Dark Horse Tony Pollard Replacement Takes Major Step Toward Free Agency

Jan 1, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs the
Jan 1, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs the / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys need help at the running back position this offseason. Tony Pollard is, in all likelihood, gone. And while there are some big-name running backs who might be looking for new homes, the Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkleys of the world are just too expensive.

Jerry Jones absolutely might make a blunder and go all-in on a star RB1, but he should not. The Cowboys' have too many key players hitting free agency and too much of a looming salary cap struggle with the Dak Prescott extension on the horizon.

That's why we need to be thinking about inexpensive ways to shore up this backfield. And the perfect addition just took a big step toward becoming a free agent on Monday.

Cowboys Rumors: Cordarrelle Patterson to Be Available as RB Signing?

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson had the final year of his contract void on Monday, and he will not be under contract unless he signs an extension before free agency opens in March. Considering he didn't re-sign before the void date, there's a good chance that means he plans to test the open market.

And that makes him a terrific target for Dallas.

The Cowboys have some running back talent right now. Even if you're not a Deuce Vaughn believer, Rico Dowdle showed some promise as a rusher. He was a little one-dimensional, struggling as a receiver, but he could be a productive part of a backfield committee. So Dallas doesn't need to sign a do-it-all workhorse to carry the load on his own.

And Patterson is the perfect complement to Dowdle.

The former wide receiver and three-time All-Pro returner made the full-time move to running back in Atlanta and has fared really well over his three seasons at the position. Pro Football Focus has given him rushing grades of 83.5 and 66.3 over the last two years, and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry during that stretch.

As a former wide receiver and an explosive playmaker in space, he’s also a good option to have on passing downs. His struggles as a pass blocker mean you can’t always rely on him on third down, but his versatility and big-play ability mean you can absolutely throw it to him when you don’t need the extra man in pass protection.

Anyone that falls into what the Cowboys' price-range should be at running back this year is going to have weaknesses. But it just doesn't make any sense for Dallas to pay for a running back without them.

That means Patterson, who should only cost a couple million per year at most on the wrong side of his 32nd birthday, really stands out in the field of genuine options to add to this stable.

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