With nothing else going on in the NFL until training camp gets underway we are forced to guesstimate and speculate as to what the Dallas Cowboys may be thinking prior to the 2021 season. There are so many unanswered questions surrounding this team right now it’s difficult to know where to start, but a good place might be at the cornerback position.
As things stand right now the Cowboys have a lot of young and relatively unproven players at the position with a sprinkle of a couple of veterans. Sadly though there’s no possible way to spin it and come out with a way that inspires much confidence. The CB position could very well be the Achilles heel of Dallas’ defense this year, but what if there was a way to change that?
As luck would have it there very well may be. According to rumors there are a couple of seasoned veterans with plenty left in the tank who could potentially be put on the trade block ahead of the start of the season, New England Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore and Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins. Both would be significant upgrades in Dallas.
Let’s take a look at both players and explore the likelihood of them landing in Dallas anytime soon. It’s, of course, all speculation, but worth discussing nonetheless.
CB Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Seeing Stephon Gilmore being linked to the Cowboys probably doesn’t come too much of a surprise. His name has floated around as a potential trade candidate since last year and now that he’s entering the final year of his contract rumors are starting to heat up a little bit more.
Anytime rumors start to swirl about a big-name player the Cowboys seem to always find themselves part of the rumor mill, whether it’s logical or not. As far as Gilmore is concerned, it does make a bit of sense for the Cowboys. They currently have a lot of young players at the CB position, but no one close to as talented as Gilmore.
There’s a lot to like about Gilmore. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl player and the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, but because of that the soon to be 31-year-old isn’t going to come cheap. Dallas would have to not only give up some significant draft capital to pry him away from the Patriots, but also be willing to offer him a lucrative contract extension as well.
Surrendering draft capital and more than likely a significant contract extension might be too big of a pill for the Cowboys to swallow for a 31-year-old CB whose best football might already behind him. Because of that a trade is unlikely, but Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network believes Dallas could be one of Gilmore’s top landing spots.
Before you jump the gun and disregard the potential of Gilmore landing in Dallas, it has Jerry Jones’ fingerprints all over it. A big-name, big-time player? Jones drools over opportunities like this. Gilmore’s addition opposite Trevon Diggs would be taping over broken glass in what was a rather underwhelming attempt at improving an abysmal 2020 defense this spring. Within an improved NFC East where weapons are aplenty in Kenny Golladay, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and DeVonta Smith, Dallas’ offense is going to need some help from the defensive side of the football if the Cowboys eye a path back to the postseason. Gilmore fits the bill and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Jones were to pull the trigger to acquire the four-time Pro Bowler.
Jerry Jones is definitely wildcard in the equation, but even he’s shied away from making moves for these kind of big name players here recently. You can’t dismiss the idea of trading for Gilmore altogether and the Cowboys probably haven’t either, but it does seem highly unlikely such a trade will happen.
CB Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
Xavien Howard potentially being on the trade block is a bit of a surprise considering he’s one of the more productive, young CBs in the league right now. Surprise or not, Howard isn’t happy with the Miami Dolphins as things stand right now. His unhappiness led him to skip mandatory minicamp in June due to the his displeasure with his current contract.
The 2020 First-team All-Pro is coming off a 10 interception season and believes he’s outplayed his current contract, despite having three years remaining. If he sticks to his guns he could force the Dolphins hand and force them into trading him away similar to what they did with Minkah Fitzpatrick not long ago. If that happens, the Cowboys could potentially be interested.
Howard is exactly what Dallas’ secondary has been missing. The two-time Pro Bowler has led the league in INT’s in 2018 and 2020 and is just 27 years old, although he turns 28 July 4. This is a player who is still very much in his prime, which is probably why he’s still trying to cash in. Because of all of that though the Dolphins aren’t going to give him away.
Like with Stephon Gilmore, it’s going to take some significant draft capital and probably a revision of Howard’s contract for any team, including the Cowboys, to acquire him via trade from the Dolphins. Maybe being able to come back home to Texas might be enough to convince him his current contract is fine as is. But, that seems about as unlikely as the chances of him landing in Dallas as Mike Fisher has previously stated.
“The Dallas Cowboys have convinced themselves — right or wrong — that with young Trevon Diggs at one corner, and with competition featuring Anthony Brown and rookies Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright at the other, they don’t have to spend any more here. If they get to Oxnard training camp and discover they are wrong, maybe new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will call his buddy Richard Sherman. But it is telling that that phone call hasn’t happened yet at this time.”
As much as the Cowboys could upgrade the defense with Xavien Howard, they seem invested in their young corners right now, and unless they completely bomb in training camp they’ll likely stick with status quo heading into the 2021 season. But, things could change if for whatever reason things don’t work out quite possibly putting Howard in their cross-hairs.
Right now it seems highly unlikely either Gilmore or Howard are trade targets for the Cowboys. They seemed perfectly content to try to rebuild the position with younger, cheaper players. Things have a way of changing quickly though and how these young CBs perform in training camp will weigh heavily on whether or not Dallas decides to look for some more outside help. If they do, Gilmore and Howard could very well be their top targets.