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5 Players Cowboys Should Target Before The Trade Deadline

Brian Martin

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While the majority of us are preparing for Halloween at the end of October, the Dallas Cowboys and the rest the NFL are focusing on another event that takes place at the end of the month, the trade deadline. There is no way of knowing if the Cowboys will be active or choose to remain pat, but they have until October 31 to decide if they want to be buyers or sellers.

There are certain players on the current roster they could use as trade bait, but they have shown in the past they are reluctant sellers. The Dallas Cowboys instead tend to hold on to their players a little too long. That is why I don’t see them getting rid of anybody, but I could see them in the market to add some more talent to the roster.

You sometimes have to read between the lines to try and figure out who might be on the trade block, but other times it’s as clear as day. There is also no way of knowing what teams are looking for as compensation, so I’ll leave that up to the talking heads to figure out. But if you continue to read below, I’ll share with you five players I think the Dallas Cowboys should target before the trade deadline.

CB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie

CB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie

Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants

It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of inexperience in the secondary. In fact, Orlando Scandrick is really the only proven veteran player they have. That is why I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys explore the possibility of trading for a veteran cornerback, and I think Dominique Rogers-Cromartie fits the bill.

Rogers-Cromartie is someone the Dallas Cowboys are very familiar with having had to see him twice a year as a member of the New York Giants. He isn’t a spring chicken anymore, but at 31 he still has plenty of football ahead of himself. At 6’2″, he would add some much-needed length to the position and his veteran experience would also prove beneficial for the Cowboys young CBs.

I think Dominique Rogers-Cromartie could be on the trade market because of all of the heated arguments he has had with his head coach, Ben MacAdoo. Those arguments have already resulted in a team mandated suspension, so seeing him jettisoned from the team wouldn’t be a complete shock. It’s doubtful the Giants would trade him within the division, but I would never say never.

CB Vontae Davis

CB Vontae Davis

Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts

The entire Indianapolis Colts team is a mess right now and I could see them trying to offload several of their veteran players. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they try to acquire as many draft picks as possible in order to hopefully improve the roster, because they are beyond help, even with a healthy Andrew Luck. Cornerback Vontae Davis could be one of the veterans they are looking to offload.

Davis is in the last year of his contract, which only increases the chance the Colts try to offload him. When healthy he is one of the better CBs in the NFL, but that’s the only problem, he’s often banged up.

Much like Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Vontae Davis could be a bridge player to help the Cowboys young CBs grow. It’s doubtful the Cowboys would make a trade for just a one year rental, so they would have to try and work out a short-term extension. He could help stabilize the position, while not hindering the development of the Cowboys young players.

DT Marcell Dareus

DT Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills

There have been rumors circulating for a while that the Buffalo Bills have been trying to trade their talented defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. It’s somewhat of a surprise they haven’t been able to find a trade partner, but that could be due to the fact Dareus has an inflated contract or the Bills asking price.

I kinda doubt the Dallas Cowboys have any interest in the Dareus, but that is most likely due to the money he would add to the salary cap. If not for his big money contract, I believe the Cowboys would seriously consider bringing him in.

The Dallas Cowboys have a need at the 1-tech and Dareus would immediately be the best one they have had in recent memory. At 6’3″, 331, he would not only help fix the problems the defense has had against the run, but would also help improve the pass rush by eating up blockers in the interior. Marcell Dareus might just be the player on this list who could help the Cowboys the most.

OLB Hau'oli Kikaha

OLB Hau’oli Kikaha

Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, New Orleans Saints

Hau’oli Kikaha is probably not a name many of you are familiar with, but I believe he is someone that could come in and help improve the pass rush for the Dallas Cowboys. He is a former 2015 second round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints, but he seems to have already fallen out of favor with the organization, which is why he was probably a healthy scratch last week.

Unfortunately, injuries have been a big part of Kikaha’s career and have followed him into the NFL. An ACL injury wiped out his entire 2016 season, but he is fully healthy now and has already accumulated two QB sacks. The Cowboys have improved at getting after the quarterback, but the future of the position is full of uncertainties.

DeMarcus Lawrence is in the last year of his contract and might be playing himself out of the Cowboys price range. Tyrone Crawford will likely end up being a salary cap casually after the 2017 season, and no one really knows what Taco Charlton will turn into. Kikaha would likely be a pass rush specialist to begin with because of his size (6’3″, 246), but I think he can develop into a starting caliber defensive end.

