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The Cowboys should use Anthony Brown as trade bait

If he’s not going to start, Dallas should at least get something in return for him.

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Anthony Brown is in a bit of a weird spot right now. Last offseason, the Cowboys brought him back on a three-year deal and he ended up once again locking down the starting slot corner job over Jourdan Lewis. But injuries to Brown limited him throughout the season, and like the rest of the Dallas defense, Brown didn’t put his best foot forward when he was on the field.

Then the Cowboys brought back Lewis on a similar three-year deal before drafting both Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright. Brown has traditionally played in the slot, but he can play outside as well, which has helped his case. So far in training camp we’ve seen Brown playing on the edge opposite Trevon Diggs with Lewis getting first-team reps in the slot. However, when Lewis missed some days with an injury, Maurice Canady impressed out of the slot as well.

Canady’s surprising play only further complicates things for Brown. It’s obvious that Dan Quinn and the Cowboys like Lewis, or else he wouldn’t have been brought back. And the two rookies have Quinn’s hands all over them. Wright has even generated plenty of buzz this offseason, while Joseph is largely expected to push for the starting outside spot opposite Diggs. If that happens, does Brown move back to the slot if Dallas already likes both Lewis and Canady? It’s also worth noting that Joseph has seen some work in the slot too, adding even more versatility there.

Another possibility, one that arguably makes the most sense, is trading Brown after final roster cuts. Of course, this is largely dependent on the Cowboys feeling comfortable in Joseph, Lewis, Wright, and even Canady. If that comfort level isn’t there yet, then rolling with the veteran Brown is the smart move.

But Brown could offer some value to other teams who end up feeling less than confident in their secondary after the preseason. No one would mistake Brown for Jalen Ramsey, but he’s got five years and 66 games worth of experience in the NFL, can play inside or out, and at 27 years old he still has some long-term viability. A team with a need at cornerback could jump at the chance to add Brown before the season starts.

The Cowboys are likely looking at draft compensation somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds in return, which would be a fair exchange for a former sixth-round pick. Plus, it would solve the problem of Brown not really having an obvious fit in Quinn’s secondary right now. Much like Chidobe Awuzie, whom Quinn and the Cowboys opted not to re-sign this offseason, Brown doesn’t have the kind of size this scheme desires. Listed at 5’11” and 196 pounds with 31” arms, Brown is a bit small in contrast to Diggs, Joseph, and especially Wright.

If the Cowboys get to a point where they determine Brown won’t be a starter, then shipping him off to a team where he can better contribute and getting something in return seems like a win-win scenario. It would also serve as a ringing endorsement of the young bucks Dallas is hoping can turn their secondary around right away. Either way, it’s worth monitoring Brown’s status closely going forward.

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