Back in May, guard Ron Leary made it clear he wanted to be traded from Dallas. Leary wants to be a starter, and have a chance at earning starter money, while still in his prime and before his degenerative knees end his career. You can’t blame him.
In February I speculated that we might be headed down this road. I wrote a piece outlining the Cowboys’ moral dilemma in handling Leary’s situation. Football is only a business when coaches and executives want it to be. The rest of the time, they preach about family and brotherhood. It’s hard to have it both ways.
The same day that Leary made his desire for a trade known the Tennessee Titans suffered an injury to starting guard Byron Bell. That prompted to me look at the Titans’ roster and hypothesize some trades. As fellow writer RJ Ochoa showed us yesterday, a Leary-to-Tennessee deal may still be on the radar.
However, another trade destination for Leary was proposed yesterday by a top media source:
While we wait for a potential #Cowboys QB trade, keep an eye on OL Ronald Leary. #Saints have pursued him to no avail over past few months
When I wrote about the Titans scenarios that was based on pure speculation. There were no reports of talks between Tennessee and Dallas. So, after Rapoport’s news, naturally I had to check out the Saints’ roster and see what they had to offer.
First, let’s look at a few positions where the Cowboys clearly need some help:
The Saints only have three QBs in camp right now: Drew Brees, Luke McCown, and Garrett Grayson. They used a third-round pick to acquire Grayson last year as a developmental QB. Dallas already has two of those in Dak Prescott and Jameil Showers. That leaves McCown as the only potential target.
It would be ironic if Dallas ended up with Luke McCown, given that they were reportedly looking at his brother Josh just a few days ago. The younger of the two, Luke doesn’t have quite the same name value but has managed to stick around as a NFL backup since 2004.
McCown is 35 years old but showed last year he can still produce. In Week 3 he had to start for an injured Brees on the road against the eventual NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. McCown was 31 for 38 on his passes (81.6%) and threw for 310 yards against one of the league’s best defenses.
The Cowboys stated a few days ago that they were no longer pursuing a veteran QB. This may be their current stance but that could change if Prescott and Showers don’t inspire confidence.
That said, McCown’s availability could be dependent on how Garrett Grayson performs. The Saints may not want to give up McCown for the same reason that Dallas would be interested.
The other glaring issue for the Cowboys right now is at defensive end. You know about the DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory issues. Also, Benson Mayowa is currently sidelined recovering from a minor knee procedure. He will hopefully return for some preseason action.
Unfortunately, the Saints don’t have much to offer in this area. They are in the second year of transitioning back to the 4-3 scheme after dumping Rob Ryan. That means they are still trying to stock their own depth chart and don’t have many expendable assets. They have added band-aid veterans like Daryl Tapp and Matt Shaughnessy in the last few months, showing their own level of need.
I have maintained that Dallas shouldn’t part with Ron Leary for less than a third-round pick. They gave him the second round RFA tender and would have received that back if a team had tried to sign him as a restricted free agent.
Some of you have said you would settle for a lower-round pick, wanting to get something for Leary rather than have him walk for nothing next year. It’s not “nothing,” though, to have him here as a highly skilled reserve option in 2016.
Leary already backs up both starting guards and perhaps even your center. Dallas is looking at Zack Martin to see if he can slide over and play center in case something happens to Travis Frederick. That’s three different players who, if they go out, open the door for Leary to play. That makes him very valuable.
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The Saints’ pursuit of Leary has likely been unsuccessful for these very reasons. They don’t have many players who fit Dallas’ need areas and are probably not offering a high enough draft pick.
The next four weeks allow plenty of opportunity for change. The hope that each team has in current players can be realized, crushed, or at least stymied by camp and preseason performance. Injuries can quickly change the landscape. Leary’s value to either party can shift as we go.
Whether it’s the Saints, Titans, or some other team, it’s clear that Leary will remain a talking point up until the trade deadline.