Film room: 3 offseason trades that make sense for the Cowboys, including a CB who’s worth the No. 10 pick - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Which trade target would you like to see the Cowboys acquire?
A 1st-round pick for Lions CB Jeff Okudah. This would be a bold move for both teams, but the more I look at it, the more it makes sense. The Detroit Lions would be dumb to already give up on a cornerback as talented as Jeff Okudah, even after a tough rookie year. However, the prospect of receiving the 10th overall pick in return, where Detroit’s new coaching staff could potentially handpick their own CB instead one drafted by the previous regime, could definitely be enticing.
For the Cowboys, the 10th overall pick is an incredibly valuable asset, so they would need to get a generous return to even consider trading it away. While many would immediately scoff at the idea of trading the 10th overall pick for a cornerback who allowed a 76% completion rate, 579 receiving yards and a 112 passer rating when targeted, let me make the argument for why it would make sense.
Okudah built his top-five draft billing at Ohio State playing a defense eerily similar to the one the Cowboys will be running under Dan Quinn. In 2019, Okudah’s defensive coordinator was Jeff Hafley, who spent the two prior seasons as a defensive backs coach San Francisco under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who was a defensive quality control coach for the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons (2011-13) — the last of which was under then-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn (ring a bell?).
Ezekiel Elliott needs a bounce-back season in 2021.
But that's enough about 2020 – what about now? Thanks to his contract, Elliott's future has been hotly debated. He signed a six-year, $90 million extension right before the 2019 season, when he still had two more years remaining on his rookie deal -- which means he's currently under contract for a whopping six more years.
That price point, combined with his disappointing performance, has prompted plenty of people to suggest moving on. The problem is that it's way easier said than done. Releasing Elliott right now would incur a dead cap hit of roughly $24 million, while trading him would hit the salary cap for almost $15 million. Not to mention, the price the team would get in return would likely not be high, given the size of Elliott's contract and his dip in production. Even designating him a post-June 1 cut would hurt, as the Cowboys would then carry a chap charge of more than $10 million for each of the next two years.
There's also another interesting wrinkle: thanks to a clause in the contract, Elliott's 2022 salary becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of this league year, which is about three weeks from right now. Theoretically, if the Cowboys were to decide to move on, that gives them just a few weeks to make that call, otherwise they'll be paying Elliott through the 2022 season. But given the impact that COVID-19 has had on the salary cap, not to mention the other expenses facing this team, is that realistic?
PFF is showing some faith that the Cowboys will rebound in 2021.
3. DALLAS COWBOYS. 2020 win total: 6. 2020 WAR implied win total: 6. 2021 offseason to-do list. Re-sign quarterback Dak Prescott. Re-sign edge defender Aldon Smith. Draft cornerback Caleb Farley No. 10 overall
Dallas is on here solely because of the impact of Dak Prescott. Despite playing in only five games in 2020, Prescott generated more WAR than the rest of the Cowboys quarterbacks combined. And he was the third-most valuable quarterback in the league in 2019, according to PFF WAR. Prescott's deep passing has been rolling with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore the last couple of years. He ranks sixth in passing grade and first in adjusted completion percentage on 20-plus yard throws since 2019. Prescott deserves to be paid, and his return makes the Cowboys the clear-cut favorites to win the 2021 NFC East title.
The Cowboys won’t have much money to spend in free agency anyway, but here are three players they should stay away from.
TE Hunter Henry. The Cowboys haven't had a dominant tight end since Jason Witten's prime. Dalton Schultz was fine as the primary target at the position this season, but it could be tempting to target Hunter Henry in free agency. The problem is, tight end should be near the bottom of the list of needs the Cowboys have to address. Blake Jarwin should return from injury, and the Cowboys' cap situation means they are just going to have to trust that Jarwin and Schultz can continue to improve.
With plenty of money and resources invested in the receiving trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, another receiving option may not be top of the Cowboys' wish list. Even if you want to make the argument that Gallup has just one year left on his contract and Henry could upgrade the tight end position and offset that loss, Henry is still not a sure thing.
Firstly, he's injury-prone for a 26-year-old. He missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, and he still has yet to play all 16 games in a season. Those injuries have meant Henry has never really lived up to the potential he showed as a second-round pick in 2016.
Could the Dallas Cowboys trade the Saints for a true nose tackle? - Steven Mullenax, FanSided's The Landry Hat
Instead of looking in the draft or free agency, should Dallas look to trade for a nose tackle?
In the past, the Cowboys have been downright stubborn when it comes to investing in a nose tackle. But the hiring of Mike McCarthy last year as the new head coach seemed to change that trend, as the Cowboys actually spent monies to bring in former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe to fill that role. Unfortunately, his poor play resulted in Poe being dismissed from the team midseason. But there’s still hope that the Cowboys aren’t done addressing the lingering issue at the position. And a new opportunity to do so has emerged via the New Orleans Saints. According to a report on NFL.com, the Saints are looking to trade their nose tackle, Malcom Brown.
The 27-year old Brown is a two-time Super Bowl winner after spending his first four years with the New England Patriots. The Pats made Brown their first-round selection out of Texas in 2015. A native of Brenham, Texas (situated between Austin and Houston), playing for the Cowboys would be a homecoming for Brown while also filling a major need for America’s Team.
Pro Football Focus gave Brown a positive grade of 72.9 for his overall play last season. He recorded 27 total tackles, three tackles for loss, two QB hits, and a sack as a 13-game starter for New Orleans in 2020. The Saints possessed the fourth-best run defense in the NFL last year, allowing only 93.9 rushing yards per game.
Another mock for your perusal.
Round 1, Pick 23 (from Jets) - TCU Horned Frogs FS Trevon Moehrig. Word is the Dallas Cowboys are really high on Trevon Moehrig so it wouldn’t be completely impossible if they made him their first-round pick in a trade-down scenario. He is a perfect fit in Dan Quinn’s heavy Cover 1-3 coverage scheme as a single-high safety.
Round 2, Pick 44- CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse. Ifeatu Melifonwu (6’2″, 215) is a tall, lengthy cornerback and fits the mold Dan Quinn likes in his outside CBs. He would pair nicely with last year’s second-round pick Trevon Diggs and give the Cowboys two young, talented press-man corners for the foreseeable future.
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