The Dallas Cowboys let free agent fullback Tony Fiammetta get away from Valley Ranch without a deal or a tender, but the team has a solid backup plan. On Wednesday, the Cowboys signed seventh-year fullback Lawrence Vickers to a 2-year, $2.4 million deal. Vickers will be Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray’s lead blocker for at least the next two years. If Fiammetta doesn’t return, the Cowboys now have a viable replacement.
Over the past two seasons, Vickers has helped the NFL’s most prolific running backs to historic seasons. In 2010, Vickers led Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis to a 1,177-yard, 11-touchdown campaign in his breakout season. Last season, Vickers helped the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster to a 1,224-yard, 10-touchdown performance.
Fiammetta made a huge difference for the Cowboys’ offense in 2011, so Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett knew they either had to bring him back or find another workhorse running back to replace him. Although he didn’t carry the ball much at all, Fiammetta almost doubled the Cowboys’ team rushing average when he was on the field versus when he wasn’t. Likewise, Dallas running back DeMarco Murray set team records with Fiammetta leading the way, but he was just an average runner without the fullback.
At 6’0″ and 250 lbs., Vickers is similar in size to Fiammetta but he’s better at catching passes out of the backfield. Vickers’s only three career touchdowns came on receptions and he caught more than his share during his days with the Browns.
Vickers is fond of Texas, having been raised in Beaumont, playing professional ball in nearby Houston last season and now coming to Dallas. The Texans have now lost two prize starting fullbacks in as many seasons, but the Cowboys have found two in the same time span.
Vickers’s name may not carry as much weight as the Cowboys’ other signings like cornerback Brandon Carr and Kyle Orton, but he fills a void like fellow Dallas signee Mackenzy Bernadeau. Dallas proved it’s serious about winning by adding Vickers, who might be the Cowboys’ most important offensive player like Fiammetta was in 2011.