Dallas Cowboys: Finding the next Dwayne Harris


Year in and year out, teams around the NFL have to find the best way to replace certain players that have moved on from the team for some reason or another. The Dallas Cowboys are no exception and have done a much better job of building a competitive roster since Jason Garrett has taken over as the head coach of America’s Team.

Players leave through free agency, via trades, and even retirement. The best way to replace these players is usually through younger and cheaper options by way of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, each NFL team has just so many draft picks that they can use in order to replace these players and that is where free agency comes in.

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The Cowboys have two players in particular that they are still trying to figure out how to replace in DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Harris. Fortunately, the organization still has the rest of preseason and training camp to accomplish this task.

The Cowboys have decided to replace Murray with a running back by committee approach and Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar are all going to get their opportunity to prove to the coaching staff and fans alike that they are ready to step up and seize the opportunity.

However, things can change at the drop of a hat and the Cowboys could decide to look outside the organization to shake up the running back situation and find Murray’s replacement.

Replacing Harris on the other hand can be a little bit more difficult because of all of the different things he did for the team.

I like to compare Harris to a Swiss Army knife. He was not only one of the better return men in the league, but he was a special teams demon both in the return game and covering punts and kickoffs. Believe it or not, he was also probably the best blocking wide receivers on the team and one of the reasons why the Cowboys had such a successful running game in 2014.

Replacing Harris’ production on all of the different special-teams units and on the offensive side of the ball will be difficult to do with just one player.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Florida Atlantic Lucky Whitehead coming out of training camp and that he might perhaps be the answer to replacing Harris in the return game. We  actually were able to see a glimpse of his explosion has a returner against the San Diego Chargers in the first preseason game, but we also saw him turn the ball over.

This is simply unacceptable and is the fastest way to lose your job.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, I think I might have just found a veteran wide receiver that can come in and fill the void left by Harris in every facet of the game that he was involved in.

Current Houston Texans wide receiver Keshawn Martin compares favorably to Harris and could possibly be looking for a new team to play for in 2015 because his situation with the team.

As it stands now, Martin is listed under the “other” category on the Texans official depth chart behind wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts, Damaris Johnson, Alan Bonner, and rookie Jaelen Strong.

Hopkins is looking to replace the Texans all-time leading receiver and fan favorite Andre Johnson. Both Washington and Shorts were brought in and signed during free agency, and Strong was a third-round draft choice this year. All of them are pretty much guaranteed roster spots which leaves Martin on the outside looking in and competing for perhaps the fifth or sixth receiver spot.

What does all this mean?

It means that Martin could be available via trade or as a free agent.

Martin is almost a mirror image of Harris, at least physically, and his career NFL stats are similar as well.

At 27, Dwayne Harris is 5’10” tall and weighs 202 pounds. He is entering his fifth season in the NFL, but has only amassed 33 career receptions for 418 yards and three touchdowns as a wide receiver for the Cowboys. As a kick returner he has a career average of 26.5 yards. As a punt returner he has a career return average of 11.1 yards and has scored two touchdowns.

Keshawn Martin is 25 years old and stands at 5’11” tall. He weighs 194 pounds and is entering his fourth season in the NFL. Thus far in his NFL career he has amassed 38 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns. As a kick returner he has averaged 25.1 yards so far and as a punt returner he has averaged 8.9 yards. Unfortunately, he has yet to find the end zone as either a punt or kick returner.

As you can see both Martin and Harris are very similar physically and thus far in their careers they have both primarily been used as special-teams players.

I for one would feel a little bit more comfortable having a veteran wide receiver handling the return duties as opposed to an undrafted player just starting out their career in the NFL.

Martin would be able to not only step right in and pick up where Harris left off, but also provide a valuable piece of insurance in case anything were to happen to the Cowboys top receivers.

I believe that Martin could be just the type of player that the organization would like to add to the roster if they aren’t comfortable with the performance of their current players.

What do you think? Can Keshawn Martin be the answer to fill the void left by Dwayne Harris?

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