Report: Cowboys sign Royce Freeman to 1-year deal, still expected to select running back in NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys have picked up a new running back after losing Tony Pollard.

The Cowboys struck a one-year deal with veteran running back Royce Freeman on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.

Freeman had 319 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season while backing up Kyren Williams with the Los Angeles Rams. The 28-year-old got his start with the Denver Broncos, who took him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oregon. He spent three seasons with the Broncos, and then held short stints with the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans before arriving in Los Angeles last offseason.

Freeman is now the most experienced player in the Cowboys’ running backs room. He joins Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn in Dallas, who remained after Pollard left for the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Pollard — who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and shined after the Ezekiel Elliott era in Dallas ended — signed a three-year, $21.7 million deal with the Titans.

Though Freeman should provide some solid depth at the position, he’s not a true replacement for Pollard by any means. The team, according to The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken, is still expected to take a running back early in the NFL Draft next week. The Cowboys have the No. 24 overall pick, and then one pick in both the second and third rounds.

The Cowboys have several other vacancies to fill, too, after losing left tackle Tyron Smith, center Tyler Biadasz and defensive end Dorance Armstrong. The team has just a little more than $7 million available in salary space, and they’re eyeing extensions for quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb at some point this season.

Keeping those two around for the long term sounds like the priority, too.

“When we’re all said and done, we max out our salary cap every year. We will have done that and what comes with having a good roster, which we do, we also are looking towards signing our own guys,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via ESPN. “It doesn’t mean it happens overnight. But when you’re wanting to sign players like Dak [Prescott] and Micah [Parsons] and CeeDee [Lamb], then certainly you have to hold money back if you want to have a realistic chance of signing those guys.

Freeman is now just the second outside free agent that the Cowboys have brought in this offseason. They also signed linebacker Eric Kendricks to a one-year deal last month.

Though there will certainly be others coming in, it looks like Freeman is going to have a real opportunity in Dallas this fall. What that looks like, though, remains to be seen.

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