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Could The Cowboys Work A Trade For Disgruntled DT Aaron Donald?

Brian Martin

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Could Cowboys Work A Trade For Disgruntled DT Aaron Donald?

I'm a person who likes to think outside of the box. A lot of times it comes to nothing, but it was that kind of thought process that got me thinking about whether or not the Dallas Cowboys could work out a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for their disgruntled defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

As things stand right now, Aaron Donald and the LA Rams are at a stalemate in their contracts talks and it's starting to look as if the All-Pro DT could carry his holdout into the season. It's probably not what either party wants to happen, but Donald is using the only leverage he has right now to try to get a contract extension.

This entire situation may be even more concerning to the Rams organization because Aaron Donald is arguably the best player they currently have on the roster. But, they don't really know yet how he fits into Wade Phillips new 3-4 defensive scheme since he has missed the entire off-season so far.

You see, Aaron Donald is really better suited to play in a 4-3 defensive scheme as an under tackle or 3-technique, where he can use his speed and agility to his advantage. He is a little undersized (6'1", 280) to be in every down defensive tackle in Phillips' defensive scheme, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the crafty defensive coordinator has a special way in mind to utilize Donald's unique skill set. But, that still remains unknown.

DT Aaron Donald

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

So, with Aaron Donald being unhappy with his current contract situation and not really knowing how he fits into the new 3-4 defensive scheme the Rams have gone to this season, could this workout to the Cowboys advantage?

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need to upgrade their pass rush this season. All of Cowboys Nation knows what their holdovers are capable of, but there is some unknown about the young talent they have. Regardless, Aaron Donald would be a tremendous addition and would instantly upgrade the entire defensive line.

Can you imagine having Aaron Donald and Maliek Collins playing next to each other and the havoc they would inflict to the middle of opposing offensive lines? It would be absolutely insane and would make it extremely difficult for QBs to get comfortable on the pocket. And it would also create more favorable matchups for whichever defensive ends are on the field at the time.

Now that I have the majority of you drooling or on Cloud 9 thinking about the pairing of Donald and Collins on the same defensive line, let's come back down to earth to look at how realistic this possible acquisition would be. Brace yourselves, because it's not pretty, but it is possibly doable.

DT Aaron Donald

DT Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is wanting to be paid like one of the best DTs in the NFL. That would mean he could be looking at a contract similar to Ndamukong Suh, who signed a six-year, $114 million contract with $60 million guaranteed with the Miami Dolphins back in 2015. Unfortunately for Donald, that's an insane amount guaranteed of money for a DT and it's just silly to think any team can or will offer that kind of contract.

Realistically, Aaron Donald is probably looking at a contract that would pay him at least $20 million a year and somewhere in the ballpark of $45-$50 million guaranteed. That's a big chunk of change for an undersized DT, but that's likely the going rate for someone who is as disruptive and young as Donald.

Okay, this is where reality sets in. The Dallas Cowboys can't afford that kind of contract right now if they plan on re-signing there All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin. That would indicate that Aaron Donald is currently out of contention to even be considered as a trade candidate. But, it is possibly doable to sign both Martin and trade/sign Aaron Donald to a contract extension.

There's no doubt it would take some creative finagling for all of this to happen, but like I said I'm an outside the box thinker.

DT Aaron Donald

Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

First, the Cowboys would have to workout a trade with the Rams and that would likely require at least a couple first-round draft picks. Then, they would have to create some cap relief this season to fit Donald under the salary cap. Finally, they would have to convince Donald that they will take care of him next off-season. They could do this by dumping some bad contracts (Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton) and moving around money.

That's just a brief example of all the things that would have to be done in order to trade and extend Aaron Donald's contract to make him a Dallas Cowboy. There is much more involved, but it gives you an idea. It's highly unlikely and probably impossible this will ever happen, but it's definitely fun to think about.

Aaron Donald is an outstanding player and one of the best in the NFL at disrupting and sacking the QB. In just three short seasons in the NFL, he has amazingly amassed 28 QB sacks. That's an average of about nine a season as an interior defensive lineman. There are simply no words how impressive that is and how much it would improve the Cowboys defense.

Of course, this is probably just a dream and will likely never become reality. But, if Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys think it could be pulled off, I would absolutely be on board with everything it would take to put a star on Donald's helmet.

Should the Cowboys consider trading for Aaron Donald?



