4 Low-Cost Running Backs the Cowboys Can Sign in Free Agency

Nov 19, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Chicago Bears running back D'Onta Foreman (21) runs with the
Nov 19, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Chicago Bears running back D'Onta Foreman (21) runs with the / David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
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Free agency hasn't exactly gone the way Dallas Cowboys fans were probably hoping — especially at the running back position.

We watched Tony Pollard sign elsewhere. We watched Saquon Barkley sign with another NFC East rival. We saw Derrick Henry sign a big contract. Even mid-tier guys like D'Andre Swift and Zach Moss are off the market.

Dallas has a clear need at running back, but it's become obvious that Jerry Jones won't pay big money for one while there are looming extensions for Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb hanging over the team's salary cap situation.

That doesn't mean Dallas won't sign one (or more), however. And these low-cost free agents are the Cowboys' best options to add a running back without breaking the bank.

1. AJ Dillon

Aaron Jones is the former Green Bay Packers running back earning headlines, but he wasted no time signing with the Minnesota Vikings. AJ Dillon remains available, and likely for a much lower cost too.

Dillon never managed to emerge from Jones' shadow as the RB2 in Green bay, but it wasn't for a lack of skill. You may see his 3.4 yards per carry from 2023 and turn up your nose, but you and I both know that stat never tells the full story.

Often being used in short-yardage situations, Dillon's chances of breaking off long runs were always going to be more limited. And looking at Pro-Football-Reference's success rate metric (which factors in down and distance, so a 5-yard run on 3rd and 15 is not a success, but a 3-yard run on 3rd and 3 is), Dillon has been at or above 50% each year of his NFL career.

Pro Football Focus also didn't think Dillon's low yards per carry were an issue, giving him a rushing grade of 76.1 on the season. That's not as good as his elite 88.1 grade from 2022, sure, but when a "down year" is still earning a solid grade like that? Well that's a pretty good sign.

Dillon doesn't offer a ton as a receiver, so Dallas would need to supplement him with a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but that's the kind of compromise you expect to make when you're adding a discount RB1 option.