Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that the Cowboys decision to sign RB Ryan Williams to a two-year future/reserve contract a few weeks ago could offer a clue regarding their plans for their running back position.
Williams didn’t just receive the normal future/reserve contract. According to Hill, Williams walked away with a $240,000 signing bonus and an average salary of $750,000 for 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Very few players get signings bonuses even close that kind of money with these type of contracts, so the Cowboys are clearly hoping that he’ll be worth the sizable investment.
Dallas needs to make a decision regarding impending free agent RB DeMarco Murray, who would be the No. 1 available running back in this year’s market.
To make matters more complicated, Dez Bryant is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and could be headed for the franchise tag.
This means that unless they’re able to hammer out a reasonable contract extension with Murray, there’s a decent chance that he’ll be fielding offers from prospective teams this March.
While it appears as though the Cowboys have plans for Williams, they wouldn’t head into the 2015 season with him as their No. 1 option seeing as they also have Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar on their roster.
Although, Dunbar will be a restricted free agent, which means the Cowboys will need to decide whether or not to tender him an offer next month.
Hill doesn’t see the Cowboys tendering Dunbar a contract seeing as it would cost them $1.575 million to do so, and he barely played in 2014.
Even if Murray is still in the cards for the Cowboys, Williams could replace Dunbar next year.
Williams, 24, was taken in the second-round of the 2011 NFL draft. He suffered a serious knee injury during his first season in the league and hasn’t been able play a meaningful role since then.
The Cowboys signed him to a contract back in May, but he was unable to make the final 53-man roster coming out of the preseason. Dallas later added him to their practice squad after he cleared waivers.
He hasn’t appeared in a game since the 2012 season and has been limited to playing just 142 snaps since entering the NFL.