The Cowboys currently sit at 4-1, and there is a very real chance that they will make the playoffs. And wiith that possibility on the horizon, the front office has to be asking itself whether the 2016 Cowboys are good enough for a playoff run.
It's easy to answer that question with an outraged "Of course they are!", but postseason play is an entirely different animal than regular season play, as the Cowboys well know.
In 2014, after storming out to a 12-4 record, the Cowboys lost to the packers in the divisional round. But not because Dez Bryant's catch was overturned after review, or because DeMarco Murray fumbled the ball. No. The Cowboys lost because their D-line was not a playoff-caliber unit and couldn't get any pressure on a hobbled Aaron Rodgers.
In 2009, the Cowboys lost to the Vikings in the divisional round because their offensive line was a far cry from a playoff-caliber unit.
This year, the Cowboys look like they probably have a playoff-caliber offense (both with Prescott and/or Romo), but while the defense has more than held its own over the last few weeks, is it really a playoff-caliber defense?
The trade deadline ends on November 1st at 4:00 p.m., New York time, which means the Cowboys still have three weeks to figure out if they think the team needs an upgrade for a playoff run, and then figure out if they are willing to invest in such an upgrade.
The Cowboys of the last few years have generally looked to the draft or their own roster for upgrades, and have looked outside mostly to fill roster holes. So if they do get active before the trade deadline, it probably wouldn't be for a headline-grabbing trade.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys may have some pieces they could translate into some kind of trade value.
Darren McFadden, has been sitting pretty on the NFI list and could be of value to a team looking for a healthy veteran running back.
Mark Sanchez was brought in as a backup, but with Romo on the verge of coming back, do the Cowboys really need a third QB, even if that QB has a lot of veteran experience? Probably not, but some other team might.
Both players will be free agents after the season, so their trade value is obviously limited, but if the Cowboys could swap their QB and/or RB rentals for a DE rental, wouldn't you do it?
The Dolphins have three DEs on expiring contracts (Dion Jordan, Andre Branch, and Jason Jones) and they sure look like they could use a running back.
Cleveland has already played five QBs this year, why not give The Sanchize a shot? It's not exactly clear what they could give the Cowboys in return, but it might be worth giving them a call.
The Jaguars have the fewest rushing yards of any team in the league, and they might need a guy like McFadden if they want their franchise to start gong in the right direction.
The 5-0 Vikings look playoff bound, but are averaging a ridiculously low 2.5 yards per attempt on the ground without Adrian Peterson. Could they be interested in a veteran running back to take some pressure off the passing game?
Of course, if there are no interesting trade options forthcoming, it's not going to hurt the Cowboys to keep both players: depending on the contracts they sign with other teams as free agents next year, both McFadden and Sanchez could count as compensatory free agents for the Cowboys.