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Moves the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore at Trade Deadline

Shane Carter

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Are the Dallas Cowboys in for Another Quiet Free Agency in 2018?
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow at 4:00 pm, and it’s expected to be another wild one. There have already been a number of reports of prime players who are on the trading block. So, should the Dallas Cowboys make another big move?

Teams who are expected to finish in the bottom 5-10 in the league will move on from players they think can bring them solid draft compensation.  The teams either fighting for the playoffs, or even teams with likely Super Bowl aspirations, will decide if they’d rather have the late draft picks or a player to help win now and potentially the future.

The Cowboys made the first move, trading a first-round draft pick for wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. It was a wild and polarizing movie that reminded some of the old Jerry Jones, who would ship prime picks for players and these players would end up not producing at the level expected.

Nonetheless, wide receiver was a position of need and one that the Cowboys possibly would have looked at with that 2019 pick. Jerry and company must have decided that no rookie in next year's class was better than Amari Cooper and decided he was the better option.

The team is currently at 3-4 and still in the NFC East title race. They shouldn’t stop at Cooper. The team should explore all players on the trade block who could potentially fill any of the remaining holes the team has.

I highly doubt that they go for another wide receiver. So, I apologize to anyone who was hoping DeVante Parker, Demaryius Thomas or DeSean Jackson could be a target. I also doubt they go for another running back like LeSean McCoy or Le’Veon Bell. Sorry.

There are some noteworthy players the Cowboys could and should consider. It will all come down to compensation and that both parties are willing to bite. If so, then the Cowboys have a shot at getting at least one of these players.

Trades the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore

Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

A bit of a shocking move, but reports circulated yesterday that the Packers safety was on the trade block. Clinton-Dix has had a great year so far, totaling 24 tackles, three interceptions and three pass breakups, so it seemed odd that they’d be willing to give up such a productive player.

It would seem that the Packers believe a few things here:

1) Clinton-Dix is in a contract year and they might not want to pay him. 2) The Packers have more depth in the secondary than in years past 3) They know they can get great compensation for him and still succeed this season.

The Cowboys missed out on trading for Earl Thomas but that shouldn’t stop them from sifting through the safety market. Especially when they’re ask skilled as this.

A player of his talent would fetch anywhere from a first to as low as a third round pick. The Cowboys were willing to give up a first for Cooper. I wonder what they’d be willing to give up for this man?

Charles Clay

I tweeted out a while back that the Cowboys should trade for Amari Cooper and Charles Clay.  After the Cooper trade became a reality, I immediately reiterated that they need to go after the Buffalo Bills tight end.

Again, I seriously doubt they go after another big name receiver, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give Dak Prescott another weapon. Prescott relies on his tight ends in case he gets in trouble, and the ones Dallas currently have haven’t been as reliable as hoped.

Geoff Swaim has been the top receiving threat among that group with 19 catches, 205 yards, and a touchdown. This his best year in terms of stats, but it’s not enough.

Blake Jarwin has been disappointing and rookie fourth-round pick Dalton Shultz has been inactive most of the season. While Rico Gathers has gotten more looks in recent weeks, it hasn’t been consistent enough for the Cowboys to comfortably throw it to him.

Charles Clay in Buffalo has been outstanding. Prior to this year, he had 157 catches, 1,638 yards, and nine touchdowns. This year, with a new quarterback, he’s been massively underused; only 16 catches and 133 yards to his name. He’s much better than that and deserves much better.

Giving Dak Prescott a legitimate receiving threat at tight end would make him much more comfortable under pressure and we could see this team move the ball.

Charles Clay is still under contract through next year and doesn’t turn 30 until the end of the season. Buffalo is in rebuild mode and could use all the compensation that they can muster. Clay may only cost as much as a fifth-round pick, and if that’s the case the Cowboys should pull the trigger.

Trades the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore 1

New England Patriots WR Cordarrelle Patterson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Cordarrelle Patterson

I said no BIG name receivers. However, this team could definitely use a return man. Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the league's best return men, playing on a team who’s not afraid to trade some of their best players.

After trading away Ryan Switzer during the draft (a move I personally hated) the Cowboys were down a return man. They started the year relying on Tavon Austin.  He’s got serious speed but can’t stay healthy.

Cole Beasley has been used lately but mostly fair catches punts, and Deonte Thompson generally takes the touchback on kick returns. This team is getting zero help in the return game.

Patterson is a player who takes risks but has the size and speed to allow it. The two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl player has six returns for touchdowns in his career and has a career average of just over 30 yards per return.

While not really a punt returner, he would still be an improvement in that area as well. That would also allow Beasley to solely focus on his slot play. It would be the smart move.

The Cowboys need a return man and the Patriots are notorious for trading their best players (sans Tom Brady). If the Cowboys could offer a sensible pick and/or player to compensate then this move might be the most important on this list. You need to win all three facets of the game, and the Cowboys have seriously lacked in this area.

Duke Johnson

The Cowboys miss that Lance Dunbar-type. They miss having a third down/receiving back to spread the offense around, and give the team burst out of the backfield win Ezekiel Elliott is not in.

Despite a contract extension from the Browns this off-season, Duke Johnson (arguably their best offensive weapon) has barely been used. While he’s no threat to Elliott as the lead man, he is the kind of player the Cowboys were hoping Tavon Austin would be.

However, even after trading Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson still hasn’t gotten the looks he’s being paid for. Yes, he’s gotten plenty of catches but he deserves better.

The Cowboys like those extra speed backs. They throw to them out of the backfield and in the slot, run sweeps and screens successfully, and in case Prescott is being pressured, he’s another security blanket they can rely on.

