Dallas Cowboys: Marion Barber

Cowboys' top play winner: The Hail Mary

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
Roger Staubach and Drew PearsonAP Photo/Bill Kostroum
Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
Date: Dec. 28, 1975 Site: Metropolitan Stadium

With nearly 40,000 votes cast, Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson was voted as the most memorable play in Dallas Cowboys' history by the ESPN.com readers.

Troy Aikman’s fourth-quarter pass to Alvin Harper in the 1992 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers that set in motion the 1990s dynasty finished second. Bob Lilly's sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI was a distant third even if it propelled the Cowboys to their first championship.


Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?


Discuss (Total votes: 38,414)

The voters got this one right. Staubach is the most iconic player in franchise history, and that play is frozen in time. It was one of the most iconic plays in NFL history and introduced “Hail Mary,” into the league’s lexicon. You cannot write the history of the NFL without that play.

To recap the play: With time running out in a 1975 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys had the ball at midfield and needed a miracle. They had dominated statistically, but the Vikings had a 14-10 lead.

Staubach pumped to his left after taking the shotgun snap, in hopes of moving safety Paul Krause away from the sideline. As he pumped, Staubach said he nearly lost the ball and as a result the pass was underthrown.

Subsequently, Pearson had to pull up and either knocked Nate Wright down (Minnesota's version) or made an excellent adjustment to the ball (Dallas' version) to score the winning touchdown, pinning the ball against his right hip.

Some of you wondered why Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run, Emmitt Smith's carry in which he broke Walter Payton’s rushing record or his stiff-arm of Lawrence Taylor playing with a separated shoulder, Clint Longley's Thanksgiving Day heave against the Redskins or even Leon Lett's miscue in Super Bowl XXVII didn’t make the list.

Two of my personal favorites: Marion Barber’s run out of the end zone against the New England Patriots breaking seven tackles and Tony Romo's first-down scramble vs. the St. Louis Rams after a shotgun snap sailed over his head didn’t make the list either.

There needed to be some historic value to the play. The Hail Mary had that, so did Aikman-to-Harper and Lilly’s sack.

But there’s no question which play had the most value.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

May, 31, 2014
May 31
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:

If you want to read Part 1 of the mailbag, click here.

Away we go:

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

May, 24, 2014
May 24
Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys’ Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:

Away we go:

IRVING, Texas -- Hey, want in on a little secret? Come a little closer, OK? And be quiet.

You ready? Jerry Jones might not be as bad at drafting NFL players as many believe.

If we use Pro Bowl selections as a barometer, which can be dicey, then Jones ranks near the top of the league. Sometimes the Pro Bowl picks are injury replacements and were second-, third- or possibly fourth-alternates depending on whether the first-team picks were injured or playing in the Super Bowl.

That being said, since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted 12 players that earned Pro Bowl berths. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers have more with 13.

Since 2006, the Cowboys have had seven Pro Bowl selections come from their draft room. Only the 49ers (nine), Chiefs (nine), Denver Broncos (eight) and Minnesota Vikings (eight) have more.

Of the 2006-13 group all seven were one-time picks: Anthony Spencer (2012), Nick Folk (2007), Jason Hatcher (2013), DeMarco Murray (2013), Tyron Smith (2013), Dez Bryant (2013) and Mike Jenkins (2009).

Smith and Bryant have the best chance to be perennial Pro Bowlers.

The 2003-13 group consisted of five players and four made multiple Pro Bowl appearances: Terence Newman (two), Jason Witten (nine), DeMarcus Ware (seven), Marion Barber (one) and Jeremiah Ratliff (four).

Assessing a successful draft on Pro Bowls is not the best process, and the high number of Cowboys might show how top-heavy this team has been. Successful drafts are about finding starters in every round, or at least contributors over a four-year period, whether they sign second contracts with the team or not.

The Cowboys have been able to find Pro Bowlers, but Jones has not been good enough in being able to supplement those players with the bulk of their picks.

That’s a big reason why this team has missed the playoffs the past four seasons.

Cowboys need more Bradie James picks

May, 7, 2014
May 7
IRVING, Texas -- In talking about Bradie James on Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones could not help but think of the draft.

