The NFL trade deadline is at 4:00 PM EST on Tuesday, Nov. 1, which means the rumor mill is going strong with all sorts of trade scenarios, never mind that the trade deadline historically hasn't produced a lot of deals.
But that isn't stopping anybody from speculating about potential trades, and given that the Cowboys are once again a headline magnet, the Cowboys feature prominently in these trade scenarios.
With that out of the way, here's an overview of some of the trade speculations out there.
DT Sen'Derrick Marks, Jaguars
Potential cost: 5th-round draft pick.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com explains why Marks would be a good fit in Dallas.
The Cowboys' steamrolling, ball-control offense gets an extra boost this week with the return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant. If they want to hold off the competition in a strong NFC East field, though, they will have to upgrade a defense that ranks 23rd in both yards per play (5.9) and opposing passer rating (95.0). The return of Demarcus Lawrence should help a struggling pass rush, but the Cowboys still need a veteran to rotate with rookie Maliek Collins at defensive tackle. Marks is just two years removed from an 8.5-sack season on the interior of Jacksonville's line.
Evaluation: Barring injury, the Cowboys are pretty much set at defensive tackle, and while Marks' 8.5 sacks do sound enticing, he's only had one sack in the last two years, and I'd rather spend a hypothetical 5th-round pick (the Cowboys traded away their 5th-rounder for Matt Cassel), on another position.
DE Mario Williams, Dolphins
Potential cost: 6th-round pick
Joel Corry of CBS Sports has the Cowboys involved in not one but two trades. The first trade sends Darren McFadden to Detroit for a conditional 6th-rounder, the second trade sees them sending a 6th-rounder to Miami for Mario Williams.
Dallas looks like a team that could have a deep playoff run. Putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is still an issue despite ranking 10th in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. Dallas has Pro Football Focus' second-worst pass rush grade this season.
Williams isn't the same player that garnered a six-year, $96 million contract from the Bills in 2012 but he would be an upgrade for the Cowboys. A sixth-round pick is the same as the Bears received last season from the Panthers in a trade for Jared Allen.
Evaluation: Right position, right team, wrong player.
DE Cameron Wake, Dolphins
Potential cost: 5th-round pick.
Jared Dubin, also of CBS Sports, has a laundry list of trade options, but concedes that the chances of any of these deals happening is somewhere south of 1 percent.
The Cowboys' pass-rushing issues are well-known, and they've been there for a while now. Getting DeMarcus Lawrence back, as they did two weeks ago, should help a bit, but they're still working at a deficit. Wake is getting up there in years, but he still has it. On only 137 snaps for the Dolphins this year, Wake has 20 pressures, making him one of the most productive pass-rushers on a per-snap basis. If the Dolphins aren't going to use him on an every-snap basis, maybe the Cowboys will.
Cameron DaSilva of Foxports also has Cameron Wake as a trade target for the Cowboys.
This isn’t the splashiest move on the list, but it’s one that the Cowboys would greatly benefit from. Wake is on the tail end of his career at age 34, but he’s been successful as a situational pass rusher for the Dolphins this season. He has three sacks in seven games, which isn’t a huge number admittedly. However, he doesn’t play every snap given his age and recovery from a torn Achilles.
Wake would bring a spark to the Cowboys’ underwhelming pass rush, which is 24th in sacks this season. Randy Gregory is still suspended and rehabbing, and he's not expected to have much of an impact this season. Demarcus Lawrence has looked good in his return from suspension, but he’s still getting into the swing of things. And late in games, the Cowboys need a situational rusher on the field.
Evaluation: In Cameron Wake, the Cowboys would at least get a pass rusher who's been effective this season - and not two years ago. Then again, the Cowboys had the chance to sign Dwight Freeney in the offseason without coughing up a 5th-rounder in the process, and passed on the opportunity. At the time, the Cowboys felt comfortable with the young guys they had on the roster.
"We don't have our heads in the sand,'' Jones said before Freeney signed with the Falcons. "At the same time, we're optimistic that Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Ryan Russell and some of those guys can take some big steps.
Ryan Russell is now on the Buccaneers' practice squad, and Charles Tapper is on IR, so perhaps Wake would be an option after all. At the same time, the Dolphins just signed Wake to a two-year extension through 2017, a deal that includes $10 million guaranteed and can pay him up to $17.8 million over 2016 and 2017. That's a big cap hit for a guy on the tail end of his career, probably too big.
DE Willie Young, Bears
Potential cost: n.a.
Gil Brandt, Vice President of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988 and now writing for NFL.com, also has a pass rusher in mind for the Cowboys.
The 5-1 Cowboys are currently in the driver's seat in the NFC East, but if they want to hold off the likes of the Eagles and Giants, they'd do well to increase their sack differential (currently plus-two) and ratchet up the takeaways (five, tied for 27th in the NFL). Dallas' schedule will be tough going forward, and it would help a great deal to have someone capable of collecting 10 sacks on the field.
Evaluation: Young has six sacks in seven games so far this year, which is more than half of what the Cowboys have managed so far this season, so he's another guy who's been productive this season. But he's also been productive in the past, notching 10 sacks in 2014 and 6.5 sacks in 2015. Young is 31 and just signed a two-year extension in Chicago during the summer, and it's not clear what the Bears would ask in return for Young, though they did kind of set the price for 30+ pass rushers when they traded Jared Allen to Carolina a year ago for a 6th-rounder. But Chicago's season is already down the crapper with their current 1-6 record, so they might be amenable to trade.
That's four potential trade targets, plus Darren McFadden as a potential player the Cowboys could trade, as Andrew Vailliencourt of SI.com explains:
The man who led the Dallas Cowboys in rushing last year has yet to play this season after being put on the non-football injury list after he broke his elbow during the offseason. However, he is healthy now, and Dallas simply doesn't have the need for him with the way its backfield is performing. The Detroit Lions could be the team that targets him, as their first, second and third string running backs have battled injuries throughout the year, resulting in the call–up of Zach Zenner from the practice squad. McFadden would be able to take over right away as the starter for a Lions team that is suddenly in the wild card mix, and could probably be had for a mid-to-late round draft pick. At this point, however, McFadden-to-Detroit talk is entirely speculation.
Does any of that grab your fancy?