While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn't too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today, we continue the series with running back Rod Smith.
Views of #45 Running Back Rod Smith from the 2017-18 Regular Season.
What's Been Good:
Smith is one of this roster's best success stories. Claimed off waivers from Seattle in 2015, he persisted through a temporary change to fullback, then back to running back, and emerged as a quality backup to All-Pro caliber starter Ezekiel Elliott. Smith earned a weekly game day roster spot due to his contributions on special teams and eventually split touches with Alfred Morris during Elliott's six-game suspension (43 carries, 13 catches to Morris' 99 carries and 6 catches). For the season, Smith rushed 55 times for 232 yards (4.2 average) and 4 touchdowns while catching 19 passes for 202 yards with one score. The Cowboys decided to release veteran Darren McFadden in December due in part to Smith's rise as a capable all-around contributor.
What's Been Bad:
Not much to harp on regarding Smith's role. If anything, he and Morris needed a couple of games to gain traction in the run game when Elliott got suspended. During the Cowboys' three-game losing streak – a miserable stretch for the entire offense – Smith had 20 carries for 66 yards and one touchdown, though some of his work came in short yardage. He got better as the games went along.
Prior to the Cowboys' Dec. 10 to the Meadowlands, Smith had two career touchdowns – both in the previous two games against the L.A. Chargers and Washington Redskins. Against the Giants, he sealed a 30-10 Cowboys victory with two scores in the final five minutes: an 81-yard catch and run, followed by a 15-yard run.
With McFadden no longer on the roster and Morris set to be a free agent, it's possible Smith opens training camp as the No. 2 back. That's a credit to the trust he has earned from the coaching staff.
- Smith is a perfect example of how things can work out for a scouting department when it comes to player evaluation.
- Identify the player, discuss his potential role on the squad and work to obtain his services.
- What has to make the front office and staff proud is the way that Smith has developed as a player in each of the seasons he has been with the club.
- He has gone from practice squad player to core special teamer to now a reliable, dependable player on the offense as a backup running back.
- For Smith, it's been a transition that he's made look smooth.
- Whatever the staff he has asked him to do, he has been able to accomplish.
- Even with a deep running back draft class, I envision the front office still viewing Smith as that primary backup to Elliott which will allow them to be more selective where they address the position, if at all.