Could the Dallas Cowboys make a big pre-free agency trade?
By Tyrone Starr
With several talented free agents who could possibly move on from the Dallas Cowboys, could the team make a big pre-free agency trade to cover themselves?
More than any other team this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have many high-profile free agents. Due to this unfortunate situation, it is impossible to think that all of them will return in 2020.
Quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn headline a who’s who list of big-time free agent prospects. Arguably, each of these four players will be the best available player at their position once free agency commences.
While the Dallas Cowboys will absolutely retain at least one, if not two of these big names, they will also likely lose one or two as well. The safe bet is that Prescott and Cooper will return. Cowboy Maven’s Mike Fisher is far less optimistic, however, that both Jones and Quinn return.
For whatever reason, it has felt all offseason as if Jones is a low priority for the Cowboys. At the NFL Scouting Combine, DallasCowboys.com writer David Helman reported this quote from executive vice president Stephen Jones:
"“Byron’s a guy we think a lot of. He’s had a great run at corner, he’s played really well, played at a high level. That’s the hard thing when you have quite a few good players on your football team, is you get challenges. I know Byron understands that, but at the same time he’s worried about Byron and he should be. Certainly, we’ll continue, we’ll visit with his guys while we’re here, kind of see their direction and what they’re thinking and we’ll have to keep moving.”"
That sounds less than comforting if you’re hoping for any sort of reunion. Factor in that Jones will likely get an offer in the $80 million range and it’s easy to see him in a new uniform come 2020.
Quinn, meanwhile, led the team last season with 11.5 sacks. He has been a consistent pass rusher his entire career, racking up 26.5 sacks over his last three seasons and 80.5 in nine seasons.
Even though he is set to turn 30 in a couple of months, Quinn will be a hot commodity on the free market. Someone is going to throw a lot of money his way, likely more than Dallas can afford. Whether he returns or not will be greatly affected by the last chance at big money versus his love for playing in Dallas.
So how can the Dallas Cowboys creatively find ways to augment these possible losses? One way would be via trade. Fortunately for Dallas, there is one team that not only has shown no fear in trading away big names but may also be forced into doing so once more.
In less than four months, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded both of their starting cornerbacks. Back in October, Jalen Ramsey was sent to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks and a fourth-round selection. Just last week, they moved on from A.J. Bouye for another fourth-round pick.
Meanwhile, star pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue is set to become a free agent and has expressed absolutely zero interest in being hit with a franchise tag. Recently, he took to Twitter to make this fact known.
This, of course, was after last year’s refusal to sign a short-term deal prior to the start of the season for $19+ million per year with $50+ million over the first two years. Safe to say, Ngakoue wants no part of a franchise seemingly disinterested in long-term plans to be a consistent contender.
This is where the Dallas Cowboys should step in. Even though Ngakoue is set to be a free agent, a sign-and-trade deal can still be negotiated. Since Jacksonville has lost two cornerbacks, might the Cowboys explore such a move to send Jones to the Jaguars in exchange for the disgruntled pass rusher?
If not, there is still the option of Ngakoue agreeing to a deal with Jacksonville strictly to be moved to the Cowboys. Given the price tag on the other two deals, I think it is quite plausible that Jacksonville would take a second and fifth-round pick for him.
Pass rushers with over 37.0 sacks before their 25th birthdays do not come around very often. Whatever money that Dallas might have been able to spend on Robert Quinn and Byron Jones should be combined for a shot at Ngakoue. With him and DeMarcus Lawrence coming after opposing quarterbacks, Dallas would immediately boast one of the most fierce sack duos in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys have shown that they are not afraid to make moves.Amari Cooper was brought to this team via a midseason trade that cost them a first-round draft pick. Bold, creative ideas are a must to stay competitive. Hopefully, this team has another such move up its sleeve.