15 best free agent signings in Dallas Cowboys history

Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Aug 12, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) runs the ball before he is stopped by Los Angeles Rams free safety Maurice Alexander (31) in the first half of the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

11. Darren McFadden, RB, 2015

Several years before Dallas foolishly gave into Ezekiel Elliott’s demand for a massive contract, the Cowboys showed the league why you don’t pay a running back. In 2014, DeMarco Murray had a career year, running for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He was the league’s No. 1 rusher that season, then hit free agency. Dallas elected not to overpay and he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a five-year, $42 million deal. Murray lasted just one season with Philly and was out of the league three years after leaving Dallas.

As for the Cowboys, they tried to turn the ball over to Joseph Randle, who was more interested in stealing underwear than being a lead back in the NFL. The good news was they protected themselves by signing Darren McFadden to a two-year deal worth just under $6 million.

When Randle was waived due to his continued off-field issues, McFadden took the reins. In just 10 starts, he recorded 1,089 yards while averaging 4.6 per carry. He looked like a much younger version of himself behind that powerful offensive line, but the Cowboys wanted more.

In the following draft, they took Elliott fourth overall, and McFadden became an afterthought. He had just 25 more carries in four appearances in his final two seasons in the league. It would have been interesting to see if he could have continued his success from 2015 but it was still a brilliant signing.