After yesterday's big trade that sent Michael Bennett from Seattle to Philadelphia, Dallas fans were up in arms about the lack of movement so far from the Cowboys front office. After a disappointing 9-7 season and narrowly missing the playoffs, it's no surprise that Cowboys Nation is anxious to see the team have an aggressive offseason.
Names like Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick have been floated as potential trades Dallas could make for draft picks, but are these realistic? Do the Cowboys really have any assets that other teams might want?
Remember, along with the player comes his contract. We mostly agree that Dez isn't worth his $16.5-million cap hit with the Cowboys. But is Bryant worth a $12.5-million base salary to someone else? Even that is debatable after three down seasons. What's more, NFL teams generally aren't trying to trade players they wouldn't just end up releasing. Other teams know this and will usually wait it out.
Again, let's look at Dez.
If teams believe that Dallas will eventually release him, they can then negotiate a new deal with Bryant that better fits his market value. So, not only do they get a better financial arrangement, but they didn't have to trade anything to the Cowboys to get him.
This is why the NFL isn't like the NBA with trades. It's rarer because the circumstances of NFL contracts are more limiting.
You have to have a team in fire sale mode -- like the Seahawks right now -- or something like what we just saw with Jimmy Garoppolo going to the 49ers. The player needs to be good enough, and often young enough, that the new team just can't risk letting them go somewhere else.
That's the problem with guys like Bryant and Scandrick. At this point, neither one is seen as a top guy at their position. Dez turns 30 in November and Orlando just turned 31 last month. Both guys are on the downsides of their career.
With only a $3-million base salary in 2018, Scandrick is probably more tradable than Dez despite being older. He could be a solid veteran slot corner for a competitive team. But again, other teams see what's going on in Dallas.
They see Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown on the roster. They hear about Byron Jones maybe moving back to corner. Someone who likes Scandrick expects him to be cut and is probably willing to try their luck in free agency.
Even if a team did want to secure Orlando now, the offer wouldn't get you excited. If Michael Bennett only got a 5th-round pick and a marginal young receiver from Philly, Scandrick isn't getting you anything better.
Is an extra 6th-round pick going to make you feel better about the Cowboys' Super Bowl hopes?
The truth is that the Dallas Cowboys just don't have much to work with right now. Like most teams, they're trying to build around their young talent and aren't putting them on the market. The guys they might trade away are being discarded for a reason, and it's the same reason other teams aren't in a rush to acquire them.
1 Guy Who Might be Tradable is David Irving
Some would argue, and I'm one, that Irving is too good to give up. Keeping him with DeMarcus Lawrence gives Dallas two of the more dynamic pass rushers in the NFL right now. The Cowboys need both to get back to championship contention. However, the reality is that Irving will likely command a sizable new contract after 2018. Paying him $3-4 million this year from a Restricted Free Agent tender is a bargain, but it's only a one-year move. The bill for David's services will quickly come due.
If the Cowboys can't see paying Irving next year, now would be a good time to go ahead and move him. He turns just 25 in August and can play several spots, making him attractive to just about any other team.
But again, trading Irving takes away a guy who can help you win this season. Whatever you get back, even a 2nd-round pick, probably doesn't help you as much now as he can.
Is one year of David Irving worth more than four years of an unknown rookie? Irving has flashed superstar potential and the guy you draft might not even make it in the league.
So yes, Irving is probably the most attractive guy on the roster right now that could most easily be moved. But the Cowboys will have to think long and hard about it, because upside like his doesn't come along every day.
Perhaps the Most Probable Trade Asset is Byron Jones
A former first-round pick still in his physical prime, Jones hasn't been the elite safety Dallas hoped for but is still a solid player. Another team might think they could utilize him better, either in how he's used at safety or by moving him to cornerback. Of course, the Cowboys may not want to lose Jones if they're already planning to cut Orlando Scandrick.
They may also like him better for next year's CB depth chart than Anthony Brown. You don't want to create a depth problem because you got trade happy.
But with his rookie deal expiring in 2018, and no sign the Cowboys will pick up his fifth-year option, Jones could be out the door next year with no compensation. That's a poor return on a first-round pick, so Dallas might want to try to find a trade partner just to get something back on their investment.
The Cowboys are in the tough spot of needing to make some big roster changes while also trying to stay competitive. They don't want to miss out on the window of time they have with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott still on their rookie deals. They need to make an aggressive push now, because soon they're going to have to tie up a lot more resources in their young stars.
Will that push involve trading some their current talent? Even if they want to move guys, are trade partners out there?
We'll find out pretty soon.
Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly
The Dallas Cowboys are stronger at defensive end than they've been in some time, but they still lack a specific type of pass rusher. Rookie Dorance Armstrong may be able to fill that role, giving him an early opportunity to contribute that many mid-round rookies can't find.
While DeMarcus Lawrence has become a beast and Taco Charlton is expected to do more as a second-year player, they are both better suited to play on the left side. It is that right side DE, the athletic type who can take on NFL left tackle, that the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware left.
