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Why the Cowboys did nothing at the trade deadline and why it’s better than you think

The Cowboys front office did not trade at the deadline, but they were wise not to panic.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL trade deadline came and went with the Dallas Cowboys, once again, opting to not make a big move to help boost their roster as they prepare for a deep playoff run. This has been par for the course for this organization which insists they love its own players and reiterates they are not too fond of overpaying for quick fixes. There was a time when the wheeler-dealer Jerry Jones would make bold moves for that “one guy” who could be a difference maker and make his team a winner, but those days are gone as the more patient Stephen Jones exerts his influence over the front office group.

This can be frustrating for fans as we all see the opportunity in front of them. The NFC isn’t laced with dominant teams this season. In fact, the 6-2 Cowboys currently are tied for the second-most victories in the conference, trailing only their divisional foe, the Philadelphia Eagles. All signs point to this being a good year to strike, but yet the front office remains complacent.

Many wanted the Cowboys to go after another wide receiver. There were talks about going after Texans WR Brandin Cooks, but they fell through when they couldn’t agree on the draft compensation and guaranteed salary to hit the books in 2023. A dynamic player like Cooks would definitely spark this offense when healthy, but the front office wasn’t willing to subject themselves to the consequences of paying such a hefty price.

Why not, many ask.

When you take a step back and look at everything, there are some really good reasons to balk at the Cooks trade, and today we’re going to highlight three important factors.

It’s not as bad as you think

The Cowboys' passing offense has produced 1,437 yards this season. That is the six-worst in the league, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. For starters, they are averaging 6.1 yards per attempt, which is ranked 20th in the league. So one could argue that it’s not that the Cowboys’ passing attack isn’t completely invisible, they’re just not relying on it as much.

It should also be noted that this 20th-ranked passing efficiency has come with backup quarterback Cooper Rush at the helm for five of the team’s eight games this year. If you were to look at these past two games with Dak Prescott back at quarterback, they are averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. That’s only a two-game sample, but that average would lead the league.

While adding another talented WR would absolutely make them better, we have to also acknowledge that having a healthy Prescott behind center is the most important factor in determining not only the offense’s success, but the success of the entire team.

The gain doesn’t warrant the cost

The issue most people have with the Cowboys sitting on their hands is why wouldn’t the team just go all in? The table is set, why not feast?

To properly answer this question, we need to fully understand what the team would gain and weigh it against its cost. Adding another receiver would help the offense but by how much? This team is still going to run the ball a lot. This team is still going to go heavy with their tight-end usage. And when you already have two good receivers like CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, there isn’t a lot of room for additional receiving targets. Some, yes. A lot, no.

When you look at how this team is built, and the new identity of this defense, the need for an offense to air it out isn’t there. So, with a more limited passing need, they are almost at a saturation point where there is not a great deal of room for improvement. Some, yes. A lot, no.

When some proclaim, “why not at least try to be better,” the answer can be found in what the team would lose in attempting to do so. Giving up a second-round pick shouldn’t be done frivolously. Over the last five years, a second-round pick has brought the team an All-Pro cornerback (Trevon Diggs), a four-year starting left guard (Connor Williams), and a four-year starting corner (Chidobe Awuzie). They’ve also selected a young edge rusher (Sam Williams) with high upside. The bottom line is this team drafts well, so giving up this draft capital is steep.

And that doesn’t even factor in the cap space required to take on this new player. Sure, they have it, but they have plans for it. Players like Diggs, Micah Parsons, and a handful of other young players will cost money and we will want those guys to stick around. The front office says they “like our guys,” but let’s be real, we like our guys too.

They fixed an important deficiency

We also can’t overlook that the Cowboys did make a trade, it just happened a week before the deadline. And the trade they made was a good one. They added a certified run-stopper in Johnathan Hankins and he’s already producing dividends. We mentioned on Tuesday in our After Further Review article that Hankins’ presence was felt on the field, but now we have some numbers for you courtesy of Michael Gehlken.

For a low-cost Day 3 pick and very little cap cost, the Cowboys fixed their most pressing need. It’s not as sexy as going for one of those big-name wide receivers, but it’s an important get just the same.

Before you’re too hard on this front office ask yourself, did you believe in them this offseason? Did you think they did enough to improve the offensive line after releasing La’el Collins and then losing Tyron Smith to injury? Did you think they did enough to improve their defense even after losing Randy Gregory? We doubted them then but look at those groups now. So, if you’re feeling that same uneasiness about life without Amari Cooper, let’s see what they can do once Prescott gets himself in a rhythm. It might be better than you think.

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