Cowboys Earmarked as Best Free Agent Fit for Former Rushing Champion


Getty The Dallas Cowboys could be primed to add a major upgrade at running back, ahead of a pivotal season for head coach Mike McCarthy's future.

The Dallas Cowboys could aim to upgrade from Tony Pollard at running back and have the opportunity to land one of the premier players at the position this offseason.

Dallas was never quite able to replicate the production or success of Ezekiel Elliott‘s tenure as the Cowboys’ lead back, once Pollard inherited the lion’s share of the workload, but that might be about to change in a significant way.

As free agency looms on March 13, ESPN’s Matt Bowen lists the Cowboys as the best fit for Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs.

“With the expectation Tony Pollard does not return to Dallas,” Bowen writes. “The Cowboys could pivot to Jacobs. He has been a volume grinder for the Raiders, with the low pad level to finish runs and the quickness to make defenders miss. Jacobs, who led the NFL in rushing in 2022, could also be utilized as a receiving option for Dak Prescott on swings, screens, and unders.”

Bowen lists Jacobs as the No. 35 ranked free agent, overall, and the No. 2 running back set to become available when the new league year begins, behind only Saquon Barkley.

Jacobs is just one year removed from winning the rushing crown, following a 1,653-yard 2022 season that saw him rush for a career-high 12 touchdowns.

How Josh Jacobs Fits the Cowboys’ Offense

In what could become a make-or-break season for head coach Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys, adding Jacobs is the type of move that has the potential to significantly elevate Dallas’ offense.

In addition to rushing for 5,545 yards with 46 touchdowns through the first five seasons of his career, including missing four games due to injury in 2023, Jacobs offers the versatility of being a playmaker as a receiver out of the backfield, as well.

Jacobs enters the 2024 season averaging 39.4 receptions per season, producing 1,448 receiving yards.

Given wide receiver CeeDee Lamb‘s ability to stretch the field on the perimeter, and the emergence of tight end Jake Ferguson as a weapon over the middle of the field, Jacobs could be the type of player who attacks defenses on swing passes and racks up yards after the catch.

But, Jacobs’ biggest strength is his violent running style, and the ability to produce in short-yardage situations and after contact, similar to Elliott in his prime. According to Pro Football Focus, Jacobs rattled off nine explosive runs (of 10 yards or more), while forcing 28 missed tackles and averaging 2.35 yards after contact per attempt.

Can the Cowboys Even Afford Josh Jacobs?

Before Dallas even thinks about shopping at the top of the free agent market for players such as Jacobs, owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys must find a way to lower Prescott’s cap number and make some moves to create cap space before the new league year begins.

That’s because the Cowboys are currently $19.7 million over the cap. However, that isn’t necessarily prohibitive towards the Cowboys signing Jacobs or any top free agents.

Spotrac projects Jacobs could fetch a four-year deal worth $42.7 million, averaging $10.6 million, annually, which would rank as the seventh-highest contract for a running back across the league.

Presuming the Cowboys can create significant cap space in the coming weeks, Jacobs is the type of player who could be a player worth paying a premium for because of his scheme fit, and upside, ahead of a season with major implications for the future of the franchise.

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