Carlos Hyde is a free agent after the season, and is slogging away on a team that sits at 0-8. There have been reports that San Francisco might want to extend his contract, but it’s just as likely that he is not in their plans (or they are not in his as he approaches the market).
Meanwhile, tonight, we learned that Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension is back on. Yes, he can appeal tomorrow, but it looks very likely that he will be serving that suspension during this season. The Dallas Cowboys sit at 4-3, right on the precipice of a playoff spot. Right now, they are a half game behind Carolina for the final spot. They are tied with now-fading Green Bay and Atlanta, a team they will now likely face without Elliott in a couple of weeks.
Dallas could stand pat with some combination of Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Or, they could explore renting Hyde for a late-round pick that would be just enough to be worth San Francisco’s while. They can’t give up a 3rd for a player who will be gone, but six starts (and additional insurance to keep Elliott fresh late) is worth a 5th rounder, or maybe even a conditional 4th.
The trade now makes sense for San Francisco for a number of reasons. The 49ers just traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, giving up a 2nd round pick. In doing so, it’s fair to say that despite staring at one of the top two spots, they decided that they didn’t see their franchise quarterback in the draft and went for Jimmy G. In doing so, they can now take “best player available” and that might very well be Saquon Barkley. Barkley looks like a difference maker in the Tomlinson/Peterson/Elliott mold, to pair with the new quarterback. If they can recoup a pick, and give Matt Breida an extended opportunity to earn the job, it makes sense in an audition year.
Dallas caught a small break in that this legal decision came down right at the trade deadline, and now they must make a decision tomorrow. They face a gauntlet of swing games over the next six weeks, and there is a Top 20 back waiting out there. The Cowboys should see if they can add Hyde as a replacement for his fellow Ohio State running back.