It wasn’t just that the draft is coming up Thursday. It was something James signified in turning into a starter from 2005-11 with the Cowboys, a captain and the leading tackler for a six-year run.

“When I think about the fourth-round value of what Bradie brought us, that’s where you’re trying to go,” Jones said.

James was the 103rd pick of the 2003 draft. When the Cowboys moved to the 3-4 scheme in 2005, he became a better fit for the defense. He was a sure tackler, dependable player and good leader. He was solid in a lot of ways.

Since James, the Cowboys have not been so fortunate with their fourth-round selections.

In 2005 they drafted Marion Barber (109 overall) and Chris Canty (132 overall). In 2007 they drafted Doug Free (122 overall). Barber earned a Pro Bowl spot and was a tough runner. Canty was a solid player for four years before leaving in free agency. Free is the Cowboys' starting right tackle.

Since selecting Free in the fourth round, however, the Cowboys have not found an every-day starter. Running back Tashard Choice (122 overall, 2008) started four games in parts of four seasons. Quarterback Stephen McGee (101 overall, 2009) and Victor Butler (110 overall, 2009) combined to start three games. Brandon Williams (120 overall, 2009) never made an impact in part because of a knee injury.

The Cowboys never figured out of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (126 overall, 2010) was a cornerback, safety or wide receiver in his two seasons with the team. David Arkin (110 overall, 2011) never started a game.

In 2012, the Cowboys picked Kyle Wilber (113 overall) and Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Wilber became a starter out of necessity last year but at outside linebacker after playing defensive end in the 4-3. Johnson has yet to play in a game because of an injury.

Last year the Cowboys took cornerback B.W. Webb (114 overall) and he did little to inspire the stopping of what has become a trend.

Successful drafts are determined by the quality of depth a team forms in the later rounds. In 2003, the Cowboys found James and he went on to become the franchise’s sixth all-time leading tackler. Free has been a starter since 2009.

The Cowboys need more of those guys this week in order to have a successful draft in 2014 and less of the Arkins, Butlers and McGees.
IRVING, Texas -- Another lively chat Wednesday with more than 100 questions from you guys wanting to know this, that and everything about the Dallas Cowboys.


Who would be the best first-round pick for the Cowboys?


Discuss (Total votes: 11,576)

In the chat we talked about:

  • The return of Anthony Spencer.
  • The chances of Johnny Manziel coming to the Cowboys.
  • The chances Kony Ealy comes to the Cowboys.
  • The Morris Claiborne "trade" talks. I put quotes around that on purpose.

  • To read the whole chat, click here.

    Let's talk about the whole 'need vs. best player' debate some more:

    Kyle from Virginia asked: With Will McClay playing a bigger role in this draft, do you see Dallas taking the best player available regardless of position more often this year or just filling their needs? I am hoping they are focusing on the long-term, not just the upcoming season.

    Here is my answer: I'm not being a wise guy here, but the answer is: Yes. We always speak in this perfect world of taking the best player available, but you have to factor in need. The key is to not make the need overwhelm the evaluation process so you're inflating a player's worth. I do believe the Cowboys look at the draft as a multi-year deal not specific to one year, but need will always play a part in the process. It just has to. You can't eliminate it.

    To elaborate, much of the draft operates in a gray area. Ideally everything is crystal clear. I'm sure in the past I've said, 'You always take the best player available.' Heck, I probably said it two weeks ago, but I'd like to add two caveats:

    You always take the best player in the first round. You always take the best player when the best player's grade is much higher than the player you are going to take.

    It's clear the Cowboys need defensive line help, though I think the signings they've had in free agency helps steer them away from reaching for a player at No. 16. If they are unable to get one of their top defensive linemen at No. 16, be it Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald or whomever, then don't reach for the next-best defensive linemen if you don't believe he is better than somebody at another position.

    That's why I've had the Cowboys taking Zack Martin in the mock drafts I've been asked about. The Cowboys look to be in no-man's land at No. 16 when it comes to the top defensive linemen. Too low for Donald and Barr. Too high for Ealy or Easley. If they trade back in the first round, then it becomes a little more palatable to take one of the lower-ranked guys.

