The draft is over and Dallas is in the process of adding UDFA’s. The ‘Boys have added a playmaker on offense in Dez Bryant, and have added depth to a talented defense with Sean Lee, AOA, Wall and Lissemore. However, one area of need – offensive line – was not addressed until the sixth round when Dallas selected OT Sam Young.
This could mean several things. It could mean Dallas is very comfortable with its starting five of Free, Kosier, Gurode, Bigg and Columbo. It could also mean Dallas has high hopes for guys like Brewster and Bright to take the next step in their progression.
Or it could mean Jerry Jones has a different plan. The truth is, there were only four or five rookie offensive lineman who could have come in and pushed current starters for playing time, and all those guys were gone by the time Dallas picked in the first round. Sure, there were plenty of linemen I, and several of you, would have loved to see with a star on his helmet; but having a rookie lineman start on a team ready to make a deep run in the playoffs is a scary prospect.
Prior to the draft, there were several BTBers who wanted Jerry to trade for Raven OT Jared Gaither. I was against the move. I thought this draft had several players who could come in and be stars for the Cowboys and I didn’t want to give up a top 100 pick. I’m very happy that Dez, Lee and AOA are on this team and I think they have bright futures with the organization. However, I am now in favor of Jerry making a move for Gaither now.
If I were the Cowboys GM, I would be on the phone today with the Ravens offering our 2011 second round pick for Gaither. I think the Ravens would probably want more – since the value of picks is lower now – but I would go as high as a 2011 second and fourth. I would even strongly consider giving up our first. I’m totally fine with giving up multiple picks in 2011 for Gaither because I believe the 2011 draft will be very top-heavy in terms of talent.
Here is my reasoning. First we have to look at the linemen Dallas has brought in. Sam Young, Will Barker and Mike Tepper all project more as RT’s at the NFL level. This is a strong indication the Cowboys are looking for players to push Columbo. Keep in mind, Columbo will make $2.14M this year, $1.9M in 2011, $2.7M in 2012 and then jump up to $4M in 2013.
As of right now, Pat McQuistan is the backup LT…
Trading for Gaither would mean there would be a competition at LT in training camp. If we trade for Gaither – without extending his contract – this would mean both players would be in the last year of their contract and both players will want big money extensions. If either player proves they are capable of protecting Romo’s blindside, it’s an extension I would happily give.
I would also be on the phone with Miami about OG Justin Smiley. There were multiple reports Smiley was being shopped during the draft. Smiley is signed through 2012, he’ll make $2.9M in 2010, $4.9M in 2011 and $4.4M in 2012. Smiley will turn 29 in November, and could be a stop-gap once Kosier leaves in FA in 2011. Brewster, Bright, Chet Teofilo and Phil Costa would all provide some depth as interior linemen.
There have been rumors of a Smiley for Crayton swap and this makes sense for both teams. Miami doesn’t want to pay Smiley’s contract, especially after drafting Jon Jerry over the weekend. Miami also traded Ted Ginn Jr., their punt returner and slot WR in the offseason. Crayton could go to Miami and be a good 3rd or 4th WR/PR for the Dolphins. Crayton will make $2M this year and $2.5M next. Again, I would not be opposed to throwing in a late 2011 pick to sweeten the pot.
Smiley could come and provide depth on the interior line, and may be able to beat out Kosier in training camp. He would offer protection if Brewster, Bright and others don’t develop into starters.
So to recap, I would give up a 2011 second and fourth round pick for Gaither, and trade Crayton and to Miami for Smiley.
We would have Free or Gaither at LT. Kosier or Smiley at LG. Gurode at C, Bigg at RG, and Columbo at RT. Brewster, Bright, Costa, Young, Barker, Teofilo and Tepper would all compete for backup or practice squad positions. And best of all, we would get to say goodbye to Procter and McQ!
The biggest problem with this scenario is one, trading away draft picks can backfire, and two; both Free and Gaither are LT’s. Trading for Gaither means we will lose one or the other. If we sign Gaither to a long-term contract, Free’s agent will advise him to test free agency in 2011. If Free gets an extension, Gaither’s agent will tell him his best interest is to test FA as well. But in terms of going for a Super Bowl, this move means there is good depth on the Oline in 2010 and it doesn’t mortgage the future for 2011 and beyond. Depth at LT would again be a priority in 2011, but at least we would have an answer at the starter position.