The NFL trade deadline has actually become an enjoyable event over the last few years as there has been more player movement in recent seasons. Last year the Dallas Cowboys made a move for Amari Cooper that propelled them to the NFC East title and helped them reach the divisional round of the playoffs for the third time in five years.
In the last couple of years, the Cowboys have been connected to just about every safety on the market as fans and analysts alike have tried to upgrade the position. In 2019, the big name the Cowboys were linked to was Jamal Adams. Over the last couple of days, there's been a debate of whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should have pulled the trigger for New York Jets Safety Jamal Adams. Given what the Jets were asking,
It's easy to see both sides of the argument, but the thing that's gotten lost in the Jamal Adams discussion is that the Dallas Cowboys are a better team Specifically a better defense heading into week nine than they were when we last saw them play. Adding Defensive End Michael Bennett is one of those moves that's going to make the defense better at every level.
Along the defensive line, DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn are the immediate beneficiaries as teams will have to concern themselves with Bennett when he's on the field as the 3-technique defensive tackle. His ability to rush from the inside will cause problems and make it very difficult for opposing quarterbacks to step up into the pocket.
Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins also benefits as well as he'll get spelled a little bit more with Bennett's ability to play the interior. This will allow Collins to be fresher for his own pass rush downs, but will also make him a better run defender. He's currently playing at a career-high 73% snap rate. His previous high was 66% back in 2017. Collins has played the highest percentage of snaps of anyone on the defensive line in 2019. Yes, more than DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn. In fact, only six defensive players have played a higher snap percentage than Collins has through seven games of the 2019 season. Get him fresh and let him work.
An improved interior pass rush from Bennett and the fresh Maliek Collins will help the linebackers and defensive backs not have to cover for as long. If Bennett is helping to collapse the pocket from the middle, there won't be anywhere for quarterbacks to go to avoid Quinn and Lawrence off the edge.
As a run defender, Bennett will play snaps on early downs at right defensive end, similar to how the Cowboys deployed Tyrone Crawford. His ability to set the edge will help Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and the rest of the linebackers be able to run free to the ball carrier while the rest of the defensive line pursues from the backside.
I know we're all a bit disappointed that the Dallas Cowboys didn't pull the trigger or that the price was too high, whichever camp you land in, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is a better unit now than it was a week ago. The move for Michael Bennett, though because it was a surprise to many and didn't get near as much hype, was a significant addition that could propel this team on a run similar to how the Amari Cooper trade did in 2019.
As much as we should be excited about what Michael Bennett means on the field, what this all means for the front office is just as significant.
For years, the Dallas Cowboys front office sat on their hands and watched opportunities to improve go by the wayside. When other teams were making trades, the Dallas Cowboys would talk about how much they liked their team. Well, in a little over a year, the Cowboys front office has made three significant trades, adding Amari Cooper, Robert Quinn, and Michael Bennett and only had to give up one first-round, one sixth-round, and one conditional seventh-round pick to add an All-Pro and two Pro Bowl players.
For as good as this team has been in the draft, this was an area where the Cowboys needed to become more opportunistic. Taking advantage of teams willing to sell important players at a discount is one of the ways New England Patriots have stayed so good for so long. Seeing the Dallas Cowboys take shots on veteran players that simply needed a change of scenery has already paid huge dividends with Amari Cooper and Robert Quinn. Michael Bennett is another that will be another difference-maker for the Cowboys who have Super Bowl aspirations in 2019.
Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones talks about player acquisition as a 365 day a year process. Over the last 365 days and change, they've finally shown that they mean what they say. Sure, they've added guys off the street or claimed players off of other team's practice squads, but they never made a move that made everyone take note. Seeing the success that they've had with Cooper and Quinn hopefully reinforces this evolution that's taken place and encourages them to deal picks for players in trades that make sense moving forward.