Deuce Vaughn

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/3/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

  • Activated from IR: DL Viliami Fehoko
  • Placed on IR: RB Deuce Vaughn

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Troy Andersen is eyeing a return for the regular season finale after having been sidelined since late September with a pectoral injury. The 2022 second-round pick started five of his 17 appearances as a rookie, finishing with 69 tackles. Andersen had 19 tackles in a pair of appearances this season, with the linebacker missing Week 2 while sitting in concussion protocol.

An ankle injury will end Deuce Vaughn‘s rookie season early, with the sixth-round pick finishing with 80 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches. Regular backup RB Rico Dowdle missed last week while dealing with a lingering ankle injury, but Vaughn’s removal from the active roster probably bodes well for Dowdle’s availability. Of course, this move will also lead to even more speculation surrounding a potential Dalvin Cook pursuit.

After starting five of his 23 appearances through his first four seasons in the NFL, Phil Haynes entered the 2023 campaign as Seattle’s starting right guard. He started each of Seattle’s first eight games this season before landing on injured reserve with a toe injury. Anthony Bradford has been starting at the position in Haynes’ place, and he could keep his starting gig with Jason Peters sidelined with a foot injury.

RB Rumors: Cowboys, Eagles, Mattison

Letting Ezekiel Elliott sign with the Patriots and not making a known entrance into the Jonathan Taylor sweepstakes, the Cowboys are still planning to give one of their in-house running backs the backup job to Tony Pollard. Last year’s third-stringer behind Elliott and Pollard, Malik Davis, may be fighting an uphill battle to merely make Dallas’ 53-man roster. With Rico Dowdle the favorite to be Pollard’s top backup, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes Davis may be facing a cut. Dowdle and elusive rookie Deuce Vaughn have outplayed Davis during camp, per Hill, with the latter — a 5-foot-5 sixth-rounder out of Kansas State — flashing in games. Vaughn starred with the Wildcats for three seasons, excelling as both a runner and receiver, and continues to make a case for a role on offense.

Dowdle arrived in the NFL as a 2020 UDFA; Davis joined the Cowboys as a UDFA last year. Dowdle has not logged a regular-season carry since 2020, but it looks like the South Carolina product is poised to change that pattern this season. Here is the latest from the running back scene:

  • The Eagles have a deeper cast of running backs, at least in terms of experience. Philly added both Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift this offseason, and Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are on track to maintain roles in the defending NFC champions’ crowded backfield. This leaves Trey Sermon as the likeliest odd man out, per The Athletic’s Zach Berman (subscription required). The Eagles added Sermon, a 2021 third-round pick, following his 49ers cut last year but only used him in two games. Sermon could be a practice squad option; he spent much of his first Eagles year as part of that 16-man unit. But the Eagles’ present backfield configuration adds another hurdle for a player once projected to be the 49ers’ Week 1 starter.
  • The Vikings guaranteed 90.7% of Alexander Mattison‘s two-year, $7MM contract — a deal that replaces Dalvin Cook‘s as the top running back pact on the team’s payroll — but incentives will allow the fifth-year back to add to that total. If Mattison clears 750 rushing yards, he would pick up $250K. This applies to each season on the contract,’s Adam Caplan notes. That number would bump up to $500K in each year if Mattison notches 1,000 yards. While Mattison has never eclipsed 500 yards in a season, he was never in realistic position to do so. With Cook cut, the longtime RB2 is set for his first season as Minnesota’s starter. The Vikings see Mattison, 25, as a three-down player, Caplan adds, noting the team is determining its RB2. Ty Chandler, kick returner Kene Nwangwu and seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride are in place behind Mattison.
  • Tarik Cohen is coming off two season-nullifying injuries. The former Bears running back/return man suffered ACL and MCL tears in 2021, and less than a week after Chicago cut him (in May 2022), Cohen suffered an Achilles tear. The former Pro Bowl returner is healthy and ready to work out for teams, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. The Bears used Cohen regularly as an outlet option for Mitch Trubisky. In 2018, the 5-6 back totaled 725 receiving yards and led the NFL in punt-return yardage. Although RB value has tanked in 2023, Cohen could represent an interesting flier as a passing-down option. Granted, this is not a good time for a back to be seeking a job coming off two season-ending maladies.

Cowboys Unlikely To Re-Sign Ezekiel Elliott?

As most teams’ training camps head into their second week, Ezekiel Elliott remains unsigned. The two-time rushing champion has been connected to a few teams, but his main connection is not generating momentum.

The Cowboys saw offseason pickup Ronald Jones incur a two-game suspension Monday, and they are otherwise thin on experience behind Tony Pollard. But Elliott does not look to be in the Cowboys’ current plans, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill, who notes a reunion with the longtime starter is not a consideration at this point.

[RELATED: Cowboys Offered Pollard Long-Term Deal]

Mike McCarthy said the team does not want Elliott to take reps from its younger collection of backups. Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle and 5-foot-6 sixth-rounder Deuce Vaughn comprise that contingent. With Jones not exactly a lock to make the team regardless of his suspension, the Cowboys will be closely monitoring the progress of the aforementioned trio.