    In 2009, the Cowboys should have drafted LeSean McCoy in the second round. They had a first-round grade on McCoy but instead of taking him they traded down to get third- and fourth-round picks from the Buffalo Bills.

    At the time the Cowboys had Marion Barber on a big-time deal and drafted Felix Jones in the first round in 2008. They also liked Tashard Choice. They probably thought they were stacking it up at the position if they took McCoy. So what? You had a chance to get a first-round player with a pick in the 50s. Do it.

    We want everything to be black and white when it comes to the draft, but it's not that easy.

    Could RB market help Dallas with Murray?

    March, 28, 2014
    Mar 28
    PM ET
    IRVING, Texas -- While we have discussed the long-term futures of Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, one player we have not touched on much is DeMarco Murray.

    Murray is scheduled to be a free agent after this season. He was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns, and catching 53 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown. When Murray has played well and been given a chance to carry the ball, the Cowboys have won.

    But running backs’ values have dropped dramatically in the past few years. If they aren’t Adrian Peterson, they don’t get paid the mega deals. And the guys that have been paid in recent years, like Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew, have taken a downturn.

    In 2008, the Cowboys signed Marion Barber to a seven-year deal worth $45 million that included $16 million in guarantees.

    Those days are long gone.

    The best free-agent deals for running backs so far have been to Donald Brown and Toby Gerhart, who received three-year, $10.5 million deals from the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively. Brown has never rushed for more than 645 yards in a season. Gerhart has never rushed for more than 531 yards, though he was playing behind Peterson.

    Knowshon Moreno is joining the Miami Dolphins on a one-year, $3 million deal after rushing for 1,038 yards in 2013 for the Denver Broncos. Rashad Jennings received a three-year, $10 million deal from the New York Giants after rushing for 733 yards last season with the Oakland Raiders.

    Murray had his best season in 2013, but he missed two games and has yet to play a full season. But his advisors have to see how the market is going for running backs. There wasn’t a running back taken in the first round last year. The top running back chosen in 2012, Trent Richardson (No. 3 overall), was traded to the Indianapolis Colts last season.

    Murray will make $1.406 million in 2014 as part of his rookie deal.

    The Cowboys could lock him in for another three seasons at a good number and still have plenty in reserve for Smith and Bryant.

    Parsing personnel: When to cut loose

    February, 24, 2014
    Feb 24
    PM ET

    INDIANAPOLIS -- As a businessman, Jerry Jones has been known to make difficult decisions, cutting his losses before they became too great.

    As owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, Jones is viewed as too sentimental to make the difficult decisions because he is too close to the players.

    But in recent years he has made decisions right on time, like cutting Terrell Owens, either of the Roy Williamses, Marion Barber or Andre Gurode even if the cap situation might not have been the best or the replacement player an improvement.

    “It gets pretty subjective and, yes, you can make for our team this year a bad mistake, saying, ‘You know, it’s a lot of money,’” Jones said. “Can you make a mistake the other way as well?”

    He did not answer the question, but left unsaid is that any decision can be the wrong one.


    Who's been the Cowboys' best first-round draft pick in recent years?


    Discuss (Total votes: 12,195)

    And that brings us to DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys have yet to talk with Ware’s agents about how to deal with the seven-time Pro Bowler’s $16 million salary-cap figure.

    “We have been counting on DeMarcus Ware to be the best player we got on defense,” Jones said. “It is tough for him to practice. He hasn't been able to practice. It's not that he doesn't want to practice. It's just that he hasn't been able to practice. DeMarcus is paid like the best player on defense. You got to look at a lot of things here. As we evaluate either or, it's a question of, if not DeMarcus, then who?”

    Jones acknowledges the Cowboys have a decision to make, but one has yet to be made. He also gave a nod to Ware the person and player.

    “No one, no one has been a better and is a better Dallas Cowboy than DeMarcus Ware,” Jones said. “He has been exemplary in every way.

    “But the facts are in football, when you start not being able to practice and you start not being able to really get your reps, then you can be DeMarcus Ware, who is a Hall of Famer, and get compromised by not being able to do fundamental things to get ready. So I look at that. Those are things you have to look at.”

