In a bit of an atypical move, the Dallas Cowboys made a trade to acquire Johnathan Hankins from the Las Vegas Raiders. It was generally seen as a solid acquisition to shore up a weakness on the defense, adding a huge run-stopping DT for a cheap price. In that respect, it still fit the front office MO. Other teams, such as the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, are being much more aggressive. The trade deadline for the NFL is Tuesday, during the Cowboys’ bye week. There is still time for Dallas to add more talent to the roster. That leaves the question of whether they should do more, and if so, how much should they invest in doing so? Our David Howman and Tom Ryle discuss.
David: I think the first question to ask here is what do the Cowboys need to improve? They’ve looked like one of the best teams in the NFC to start this season, and they’re in the midst of (hopefully) taking a big step forward on offense with Dak Prescott returning. The passing offense was easily their biggest weakness. After that? Probably the run defense, and the move to get Johnathan Hankins was clearly done to address that weakness.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman has always had an aggressive mindset with trades, and it’s easy to admire that, but Roseman has had plenty of aggressive moves blow up in his face too. I’m not saying the Robert Quinn trade will turn out poorly, but Roseman doesn’t have a perfect track record either. I think with the Cowboys so far looking like a pretty complete team - and with the additions of Prescott and Hankins - it’s fair to wonder what else do they really need, and what price tag is worth it?
Tom: The obvious ones to me are WR and OL depth. At the moment, the staff seems to think they are in pretty good shape with the receivers they have. Michael Gallup has not had a big impact yet, but they expect him to become more important. It is not exactly a surprise that he is not fully up to speed after his long recovery from injury. James Washington looks to be on track to get his first action soon after the bye. And Jalen Tolbert is still something of an unknown, but having Prescott back might help get him more involved.
The issue with them are the “ifs” involved. There is still a chance to get a more proven quantity for the WR group. They don’t need a WR1 or WR2 type. What they need is someone who is capable of being a solid WR4 with the ability to step in as the third starter if needed. One name that crops up is Cedrick Wilson, who they obviously are very familiar with. The Miami Dolphins are not using him much. While he left in free agency, the Cowboys were willing to keep him, just not at the price he got. The situation now might make his new contract more palatable, and he was exactly that WR4 level player they could use.
That is just one possibility. There are others, but the sticking point is going to be the cost.
OL is, to me, more important, although I seem to be in a minority on that. They are really short now with Matt Waletzko and Matt Farniok both out with injuries. They don’t need a starter, just a decent backup or two. They may think they can fill the needs from within, but it would seem a very good idea to trade for someone with some experience, which is sorely lacking with the current options. They pulled the trigger on Hankins. Something like that really needs to be considered on the other side of the ball.
David: You make a good point about too many if’s with guys like Gallup and Washington, as well as the OL depth in general. But I think there’s just as many if’s - if not more - with anyone they’d acquire in a trade. At least the Cowboys already know the players they have on their roster; we may not have seen enough from Washington or Tolbert to know what they can be, but the coaching staff has. And after the way this season has started out, I think Mike McCarthy and his staff have earned the benefit of the doubt there.
And let’s be honest: anyone they trade for will be available for a reason. In Hankins’ case, he’s not nearly as dominant a run defender as he once was, but with Quinton Bohanna on this roster the Cowboys don’t need him to be that guy anymore, at least not on an every-down basis. If you trade for a player now, it’s hard to know exactly how they’ll fit in, both from a play style standpoint and as it relates to the locker room. Remember how the Michael Bennett trade worked out for Dallas?
If the coaching staff feels they need an upgrade at a position, then obviously do what it takes to get someone in the building. But if McCarthy has faith that one of these receivers we haven’t seen much of yet can be an answer, I’m willing to trust that evaluation.
Tom: Anyone they would trade for now would almost certainly not play until after the bye, which gives them two weeks of practice to integrate them. That would still allow them to bolster the roster for the final half of their season. We all know Stephen Jones isn’t going to go all in on any outside player, but given what we are discussing, there should be players that would fill those holes.
I will concede the idea of the staff having confidence in the wide receivers on hand, so that is a move we shouldn’t expect. But the situation on the O line is just one of scarcity. Unless they think they really have something with Alec Lindstrom or someone else currently on the practice squad, they need to do something. It would be helpful if we had a better idea of how Tyron Smith is progressing, because not getting another OT would make it seem they are content relying on Josh Ball for depth, and that scares me. Or perhaps they think Jason Peters can kick out, but then the major shortage is in the interior of the line.
I think they need to trade for someone to fortify the line. However, I will admit that you will probably be right and they will stand pat through the trade deadline. I just suspect that will be a missed opportunity.