The end of running back Felix Jones’ contract with the Cowboys was met with mostly dry eyes in Dallas.
Since the team made him a first-round pick in 2008, Jones alternated between injury and ineffectiveness without ever becoming the feature back the team thought he could be when using such an early pick to acquire him. Jones may be unlamented, but his loss does leave the Cowboys without a back to lighten DeMarco Murray’s load in the coming season. That’s why Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said that the team is “absolutely” looking for a running back over the next three days.
“If you do look, unfortunately, at DeMarco’s history, he had [injuries] at Oklahoma, although he was very productive,” Jones said on an interview with KZDC in San Antonio, via the Dallas Morning News. “He’s had [injuries] here, so obviously without Felix Jones in the fold right now, we don’t have that answer in terms of having a complementary back to DeMarco, so that will be something that we have our eyes on as well.”
The team has more glaring needs on the offensive line and at safety, but Murray’s injury history does make another running back significant. The Cowboys have gone 4-5 over the last two seasons in games Murray has missed since he burst on the scene with 253 rushing yards against the Rams in October 2011 and 10-6 with Murray in the lineup, which means they may have left a few wins on the table because they didn’t have a second back capable of carrying the load. For a team that’s been playing for (and losing) a playoff spot in the final week of the last two seasons, one or two wins would make a pretty big difference.
Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Joseph Randle of Oklahoma State could be the player the Cowboys are targeting for this spot, although they’ll have plenty of options in the middle rounds assuming teams continue to prioritize other positions before running back. That’s a safe bet, as is one that has the Cowboys taking a running back before the draft comes to an end.