It was just five months ago when the Cowboys were reportedly in discussions about trading with the Jets for strong safety Jamal Adams. At the time, the Jets were reportedly asking for a lot more than just a first-round pick. It’s important to know that the value for Adams was sky-high at the mid-point of the season. At that time, Adams still had a year and a half of cheap contract left before getting to his fifth-year option in 2021. Given that he’s now completed three full seasons in the NFL, and that it’s the offseason, the value for Adams is likely at the lowest point it will get.
Heading into the draft, the Cowboys biggest team needs are pretty easy to point out. Edge rusher, cornerback, wide receiver, and strong safety (more on why safety is a need a little later in the article). As we inch towards to the draft, it seems more and more unlikely that Florida CB C.J. Henderson will be available when the Cowboys are on the clock at 17 overall, with Jacksonville and Atlanta having a massive need for corner. It’s also a high possibility that LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson could also be taken by a team picking right before the Cowboys (Falcons, Buccaneers). The safety options in the first round don’t make a lot of sense with the 17th overall pick, and while the Cowboys need to draft the best player available with that pick, investing in another offensive lineman, linebacker, or defensive tackle may not be the most responsible use of the first-round pick.
If the Cowboys start to sense that neither Henderson or Chaisson will be available come draft day, you have to wonder if Stephen Jones will pick up the phone and give Jets GM Joe Douglas a call.
Not only is strong safety a need for the Cowboys, but it’s also a good range for the Jets to target offensive line if they don’t go that route with the 11th overall pick, which is likely to be a receiver to replace Robby Anderson. While the Jets did spend some money on their offensive line in free agency, adding a talent like Tristian Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mehki Becton, or Andrew Thomas is a no-brainer for a team that struggled to keep its young quarterback upright, and open up running lanes for Le’Veon Bell.
Another interesting factor for this trade is, as it currently stands, the Cowboys have plenty of cap space after losing Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb in free agency, and not really spending the money to replace them. The Cowboys did sign Gerald McCoy (replacing Maliek Collins), Dontari Poe (team friendly deal), and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (team-friendly deal), but they have yet to replace Byron Jones with a player that can make a difference in the secondary. Jamal Adams could be that, and even more. With the addition of Clinton-Dix, the Cowboys have two starting caliber free safeties in Xavier Woods and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but they don’t have a player that makes sense as a every-down strong safety. Both Woods and Clinton-Dix are better cover players that play their best football from the centerfield position, but struggle mightily as tacklers and aren’t at their best around the line of scrimmage. Adams can be that guy, while allowing Woods and Clinton-Dix to rotate at their natural positions, or have three starting caliber safeties in three safety looks from Mike Nolan.
Trading away first-round picks is always a tough thing to do, but if the Cowboys find themselves in a position where they don’t love their options at 17, trading the pick for a proven, All-Pro caliber player, at a position of need, is not a bad idea for a team still looking to compete in 2020.