Grade the Trade: Cowboys make unhinged move for out-of-favor AFC star in mock deal

This trade idea reeks of desperation.
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys need a more balanced offense in 2024. A running game is only as good as a team's offensive line, and though the Cowboys lost Tyron Smith, they drafted his replacement Tyler Guyton with their first-round pick.

It remains to be seen how Guyton will perform in year one, but third-rounder Cooper Beebe should move mountains for the rushing attack. Beebe is arguably the most physical and strongest player that Dallas has ever deployed at center. He should be a dominant run blocker from the jump.

The Cowboys need their offensive line to perform well because they've completely devalued the running back position. Ezekiel Elliott, Rico Dowdle and Royce Freeman form one of the least inspiring RB rooms in football, which is why Dallas fans are imploring the team to trade for an upgrade.

Some potential targets include the Panthers' Miles Sanders, the Texans' Dameon Pierce and the Bears' Khalil Herbert. Other names may become available, but Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport thinks the Cowboys should make a move for one AFC back in particular: Najee Harris of the Steelers.

Grade the Trade: Cowboys acquire Najee Harris to boost backfield

Najee Harris trade

"The Steelers have another running back on the roster who has been consistently more explosive than Harris in third-year pro Jaylen Warren, who averaged north of five yards a carry last year.

"Harris may not be a game-changer, but he's a durable chain-mover. And given the Cowboys' win-now mentality, a conditional pick for Harris (that could escalate based on performance) is a reasonable cost—even if it's just a one-year rental."

Let's get this straight: Davenport wants the Super Bowl-or-bust Cowboys to trade for the Steelers' scraps? He acknowledges that Jaylen Warren is the superior runner to Harris, and that Harris isn't a game-wrecker, and yet he thinks this would be a good move for Dallas? The dots do not connect whatsoever.

Harris averaged a career-high 4.1 yards per carry last season. Let that sink in. Behind the same offensive line, Warren logged 5.3 yards per carry. Harris may be durable (he hasn't missed a game in three seasons) and hard to bring down (he was seventh in missed tackles forced last year), but his vision is arguably the worst of any starting running back. That would explain his 3.9 career yards per rush.

Throw in the fact that Harris is 26 years old and already has 834 carries and this trade idea makes even less sense. He's also entering a contract year. Yes, Harris would be an upgrade over Elliott and Dallas' other running backs, but that isn't saying much. There's a reason the Steelers may look to move him before the new season.

The Cowboys traded similar draft capital last offseason for Stepon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, both of whom are actually win-now players. Dallas would be better off trading for any of the running backs mentioned above or simply rolling into this season with their current stable of rushers.

Even for a conditional pick, Harris isn't worth it.

Grade: D

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