he's a little older, has far more carries (940 in his career, compared to 171 for Choice) and has an average salary of about $5 million, compared to Choice's average of just over $500,000, it's no wonder why teams are expressing more interest in Choice.

Team officials have maintained that they like the three-man rotation in the backfield. But if a deal for a running back is made, the top target of other teams is Choice.

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