Cowboys Considered a Favorite to Land Record-Setting Running Back

The Dallas Cowboys are considered a favorite to land their rival’s running back.

Mike McCarthy

According to betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, the Cowboys have the fourth-best odds (+650) of landing New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley will enter free agency after the decision was made to not place the franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowl running back.

Why Cowboys Could Make Run at Saquon Barkley

The idea of the Cowboys making a run for Barkley makes sense; their starting running back Tony Pollard is entering free agency and it’s unclear if he’ll return to Dallas for another season.

As ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned during an appearance on NFL Live on Tuesday, March 5, he could see an NFC East team making a run at Barkley.

“How would Saquon look in Dallas? How would Saquon look in Philadelphia? How would Saquon look somewhere in the NFC East other than the New York Giants? I can see an NFC East team exploring that to see if they can make something happen with Saquon. That would be something that would be really interesting to track and watch in free agency here next week.”

Considering Pollard wasn’t exactly effective in his first year as a starting back — his yards per carry declined from 5.2 in 2022 to 4.0 in 2023 — the Cowboys could very well target a back who is more proven as a full-time starter such as Barkley.

The 27-year-old Barkley is undoubtedly one of the top running backs when healthy. Barkley won the Offensive Rookie of the Year during his 2018 season when he ran for 1,307 yards on 5.0 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns. He also posted 2,028 all-purpose yards during his rookie campaign, leading the league in that category.

His 91 receptions during his rookie season is an NFL record for a first-year running back.

He was most recently named to a Pro Bowl during the 2022 season after he helped lead the Giants to a playoff appearance and their first postseason win since the 2011 season. Barkley ran for 1,312 yards on 4.4 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns in 2022.

Why Cowboys Could Pass on Saquon Barkley

However, the main issue with Barkley has always been his health and availability. Barkley missed three games last season and he missed 14 games during the 2020 season due to a torn ACL. Outside of his rookie season, he’s never played a full season.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that outside of his Pro Bowl seasons in 2018 and 2022, he’s run for just 2,592 yards on 647 carries — which is just 4.0 yards per carry.

With that being said, Barkey’s upside is undoubtedly high.

The question is, would the Cowboys be willing to spend more money to sign Barkley, or would the running back be willing to concede some money to play for a contender? According to Spotrac, Barkley’s market value is $9.9 million per year for a total of nearly $30 million across three years. Meanwhile, Pollard’s projected market value is $6.5 million per season across two years at a total of $13 million.

If the Cowboys want to swing big, they’ll target Barkley. However, if they want to be thrifty, they’ll re-sign Pollard, sign a cheap veteran back or simply draft one.

We’ll see what Dallas intends to do when free agency begins next week.

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