If you took the temperature of fans of the Dallas Cowboys, you’d find most of them in good spirits as many are excited about the upcoming season. And if you tried to identify why, some would point to the offseason trades of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore as reasons to be optimistic.
The Cowboys used late Day 3 draft capital to get the players they wanted to help address key needs on their football team. This is why those moves are so applauded. The Cowboys aren’t as active in giving away their draft picks as some fans would like, but they do have their moments. Today, we’re going to examine the top 10 trades of Day 3 draft capital that has benefited this team the most.
10. BRICE BUTLER
Trade details: Gave away a 5th-round pick to the Oakland Raiders (2015)
Approximate Value: Total = 7, Average = 2.3, three seasons with Dallas
The Cowboys were looking for a deep threat to add to their receiving group in 2015, and that’s exactly what they got as his 21.5 yards per reception led all Cowboys receivers that season. In fact, twice in three years, he had over 21 yards a catch in Dallas as he found a role, albeit small, on the offense.
9. JOHNATHAN HANKINS
Trade details: Gave away a 6th-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders (2022)
Approximate Value: Total = 2, Average = 6.2*, just five games with Dallas
This is hard to rank because the full story hasn’t been written yet. Hankins was a midseason trade to beef up the interior defensive line. He’s only played three games so far, but if you prorate his AV score across a full season, it’s pretty darn good. Still, it’s a small sample size that should get a little bigger as the team re-signed him this offseason to a one-year deal.
8. XAVIER WOODS
Trade details: Gave away a 5th-round pick to the New York Jets (2017)
Approximate Value: Total = 18, Average = 4.5, four seasons with Dallas
There is nothing fancy about Xavier Woods, but he’s been a solid piece to the secondary since entering the league in 2017. After playing out his rookie deal in Dallas, he signed a cheap one-year deal with Minnesota where he had a big year with 108 tackles and three interceptions. It was good enough to land him a nice payday in Carolina. Woods is a reliable player having never missed more than two games across his six years in the league.
7. ROLANDO McCLAIN
Trade details: Gave away a 6th-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens (2014)
Approximate Value: Total = 12, Average = 6, two seasons with Dallas
In a move of brilliance, the Cowboys scored an instant talent at linebacker to fill the void left by Sean Lee who was lost before the season even started in 2014. The front office rolled the dice on McClain after multiple off-field incidents that led to his release in Oakland. The Ravens signed him only to watch him retire a month later. It cost the Cowboys a late-round pick to get him from Baltimore, and even though he only lasted two seasons, it was draft capital well spent as he collected 80+ tackles both years in Dallas.
6. CHRIS CANTY
Trade details: Gave away a 4th-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles (2005)
Approximate Value: Total = 23, Average = 5.8 four seasons with Dallas
Like Woods, Canty only lasted through his rookie deal with the Cowboys. And like Woods, he was extremely reliable as Canty never missed a game with the Cowboys, and he started every game following his rookie season. He was a solid piece to a defensive line that also featured DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis, La’Roi Glover, and Jay Ratliff. The abundance of depth on the defensive line led to his eventual departure in free agency, but he was a good player while he was there.
5. ORLANDO SCANDRICK
Trade details: Gave away a 7th-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars (2008)
Approximate Value: Total = 29, Average = 3.2, nine seasons with Dallas
The Cowboys had their eyes on this Boise State corner as they moved up 12 spots to snag him in the fifth round of 2008. Little did they know he would lock down the slot for them over the next nine seasons. Scandrick wasn’t a ball hawk as he never had more than two picks in any given season, but he was a fiery competitor who served as a defensive leader over the years.
4. TYLER BIADASZ
Trade details: Gave away a 5th-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles (2020)
Approximate Value: Total = 18, Average = 6, three seasons with Dallas
The Cowboys' new center is improperly placed on this list as he’ll be moving up or down depending on what the next chapter holds; however, considering he’s already earned a Pro Bowl spot after year three, things are looking promising. And after Travis Frederick, the team didn’t panic, but just patiently waited and when Biadasz started to fall, they moved up 18 spots to get him.
3. ROBERT QUINN
Trade details: Gave away a 6th-round pick to the Miami Dolphins (2019)
Approximate Value: Total = 8, Average = 8, just one season with Dallas
If we’re grading solely on efficiency, the Quinn trade is atop this list as he was a great one-year rental for the Cowboys. He led the team in sacks with 11.5 which was the most he’s had dating back to his All-Pro 2013 season when he had 19.5 sacks. Quinn got a big contract the following year from the Chicago Bears and he did have another All-Pro season with 18.5 sacks in 2021, but then he faded fast last year he was dealt to the Eagles midseason where he continued to be invisible.
2. TERRY GLENN
Trade details: Gave away a 6th-round pick to the Green Bay Packers (2003)
Approximate Value: Total = 30, Average = 6, five seasons with Dallas
Glenn was reunited with his former New England coach Bill Parcells to give the Cowboys help in the passing game. The veteran receiver played the Robin role to several different Batmans that included Terrell Owens, Joey Galloway, and Keyshawn Johnson. And like he did during his time with the Patriots, Glenn produced two 1,000+ yard receiving seasons with the Cowboys.
1. SEAN LEE
Trade details: Gave away a 4th-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles (2010)
Approximate Value: Total = 61, Average = 6.1, ten seasons with Dallas
Nobody thinks about Sean Lee being a part of a big trade and that’s because the Cowboys only moved up four spots in the second round to get him. But sometimes four spots mean everything as Dallas landed one of the best linebackers in the league over the next decade when he was healthy. Injuries hindered Lee’s career, but when he was on the field he was fantastic, eclipsing 100 tackles four times and finishing with two Pro Bowl seasons.
Between Canty, Biadasz, and Lee the Eagles actually show up quick a bit as trade partners with the Cowboys. In fact, they’ve dealt away quite a few picks that Dallas turned into players who have ultimately ended up tormenting them over the years.
The Eagles had the...— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) July 8, 2023
12th pick in 2021 (Micah Parsons)
24th pick in 2010 (Dez Bryant)
55th pick in 2010 (Sean Lee)
146th pick in 2020 (Tyler Biadasz)
But traded them away and ultimately those picks ended up in the hand of their divisional rivals who selected four Pro Bowlers. pic.twitter.com/lcNdVsvx8r