The off-season is shaping up to be an interesting one for the Dallas Cowboys. They have clear needs that need to be addressed pretty much across the board, but they also have some players with possible trade value they may be willing to part with. That is what I want to focus on today.
Of course, there is no way of knowing who will make the team in 2018, but there are some indicators that would suggest which players have the better chance to stick around. I used those indicators to scour over the Cowboys roster and determine which players might be on their way out and which ones possibly hold any trade value.
Below are five current Dallas Cowboys players who I believe could be put on the trade market at some point this off-season.
CB Orlando Scandrick
It's probably not a surprise to many of you to find Orlando Scandrick's name on this list, especially considering the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to gauge his trade value last off-season. But, here we are nearly a year later and Scandrick is still on the roster, but probably for not much longer.
The writing seems to be on the wall and that has everything to do with how well the Cowboys young and up-and-coming defensive backs played last year. The way they performed in 2017 likely makes Scandrick expendable.
Now, there's no way of knowing if he has any trade value though. Teams may prefer to wait and see if the Cowboys release him. But, if a team wants to avoid a bidding war, they could probably toss a late round draft pick the Cowboys way to secure his services. I think that's all it would take, and the Cowboys would be more than happy to accept.
WR Cole Beasley
I don't know about you, but I'm a huge Cole Beasley fan and would hate to see him leave Dallas anytime soon. With that being said though, I could see why the Dallas Cowboys would put him on the trade market.
It probably wasn't the best time for Beasley to have a different production in 2017. He only has one year remaining on his four-year contract extension he signed back in 2015, which means he will become a free agent after the completion of the 2018 season. He is also set to count $4.25 million against the salary cap this season.
The Dallas Cowboys already seem to have his replacement on the roster in Ryan Switzer, so unfortunately Beasley's future with the Cowboys is in doubt. There would probably be strong interest in him because he is one of the better slot receivers in the NFL. But, this all probably depends on if the Cowboys believe Switzer is ready for an expanded role.
Like Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys seem to already have a younger/cheaper option on the roster (Noah Brown) ready to take over for Terrance Williams. Then there is the fact that he is coming off arguably his worst season in Dallas, where he failed to record a single touchdown catch.
All of this doesn't bode well for Williams sticking to the Cowboys roster. He may have just signed team friendly four-year, $17 million contract extension last off-season to stay in Dallas, but the contract is affordable enough to entice the right team to work out a deal with the Cowboys.
Despite what some Cowboys fans think, Williams holds value to other teams around the NFL. This is a trade that would likely happen after the draft took place. Williams could become even more expendable if Dallas drafts another WR. He would then become a progress stopper.
TE James Hanna
James Hanna could become a salary-cap casualty this off-season. He is entering the last year of his contract and is set to count $3.5 million against the salary cap. But, the Cowboys would be wise to gauge his trade value before outright releasing him if that is indeed the plan.
The reason I think he could end up on the trade market is because the Cowboys may need to make room for Rico Gathers on the roster and Hanna, although valuable, seems the most logical choice. This is especially true when you consider his salary situation as well.
Hanna may never be a starting caliber tight end, but teams could still value his skill set and how many different ways he can contribute as a backup. We've seen many a time Jason Witten's backups find success with other teams after departing Dallas, and Hanna could be the next.
Out of all of the Dallas Cowboys players on this list, I think Byron Jones probably has the most trade value. He is one of the most athletically gifted defensive backs in the entire NFL and has the versatility to play just about any position in the secondary.
It is my opinion, and you may disagree, that the Dallas Cowboys have failed to utilize him correctly and forced him to play positions he's not comfortable with. He already received a demotion of sorts in 2017 when he was forced to split time with Kavon Frazier. But, at just 25 years old, he still probably has a lot of football ahead of himself.
He is entering his last year of his contract, and it's unlikely the Cowboys exercise his fifth year option right now. They could decide to move him back to cornerback full-time, or they could be ready to move on completely and gauge his trade value on the open market. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Jones' fate is going forward.
Do you think any of these Dallas Cowboys players get traded?
Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10
Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.
Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.
Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."
After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.
According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.
While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.
Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.
The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.
Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere
After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?
Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.
After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.
Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.
The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.
Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.
Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.
The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.
Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.
As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.
Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: OL Joe Looney
Dallas Cowboys backup offensive lineman Joe Looney was active for all 16 games of 2017 and never had to start. That is exactly what you want from a reserve player, and Looney has been relied on as security for the interior o-line for two years now. However, he enters 2018 as an unrestricted free agent.
A six-year veteran, Looney turns 28 years old in August. He has two years in the Cowboys system and is still in his physical prime. Able to play guard or center, "Jumbo Joe" is a nice value with versatility and familiarity.
Dallas got Looney on the cheap in 2016, signing him to a two-year deal at just $1.68 million. While he hasn't been seen much over the last two seasons, coming out of the Cowboys' offensive line could raise his profile in this free agent market compared to last time.
For example, the last guy to hold Joe's role in Dallas was Mackenzy Bernadeau. Dallas paid him $5.7 million from 2014-2015 to be the versatile backup at guard and center. Looney is at a comparable point now in his career.
Dallas may not want to give Joe Looney that kind of raise, but they may have to given other issues on the line. Starting guard Jonathan Cooper is also a free agent and was injured in Week 17. Chaz Green was tried at guard last year and failed.
Even if they didn't need Loooney to play guard, he is also the backup center and the currently the best candidate on the roster for that role.
While nobody wants Looney as the starting left guard in 2018, but Dallas may not want to give Cooper a new deal given his injury history. La'el Collins appears locked in at right tackle, so the Cowboys may feel the need to pay more to keep Looney in case the offseason doesn't provide a better option.
If the Cowboys are inspired to retain Joe Looney, it could mean raising his annual salary from about $800k to close to $3 million. Even with more cap flexibility than they've had in recent years, that's still a big jump that Dallas won't take lightly.
Clearly, Joe Looney's return in 2018 is not an easy decision. He could be a solid veteran depth option for some teams and might even find starting work if someone's desperate enough.
With Dallas facing some uncertainty on the offensive line, that gives Looney the leverage in any upcoming contract negotiations.
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