Cowboys free-agent debate: Lance Dunbar

With 20 players set to be restricted or unrestricted free agents, the Dallas Cowboys will have plenty of decisions to make on who to keep and who to let go.

Let’s take a look at the free agents to be and how they could fit into the Cowboys’ future:

Running back Lance Dunbar

Type: Restricted

What he did: He played in every game and had 29 carries for 99 yards. He also caught 18 passes for 217 yards. He was never able to be a big part of the offense because DeMarco Murray wasn’t going to come off the field, and if the Cowboys did want to give him a breather with some carries those went mostly to Joseph Randle. Dunbar had moments during the season with three catches for more than 20 yards. He has a good feel in the screen game, and he is a willing pass blocker.

What he could do: Dunbar will always be a niche player. The Cowboys have two of those in Cole Beasley and, to a degree, tight end Gavin Escobar. He remains a solid third-down, change-of-pace option, but he is not a guy who can get you 15 to 20 carries a game on a weekly basis. If something were to happen to the Cowboys’ lead back, whoever that is in 2015, then Dunbar would be part of the group that takes over the carries, not the main guy. He can help on special teams as a returner and on coverage.

What it should cost: As an undrafted free agent, he is looking at the low tender worth $1.5 million, which would not net the Cowboys any compensation if he were to leave, but why would a team come after him? There is a thought that the Cowboys might not tender him at all and give him a smaller one-year deal. They didn’t tender Phillip Tanner as a restricted free agent last year. But with the uncertainty at the position with Murray’s impending free agency and Randle’s off-field troubles, they might want to make sure they keep Randle around for another year as insurance.

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