IRVING, Texas -- For everybody expecting the Dallas Cowboys to add a running back at some point before the 2015 season started, they got their wish on Sunday when Christine Michael was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks.
But a quick word of caution: Don’t expect Michael to be THE guy in the Cowboys’ backfield.
The move is more about insurance and depth.
The Cowboys gave up a low-round conditional draft pick for Michael, hardly a sign they will make a heavy investment on him from the get-go.
Perhaps there is still some concern about Joseph Randle's availability throughout the season stemming from an offseason arrest in Wichita, Kansas. He missed the team’s kickoff luncheon to attend to legal affairs, and the NFL could still look to punish him through the personal conduct policy at some point, if not by the Week 1 opener against the New York Giants.
If you want to compare track records on the field, however, Randle’s is better.
Randle, who was picked 89 spots after Michael was taken by Seattle in the second round of the 2013 draft, has 105 carries for 507 yards and five touchdowns in 29 career games. In 14 games over two seasons, Michael has 52 carries for 254 yards.
Michael was never able to push hard enough to take carries away from Marshawn Lynch or at least force Seattle to take away carries from Lynch.
There is talent, which is why Michael was taken in the second round, and maybe a change of scenery and a return to Texas will do him well.
The Cowboys are hoping they can cash in on the talent that made Michael such a high draft pick. In 40 college games at Texas A&M, he had 2,791 yards on 529 carries and had 34 rushing touchdowns, which was tied for fifth in school history. But he also had a number of injuries.
To expect Michael to come in as the Cowboys’ replacement for DeMarco Murray is too much.
They did not make a bigger splash in free agency than McFadden, who was guaranteed just $200,000. They didn’t make a run at Adrian Peterson during his travails with the Minnesota Vikings. They didn’t select a running back in a draft that was considered to be heavy with running backs.
They didn’t go after running backs with longer track records than Michael, despite the reports of interest in Montee Ball and Terrance West. They were never in on the veterans everybody wanted to tie to the Cowboys, like Ray Rice and Steven Jackson.
As it was when the Cowboys declined to get into the big-money game to keep Murray, who set the franchise’s record with 1,845 yards last season, the Cowboys are banking on their offensive line to be the star of the running game in 2015.
The Cowboys have planned to go with a committee, perhaps headed by Randle and split up with McFadden and Dunbar. Now they can add Michael to the list.