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Top 10 Day 3 draft capital trades of the Cowboys over the last 20 years

The Cowboys have their moments of trading away late-round draft resources to get the player they want.

Kansas City Chiefs v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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