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Gauging whether the Cowboys should be interested in a Cedrick Wilson trade

After a year in Miami, could Wilson return to Dallas to bolster the WR depth chart?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are reportedly looking to trade WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. for salary cap relief. Given their need at the position, could the Dallas Cowboys be interested in reuniting with their former receiver?

Wilson spent four years in Dallas after being a sixth-round pick in 2018. He emerged as a key rotation player in 2021, amassing 602 yards and six touchdowns on 45 catches despite only starting in four games. He also served as a backup option for kickoff and punt returns.

After the expiration of his rookie contract last year, Wilson got a three-year, $22.8 million deal to join the Dolphins. But for whatever reason, he didn’t find the same chemistry with the quarterbacks or offensive system there that he enjoyed in Dallas. Despite being active in 15 games, Wilson only got 18 targets all year.

Now counting $8 million against Miami’s salary cap, Wilson is rumored to be on the trade block. The Dolphins could save $6-$7 million of that if they trade him this offseason and the next team would pick up his $7 million base salary for at least 2023.

Unfortunately, waiting for Miami to cut Wilson doesn’t really work. He’d still count $7 million against their cap if released now and $6 million after June 1st, so at that point they might as well keep him for depth both at WR and on special teams. He did return 13 punts for them in 2022.

But with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle still around, plus the free-agent signing of Braxton Berrios last month, Wilson’s prospects for next season aren’t looking any better. It’s no wonder Miami is looking to unload him; who wants their WR4 counting that much against the cap?

That same question would be posed to Dallas. After the trade for Brandin Cooks and the restructuring on Michael Gallup’s contract, the Cowboys seem to have their top three receivers in place. There’s also the hope that Jalen Tolbert, a third-round pick last year, will be ready to step up in some fashion.

Miami couldn’t really expect much back in a salary dump trade, especially after Wilson’s low production in 2022. A sixth-round pick may be the most they could hope for, and perhaps even a seventh if Dallas had to take on all of his remaining contract.

Unless Miami was willing to pay some of the base salary in Wilson’s deal, like Houston did in the trade for Cooks, it’s hard to see Dallas taking on that much cost for a backup. But that would also negate the value for the Dolphins of making the trade in the first place.

That said, Dallas can afford to absorb Wilson’s contract without help. They’re currently estimated to have $13-$16 million in cap space and still have $10.9 million more coming from the June-1st release of Ezekiel Elliott. They could take Wilson on for this year and then cut him in 2024 with almost no dead money, or consider working on an extension to reduce the cap hits and keep Wilson on the depth chart for a few more years.

But even if it works financially, would it work on the field? While Wilson has proven chemistry with QB Dak Prescott, he wouldn’t be playing in Kellen Moore’s offense anymore. Would that shift hurt him in Dallas the same way change seemed to hurt his productivity in Miami?

It’s certainly an interesting debate. The Cowboys know better than anymore how effective Wilson can be in the right situation. But are they now willing to pay him like a proven commodity? They have the resources, but it could also make Wilson a progress-stopper for Jalent Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, or other younger WR prospects.

Still, with Michael Gallup’s return to form a variable, having a guy like Cedrick Wilson ready to step up and fill out the top three would be a strong “win now” move for 2023. It is likely something the front office has at least considered.

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