Darren McFadden was always viewed as insurance for an Ezekiel Elliott suspension.
The Cowboys have decided to cancel the policy.
McFadden was released by the club Sunday. The two sides came to a mutual agreement to allow the veteran running back to explore his options and try to land with another team for the final five weeks of the regular season.
“Darren has been a really good player for us and has been a first class guy on our football team,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “Just the way the running back rotation has been and is probably going to be as we go forward he wasn’t going to get many opportunities.
“We just felt it was in the best interests of our team, and really the best interests of Darren McFadden as well, to release him and give him another opportunity to go somewhere else. We wish him nothing but the best.”
McFadden issued a statement on Twitter shortly after his release, thanking the club and saying:
Just want to say Thank You to the @dallascowboys. I grew up a Cowboys fan and it was awesome to wear the Star on my helmet. I wish my boys good luck.
— Darren McFadden (@dmcfadden20) November 26, 2017
McFadden led the team in rushing and finished fourth in the NFL two years ago with 1,089 yards. An off season elbow injury kept him on injury reserve for most of last season and he finished with 87 yards rushing in three games.
The veteran back was part of the committee the club assembled to handle the running back position this season once Elliott began his six-game suspension. That suspension began on Nov. 12, yet McFadden has been active just once in those three games. He was released with one carry for a loss of two yards.
Alfred Morris has been the primary back in Elliott’s absence with 60 carries for 180 yards. Rod Smith is next with 22 carries for 66 yards. Morris’ feel for running in a zone blocking scheme and Smith’s development made McFadden expendable.
“We felt good about what Alfred Morris was doing for us as a first and second down runner and he’s grown in some of the other areas as a pass receiver and as a pass protector,” Garrett said. “Rod has been someone who has been very versatile for us, a very good special teams player and someone we can ask to do a lot of different things offensively. That versatility really made it less important to have another back up and viable.
“Those guys have done a nice job and we want to give them opportunities.”
Also released on Sunday was kicker Mike Nugent. Nugent was signed on to fill in for an injured Dan Bailey whose return against the Chargers signaled the end for Nugent in Dallas.
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SOURCE: SportsDay Dallas – David Moore