Can the Cowboys Trade for Offensive Line Help?


Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Doug Free (68) and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (73) and center Ryan Cook (63) and guard Nate Livings (71) and tackle Tyron Smith (77) in the huddle during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 38-33. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This question started as a response to Thursday’s article discussing the depth at Receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Reader jrcowboy49 asked this,

"How about trading a WR for an OG? SF and Philly need WRs."

This is a great question and something we all have probably thought about at some point. If one team is particularly deep at one position and lacking at another position, why don’t they trade from their position of strength to build in an area of weakness, right?

Its relevant to ask because it’s a logical way to solve a common problem. All around the NFL teams have identified their strengths and weaknesses and are stressing over how to best solve their problems. So why on earth don’t they all take part in mutually beneficial trades?

Let’s break this into two parts. Part 1: Known Players (Today) and Part 2: Unknown Players (Wednesday)

Part 1: Trading Known Players

Dec 16, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (24) guards Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) at M

Maybe it’s the culture of the NFL or just a result of the CBA and the structure of contracts, but teams just don’t trade well-known players for other well-known players. Unlike baseball GM’s, NFL GM’s are scared to death they will be on the losing side of a trade. And given the scarcity of trades in the NFL, they may never get a chance to redeem themselves if they do screw up. Ego and Fear certainly play a hand in inhibiting trades in the NFL.

The best known high profile trade was quite a few years ago. The Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade between the Broncos and Redskins. The first few years it appeared the Redskins won the deal since Portis ran their entire offense. Now (since Bailey has played twice as long and at a high level) it appears the Broncos may have won the deal. Either way you look at it, GM’s hate this scrutiny.

Money is just as big of a factor (probably bigger).

While the unknown bottom-of-the-roster players carry small contracts for 1 year (maybe 2 at the most), the well-known players are making real money for multiple years. The way the CBA and Salary Cap works is – when a trade is made, the signing bonus and therefore most, if not all, of the guaranteed portion of a contract all becomes due. The entire chuck must hit the books for the original team doing the trading. Normally when a player receives a bonus the money is paid to the player immediately but in the Salary Cap Books it is spread over the length of the contract.

For instance – If a player signed a 5 yr deal with a $10M signing bonus the money will charge against the cap $2M per year. That is much more manageable than having all $10M count at the point of signing, right? Because then you would need roughly $15M free space to sign just one moderately priced free agent in the offseason. In todays NFL, $15M free space can sign all the free agents you really want/need in the offseason. The idea is, this structure gives more flexibility to teams each offseason.

If in year 2 of this 5 yr deal Team A decides to trade to Team B they would own the remaining bonus money on the deal – $8M. That’s awfully tough for a team to digest at this point in the season. Team B would not only have to have a player of comparable skill to trade, but the player would have to also have a similar contract to even the hits between the two teams. On top of that both teams would need to have enough cap space to even take the hit. Many things need to come together to make it happen when we’re dealing with real players. That’s why we just don’t see it very often.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard David Arkin (62) blocks Miami Dolphins defensive end Tracy Robertson (89) during the fourth quarter at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The question jrcowboy49 asked was to trade from Dallas’ deep WR pool to someone with a deep offensive guard pool. This was probably implying the Cowboys would trade a fringe roster WR for a fringe roster OG. If Dallas wanted to acquire anyone more than a fringe player they would need to trade a proven WR.

Dez is clearly untouchable so unless the Cowboys were trading Miles Austin they could not acquire a proven Offensive Guard in return.

Frankly, Austin’s value isn’t even very high in the NFL right now so chances are, no satisfactory deal could even be found.

The Cowboy’s best chances at getting better at Guard (Besides signing Brian Waters and crossing their fingers) is to trade for a young unproven player we have never heard of.

So, in Part 2: Trading Unknown Players, we will look at trading the unknown/unproven players and see how feasible and fruitful that could be.

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