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3 Targets for the Dallas Cowboys at the NFL Trade Deadline

It’s that time of year where every football fan is putting on their general manager caps and forecasting possible trade scenarios to make their favorite team better at the NFL Trade Deadline. Whether it’s bringing in talent that can help them contend this year or shipping off a veteran for a young player or draft compensation, everyone loves to get in on the prognoses. For the Dallas Cowboys, we’ve seen some terrific trade deadline acquisitions, as well as some flops.

In 2018, America’s Team struck a deal with the then-Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper that cost the Cowboys a first-round selection. Since then, he’s hauled in 254 passes for 3401 yards and 23 scores in 47 games. It was a gem of a deal for a player that most Raiders’ fans mistook for unmotivated because of his quiet nature. However, Dallas has also swung and missed at the trade deadline or even chosen to stand pat.

This year, a 5-1 start has Cowboys Nation swooning over the possibilities of making a run at an NFC Championship or even their first Super Bowl since the days of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. Still, it’s important to remember the front office’s stance on building a team.

In recent years, Jerry and Stephen Jones and Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay have dedicated themselves to drafting well, developing their young players and resigning their own. Offseason and trade acquisitions have rarely been swings for the fence, with the front office, instead, hoping for a solid single on a budget player.

Fantasy vs Reality | NFL Trade Deadline

Yes, names like Miami’s Xavien Howard, Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett and the Jets’ Marcus Maye have been floated out, but the truth is, the Dallas Cowboys don’t have the cap space to make those deals work without compromising what little space we have in the future.

The Cowboys currently have between $4 and $5M in cap space and are expected to be above the estimated cap number for 2022. In addition, they project to have the least amount of space under the projected number in 2023. The bottom line is it’s difficult to further handcuff your future with a player that is only likely to be here for the next several months. And make no mistake, any acquisition would have to have a potential out in their contract this offseason, as the Cowboys will have to make some tough decisions on possible cap casualties.

It’s also important to remember that the Cowboys will see a lot of contributors hit the free agent market this spring. On the offense, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Dalton Schultz and Connor Williams all have expiring contracts. In addition, veterans like Tyron Smith or La’el Collins will be debated as cap casualties with the emergence of Terence Steele.

On defense, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse, and Malik Hooker are all set to hit the open market. Guys like Demarcus Lawrence, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis could be on the chopping block to create space.

Still, the fan in me knows that if there is a potential deal that could help lift Dallas to their first Super Bowl in 26 years, the Cowboys will debate it thoroughly over the next week. Let’s take a look at three reasonable options for this team.

dallas cowboys nfl trade deadline Emmanuel Ogbah
Credit: Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports

Targets for the Dallas Cowboys | NFL Trade Deadline

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Miami Dolphins

For those that don’t remember, in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys took Jaylon Smith with the third pick of the second round (34th overall) in the NFL Draft. However, that was not Plan A in the war room.

Following the first round, Jones and the Cowboys reportedly called Cleveland and Tennessee that night and the next day about trying to jump up and grab one of two pass rushers that had slid into day two.

Emmanuel Ogbah was one of those two players that Dallas had their eyes on, and when he and Clemson’s Kevin Dodd went with back-to-back picks to open the round, the Cowboys shifted their focus to Smith. While Dodd is no longer in the NFL, Ogbah had an underwhelming start to his career in Cleveland before having somewhat of a breakout campaign last season in Miami.

Compensation

This fall, he’s got 2.5 sacks and ten hits on the quarterback in seven games and continues to be an active presence against the run as well. More importantly, he’s on an expiring contract. Adding the Ft. Bend-native by way of Nigeria could be as cheap as a day-three pick.

It would be a tremendous addition with Lawrence and Armstrong still missing action. Another defensive end candidate could be Mario Addison in Buffalo. While the Bills are on a Super Bowl hunt of their own, they also have a plethora of talent at defensive end and may be willing to part with the veteran.

It’s a long shot, but at least worth a phone call. Another option could be Jacksonville’s Dawuane Smoot, although he’s got over $2M in guaranteed money owed to him in 2022.

Andrew Billings, DT, Cleveland Browns

This is an extremely affordable possibility for a player that would give the Cowboys another big run-stuffer in the middle of their defense. The Waco-native has lost his spot in the rotation with Cleveland.

While Dallas’ run defense has improved since last year, there is always room for veteran depth that can take some base-package snaps away from guys that the Cowboys would like to play more exclusively on passing downs.

Compensation

Most importantly, Billings would likely be as cheap as the swapping of late-round picks, or Dallas could even swap a veteran like Ty Nsekhe for him. The Cowboys are still middle of the pack at stopping the run, giving up 4.3 yards per carry.

As opponents try to figure out ways to slow Dallas’ impressive offensive arsenal, some are likely to try and keep them off the field by committing to the run to win in time of possession. That is where Billings could come in handy, especially since Carlos Watkins is nursing an injured knee.

Connor McGovern, C, NY Jets

Believe it or not, adding an offensive piece has to be in the cards, and McGovern makes a lot of sense. He’s a veteran center that could help solidify the pivot where Tyler Biadasz has seen his share of struggles in 2021.

I’m not ready to give up on Biadasz, considering he’s only made ten starts at this point in his career, but maybe patience needs to be exercised with his development. His pad level was an issue at Wisconsin, and it’s causing a lot of problems with more powerful defensive tackles this year.

McGovern is currently the Pro Football Focus’s seventh-ranked center in the league, so this won’t likely be cheap as far as compensation. Still, it helps clean up the one weak spot on the Cowboys’ offense.

Compensation

If I’m the Dallas Cowboys, I may even get creative in the trade talks. The Jets would likely ask for a third-round pick, considering McGovern is under contract through the 2022 season. However, they are a young rebuilding team that still has work to do on their offensive line.

I wonder if they still have any interest in La’el Collins, who was the center of their trade demands when the Cowboys inquired about obtaining Jamal Adams in 2020. Steele held his own at right tackle in Collins’ absence and is a much cheaper option moving forward.

This swap would sure up the middle of this offensive line and clear out cap space moving forward. On the other hand, maybe a player like Connor Williams is a possible trade chip. He’s a free agent that Dallas won’t be able to resign in the offseason, but the Jets could. In fact, with Williams being only 24, New York could choose to get an extension done before the season is over. With Dallas’ Connor McGovern being a suitable replacement, swapping Williams for the Jets’ McGovern, straight-up, is a real possibility. Also, how awesome would it be to have two Connor McGovern’s playing side by side?

I’d also give the 49ers a call about Alex Mack. He’s not the player he once was, but he’s still terrific in pass protection, and San Francisco is now 2-4 in the toughest division in 2021.


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