The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly in the trade market for some help at running back after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an injunction preventing the NFL from suspending Ezekiel Elliott for six games.
The Cowboys are reportedly kicking the tires on Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker. And that’d certainly make sense because Dallas has a need if Elliott’s suspension holds up and Denver has a crowded backfield, but reports out of Denver have since refuted the Broncos’ interest.
However, there are additional options that should be available for relatively cheap on the trade market and it would behoove the Cowboys to exhaust those options to make sure they get the best deal possible. So let’s take a look at three running backs the Cowboys should consider, in addition to Booker.
Why the Dallas Cowboys should trade for New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis
Despite seldom use out of the New England Patriots backfield, Dion Lewis continues to be one of the more elusive runners in the NFL. And he comes with the added benefit of fitting nicely as a complimentary piece to either Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden or potentially both.
He’s a threat out of the backfield in the passing game and has some experience lining up in the slot, though he’s been surpassed as the receiving back in New England by James White. Plus, the Patriots have a surplus of backs with six of them on their roster.
Lewis hasn’t gotten more than 18 snaps in a single game this season and Rex Burkhead is coming back this week to cut even further into that workload. So trading Lewis now and getting something out of him before he becomes a free agent next offseason would be smart for the Patriots.
Why the Dallas Cowboys should trade for Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Ivory
The Jacksonville Jaguars have Leonard Fournette now and that doesn’t leave much room for Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon, who has been a healthy inactive for most of the season. We’ll get to Yeldon in a moment, but let’s look at Ivory for now.
He’s been a darling of the analytics community going back to his days with the New Orleans Saints for his ability to run through contact. Once he left for a starring role in the New York Jets backfield, he proved them right by running for 2,724 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons, including a Pro Bowl trip in 2015.
And even though Ivory is 29, he’s only had two seasons where he’s taken on more than 200 touches, so he has less mileage than most at that age. He’s the clear backup to Fournette at the moment, so he may come at a higher price, but he could be an upgrade over both Morris and McFadden as the every-down back behind that offensive line.
Why the Dallas Cowboys should trade for Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon
This would be primarily an upside play because Yeldon struggled in 2016 and can’t get on the field in 2017. Now, in fairness, his offensive line was miserable last season and he’s stuck behind two good backs at the moment.
However, if you make a trade for Yeldon you can’t be certain that you’re getting a player you won’t wind up having to release in six weeks. That being said, his skillset lends well to a floor of at least being a solid complementary piece to Morris and McFadden.
Yeldon caught 86 passes in his first two seasons with the Jaguars and there’s reason to believe his skills as a runner would get a boost from playing behind the Cowboys’ stout offensive line. Plus, he should come relatively cheap being that he’s been written out of the script in Jacksonville.
The obvious best-case scenario is for Elliott to win his next court battle and beat back his suspension yet again. You can’t replace that kind of explosiveness either in free agency or via trade.
However, if that doesn’t happen, the Cowboys should definitely bring in help and these are three good options — so is Booker. Ultimately, Lewis has to be the most intriguing because of what an enormous impact he’s had in such a limited role with New England.
At worst, he’s a great third-down piece. At best, he gives you 15-20 touches of magic every game and gets as close to replacing Elliott (production-wise) as anybody can.
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