Aside from trading for Johnathan Hankins a week prior, the Dallas Cowboys front office frustrated fans again by making no moves ahead of Tuesday’s NFL Trade Deadline.
Many were hoping Jerry Jones and his crew would pick up a wide receiver to help solidify a 6-2 team that has a real shot at making a run in the NFC. Jones dangled confusing quotes in front of fans implying that things could “get feverish,” but to no avail.
While the Cowboys are doing well, it’s hard to argue that wide receiver help wouldn’t be welcomed. Whether people want to admit it or not, the team is missing Amari Cooper, who is having a stellar season with the Browns. James Washington hasn’t played a snap for Dallas yet after sustaining an injury in training camp. CeeDee Lamb has been a decent WR1, but recently extended Michael Gallup only has 135 receiving yards in five games since his return from ACL surgery.
While fans have a right to be frustrated that the Cowboys didn’t make any moves to boost the roster’s WR corps, there were some trades that Dallas was wise to steer clear from.
The first smart move was to pass on now-Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool. Claypool is a veteran receiver who could provide value, but Chicago traded a 2023 second-round pick for the WR. That does not seem worth it for a guy who has struggled this year, with only 311 yards and one touchdown this year and only two touchdowns in 14 games last year.
If the Cowboys could only get a fifth-round and a swapping of a sixth-round pick for a guy who is lighting it up with Cleveland (yes, along with his salary), they certainly shouldn’t have sent high-level draft capital for Claypool.
The Cowboys were wise to not make trades for Chase Claypool or Brandin Cooks given the circumstances
Another piece of the Claypool trade that didn’t make sense was that the second-round pick Chicago gave up wasn’t even the one they got from the Baltimore Ravens after trading for Roquan Smith. It was their own second-round selection, per ESPN, meaning the pick held even more value as Chicago flounders and Baltimore contends.
If we know anything about this team, it’s how highly they value the draft and how good Will McClay is at scouting. Giving up a second-rounder for Claypool just wouldn’t have been a smart move.
The problem for Dallas is that the Claypool trade may have made negotiations more difficult in the deal they had the best chance of completing later in the day.
The Houston Texans weren’t going to take less than a second-round pick for star Brandin Cooks if that was Claypool’s assigned value. Cooks has better stats both this year and in the past, and has reached the 1,000-yard mark in his career five times — two of them coming from seasons with quarterbacks far worse than Dak Prescott.
Based on rumors and reports about the discussions between the Cowboys and Texans, you get the impression that the draft pick was agreed upon. So what was the problem? Money.
Cooks carries a fully guaranteed $18 million cap hit for 2023 because of an extension he signed in 2022. Next year brings an offseason where Dallas has a lot of integral guys they are going to want to extend, including CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, Terence Steele, and Tony Pollard.
It’s likely that Dallas didn’t want to take a cap hit with such important decisions coming up in 2023.
Plus, you can’t say you don’t want to pay Cooper $20 million and then both give up a major draft pick and pay $18 million for a receiver who’s just not as good.
Cooks may have wanted the deal, but the deal clearly didn’t make sense for the Joneses, and I think they’re right.
At the end of the day, it’s not that the Cowboys shouldn’t have made a move. It’s that the price simply wasn’t right for these two specific receivers. There’s still hope that the team goes after Odell Beckham Jr. once he’s fully healed, but for now, the receiver group remains the same.