December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. St. Louis Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Have Second Chance at Missed Opportunity

In football, as in life, second chances don’t come along very often. When the NFL free agency and trading period begins on March 12, the Dallas Cowboys will have the opportunity to undo a draft decision they made in 2004 when they let running back Steven Jackson slip through their fingers. Lo these many years later, Jackson is riding an eight-year 1,000 yard streak, while the revolving door at running back continues in Big D.

We in Cowboyland have become all too familiar with our illustrious owner’s love for doing the unexpected. Looking back on that fateful draft day, I can still remember how I broke out in a cold sweat when the announcement came that the Cowboys would pass their #22 pick to the Buffalo Bills. I had been anticipating Dallas’ first round pick and thinking, like many in the know did that day, that the front office folks at The Ranch would fix our ailing running back situation by adding the Oregon State bruiser to our roster. They did make an addition to the backfield that day in Julius Jones. However, that failed experiment has had a rippling effect that continues to be felt by the Cowboys to this day.

It goes without saying what a huge void was created when the league’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, departed Dallas. Trying to fill that hole has been a work in progress for far too long. When Julius Jones made his rookie appearance in 2004, he contributed a respectable 800-plus yards in a disappointing 6-10 season. As luck would have it, he would never have the chance to fully shine as 2005 brought Marion “The Barbarian” Barber to town. Barber and Jones seemed to be working well in a dual-back system that was employed by then head coach Bill Parcells. With Jones as the starter and Barber as the closer, Dallas appeared to have a winning combination in the backfield once again. Sadly, that promising experiment was abandoned when the Cowboys and new head coach Wade Phillips opted to bow to fan pressure and made Barber the starter. His punishing style was never meant for an every-down role and when he was unable to live up to the seven year $45 million contract that Jones signed him to, Barber fell out of favor. The emergence of rookie sensation Felix Jones from Jones’ alma mater, Arkansas, coupled with the addition of  Tashard Choice, meant the beginning of the end for Barber in Big D. Likewise, Choice was soon shown the door in Dallas. With Jones an unrestricted free agent this year, he is sure to be next.

The latest Cowboys would-be star running back Demarco Murray has shown flashes of brilliance since his debut in 2011. His 253 yards, which oddly enough came against Jackson’s St. Louis Rams in 2011, eclipsed the franchise single-game mark of 237 yards that had been held by Smith. Murray has been bitten by the injury bug, though, and has missed nine games in just two seasons.

From where I sit, when Jackson announced that he would void the end of his contract with the Rams and hit the free-agent market, it was like a neon sign from the football gods saying, “Jerry, don’t screw this up again…”  If Dallas chooses to stand pat on this one and another team…say the New York Giants…swoops in and signs Jackson, it will come back and bite them in the behind come September. Adding him, coupled with some offensive line help from the draft, will pay dividends for our backfield situation. Not only will the Cowboys be bringing in a successful veteran who has plenty of gas left in his tank; they will also be providing Murray with a mentor to help him develop into the kind of durable back he is capable of being. It’s a win-win proposition for everybody involved. The Cowboys get to fix a faux pas from draft days past and Jackson gets to suit up for the most recognizable franchise in the NFL and spend his Sunday afternoons in Jerry’s billion-dollar baby. What’s not to love here?

Come on Jerry…make that call!

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Jerry Jones Running Backs Steven Jackson

  • P.j. Doyle

    A lot of that was Jason Garrett’s fault. Jones and Barber gave the one two punch. But when Garrett came in as OC, the running game went to hell!

    • Troy Spurlock

      I agree

  • Troy Spurlock

    We really need to sign S.J. Let s hop J.J. dont F this up.

  • LoVeLeSs

    I’d do backflips but you have to ask yourself where the money to pay him is going to come from. We have too many needs at other positions and don’t have the money to fill them. I’d rather see what little money we end up with spent on a veteran safety or veteran off. guard. While I agree Murray’s proneness to injury proves that we need depth at running back, I just don’t see the justification for spending the money needed for Jacksonwhen it could be used for more pressing needs. I’d much rather see us sign Reggie Bush who would come cheaper and has a lot to offer, especially catching passes out of the backfield. And he can be the lead horse if Murray goes down again.

  • Dave Woodard

    Make that call??? What are you going to offer him? Free Coffee and a pizza party at the stadium… Steven, we cant pay you untill we sign Romo’s extension. Bu twhen we do, I will give you a million per year! lol

    • LoVeLeSs

      Seriously! Nobody in their right mind would take less money to come to Dallas and run behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

  • juz sayin

    Breaking news The Honeybadger has changed his name 2 Baby Primetime & is heading 2 Big D.

  • ctcowboy1968

    I would not go after SJ at all. Yes, he gets his yards. But he doesn’t score TDs. 56 career TDs. His only good year for scoring was in 2006 when he scored 13. Excluding 2006, he averages only 5 TDs a year. He also has injury issues. At 29, he is on the downside of his career and wants a big pay day.

    Go for Chris Ivory of the Saints. If they don’t offer a 2nd rd tender, then it would cost the Cowboys $1 million and no draft comp. He is a proven bruiser, fast, can carry a full work load for weeks on end. When all the Saints RBs went down in 2010, this UDFA rookie carried the mail for the season.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    It would be nice to sign Jackson but that is not realistic considering other more pressing needs and salary cap issues. I do not believe Dallas would get the value for the money they would have to pay. But then again, isn’t that what Dallas has been all about for the past 15 or so years?

  • ‘mericas_team2013

    No, picking up Steven Jackson now would be as stupid as it was trading the pick away in 2004. Its not like its 2008 and hes just finishing up his first contract the guy is approaching the end of his career.