Ezekiel Elliott is an elite running back but they can’t keep forcing him to play every snap if they want him healthy for the rest of the year. Rod Smith is a reliable second option but speed kills, and this team would kill for some speed. Jerry Jones, make it happen!

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out? 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns

 Trade In-House

When you get halfway through a season, you start to figure out which players mesh and which players, who you want to keep for the long-haul, and which players you believe are expendable. The Cowboys are there right now.

The Cowboys have both types. They have players who are not only expendable, but could fetch solid compensation. At this point in the season, they’re still in it but they need to also have building blocks for the future, especially now that they no longer have a first-round pick next year.

Here are some current Cowboys that the team could consider moving:

1) Allen Hurns is probably the most popular option. He recently expressed he was displeased that he wasn’t seeing more targets and, despite coming off his best game of the season, his targets look like they’ll be even lower now.

With Cole Beasley going nowhere, Michael Gallup getting more and more snaps each game and improving each week, plus the addition of Amari Cooper, Hurns will likely be even more frustrated.

Realistically, he might not fetch more than a fifth-round pick. However, the Cowboys should do him a favor. Send him somewhere that needs him, get something back for him, and everyone can move on.

2) This may not be very popular, but I believe Randy Gregory is a possible trade chip. Despite his off the field concerns, when he has played he's produced for this team.

Taco Charlton has taken a serious step forward this season and DeMarcus Lawrence is going nowhere. David Irving looks like he’ll also get an extension and Dorance Armstrong has shown promise. Randy Gregory could be the odd man out.

Every team needs a pass rusher and, while Gregory has had his moments this season, I wonder how much longer Dallas will want to hold on to him. He may be worth a draft pick or the right player to move on from.

3) Finally, Sean Lee is a name that might pop up. Personally, I’d like to keep him for the rest of the season but his time here is numbered.

As great a player as Shawn Lee is, he has always had a history of injuries and he is heading towards the wrong side of 30.  There is a reason that Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first round this year. Not only has he progressed well alongside Jaylon Smith, he’s made Lee expendable.

Sean Lee is  a perfect fit for a team making a playoff or even a Super Bowl run this year; a veteran with experience and plenty of talent left in his tank. I’m not sure he will be on the Cowboys' roster next year, so they might make the move now and get something out of him while they can.



Lifelong Cowboys fan, who doesn’t mind telling the harsh truth. I’ve got a Bachelors Degree in Electronic Media and Communications from Texas Tech University. I welcome all opinions but I will shut down any troll.

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Dallas Cowboys

Despite Changes, Cowboys Offense Still Runs Through Ezekiel Elliott

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Rams

We've talked a lot this offseason about the changes at Offensive Coordinator and slot receiver, or how Jason Witten's return will impact the tight end position. But while all of these will impact the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2019, the constant feature remains Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and the rushing attack.

From 2016 to 2018, since the Cowboys drafted Elliott, Dallas has ranked 1st, 3rd, and 10th among NFL teams in "run vs. pass" play calls. That's only logical; you don't spend a fourth-overall pick on a RB and then not make him the featured player in your offense.

Zeke has certainly rewarded Dallas' decision; Elliott has led the league in total rushing two out of three years, and he led in yards-per-game in 2017 while dealing with his suspension.

Leaning on Elliott has been smart business based on his effectiveness, plus the investment in the offensive line over the last several years.

Dallas has now sunk three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), one second (Connor Williams), and now two thirds (Chaz Green and Connor McGovern) on building up their front wall. They've spent a lot of money to keep their All-Pro guys around, plus La'el Collins.

Some would try to paint the run-heavy approach as how the team is trying to hide the weaknesses of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But in 2014, with DeMarco Murray at RB and Tony Romo at QB, the Cowboys were still 3rd in the league in rush vs. pass attempts.

This isn't about Zeke or Dak, or any other specific player. This about a team philosophy that starts at the top with Jason Garrett, and that isn't going to change even with Kellen Moore taking over as the new Offensive Coordinator.

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 4

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

We're all excited to see what new wrinkles comes from getting rid of Scott Linehan. We highly anticipate the development of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the offense, coupled with the addition of Randall Cobb. We're salivating at what Blake Jarwin might become under the tutelage of the great Jason Witten.

Heck, maybe we'll see fullback Jamize Olawale's receiving skills put to more use. Perhaps gadget guys like Tavon Austin or rookie Tony Pollard will be deployed in more creative ways.

And yes, Dak Prescott's growth is another major factor in Dallas' 2019 success. It's especially interesting, and even concerning, as talks are ongoing about his long-term contract.

But make no mistake, this is still the Ezekiel Elliott show. Even if a few more of his carries become receptions in Moore's scheme, Zeke should still get the lion's share of the touches.

That's why this week's news about his incident in Las Vegas is so troubling. It probably won't lead to a suspension, but we saw what happened in 2017 when Elliott was missing for over a third of the season.

While Dallas should be better able to withstand losing Zeke now than it was two years ago, it may still be more than Prescott, Cooper, and the rest could handle. It definitely wouldn't put the Cowboys in good position to compete for a Super Bowl.

In the end, the 2019 will still come down to how well Dallas runs the ball. It's the engine; nothing else matters if the rushing game doesn't set everyone else up for success.

Don't ever take it for granted. This is still Ezekiel Elliott's offense.



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Dallas Cowboys

What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Kellen Moore

Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.

With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.

At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.

But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.

Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.

Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.

Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter

I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc

With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?

In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.

I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.

This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.

Tell me what you think about "What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice

Jess Haynie

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Connor Williams

Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.

Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.

Todd Archer on Twitter

With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.

Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.

Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.

When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.

Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.

La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.

We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.

If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.

For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.



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