    But then Jones also does not fathom a defense without Ware. In a down year Ware had six sacks in 13 games. The Cowboys gave Anthony Spencer the franchise tag twice, handing him nearly $20 million, and he had one season in which he had more than six sacks.

    “What are we going to think when we line up against Green Bay?” Jones said. “How are we going to feel there?”

    Seattle's best? Picks tell tale over Dallas

    February, 3, 2014
    Feb 3
    AM ET
    IRVING, Texas -- Is it too soon or too late to remind Dallas Cowboys fans that Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was drafted 13 spots before the Seattle Seahawks chose Kam Chancellor in the fifth round of the 2010 draft?

    Or is too soon or too late remind them that Josh Thomas was picked 11 spots before the Seahawks took Richard Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft?

    Today, Chancellor and Sherman are celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Thomas at least made it to the playoffs with the Carolina Panthers as a reserve. Owusu-Ansah was on the Detroit Lions' practice squad last year. Maybe we can ask new Cowboys playcaller (and former Lions offensive coordinator) Scott Linehan how Owusu-Ansah looked.

    When a team wins a Super Bowl, we all look for the differences as to why Team X played in the Super Bowl and Team Y didn’t, and we say, "Copy those guys. That’s the way to get it done."

    It doesn't work that way. Well, it shouldn't work that way. A team has to have its own philosophy and make it work. Stick with it and hope it pays off. That’s what Jason Garrett has referred to as building a program. It’s maddening to hear, especially after three 8-8 seasons, but there is truth in what Garrett is saying.

    The biggest difference between the Seahawks and Cowboys is the draft. Well, that and the Seattle defense. But for this post we’ll stick with the draft.

    Since 2010, the Seahawks picked 12 players from the third round and later -- or who were undrafted -- who have crucial roles in the team's success. The Cowboys have DeMarco Murray, a third-rounder in 2011, and three undrafted free agents. I could have counted Dwayne Harris, but the Cowboys actually cut him and needed him to pass through waivers before putting him on the practice squad in 2011.

    If the Cowboys had not traded Sean Lissemore before the 2013 season, I would have counted their seventh-round pick in 2010 on the list.

    As for undrafted picks, I’ll go with Barry Church (2010), Dan Bailey (2011) and Ronald Leary (undrafted, 2012). I wasn’t ready to say that Kyle Wilber (fourth round, 2012) and/or James Hanna (sixth round, 2012) are crucial to the Cowboys’ success.

    In order to win a draft, teams have to be successful in the middle rounds. The Cowboys have not been successful in the middle rounds in years. As a result, they lack depth. When they lose starters, they have to scour the street for help. When the Seahawks lose a player, they plug in a mid- to late-round pick as if nothing ever happened.

    If we want to eliminate the third round, which is where Seattle drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012, the Cowboys have to go back to the 2008 draft to find a real hit for the Cowboys in Rounds 4-7: cornerback Orlando Scandrick (fifth). Doug Free (2007) turned into a good fourth-round pick only after the Cowboys were forced to play him in 2009. The golden year was 2005 when the Cowboys got Marion Barber (fourth), Chris Canty (fourth) and Jeremiah Ratliff (seventh) in what was then the second day of the draft.

    The Seahawks can point to guys like Sherman, Chancellor, Walter Thurmond (fourth, 2011), Byron Maxwell (sixth, 2011), Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith (seventh, 2011), K.J. Wright (fourth, 2011), Robert Turbin (fourth, 2012), J.R. Sweezy (seventh, 2012), Doug Baldwin (undrafted, 2011) and Jermaine Kearse (undrafted, 2012).

    They aren’t merely contributors. They are difference-makers.

    If the Cowboys want to alter their "secret sauce" recipe, they can look at the Seahawks' cookbook.

    Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

    February, 1, 2014
    Feb 1
    PM ET
    IRVING, Texas -- Here comes Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag.

    We touch on Rod Marinelli, DeMarco Murray and the lack of positive news surrounding this team.

    Remember, if you want to get involved, hit me up on Twitter (@toddarcher) and use the #cowboysmail hashtag.

