With the 71st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray. Though that was a reach for Murray – and they have very different styles – that pick likely spelled the end of Marion Barber’s tenure in Dallas. With Felix Jones and Tashard Choice already on the roster, there is no way the Cowboys will carry four running backs in 2011.
Barber was terribly disappointing in 2010. He played in 13 games, rushing for just 374 yards and four touchdowns on 113 carries. That gave him a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the sixth-year pro found his role diminished behind Jones (185 carries, 800 yards), and saw Choice gain a foothold in the rotation as well (66 carries, 243 yards).
Choice and Barber are similar runners, the 26-year-old Choice is 5’10, 212 pounds and can muscle between the tackles when needed. Barber is 5’11, 218 and was essentially only used on inside runs.
After a Pro Bowl season in 2007, Barber signed a seven-year, $45 million deal with the Cowboys that included $16 million guaranteed. We find it incredibly hard to believe that the Cowboys will pay Barber a $500,000 roster bonus and his $4.25 million base salary in 2011 with the cheaper Choice in the fold.
Barber’s production has been down since making the Pro Bowl in 2007 and signing that big contract. In 2007 he had his best season (975 yards, 10 touchdowns on 204 carries), but fell off in 2008 (885 yards, seven touchdowns on 238 carries). Things improved slightly in 2009 (932 yards, seven touchdowns on 214 carries), but he regressed again last season.
It’s a pretty safe bet that Barber will be cut as soon as the lockout ends, and we’ll see him on the free agent market.