McCarthy’s comments regarding the backfield, however, came as Jerry Jones once again (via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins) left the door open to a Zeke-Cowboys reunion. The prospect of the Cowboys bringing Elliott back at a significantly reduced rate surfaced in March, and the topic came up after the draft in April and again in June.

I’ve been very consistent,” Jones said. “We’re just kind of see how it plays and we’re certainly haven’t closed the door. I wouldn’t know right now, what adjustments we might make, but just working ahead I don’t want to rule it out.”

Elliott, 28, has visited the Patriots. Prior to meeting with Elliott, Bill Belichick consulted Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones, Ed Werder of tweets. Belichick contacted Jones for a reference of sorts. The Patriots have looked into Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson but have not made an addition. They have also discussed a meeting with Dalvin Cook, but as of now, the Jets have secured the only summit with the top back available. Cook may be zeroing in on the Jets, though with no deal agreed to, the Pats and Dolphins still have time to up their offers.

While Elliott has undeniably slowed down since his initial NFL breakthrough, he still matched Pollard’s 12 touchdowns last season and has frequently generated praise from Jerry Jones. But the former No. 4 overall pick has logged 2,186 touches — 309 more than any other active back. Elliott did well to fetch that six-year, $90MM extension from the Cowboys in 2019. Playing four years on the deal gave him vital security. Although the Ohio State product may well have a chance to play an eighth season soon, this year’s grim running back developments do not have teams eager to add him.

The Cowboys growing dissatisfied with the Davis-Dowdle-Vaughn group as camp progresses could reopen a door for Elliott, considering how many times the topic of a reunion has come up this since the March separation.

Cowboys Rumors: Davis, Ferguson, Tolbert

The Cowboys have a number of depth chart battles to deal with heading into the 2023 season, including a left guard starting role that we touched on earlier this month. Another battle they’re currently dealing with, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic, is the backup running back gig.

Tony Pollard returns as the obvious starter at running back in Dallas. He’ll finally get a chance to take on a lion’s share of the teams carries after spending the first four years of his career splitting touches with Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys are now tasked with figuring out who will be the primary backup taking snaps behind Pollard.

One of the favorites for the job is second year back Malik Davis. As an undrafted rookie out of Florida, Davis appeared in 12 games last season, carrying the ball 38 times for 161 yards and a touchdown and catching six passes for 63 yards. He was the only running back not named Pollard or Elliott to contribute to the Cowboys’ offense last year, giving him the advantage of experience in Dallas’s system.

In order to earn the role, Davis will have to fight off offseason additions Ronald Jones and Deuce Vaughn. Jones is the most experienced of the three after winning Super Bowl rings with both the Buccaneers and the Chiefs. He has plenty of experience in both of his previous situations dealing with the demands of a backup running back, as well. Jones brings the experience of adapting to a new system from last year but still will need to catch up to Davis’s current familiarity with the team. Vaughn is coming off two stellar seasons at Kansas State and brings a different element to the game with his style and stature. He will have to quickly adjust to the NFL-level of play, though, in order to sneak past Davis and Jones on the depth chart.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Texas:

  • With Dalton Schultz now in Houston, the Cowboys will also have to figure out who takes the first snaps at tight end. They’re likely to utilize a number of tight ends in different situations, but right now, second year tight end Jake Ferguson is the favorite to start, according to Machota. The former fourth-round pick started eight games as a rookie and has the most experience playing in the Cowboys’ system. This year’s second-round rookie Luke Schoonmaker is sure to push Ferguson for playing time at some point, but currently, he’s still dealing with a plantar fascia issue that’s kept him from pushing for the top of the depth chart.
  • After a disappointing rookie season for last year’s third-round receiver Jalen Tolbert that saw him only appear in eight games and make two catches for 12 yards, the Cowboys are hoping for much more in Year 2. The team reportedly had enough confidence in the South Alabama product that they considered drafting him in the second round last year, according to Machota. Tolbert will have every opportunity to win the WR4 job in Dallas.

Cowboys Sign Mazi Smith, Rest Of Draft Class To Rookie Deals

With their rookie minicamp set to begin tomorrow, the Cowboys have signed their entire draft class. The team announced that they’ve officially inked all eight of their draft picks to rookie contracts, including first-round defensive tackle Mazi Smith.

While many assumed the Cowboys would use their first-round pick on a tight end, they ended up pivoting to the defensive side of the ball. Smith was a worthy pick; the Michigan product finished his 2022 campaign with 48 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a half-sack en route to All-Big Ten honors.

There were some questions surrounding his consistency heading into the draft, but his size and speed made him a surefire first- or second-round pick. Fortunately for Dallas, they won’t need Smith to be a contributor right away. He’ll find himself in the mix with Johnathan Hankins and Osa Odighizuwa on the DT depth chart, but he could also earn some playing time at defensive end.

We heard earlier today that the Cowboys inked second-round tight end Luke Schoonmaker to his rookie deal. The rest of the team’s draft class includes: