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.