The Cowboys have their starting running back locked in for the foreseeable future. Ezekiel Elliott was the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s draft, led the league in rushing yards as a rookie, and is under contract for at least three more seasons, not including the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. 

As they showed during his rookie season, the Dallas coaching staff is prepared to give Elliott the lion’s share of the snaps and touches in the backfield, and there isn’t much room for anyone else to get a ton of work. Elliott was on the field for 712 snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus, 395 more than the Cowboys’ three other backs (Alfred Morris, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden) combined, and that was with him sitting out the final game of the regular season after the Cowboys had already locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

Without much opportunity to play behind Elliott, the Cowboys don’t think they need two established runners like Morris and McFadden -- they can just keep one. (Dunbar has his a separate role as a late-half passing-down back and return man.) That’s why they’re going to look to trade Morris this offseason and work to re-sign McFadden in free agency, according to a report from the Fort-Worth Star Telegram

Morris served as Elliott’s backup for most of last season as McFadden recovered from an offseason injury, but he was ineffective and was usurped in the role almost as soon as McFadden returned to the field. (Morris didn’t play at all in Weeks 15 and 16, the first two games McFadden suited up.) 

More of a downhill runner with only 50 career catches in five seasons, Morris is almost exclusively suited to early-down work, which he’s just not going to get in Dallas whenever Elliott is healthy. McFadden has a more versatile skill set and is easier to use in a variety of situations, making him a better fit with the team. 

Morris has a $1.2 million base salary for the 2017 season, which is pretty affordable for a timeshare running back, but given how ineffective he’s been the last two seasons, it’s tough to see there being all that much of a trade market for his services. If no such market materializes, the Cowboys could save just over $1.6 million against the cap by releasing him before his $437,000 roster bonus kicks in.