Dallas signed veteran running back Royce Freeman yesterday. It's doubtless a small-money contract, with Freeman a journeyman who won't necessarily make the final roster. But the remote possibility of him opening as the team's starter must be considered.

The other running backs currently on Dallas' roster are Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis and Deuce Vaughn. Dowdle is the current "favorite" (to use the word loosely) to start, but he's been in the league four seasons without ever making any kind of impact. He's just two years younger than the 28-year-old Freeman. Davis got a few chances as a rookie, then spent most of last year on the practice squad. Sixth-rounder Vaughn is tiny and averaged 1.7 per attempt with his limited chances last year; mostly, he was on special teams or a healthy scratch.

With those current options, Dallas is definitely a strong candidate to select a running back in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft, and that player would immediately get a bump in rookie drafts (and become perhaps the first rookie back draft in redraft leagues). But for now, it's reasonable to take a look at Freeman. He's a little more appealing, I think, than you might expect.

A former Denver third-rounder, Freeman is a big guy (6-0, 238) who actually started as a rookie, at one point punching in touchdowns in three straight games. He spent most of his three years in Denver in a committee, averaging a modest 4.0 per attempt. Since then he's bounced around, playing for Houston, Carolina (very briefly) and then the Rams last season. That went well enough that it might have caught the Cowboys' interest.

When Kyren Williams was hurt midseason, Freeman played in a committee with Darrell Henderson. He was a lot more effective, so much so that when Williams returned, Henderson was sent packing and Freeman was kept around as part of the rotation, which also included Ronnie Rivers. But Freeman made the most of the chances he got.

In a five-game stretch (first with Henderson, then Williams), Freeman averaged 13 carries for 58 yards, with 2 TDs. He averaged 4.6 yards per attempt in those contests. Projected out over a full season, he would have fallen just short of 1,000 rushing yards.

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The Rams didn't use Freeman in the passing game. At all: just 1 pass thrown his way in any of those five games, which was incomplete. But he doesn't seem incapable; he had a 43-catch season with Denver, catching about 80 percent of the passes thrown his way with the Broncos. He won't be Tony Pollard, but he doesn't seem useless, should he find his way into the lineup.

This signing might mean Dallas isn't interested in a reunion with Ezekiel Elliott. Maybe he wants too much money (the Cowboys, needing to sign CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott long-term, have significant cap concerns), or maybe they just don't think he brings too much to the table at this point.

But until the team drafts somebody, they're looking at Dowdle and Freeman as the top 2 candidates to start. Based on what the two players have shown in their careers to this point, I'll use a last-round pick on Freeman if I'm in a best-ball draft. More chance, I think, that he's a factor at some point this season.

--Andy Richardson