    Away we go:

    DeMarco Murray added to Pro Bowl

    January, 20, 2014
    Jan 20
    PM ET
    IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have their fifth Pro Bowler with running back DeMarco Murray named as an injury replacement for San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore.

    Murray ran for 1,124 yards on 217 carries with nine touchdowns in 14 games. He missed two games because of a knee injury. He is the first Dallas running back to make the NFL’s all-star game since Marion Barber in 2007. He became the first Cowboys player with 1,000 yards since 2006 when Julius Jones gained 1,084 yards.

    Murray will join wide receiver Dez Bryant and left tackle Tyron Smith, who were voted into the game, as well as tight end Jason Witten and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who were added as injury replacements, this week in Hawaii.

    This the most Pro Bowl players the Cowboys have had since they had six in 2010: Miles Austin, Andre Gurode, Mat McBriar, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware and Witten. They had just five Pro Bowl selections in the last two seasons combined.

    Young Guns: DeMarco Murray

    January, 20, 2014
    Jan 20
    AM ET
    Since 2010, the Dallas Cowboys have done a better job of finding talent. As a core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and Doug Free inch closer to the end of their careers, the Cowboys need a group of young players heading into their primes to take ownership of the team. Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer analyze those players from the class of 2010 on.

    Player: DeMarco Murray
    Position: Running back
    Age: 25

    Outlook: When Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith are the measuring sticks of every Cowboys running back, then it is hard to measure up, but Murray had his best season in 2013. He became the first Dallas runner to top 1,000 yards in a season with 1,124 on 217 carries while playing in only 14 games because of a knee injury. He has yet to play in a full season in his first three years but his importance to the offense cannot be understated. Murray's 5.2 yards per carry was most by any runner with more than 200 carries on the season. He had three 100-yard games on the season and had 696 yards in the final eight games of the year. And he could have had more. Jason Garrett felt there were times Murray left yards on the field by not finishing his runs. Murray was also productive in the passing game, catching a career-high 53 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown.

    Murray is signed through 2014. The Cowboys will have a decision to make on his long-term future. The last time they signed a running back to a megadeal, they were burned by Marion Barber. However, Barber’s running style might have curtailed his career. Murray is more elusive than Barber, but the Cowboys will have to determine if a running back is worth big money or if they can find a runner to do all that Murray does and all that he means.

    Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

    December, 22, 2013
    PM ET

    LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 24-23 victory over the Washington Redskins:

    What it means for the Cowboys: They’re alive. For the third straight year, the Cowboys will play a Week 17 game for the right to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. Somehow.

    Trailing 23-14, the Cowboys rallied on Tony Romo's 10-yard touchdown throw to DeMarco Murray on a fourth-and-goal play with 1:08 to go. The defense was able to come up with a stop, and now the Cowboys welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to AT&T Stadium next week to try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Cowboys are 5-0 in the NFC East for the first time since 1998 and snapped a two-game losing streak.

    It was not pretty, but it will do. It also continued to show the team’s ability to bounce back from tough losses. The Cowboys did it earlier in the season against the Redskins after their 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos, and they did it after their 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions when they beat the Minnesota Vikings.

    Stock watch: Terrance Williams, rising. On the winning drive, Williams caught two passes for 66 yards, including a 51-yarder that set up Murray’s touchdown catch. Williams finished the day with four catches for 84 yards, which is his second-most in a game this season.

    Murray hits mark: It should have happened last week against the Green Bay Packers, but DeMarco Murray went over 1,000 yards on the season with a 43-yard run in the second quarter.

    Murray finished with 96 yards on 22 carries and enters the final game of the season with 1,073 yards, which is even more impressive considering he missed two games earlier in the season with a knee injury. He is the first Cowboys running back with 1,000 yards in a season since Julius Jones had 1,084 in 2006. Murray also had his ninth rushing touchdown of the season when he bulled his way in from the 3 on the Cowboys’ first drive. It’s the most rushing touchdowns by a Dallas back since Marion Barber had 10 in 2007.

    Oh, by the way, he scored the winning touchdown.