DE Adrian Clayborn

DE Adrian Clayborn

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Atlanta Falcons

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has been a one-man wrecking crew so far this season, but he can definitely use some help getting after the QB. Lawrence is currently second in the NFL with 9.5 QB sacks, but through six games the rest of the team only has 11.5.

The Cowboys haven’t gotten much from Tyrone Crawford, Benson Mayowa, or Taco Charlton at the right defensive end position this season. The only other player along the defensive line showing any consistency right now is David Irving, but who knows how long that will last? That is why I believe Adrian Clayborn should be a trade target for the Cowboys.

Unlike the previously mentioned Hau’oli Kikaha, Adrian Clayborn is a true defensive end, and a proven one at that. Clayborn is a seven year veteran and has accumulated 22.5 QB sacks in his career, including two already this season. I believe he could become available because Atlanta is currently loaded with edge-defenders. Clayborn is stuck in a rotation with Vic Beasley, Brooks Reed, Derrick Shelby, and rookie Takkarist McKinley, which could make him expendable.

Do you think the Cowboys will be buyers before the trade deadline?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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16 Comments
  • Rory Jones

    John Brown from Arizona? I get it that this team need Defense but they also need someone who can take that 8th man out of the box. They need a burner to stretch the field.

    • Brian Martin

      That wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I don’t think the Cowboys will trade for an offensive player unless it’s another LG. Brice Butler is their deep threat for now until they draft one.

  • tom

    instead of looking for help that could help this year, look at either injured or backup players that could help next year. Cowboys have traded for players that could benefit them the following year. Mostly this is out of cost. I would say that OLB would be ripe position to look at with Lee’s injuries and Hitchens a possible FA loss. 1-Tech could be another area. We are good at DBs.

    • Brian Martin

      Tom, I completely agree. That is why I chose the players I did for this list. All of them would help this year, but the majority of them would also help for years to come. I personally don’t like one-year rentals, especially when you have to give up draft capital to acquire them.

  • Hobbes49

    Good list. I am in on Davis, Darius, and Clayborn. Any one of those would be fine. Rush off the edge would be a big positive, and Darius would help stop the problems we have had with interior run plays from the opposition. Davis would be great because we are one injury away from way too young everywhere in the secondary. Not in love with the idea of Rodgers-Cromartie, and don’t know enough about Kikaha to have a fair opinion.

    • Brian Martin

      I personally wouldn’t mind having anyone of these players in Dallas, but unfortunately I don’t think they will make any trades.

      • Hobbes49

        I agree with you there. Not their style floor sure.

      • Rory Jones

        Than why did you write this article? You got my hopes up that they would actually be smart and upgrade some positions. I guess February 4th I can watch some Netflix seeing as my schedule will be free now.

        • Brian Martin

          Wishful thinking on my part I guess. The Cowboys are supposedly looking for another big bodied 1-tech, but there’s no way of knowing if they will make any trades.

  • DevilDog58

    I’d definitely like to see Dallas sign some significant help for the Defense but not just any player. Darius would be a great addition and I would like to see us hang onto DLAW if feasible. Building through the draft is paying off so I’d like to see us continue that and try to retain our own good players.

    • Brian Martin

      I agree that Marcell Dareus would be a great addition. I think he would change the entire dynamic of the DL improve the running and passing defense. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Cowboys will trade for anybody

      • DevilDog58

        Unfortunately, I agree with you Brian.

  • Travis Diggs

    NFL.Com posted this list yesterday. It’s unlikely we trade for anybody We gotta better chance of Resigning Kellen Moore bum ass

    • Brian Martin

      NFL.com posted the same people I did that the Cowboys should target?. I thought I was being clever by looking over rosters and seeing which players might be available that would fit in Dallas. I don’t read anything on NFL.com so I didn’t see that article.

  • Daryl DeBose

    Eric Reid and Marcel Dareus could complete this team.

    • Brian Martin

      I wouldn’t say they would complete the team, but they would definitely make them better.

Star Blog

Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right

Kevin Brady

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Months Later, Jaguars Safety Barry Church Wa E

About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles.

Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right.

Brian Chojnacki on Twitter

Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy

This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off.

On the road.

Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game.

The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come.

With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions.

The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters.

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