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One of ESPN’s proposed trades before the deadline involves the Cowboys acquiring a safety

The Cowboys get a safety in this hypothetical scenario, but not the one they have been most associated with.

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It is certainly understandable if you are wondering what the exact prospects of this Dallas Cowboys season are. With Dak Prescott gone until 2021, who can blame you?

An objective reality, though, is that the Cowboys are fortunate to play in the NFC East. While this is the NFL’s most successful division historically, it is unquestionably its worst here in 2020. As a result of this phenomenon the Andy Dalton-led Cowboys are still favored to earn the coveted hats and t-shirts come Christmas time despite a change at the game’s most important position.

If we are to assume that Andy Dalton plays fine enough to keep this offense performing relatively well, then we have only addressed half of the issue. An alteration at quarterback is the headliner this week but the reality is that the Cowboys defense still let the worst offense in the NFL look functional last week. They looked moderately better while doing so, but that is saying more about who they are generally than their performance in a vacuum.

Many have wanted to see the Cowboys address their defensive woes by signing a certain free agent safety. It seems like that is never going to happen, but what if Dallas brought in help at that spot by way of trade instead?

ESPN’s proposed trades includes the Dallas Cowboys landing Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons

The NFL’s trade deadline is a few weeks away (November 3rd) so if teams want to do some sort of swap before the beginning of the next league year (in my best Jeff Probst voice)... now would be the time to do so.

While it might feel like the Cowboys don’t do as much as we want them to it should be noted that they have made notable trades in each of the last two years. Two seasons ago they very famously traded for Amari Cooper and a year ago landed Michael Bennett. Both moves immediately improved that part of the team and in the case of the former helped propel the team to a division title.

ESPN outlined some proposed trade ideas for NFL teams and one of them includes the Dallas Cowboys. It obviously does feel like the season is in jeopardy in some respects due to the Prescott injury (he updated fans on Thursday on his status, by the way), but again, it should be said that they are firmly in the mix for the NFC East title with 11 games to go. There is legitimate merit to winning your division in any season, regardless of the circumstances.

The worldwide leader offered a move that could be beneficial to America’s Team in their quest for a guaranteed home playoff game. Bill Barnwell suggested Dallas sending a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for safety Justin Simmons.

The Cowboys haven’t been interested in safety Earl Thomas, but what they need is someone who can be stout against the run and solid in coverage. Trading for Simmons would be a bold move, especially given that they just lost Prescott for the season, but Dallas has enough to win the NFC East with Andy Dalton behind center if it can get the secondary right. Team owner Jerry Jones and the front office also have shown an interest in trading for young stars they can sign to extensions, and Simmons would presumably be open to a significant extension on the sort of long-term deal the Cowboys favor.

Broncos fans would likely want to hold out for a Jamal Adams-sized package in return for their star safety, but that’s just not realistic. Adams was two years away from free agency, while Simmons is already on his first franchise tag. The Broncos weren’t able to come to terms on a contract extension before the season with the Boston College product, and with Simmons set to make $13.7 million on a second franchise tag against a $175 million cap next year, things aren’t going to get any easier.

There is no doubt that Justin Simmons is a very good safety in the NFL. As of Week 6 he is PFF’s sixth-highest safety, if that matters to you. He would unquestionably improve this defense, especially, obviously, the secondary group. Most fans would love to see Dallas acquire this type of talent.

As true as that is though, do we feel like the price would be too high? A second-rounder next year would be a pick in the high 50s or low 60s if the Cowboys did wind up winning the NFC East, and for what it’s worth the team likely has a third-round compensatory pick coming their way in 2021 (shout out to Byron Jones) and maybe even 2022 if Andy Dalton does play well.

What’s more about the price here is the one that would have to be paid to Simmons himself. Barnwell notes how the safety is playing on the franchise tag which means he will be in need of a new contract come 2021. Obviously the Cowboys still have Dak Prescott’s deal to take care of next spring and one of the matters of complication that seems to exist with him is a common denominator that Justin Simmons shares. They have both been represented by Todd France.

It would be awesome for the Cowboys to finally land themselves a safety who’s play merited a long-term contract, but potentially digging even deeper with a particular stalemate on top of giving up two picks is a fine line to walk. Obviously a lot of this also depends on whether or not the Cowboys think that they truly can contend with Dalton under center for the rest of the season as well.

Poll

Should the Cowboys do this deal?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Yes, even as is
    (1123 votes)
  • 37%
    Yes, but not for that much
    (1217 votes)
  • 27%
    No
    (900 votes)
3240 votes total Vote Now

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