FanPost

Trade (deficit)!

I happened to read an article on Grantland making a case for blowing up the Phillies' roster by trading it's aging core and acquiring better prospects, to build for the future. The author of the article started of with this famous quote by Branch Rickey (Wiki):

"Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late." It's easy to see the merits of that idea. Trade a player at the height of his value and you can set your team up for years to come with what you get back; wait too long and you've got a player who'll do less to help your team, whether you keep him or shop him. More broadly, Rickey's message stressed the importance of avoiding having teams that were too old. You can win with the same core for a while. But eventually, the superstars and fan favorites of the past become the overrated players of the present and the overpaid albatrosses of the future.

Viewed in abstract this paragraph seems tailor made for the Cowboys. The team seems mired in a cycle of disappointment in terms of performance. A series of drafts ranging from ordinary to outright atrocious has left the team bereft of young talent. The past couple of drafts do seem to have reversed this trend but it takes time to overcome years of mediocrity. Add to that, Jerry's legendary penchant for overpaying players stymied the team from being active in the free agency market. All of this almost makes us forget that this was the same team that pulled off The Trade to pick up the building blocks for a decade of dominance.

So, the quickest way out of this vicious cycle appears to be in trading the team's best player(s) for draft picks. If the fan posts are any indication, a segment of the diehards faithful appear intent on packing DeMarcus Ware (read: old player in decline) off in trade in return for draft picks.

But is Ware the only trade-able asset on the team? I decided to review the Cowboys' current roster and come up with a list of players who could (theoretically) be traded. My objective was to follow Rickey's mantra of being willing to trade a player a year early than a year too late. In that sense, I was looking at both the player's age and the tread on his tires (i.e years in the league). This is what I came up with:

NAME POS. AGE EXP. CONTRACT
1 Carr, Brandon CB 26 6 3/14/2012: Signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract. The deal contains $25.5 million guaranteed -- a $10 million signing bonus and all of Carr's 2012 and 2013 base salaries. 2013: $715,000 (+ $13.5 million "signing" bonus), 2014: $7.5 million, 2015: $8 million, 2016: $9.1 million, 2017: $10 million (Voidable Year), 2018: Free Agent
2 Scandrick, Orlando CB 26 6 8/24/2011: Signed a six-year, $28.2 million contract. The deal contains $10 million guaranteed, including a $3 million signing bonus. 2013: $2 million, 2014: $3.5 million, 2015-2016: $5 million, 2017: Free Agent
3 Bernadeau, Mackenzy G 27 6 3/14/2012: Signed a four-year, $11 million contract. The deal included a $3.25 million signing bonus. 2013: $715,000 (+ $1.535 million "signing" bonus), 2014: $2.25 million, 2015: $2.75 million, 2016: Free Agent
4 Connor, Dan LB 27 6 3/15/2012: Signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract. The deal included a $2.7 million signing bonus. 2013: $3 million, 2014: Free Agent
5 Austin, Miles WR 28 8 9/9/2010: Signed a seven-year, $57.168 million contract. The cap-conscious deal contains $18 million guaranteed -- no signing bonus but all of Austin's whopping $17.078 million first-year base salary. 2013: $840,000 (+ $5.892 million "signing" bonus), 2014: $5.5 million, 2015: $6.888 million, 2016: $11.38 million, 2017: Free Agent
6 Free, Doug T 29 7 7/29/2011: Signed a four-year, $32 million contract. The deal contains $17 million guaranteed, including a $10.3 million signing bonus. 2013: $7 million, 2014-2016: $8 million, 2017: Free Agent
7 Spencer, Anthony LB 29 7 03/04/2013: Designated franchise player, $10.6 million guaranteed
8 Cook, Ryan C/G 29 8 9/1/2012: Signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract. The deal included a $300,000 signing bonus. 2013: $1.1 million, 2014: Free Agent
9 Vickers, Lawrence FB 29 8 3/14/2012: Signed a two-year, $2.4 million contract. The deal included a $200,000 signing bonus. 2013: $1.2 million, 2014: Free Agent
10 Spears, Marcus DT 29 9 7/29/2011: Signed a five-year, $19.2 million contract. The deal contains $4.2 million guaranteed, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. 2013: $2 million, 2014: $3 million, 2015: $4 million, 2016: Free Agent
11 Livings, Nate G 30 6 3/16/2012: Signed a five-year, $18.7 million contract. The deal contains $6.2 million guaranteed. 2013: $815,000 (+ $885,000 "signing" bonus), 2014: $3.4 million, 2015: $4.4 million, 2016: $4.75 million, 2017: Free Agent
12 Hatcher, Jason DT 30 8 8/1/2011: Signed a three-year, $6 million contract. The deal included a $2.5 million signing bonus. 2013: $2 million, 2014: Free Agent
13 Orton, Kyle QB 30 9 3/14/2012: Signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus. 2013: $1.35 million, 2014: $3.25 million, 2015: Free Agent
14 Ware, DeMarcus LB 30 9 10/26/2009: Signed a seven-year, $79 million contract. The deal contains $40 million guaranteed, including a $20 million signing bonus and all of Ware's 2009-2011 base salaries. 2013: $840,000 (+ $5 million "signing" bonus + $500,000 workout bonus), 2014: $12.25 million, 2015: $13.75 million, 2016: Free Agent
15 Witten, Jason TE 30 11 9/11/2011: Signed a five-year, $37 million contract. The deal contains $19 million guaranteed, including a $12.5 million signing bonus. 2013: $940,000 (+ $4.56 million "signing" bonus), 2014: $5 million, 2015: $5.1 million, 2016: $6.5 million, 2017: $7.4 million, 2018: Free Agent
16 Ladouceur, L.P. LS 31 9 2/28/2013: Signed a five-year, $4 million contract. The deal included a $600,000 signing bonus. 2013: $865,000, 2014: $855,000, 2015: $1 million, 2016: $1.05 million, 2017: $1.1 million, 2018: Free Agent
17 Ratliff, Jay NT 31 9 9/9/2011: Signed a seven-year, $48.625 million contract. The deal contains $18 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus. 2013: $5 million, 2014: $5.5 million, 2015: $7 million, 2016: $7.5 million, 2017: Free Agent
18 Romo, Tony QB 32 11 10/29/2007: Signed a six-year, $67.4 million contract extension through 2013. The deal contains $30 million guaranteed, including an $11.5 million signing bonus, Romo's 2008 base salary, and an additional $8.19 million "signing" bonus in 2011. 2013: $11.5 million, 2014: Free Agent


Based on the team's plans for the players, roster depth at the position, their talent level, contract or a combination of the above, we can safely disregard Carr, Scandrick, Bernadeau, Connor, Free, Cook, Vickers, Spears, Livings and Ladouceur from the pool of trade-able assets. Which leaves us with the following:

Any trade is also dictated by the market forces of demand and supply. Based on the quality of free agents available under each position group as well as the quality of the upcoming draft, I would bet my silly money on getting the highest value by putting up pass-rushers and quarterbacks for a trade. That makes Romo, Orton, Ware and Spencer the best available trade-able assets on the team. My vote goes to Orton and Ware. Orton is a high-priced bench warmer who's better suited for a contender who wants insurance (say Patriots, 49ers), or teams who need a manager and don't trust being able to find a starter in the draft but have a decent run game (Cardinals, Jaguars). So, my fellow BTBers: who do you think the Cowboys should trade?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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