It was supposed to be Randy Gregory, but we all know the issues he's dealt with the last three years. His reinstatement request to the league is expected to go through, but even then we can't be sure the type of player he will be.
If Gregory isn't still the talent that Dallas hoped for in 2015, the next man up just might be Armstrong. He is a raw talent, still undersized for consistent NFL defensive end work, but he has the natural agility and style of play that best suits the weak-side rusher.
Veteran Kony Ealy is more like Lawrence and Charlton, bigger and more suited from the strong side. Another option, Charles Tapper, has yet to prove he can get through a single game without injury.
Rookies have not had a hard time finding early work in Dallas lately.
Obviously, it didn't take Quarterback Dak Prescott long to make an immediate impact. We've also seen the same from Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown, Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins, and Safety Xavier Woods.
With the difficulties that guys like Gregory and Tapper may have getting back into football shape, Armstrong could have a leg up in training camp. The Cowboys won't hesitate to give him the work if he's the best man for the job, regardless of draft status or tenure.
These new look, new era Dallas Cowboys are all about meritocracy, so Dorance Armstrong could rise quickly if he performs. It would make for a nice immediate return on a fourth-round pick.
CB Jourdan Lewis Addresses “All Or Nothing” Scene With Dez Bryant
When the newest season of Amazon's All or Nothing featuring the Dallas Cowboys came out, people immediately were drawn to one scene in particular.
That scene featured then veteran Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis, as they battled it out all day in practice. Lewis and Bryant were in each others ears, as Lewis wanted to make it known to Bryant that he isn't the same type of corner he's used to seeing in practice.
Jourdan Lewis was asked to give his side of the story recently, and DallasCowboys.com recorded his response. The following video is courtesy of "Ed It Channel" on YouTube.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Lewis addressed rumors that the rivalry was "fake" or staged due to the fact that Bryant knew that Lewis was mic'ed up. He says that the competition was organic, and that when put on the field with each other their competition improved both of their play.
Dez Bryant is gone now, but hopefully the Cowboys will be able to replace that competitiveness on the practice field and allow for tempers to flare from time to time.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver
As I wrote exactly a week ago, in discussion of maligned Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams:
"...this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best".
Here we are again, with an emerging leadership voice of the Cowboys speaking about his wide receivers. Dak Prescott told Pro Football Talk that he, "doesn't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver".
This is a bold statement from a third-year quarterback that's already told Cowboys Nation this offseason that he wants to be the best to ever play for the franchise. Beginning the journey towards becoming a Cowboys legend must start with Prescott securing his status as the Cowboys franchise QB in 2018 - by throwing to Williams, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, Cedrick Wilson, and Allen Hurns.
This will be no easy task for Prescott, but the Cowboys have never wavered in their commitment to building this team around him. Left with no choice on personnel decisions like Jason Witten's retirement, the Cowboys are well-prepared to also deal with the loss of Dez Bryant.
If they weren't, Bryant would still be in Dallas, and as it stands now he remains a free agent. New to the Cowboys offense is not only Gallup, Wilson, and Hurns but also Tavon Austin as a pass-catching running back.
Strength in numbers must be the message for the Cowboys offense this season. Relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and a punishing offensive line will be what keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night, but so too must be the diverse nature of how the Cowboys can line up on the outside.
Allowing Prescott to serve as a "point guard" like QB could lead to the Cowboys turning plenty of heads with their all-around play in 2018. Anybody writing them off simply because of unproven wide receivers lacks a complete understanding of the roster and how Scott Linehan plans to change his offense.
Sure, it's possible that Linehan fails to prove himself as a play caller worthy of the talent the Cowboys possess on offense - but the talent is there. In Prescott's rookie year, Cole Beasley emerged as his go-to receiver, only to regress in 2017.
With the Cowboys shipping Ryan Switzer to Oakland during the draft, Beasley has a clear path back towards developing this chemistry with Prescott out of the slot. The same should go for Allen Hurns, despite arriving in Dallas as a free agent this year.
Hurns has talked about holding himself to a high standard, despite joining the Cowboys to play with Dez Bryant initially.
"I felt it was a big opportunity to come to Dallas to play with Dez. But with him not being here, it’s a bigger opportunity. It's a matter of me making the most of the opportunity"
Plenty of Cowboys receivers will have a chance to make the most of the opportunity to play in this offense. Hurns' spot as an outside starter feels safe, as he could be the big "No. 1" target Prescott needs to either find in the red zone or distribute the ball elsewhere.
The amount of change the Dallas Cowboys have gone through since drafting Dak Prescott is a cruel reminder of how difficult reaching the pinnacle of sports can be. The Cowboys biggest challenge to reach the playoffs again in 2018?
Silence the doubt that a declining Dez Bryant no longer being with the team will derail the efforts of this deep and eager-to-compete WRs room.
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