Taco Charlton was inactive for the Dallas Cowboys' season opener and is likely to be a healthy scratch again in Week 2. With veteran Robert Quinn coming off suspension next week, will the next few days be Taco's last in Dallas?
Ever since Bill Parcells was head coach here, the idea of “Year 3” being pivotal for young players has stuck with me. We allow for rookie jitters and sophomore slumps, but by that third season we expect players to be consistent contributors.
Those expectations are relative to draft position, and that's what Charlton is up against as a former 1st-Round selection in 2017. You would expect him to be a starter by now, or at worst a key roleplayer and rotation piece.
But while free agent signing Kerry Hyder, 2018 4th-Round pick Dorance Armstrong, and 2019 5th-Round rookie Joe Jackson all suited up against the Giants last week, Taco Charlton was in street clothes. It was easily the worst moment of his NFL career, more damning than any mistake he could have made on the field.
Now Robert Quinn, who Dallas traded for in March to be the new starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, will be returning from a two-game PED suspension in Week 3. The Cowboys will have to make room for him on the roster, and it would appear that Charlton is the low man on the defensive end totem pole.
It's possible that, by sitting Taco in these games, Dallas is trying to protect him for a trade. Maybe he would be playing over Joe Jackson if they intended to keep him.
The waiting game ⏳
— Taco Charlton (@TheSupremeTaco) September 12, 2019
Like last week, Charlton tweeted out his frustration with his status. Whether he's “waiting” for a trade or the chance to get back on the field, Taco seems to have been informed that he won't be playing this Sunday in Washington.
The question now if another NFL team still sees some value in the former 1st-Round pick. Will someone else think they can get things out of Taco that the Cowboys couldn't?
That is a daunting proposition given Rod Marinelli's reputation for coaching up defensive linemen. There won't be many out there who think they can do better than Rod, which could severely limit the interest level in Taco.
That leads to an even bigger question. If Dallas can't find a trade partner, will they be forced to simply release Taco Charlton?
The Cowboys would love to get something back for Taco given what they spent to acquire him. But the rest of the league knows about the Quinn situation, and they may just wait things out and hope Dallas cuts Charlton next week rather than trade for him.
We'll have to wait and see how Sunday's game impacts the circumstances. Injuries could create a new way to get Quinn on the roster; a ripple effect that could change the Cowboys' leverage.
Next week we'll dive deeper into the various ways Dallas could make room for Robert Quinn. For now, though, it would appear they're trying to move Taco Charlton in a trade.
It's not what they wanted from that 2017 1st-Round pick. But it would be better than nothing.