The Dallas Cowboys look like they are going to lose their 2017 draft class but could fate give the team a shot at redeeming themselves?
The main players on this new Dallas Cowboys coaching staff are now in place and with a few more hires, the team will have a complete coaching staff to move forward with. The next step after finalizing a coaching staff and scheme are what players to go after.
The 2017 NFL draft is best known for the colossal blunder of a move that cost this team a future All-Pro player in T.J. Watt for defensive end Taco Charlton who is now on his third NFL team. Watt is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract and could be looking to get paid.
The problem with this Pittsburgh defender’s situation is that the Steelers are in salary cap trouble. They are $21 million dollars over next year’s salary cap which has not yet been finalized but will be closer to the voted on floor than this past season’s number.
They also have 25 free agents headlined by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and pass rusher Bud Dupree who played on the franchise tag last season. I will also make a note that Dupree and Dallas Cowboys quarterback share the same agent. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a whopping $41.2 million dollar cap hit which will need to be adjusted.
They also have to give safety Minka Fitzpatrick a deal soon as he just completed his third year and is now eligible for a contract extension. This puts Pittsburgh in a very tricky spot regarding the big names on their roster. Pro Bowl Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is also entering free agency making this a nightmare scenario for the Steelers.
So what do the Steelers woes have to do with the Dallas Cowboys?
The Steelers are going to have some serious conversations on what to do with certain players. They could possibly sign all of them to some free-agent deals that are backloaded so that they can fit after the new television money spike hits.
The problem with this is the players know the salary cap is going to skyrocket so why would anybody do a deal this year when next year’s numbers will readjust the top of the market? Watt asking for more money than the Steelers can afford feels like they are headed towards a Khalil Mack type situation.
There are some franchises that just flat out refuse to pay top dollar for their free agents and the Steelers lead the pack in this category. The mystique of playing for the Steelers could evaporate if they don’t do this right. I didn’t envision a scenario where they traded Antonio Brown and let Leveon Bell walk in free agency so the team making a move is not out of the question.
Do the Steelers pay Watt and allow everyone else to leave or will he be available in a trade? Pittsburgh has a knack for finding pass rushers in their system which makes me believe that the team would be willing to trade Watt if the price is right.
They sent a first-round pick to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick so I would think he is the priority when it comes to making a deal. Bud Dupree tore his ACL in week 12 making his worth debatable but more in line with the team getting a better deal with an injured player rather than resetting the market.
Those are two examples of players that could get a deal done before Watt. That could infuriate his agent to the point where he could dominate the offseason talk.
A T.J. Watt deal to Dallas would be incredibly expensive but one that needs to be explored. First, it would rectify a Dallas Cowboys mistake. Second, if the Cowboys had drafted him, they would have had to pay him anyway. Third, sending let’s say a minimum of this year’s first-round pick for a known player makes me feel better than gambling on the draft.
It will more than likely cost the Cowboys two first-round picks to acquire this young talented pass rusher but one that I think I would be willing to make. The Cowboys defense needs playmakers and other than the Rams Aaron Donald, this is the next best thing.
Sure this sounds like a pipe dream but so was the Raider’s eventual dumping of players like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. I really would like to know how the Raiders feel about safety Jonathan Abrams (the Amari Cooper pick).
Trading a player like Watt sounds crazy but so does the idea of paying him and allowing the big-name portion of your roster to depart via free agency. Something has to give so as ludicrous as this sounds, keep an eye on the moves the Steelers make in the coming weeks. It could give the Dallas Cowboys an opportunity to pounce.