It's never easy as a fan to see the trade deadline come and go and not hear any news about your team. There's an inherent excitement about adding talent and the idea of improving during the season, especially when your team is already doing as well as the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. But despite staying quiet during this year's trade window, Dallas could still be adding plenty of talent as the season continues.
Highlighting the expected returns on each side of the ball are WR Michael Gallup and DE DeMarcus Lawrence. But along with them are DTs Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill and CB Kelvin Joseph, hopefully adding considerable depth and perhaps even upgrades on defense.
Joseph, Dallas' 2nd-Round pick in 2021, made his NFL debut last Sunday in Minnesota. But he's being worked back in slowly, getting just two snaps on defense and playing mostly special teams in the victory over the Vikings.
Hill and Gallup have already begun the 3-week window to practice with the team without having to count against the active roster. Their actual return to live-game action should happen against either the Broncos or Falcons.
As for Lawrence and Gallimore, their absences are expected to last a bit longer with more serious injuries. But both are expected back at some point during the regular season and for Dallas' now-likely playoff run.
The projected return of multiple starters and key roleplayers is likely why the Cowboys didn't make any trade noise over the last few weeks. Trades come at a cost, either present or future, and there's always the risk that the asset you're acquiring won't fit in as well as you hope.
That risk is there even during the off months but it's especially dangerous smack in the middle of the regular season. And even if the player you pick up will eventually contribute, how much time will it take to integrate them and realize the benefits?
It's easy to point to the Cowboys' 2018 trade for WR Amari Cooper as a counterargument, and there's no denying that it was the perfect move at that point. But Dallas' offense was so starved for receiving talent that a player with Cooper's ability could only make things better.
Remember, the Cowboys still had to give up a 1st-Round pick to make that trade. And less than two years later, they had to make Amari one of the richest receivers in football when his original contract from the Raiders expired.
Cooper has worked out beautifully, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a high-risk play.
These additions don't always work out. Look at the struggles DE Everson Griffen had in Dallas last year, eventually getting cut after seven games, and then his strong play in 2021 after reuniting with Mike Zimmer and the Vikings. Scheme and fit matter a lot and the grass is often not as green when players relocate.
The 2021 Cowboys decided that none of the trade opportunities were with the risk or cost. And while you may huff about a known name like Melvin Ingram only being traded for a 6th-Round pick, ask yourself why he was available and so easy to get when the Steelers are also trying to compete this season.
Most of all, remember that this year's Dallas team is deep and winning because this front office has been making the right moves. They have young assets they want to develop for the future and there are only so many snaps and roster spots to go around.
The 6-1 Cowboys are already getting it done in 2021. And best of all, they've yet to be at full strength during this win streak. Tank, Gallup, and others are on the way and this team has incredible chemistry and momentum right now.
“If it ain't broke….”