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Why Cowboys Will Look For Last-Minute Trades Prior To Roster Cut Deadline

As you are reading this, the Cowboys could be working the phones for one or more trades. What can they offer a potential trade partner?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Roster cuts this year are scheduled for August 30 and September 3, to 75 and 53 players respectively, and the Cowboys are usually pretty busy working the phones during that period as they look to trade or add players.

In 2013, a trade didn't materialize until after final roster cuts when the Cowboys traded for LB Edgar Jones from the Kansas City Chiefs on the day after final roster cuts. They then followed that up by trading DT Sean Lissemore to San Diego and TE Dante Rosario to Chicago the next day, both for seventh-round picks.

In 2014, they traded DE Ben Bass to New England for CB Justin Green in mid-August and traded for DE Lavar Edwards on the day of final roster cuts for a conditional seventh-round pick

Last year, the Cowboys acquired RB Christine Michael in a trade with Seattle for a conditional seventh-round pick after final roster cuts and traded for Oakland WR Brice Butler a week later.

Which is why Will McClay and the rest of the front office are probably busy right now trying to line up a few trades in an effort to perhaps get better value for some of the bubble players they've penciled in for the 53-man roster.

We also know that there is interest in Cowboys players. During the draft, the Cowboys received trade offers for their running backs after drafting Ezekiel Elliott.

"We got calls during the draft asking to trade for a couple of our running backs, and we just don't have that interest," Stephen Jones said on Thursday via Charean Williams of The Star-Telegram.

No details on what kind of pick or what kind of trade the Cowboys were offered, but considering how tight the running back room has become, a trade here is a definite possibility, given that the Cowboys under Garrett have never carried more than four running backs into the season. As a point of reference, here's what the season-opening 53-man rosters have looked like in the past:

Years QB RB WR TE FB OL DL LB CB S Specialists
2015 2 4 5 4 1 9 10 6 5 4 3
2014 3 3 5 3 1 9 11 7 4 4 3
2013 2 4 5 4 - - 10 10 6 4 5 3
2012 2 3 6 4 1 9 3-4
Defense
5 5 3
2011 3 4 6 4 - - 9 5 4 4
2010 3 3 5 2 2 10 3 6 3

With that in mind, there are a number of players the Cowboys will look in potential trade scenarios:

  • The Cowboys have five running backs in Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, and Darius Jackson. That's at least one player too many. The Cowboys have been understandably coy about moving any of those players, but both Alfred Morris (who's been presented on a silver platter during the preseason games) and Darren McFadden (who's been conveniently stashed on the NFI list for the entirety of camp) offer value in a trade scenario.
  • Safety J.J. Wilcox is a three-year starter in the final year of his rookie contract. He'd be a relatively cheap option for teams looking for veteran experience at safety with additional special teams value. At the same time, Wilcox will likely qualify as a compensatory free agent if he leaves Dallas at the end of the season, and the Cowboys will have to weigh a potential comp pick against a more immediate return from a potential trade right now.
  • It's not yet clear when TE James Hanna will return from his knee surgery, but if he were to be available quickly, perhaps Austin Traylor or Geoff Swaim could follow the pattern the Cowboys established when they traded away fellow TE Dante Rosario in 2013.
  • The Cowboys' second-team O-line looked better than many first-team O-lines in preseason action. The Cowboys have repeatedly said they have no interest in trading Ronald Leary, but fellow veterans Joe Looney and Jared Smith might generate some interest. Both are tenured backups who might be of interest to somebody, and the Cowboys have developmental prospects in place with Jake Brendel and Bryan Witzmann who could take their spots.
  • The Cowboys have six wide receivers returning from last year (Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Devin Street, Lucky Whitehead), and if the team decides to go with five receivers, one of them, most likely Street, could be an option for a team thin at WR.

Those are just a few random options, and the Cowboys could be looking to trade any of these players for future draft picks, but an equally likely scenario would be that they'll be looking at player-for-player trades that would bring in a pass rusher or perhaps a backup offensive tackle to Dallas. Of course, most teams will probably want to see which players are cut before making any kind of trade - unless they're worried someone else could make a waiver wire claim on their targeted players.

Which players would you offer up in a trade?