In fairness, Jerry Jones tried to warn us. The NFL trade deadline came and went and the Dallas Cowboys sat idly by while other NFC contenders upgraded their rosters as the clocked ticked away before Tuesday's 3 p.m. CT cutoff.
Trade a second-round pick to Bears for stud cornerback Jaylon Johnson in case another injury strikes the CB room? Pass. Maybe part with a late-round pick to beef up the WR rotation amid Michael Gallup's struggles? Like the Lions did to secure Donovan Peoples-Jones from Cleveland? Pass.
Surely the linebacker unit could use insurance with veteran Leighton Vander Esch on injured reserve, right? Pass. How about orchestrating a late-round pick swap to rescue Ezekiel Elliott from foggy New Engalnd? Pass.
We don't want to hear anything about the Cowboys "liking what they have in the building" and "developing their own talent." Every team they're competing with in the NFC managed to strike a deal to upgrade a point of weakness and that makes them the unquestioned biggest loser of the 2023 trade deadline sweepstakes.
Cowboys are biggest trade deadline loser after NFC rivals beef up rosters
The 49ers (!) traded a 2024 third-round compensatory pick for Chase Young, who's among the league-leaders in pass-rush win rate, per PFF. They now have Nick Bosa, Young, Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead and Randy Gregory on their defensive front. Trades don't always have to center on upgrading weakness, you know.
The 6-2 Lions, whom the Cowboys are looking up at in the NFC standings, acquired wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones from Cleveland for a 2025 sixth-round pick after veteran Marvin Jones stepped away from football.
The 6-2 Seahawks, who currently own the conference record tiebreaker over Dallas, acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams from the Giants for a second- and fifth-round selection. Did Seattle overpay? Perhaps, but nobody will bat an eye if Williams has a profound impact on their defensive line amid their march to the playoffs.
Then, of course, there's the Eagles, who were surprisingly quiet on deadline day, but still made a major move in the NFC arms race by netting All-Pro safety Kevin Byard from Tennessee for a fifth- and sixth-round pick and the worst safety on their roster.
Then there's the Cowboys, who are clearly capable of beating the Eagles and 49ers and every other playoff team in the conference. The thing is those teams are never willing to settle. They leave no stone unturned. Always hungry to improve.
Maybe all of these trades don't work out. Maybe in an alternate universe the Cowboys are the last team standing in the NFC and get the last laugh. That still wouldn't justify their egotistical approach to the trade deadline. There's arguably never been more parity in the NFL than this year and they sat on their hands.
They deserve all the criticism that comes their way.