If the Dallas Cowboys are going to make a move at the 2023 trade deadline, there’s a good chance it will be to acquire help on the defensive side of the ball. No, the Cowboys aren’t going to go out and make a headline-grabbing move like acquiring Patrick Surtain II from the Broncos or Davante Adams from the Raiders, but they could make a move that is a little more significant than the one they executed at last year’s deadline.
Last October, Dallas’ run defense was really struggling. The Cowboys addressed this by going out and trading for then-Raiders’ defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins. The veteran defensive tackle cost just a 2023 sixth and 2024 seventh-round pick, and ended up really bolstering Dallas’ run defense in the second half of the season.
This year, the Cowboys should follow suit but get a little more aggressive and trade for Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
Johnson is one of the more valuable assets spoken about on the trade market and could be available due to the Bears’ early-season struggles and his contract situation. Although Johnson may be highly coveted by multiple teams, the cost to acquire him would not be close to what it would take to get a Surtain or Adams.
The former second-round pick has gotten off to an outstanding start this season. Johnson’s 80.9 coverage grade, via Pro Football Focus, is tied for the seventh-best in football among cornerbacks who have played 100 or more defensive snaps.
Yesterday against the Raiders Johnson put on display one of his best performances of the year, intercepting two passes, one being returned for a pick-six.
Jaylon Johnson said PAY ME pic.twitter.com/tzIxU9nffD— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) October 22, 2023
Jaylon Johnson is having himself a day. pic.twitter.com/nj3trfiw3F— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) October 22, 2023
Johnson is set to be a free agent at season’s end, so the Cowboys could try to get him without giving up premium capital. Even if Dallas had to give up a second or third-round pick to acquire the talented cornerback, the move would be smart in both the short and long term.
At the end of the 2024 season, Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis are both set to become free agents. If Dallas were to acquire Johnson, it would give them a head start in trying to re-sign the 24-year-old cornerback to a long-term contract and let Gilmore and Lewis walk.
Dallas’ recent history of mid-round picks would make it worth the gamble to acquire Johnson. There is the risk of not re-signing him, but the acquisition would be a move that gives the Cowboys a real shot at being true Super Bowl contenders this year.
There aren’t very many great teams in the NFL this year, and the Cowboys must take advantage. Acquiring Jaylon Johnson would provide a huge boost to Dallas’ defense and would move them up a tier to becoming a legit Super Bowl-contending team.