    Defense comes up with stops: The offense did the defense no favors by starting out the second half with turnovers on consecutive possessions that led to Washington touchdowns and a 20-14 lead.

    The Cowboys were able to overcome a bad penalty by J.J. Wilcox on a third-down play to hold Washington to a field goal, then came up with the only punt of the second half when Orlando Scandrick broke up a Kirk Cousins pass to Pierre Garcon. They also flustered Cousins into poor throws on the final drive.

    What’s next: The Cowboys close the regular season at AT&T Stadium against the Eagles. The Cowboys beat Philadelphia 17-3 on Oct. 20 at Lincoln Financial Field with what was their best defensive effort of the season. They kept LeSean McCoy in check (55 yards), limited Nick Foles to 80 yards passing before knocking him out of the game and intercepted Matt Barkley three times in the fourth quarter.

    DeMarco Murray not thinking of 1,000 yards

    December, 12, 2013
    PM ET
    IRVING, Texas -- When Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray hurt his knee against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 13 and missed the next two games, reaching 1,000 yards on the season seemed like an afterthought.

    When he had just four catches for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings in his return, reaching 1,000 yards seemed as far away as the moon.

    Yet with three games to go, Murray is 157 yards away from 1,000. He needs to average roughly 53 yards per game to become the first Cowboys running back to hit four digits since Julius Jones had 1,084 yards in 2006.

    “I don’t know where the yards are,” said Murray, who has 843 yards on 160 carries. “I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about victories.”

    If Murray reaches 1,000 yards, he would do it in 14 games, which is more old-school when Tony Dorsett was putting up 1,000 yards in the mid-to-late 1970s.

    “You always like to have a back run for 1,000 yards but at the same time if you’re winning it doesn’t matter if it’s 1,000 yards or 500 yards,” right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau said. “As an offensive line, you like to be those guys who make holes for the running backs so they can achieve the goal and not give up sacks, being good and firm in protection.”

    In his past four games Murray has rushed for 384 yards, which is ninth-best in the league during that time span. He also has seven rushing touchdowns, the most by a Cowboys runner in a season since Marion Barber had seven in 2009.

    The Cowboys have found some consistency in the running game.

    “I mean just look at the past couple of games, I think we’ve run it well,” Murray said. “The offensive line has done a great job for our team. The tight end is doing a great job. The receivers are doing a great job. We’re just taking it one game at a time, try to help the running game out as much as I can.”

    Felix Jones era is over with Cowboys

    May, 14, 2013
    AM ET
    Felix Jones signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles today, officially ending his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

    Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he took away from the Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp.

    Listen Listen
    If Jones remains healthy -- and that's always been a big "if," because he's had toe, hamstring and thigh injuries -- the Cowboys could see him twice this season.

    His role with the Eagles most likely will be as a change-of-pace runner, which was exactly his role with the Cowboys.

    That's not a problem for the Eagles. For the Cowboys, it was.

    In 2008, the Cowboys invested a first-round pick on Jones, hoping he'd become a backup for Marion Barber. That was wrong. An NFL team should never spend a first-round pick on a backup player.

    In five NFL seasons, Jones rushed for 11 touchdowns and had 26 games with double-digit carries -- but only two with 20 or more carries. You could blame that on any number of factors: Jones' inability to remain healthy, coach Jason Garrett's lack of trust, or even inconsistency.

    Before his injuries, Jones displayed speed, toughness and elusiveness. His body just wasn't durable enough to sustain it.

    If ESPN Films' documentary series "30 for 30" ever does one on the stellar 2008 running back draft class, I'm sure somebody with the Cowboys will defend the franchise's choice to select Jones. But there's no defending it. Don't you wonder what would have happened if the Cowboys had bypassed Jones and instead drafted Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Matt Forte or Jamaal Charles?

    When you don't offer a second contract to a former first-round pick -- no matter the position -- that tells you something about what the franchise thinks of that player. The Cowboys will say Jones wasn't a bust and that he scored 15 total touchdowns in five NFL seasons and rushed for 2,728 yards.

    But now the Eagles have their backup running back, and they acquired him the way you normally would ... and not by using a first-round pick on him.