Jerry Jones' stinginess could net Cowboys a major upgrade at RB after all

Jerry Jones' cheapness could actually pay off big time.
Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

It's difficult to analyze how the Dallas Cowboys have managed the running back position this offseason. On one hand, fans can applaud that the Cowboys have devalued the position after the Ezekiel Elliott extension blew up in their face. It seems Jerry Jones has finally recognized that the most successful teams commit the bare-minimum resources to running backs.

On the other hand, Dallas may have taken its new approach a bridge too far. It'd be one thing if they drafted a blue-chip prospect. However, they bypassed drafting a RB altogether and instead signed Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year deal.

Elliott was already set to cost the Cowboys $6 million in dead money stemming from his release last March. While the two-time rushing champ still has value, Jones' line of thinking was obvious: "We're already paying him, might as well bring him back."

Jones' cheapness and management of the salary cap have cost Dallas beyond measure. He's five years behind the rest of the NFL. However, that stinginess could pay off big time as it pertains to the running back position.

The latest buzz out of Denver suggests Javonte Williams has fallen out of favor as the starting running back and could even struggle to make the Broncos' 53-man roster. It seems 2023 undrafted free agent Jaleel McLaughlin has emerged as the top option after a strong OTAs and minicamp.

Javonte Williams would be the perfect RB signing for the Cowboys

We know Sean Payton is a cutthroat head coach and Williams did not leave a strong impression in Payton's first year last season. Coming back from major knee surgery, Williams averaged a lowly 3.6 yards per carry on 217 touches.

Meanwhile, McLaughlin posted 5.4 yards per attempt. It was a much smaller sample size (just 74 carries), but he injected a needed spark to Denver's run game and got some deserved starts over Williams throughout the course of the season.

Beyond McLaughlin, Williams also has to fend off veteran Samaje Perine. Additionally, the Broncos drafted Audric Estimé (a draft crush for many Cowboys fans) in the fifth round and signed Blake Watson as an undrafted free agent.

While Williams is coming off a down year, he was an absolute stud as a rookie in 2021. He tallied 904 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. A broken tackle machine, he finished top five in yards after contact per attempt (fourth) and missed tackles forced (second), as well as seventh in explosive runs (runs over 10 yards), per Pro Football Focus.

Now two years removed from the injury, Williams could rediscover his rookie form. Whether the Cowboys want to strike early and trade for Williams or wait until he potentially gets released, they should absolutely make a run at him in light of these reports.

While 2023 undrafted free agent Hunter Luepke could have a bigger role in year two, Elliott and fourth-year pro Rico Dowdle are expected to lead the way in Dallas' backfield. Behind them, the Cowboys have journeyman Royce Freeman, Deuce Vaughn, who may have a new position this season, and talented, but unproven commodities in Snoop Conner and Malik Davis.

Williams would be a significant upgrade over all of them.

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