Now that the first and most of the second tiers of free agency have been signed, the Cowboys are still staring at a glaring need that they had before the free agency period began.
While there are still players available that can come in and contribute, you have to wonder if Dallas would be inclined to work the trade market to their advantage.
With high picks in every round they should garner interest, but some of the players that come to mind would most likely not be too expensive.
Rather than look at big names that are nothing more than pipe dreams, I have thought of three players who are fairly realistic. While I can’t say that the Cowboys would or should show interest in any of these players, I can say that the asking price shouldn’t be too extreme, they would be fits, or Dallas has shown interest in the past.
I’ll start with Willie Young of the Chicago Bears.
Young had requested a trade from the Bears during the 2015 season after the Bears transitioned from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. Young never felt comfortable as an outside linebacker and asked to be traded back into a 4-3. As you know, the Cowboys are one of around fifteen teams employing a 4-3 defense.
In 2014, Young put together a really nice season for the Bears posting 10 sacks in 15 games playing just under 64 percent of snaps as a true 4-3 defensive end.
Young is due $3 million in 2016 and becomes a free agent after this season.
When looking into scouting profiles of Willie Young, the common theme tends to be that he has an excellent first step and burst off the snap. This is probably the most important factor for defensive ends in this scheme.
Willie Young is cheap and has asked to be traded before. The Bears traded Jared Allen during the season last year because he didn’t fit their transition to a 3-4. With Young due to hit free agency it may make a lot of sense for the Bears to trade him and get what they can. Young would be a nice fit for Dallas and can make an impact in a defensive line rotation.
Barkevious Mingo has never found it at the NFL level.
Mingo was a huge athletic talent at LSU, but was considered raw to say the least. As a member of the Cleveland Browns Mingo has done little to show development.
However, the potential of Mingo could be really intriguing to the Cowboys.
For starters, he has been a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Browns and a transition into a 4-3 defensive end could be really beneficial for him.
If we’re being honest, leaving the Browns organization would be the ultimate benefit for him. How can you develop a player when an organization has so much instability.
Mingo was Dallas’ ninth ranked player on the leaked 2013 draft board. We know that they had interest in the player considering the fact that he was given a first round grade and was ranked so highly.
What drew scouts to Barkevious Mingo during the draft process was his elite athleticism. Mingo ran a 4.58 40 with a 1.58 10-yard-split. These are elite numbers and show you how great an athlete Mingo really is. He clearly has great short area quickness and can be explosive off the snap.
This would give Dallas a much needed right edge rusher with speed. This is the role Randy Gregory is supposed to play, but he cannot be counted on for obvious reasons.
A trade for Mingo shouldn’t cost all that much… He hasn’t done much at the NFL level and is due to hit free agency after the 2016 season.
This is where it gets controversial.
Dion Jordan has all the talent in the world, but his off-the-field concerns have gotten in the way of success for him.
Jordan is ahead of Randy Gregory when it comes to the substance abuse policy.
Ahead of last year’s NFL Draft Jordan was suspended for the entirety of the 2015 season. Jordan actually didn’t fail a drug test, but the sample was diluted which is grounds for another failure. Jordan had already been deep in the program, so a season long suspension was the next step.
I don’t know if Dallas would go this route. I am also not so sure that it would be the best plan of action. However, this is a player that Dallas had rated as their third highest prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.
There is no questioning that Dion Jordan has talent. With Miami completely revamping their defensive line it should really cost almost nothing to acquire Dion Jordan.
Like Mingo and Young, Jordan is also set to become a free agent after the 2016 season.
Jordan is a low risk, high reward player that the Cowboys could show some interest in. If Jordan were to fail another drug test he’d simply be suspended again and done with from the Cowboys perspective since he is due to hit free agency.
These three players would be such low risk high reward options for the Cowboys. Each of these players should cost virtually nothing since they are free agents to be and unlikely to be retained by their respective teams.
The Cowboys would be getting some solid production with the potential to really reap the benefits. Especially with Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan, the talent is there and if Rod Marinelli and the rest of the Cowboys staff can just tap into it they can be getting a huge steal. We already know Dallas saw something in Mingo and Jordan for them to have them rated so highly. Willie Young has shown the ability before to be an impact edge rusher in a 4-3.
These are some options the Cowboys could exploit using late round draft picks or even explore during camp as teams cut their rosters down.