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
  • Anthony Ceniccola

    the price is steep but i believe i’d be on board for this. losing first round picks are ok for two reasons, you’re getting a first round pick-caliber player and in optimistic speculation the cowboys will be picking in the lower portion of the first round for the next few years anyway.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys would definitely be giving up a lot, which is why this is probably unlikely to ever happen. But, like you said they will more than likely be drafted towards the end of each round and most of those players are usually second round graded fringe players anyway. Much like Taco Charlton was this year.

  • Kevin Black

    Maliek Collins is looking like a stud himself at the 3-tech. If you get Donald, you just stopped Collins’ progress and went from a cheap younger player to an expensive player in his prime. Since the Boys still have to get Martin signed, I highly doubt this is doable for cap reasons only. The difference between Collins and Donald aren’t enough for the huge difference in pay it will cost.

    • Brian Martin

      You can play Collins at the 1-Tech and Donald at the 3-Tech.

  • Travis Diggs

    Somebody sounds excited about Madden coming out this week lol This would only happen on a video game

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t even play Madden ha ha. It’s nearly impossible to probably pull off this trade scenario, but it is doable. The Cowboys are probably going to be picking at the end of the first round for the next few seasons and the players you can get there are usually second round graded fringe players anyway. Much like Taco Charlton this year. I don’t ever see it happening, but the addition of Aaron Donald would vastly improve the defense.

  • Randy Martin

    Brian, Brian….I’m so disappointed. Had I not read the byline I would have thought Carl Daley wrote this. Go watch the eclipse.

    • Brian Martin

      It was just a hypothetical trade scenario. Obviously it was more for fun than seriousness. It is possible such a trade could go down, although it is extremely unlikely it will ever happen or even be discussed.

  • tom

    Collins better value and less headache than Donald. even if hypo, I’d say pass.

    • Brian Martin

      That’s true, but Collins could slide over to the 1-tech and be just as dominant. Especially if Aaron Donald was playing next to him.

  • TreFKennedy88

    It’d be worth it plus Donald coming to Dallas with no state income tax

    • Brian Martin

      It’s an enticing trade scenario for all parties involved, but unfortunately it’s probably just a dream.

  • Russ_Te

    Definitely would not bail the Rams out with any #1 picks – not even 1. Make them take a hit for not being able to re-sign Donald, maybe after he’s proving to them he will boycott the year.

    And I can’t blow up my cap for a DT either. You could argue it’s worth it if that player is the missing link for a title, but IMO there is just too much unknown yet on this defense to conclude that.

    This defense benefits from a crushing run game that keeps it off the field. It’s not unreasonable to expect it to do the rest – don’t get gashed for big yards and big points.
    It should have enough talent right now to accomplish that, similar to last year.

    But early this season that will probably be a struggle. The secondary is untested and in flux, and it has a less-than-withering pass rush to help it. You have to get past 4 weeks, get Irving back and see how Taco and Collins are looking.

    Early on, I’m bringing the safeties and slot corners more in blitz on long downs. It’s risky but I’m not letting a good QB stand there unmolested, while I try to break in my rookies in the secondary.

  • Jess Haynie

    While deals like this almost never happen in the NFL, this is a rare time that it’s not a total fantasy. The Rams switching schemes puts them in a bad spot with Donald; his value will never be higher than it is right now. He’s already seen as elite, so there’s nowhere to go but down if he struggles at all with playing in the 3-4.

    That could prompt the Rams to act now to get the most for him. The Cowboys picks aren’t going to be the most valuable given what we’re projected to do the next few years, but it really depends on how much the Rams are concerned about Donald’s transition and general displeasure with the franchise.

    And if the Cowboys can use Tyrone Crawford, who’s ideal position is as a 3-4 end, to sweeten the pot then that’d be just fine and dandy.

  • Jerry Norman

    That would be nice, unlikely

    • Brian Martin

      I agree it would be highly unlikely to ever happen. But, the longer he continues to hold out, the more the Rams might be willing to move on. The Cowboys were rumored to be set on drafting Aaron Donald in 2014 and I believe they would be really interested if he hits the trade market.

Star Blog

Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.

Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.

With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.

Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.

Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.

As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.

On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.

The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1

After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.

Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.

With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.

All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.

A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.

2014 NFL: Week 6 Cowboys vs. Seahawks highlights

Week 6 Own by nfl

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same" 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

Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.

The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.

However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.

As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.

Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.

The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.

The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.

The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.

Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.

If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.



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Star Blog

Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?

Brian Martin

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Taco Tuesday: DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.

Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.

Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.

I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.

In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.

Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.

In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.

Taco Charlton Eli Manning sack

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.

If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.

Taco Charlton covering Odell Beckham Jr

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.

If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.

What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?



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