Every year, it seems like all the big NFL names that are available through trades or free agency are mentioned as possible targets for the Dallas Cowboys. And every year, none of those rumors come to anything. The latest example is the just announced trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was sent to the Miami Dolphins by the Los Angeles Rams.
Trade is now agreed to, per sources:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2023
Dolphins get Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey.
Rams get 2023 third-round pick (No. 77) and TE Hunter Long.
Trade will be processed Wednesday, when league year begins. pic.twitter.com/0KJIeoS6fj
Ramsey was seen by many as a logical target for the Cowboys, who had some real cornerback issues after Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis were both lost to IR last season. He is one of the top corners in the league, and the thought of him in the secondary alongside Travon Diggs was certainly appealing.
But, as with all the big names linked to Dallas in the past few years, it was something that was never very likely to happen.
First, ever since the Brandon Carr acquisition and the trade up to snag Morris Claiborne, both of which were seen as not living up to the expectations, the Cowboys have become very risk averse to investing too much cap space or draft capital in players. Their normal approach now is to avoid big trades or free agent signings and to prefer trading back to trading up when they do elect to move around in the draft. The owners, particularly EVP Stephen Jones, are very committed to their way of doing things. They are willing to sometimes package late-round picks to move up, or to send them to other teams for a player they think can help, like the sixth-rounder they used to acquire Johnathan Hankins last season. Amari Cooper is the exception to this in the recent past.
The trade for Ramsey looks, at first glance, to be one they should have been more interested in. A third-round pick plus a tight end that was a former third-round pick himself is not exactly a big investment. But other things pointed to this not being the kind of deal the Cowboys would want to pursue.
First, Ramsey reportedly wanted to go to Miami, and he also has publicly stated he never wanted to play for a franchise owned by the Jones family. That may have been a bit of hyperbole on his part, but he did feel they snubbed him when they took Ezekiel Elliott over him. He may have told the Rams he still had no interest in going to Dallas.
Then there is the salary cap. He currently represents a $17 million cap hit this year, and the Cowboys only have $14 million in space at the moment. That hit is now locked in.
They would have had to find a good bit more space to sign him and do whatever they decide to do in free agency, including trying to bring back some of their own. They may, for instance, decide re-signing safety Donovan Wilson makes more sense from a variety of viewpoints.
While Ramsey may have walked into the building as the best cornerback on the team, the staff probably believes Trevon Diggs is close to his talent and ability to contribute. From a need standpoint, the team has some more pressing issues. With the emergence of DaRon Bland last year and the hope Jourdan Lewis will be back form injury, they might have talked themselves into the idea that they need depth at corner, not a walk-in starter. That would assume Bland can play outside, and not in the slot where he looked better last year.
There is a philosophy for the Cowboys now that they build the roster predominantly through the draft and take a longer view, rather than look for a splash player with a big price tag. They do not believe one big name is going to put them over the hump. It is frustrating, and a lot has been written here and elsewhere about how a change in that approach is overdue. It is obvious the people who matter at The Star are showing no inclination to do so.
And speaking of Diggs, they are going to need to pay him in the next few years. While it would be possible to make the numbers work if Ramsey had come to the Cowboys, another facet of their thinking is to not be as creative with the cap as many teams. Again, we can disagree with that, but it is evident that is now how they do business.
We can now take Ramsey off the wishlist. And this is a cycle we will likely go through with more players. This is all business as usual for your Dallas Cowboys.