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ESPN Makes Four Predictions For The Dallas Cowboys' 2016 Season

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A trade, a refusal to trade, a new pass rusher, and an injury: ESPN has some specific ideas of what lies in store for the Cowboys.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With exactly 100 days to go before the start of the 2016 NFL season, ESPN asked its football writers to put together a list of "100 NFL predictions that will frame 2016 season" and each team gets a few predictions thrown its way. The Cowboys end up with four predictions, three by Todd Archer, one by a clown in Tampa. Here is Archer's first prediction for Dallas.

8. Darren McFadden will be trade bait by the end of the summer. With Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris, the Cowboys will hear from a RB-needy team willing to give up a draft pick for McFadden, who rushed for 1,089 yards last year. -- Todd Archer

We already know that the Cowboys declined trade offers for their running backs during the draft, but just because the Cowboys turned down trade offers a few weeks ago doesn't mean they'll do it again in the future.

McFadden is heading into the second and final year of his contract and has a $2.15 million cap hit. That's a very affordable price for a team looking for a productive RB, which McFadden was last year. More importantly, McFadden is the only back who could provide some cap relief for the Cowboys (the first year of Alfred Morris' contract is fully guaranteed), who just added $5 million in cap expenses to the RB group by drafting Ezekiel Elliott.

So it's no surprise to hear McFadden mentioned in trade talks. The Cowboys like the depth they have in the backfield heading into camp, but as we get closer to the season, they may be much more open to a trade, especially if someone sweetens their offer.

The second prediction is from the Bucs beat writer, whose prediction is the only one of the 100 listed in this article to predict an injury for a player.

34. Tony Romo will get hurt (again), giving Bucs QB Mike Glennon a lot of trade value. A desperate Jerry Jones will make Tampa GM Jason Licht an offer can't refuse for the fourth-year QB. -- Mike DiRocco

Site decorum prohibits me from commenting further on this specific prediction.

Back to Todd Archer, who has good news for a recent Cowboys acquisition:

49. With Randy Gregory suspended the first four games of the season, Benson Mayowa will win the Cowboys' right DE job coming out of training camp. He has started three games in his career and has two career sacks. -- Todd Archer

Just yesterday, our own Joey Ickes wrote that Mayowa could be one of three defensive players that could make a big impact in 2016. As Archer writes, Mayowa hasn't played a lot so far, but he has shown flashes of potential during his limited snaps, which is one reason why the Cowboys are high on the player.

If Archer is right and Mayowa wins the RDE job to start the season, Randy Gregory may find himself having to fight for a starting job upon his return, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Archer's final prediction has the Cowboys keeping Ronald Leary in Dallas.

75. The Cowboys won't trade G Ronald Leary, who's an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Cowboys know the importance of offensive line depth and are willing to pay him $2.553 million this year and hope for a potential compensatory pick in 2018 when Leary leaves as an unrestricted free agent. -- Todd Archer

The Cowboys have made a point of making sure they can protect Tony Romo as effectively as possible, and Leary, even as a backup guard, is a big part of that plan. But can the Cowboys resist the allure of an extra draft pick?