Why the Cowboys not signing a free agent running back will ruin Dak Prescott

To say that it’s been an uneventful few days for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency would be an understatement. Like all the other 31 teams across the NFL, the Cowboys have had the same opportunities to reach out to players and their representatives, starting with the legal tampering period. Yet, the Cowboys have pretty much remained still.

Why the Cowboys not signing a free agent running back will ruin Dak Prescott

The Cowboys have signed just one player in free agent Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, and re-signed long-snapper Trent Sieg and cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and CJ Goodwin. Meanwhile, they’ve lost five players to free agency, including last year’s starting running back Tony Pollard.

For those who forget, the Cowboys were more or less slaughtered in the NFC Divisional Round by the Green Bay Packers, failing once again to make the NFC Championship Game, leaving many in the Dallas area looking for answers.

The 2024 season will be one that could potentially answer a lot of lingering questions after such an embarrassing loss, particularly about the job statuses of not just Mike McCarthy but starting quarterback Dak Prescott, who is looking to earn an extension from the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott’s return, new deal requires help from Cowboys front office for succession

If Prescott wants to earn another lengthy and lucrative extension from the Cowboys, he’s definitely going to have to prove his worth again, and maybe even more so than he did before his last one. However, that street goes both ways, with Prescott, the Cowboys, and their front office working together to be successful. One can’t survive without the other.

As good as Prescott was for the Cowboys last season, it’s clear that he’s going to need some help moving forward. The position with the utmost importance is at running back.

That would be Deuce Vaughn, the 2023 sixth-round draft pick (212th overall) who is just 5-foot-6, 176 pounds and considered the smallest running back in the league. He rushed for just 40 yards on 23 attempts with another 40 yards on seven receptions in seven games. So, to say this position for the Cowboys is a gapping void would be an understatement.

The Cowboys failed at finding Dak Prescott help, not signing a running back in free agency

If the Cowboys are to be serious contenders in 2024, relying on Vaughn won’t cut it. That can only mean they’ll be looking toward the draft. The problem with this scenario is that this year’s draft is one of the weakest running back classes in recent memory, with potentially none coming out of the first or second rounds.

Former Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant tends to agree.

“Get ready to take the blame Dak because I really don’t see no help coming your way unless a miracle happen,” Bryant said via his X account. “Everybody in the NFC East got better during free agency but the Cowboys. The draft will not be enough.”

There were 39 running backs that became free agents at the beginning of the NFL new year, according to Spotrac. The Cowboys have yet to sign one of them, while 13 have found their new teams. The ones who have already signed are the elite of the group, with the Cowboys either failing to reach a deal with any of them or they never even tried. What’s worse is the Cowboys watched their division rivals sign three of them in Saquon Barkley (Eagles), Devin Singletary (Giants), and Austin Ekeler (Commanders).

On a recent episode of The Herd with Colin Cowherd, the television/radio host noted how Prescott isn’t remotely the same type of effective quarterback without a successful running game. Cowherd determined that the former Mississippi State quarterback is 53-7 when the Cowboys run the ball 30 or more times, but is 20-34 when they rush less than 30. Prescott is also 64-17 when the Cowboys rush for 100-plus yards, but is 9-24 when they rush for less than 100 yards.

At this point, it’s unclear what exactly the Cowboys’ plans are as they are set to embark on a pivotal 2024 season that perhaps will determine the career trajectories for a lot of people. Is this just a lame attempt to rid themselves of Prescott? Are they trying to prove the mettle of the quarterback to see if they should re-sign him to another deal? The only thing for sure about the Cowboys right now is that they’re doing nothing to make themselves or their quarterback better.

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