The NFL has so much parity that there has not been a repeat Super Bowl champion since 2004-2005 (New England Patriots), and the Dallas Cowboys are in an NFC East division that has not produced a repeat divisional winner since the 2003-2004 seasons (Philadelphia Eagles, sadly).
Both NFL streaks symbolize why the term “any given Sunday” is used to describe this game – because every game is so unpredictable.
The mere fact that there has not been a repeat NFC East Champion since ’03-04’ is beyond baffling and the longest streak in NFL history. Also, it is another reason why teams must hit on their draft picks (something the Cowboys are good at) and make shewed free agent signings or trades to remain a solid contender on a consistent basis.
This past offseason the Dallas Cowboys did both to upgrade a talented and promising roster to at least go beyond the second round of the playoffs, but in a league where a last place team can leapfrog to first place status and become a Super Bowl contender the following season, a team like the Cowboys must ask themselves are they content with their roster makeup or continue to upgrade their roster to remain competitive in a wide open NFC.
The Dallas Cowboys already made offseason trades and used the draft to improve their roster, but will the Cowboys add more?
After trading Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a boatload of draft picks in1989, head coach Jimmy Johnson was viewed as a dumb college coach who was way over his head because he had traded away the Dallas Cowboys best player. Actually, Johnson was ahead of his time with that masterful trade because he turned all of those draft picks into day one starters and top-notch contributors.
From 1-15 in 1989 to beating the Chicago Bears in 1991 two years later in the playoffs is an understatement to his genius move. The following season Jimmy guided his young troops to their first Super Bowl win in ’92.
But out of all of Johnson’s trades during his tenure, the one trade that put Dallas over the top and made them a bona fide Super Bowl contender was the trade for All Pro pass rusher Charles Haley.
Johnson had covered all of the bases in terms of making Dallas a competent team but lacking a true “War Daddy” was the last piece to the puzzle to Dallas hoisting the Lombardi trophy. His prediction was right because he won two straight Super Bowls and the franchise as a whole won three in a four-year span from ’92 to ’95.
All because of Haley. My Gawd!
This current Dallas team is sitting in a prime position to do the exact thing or something similar too, except it may be on the offensive side of the ball this time. So, who is the player in question that can turn the tide for the Dallas Cowboys? That particular player is Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. A unique talent that would be a dangerous weapon.
Now before you fuss me out and scream out loudly that Dallas needs a left guard instead of a devalued running back (yes, they do), think about what Cook brings to an offense that will be more run oriented and then consider what he adds to the offense. Come on now.
The Vikings are rumored to part ways with 4x Pro Bowl running back as a June 1st cut if they cannot find a trade partner. Since teams know Cook will more than likely be released, they are not going to trade premium draft capital and players for him.
This upcoming season, Cook has a cap hit of $14 million that the Vikings are not interested in paying and a trade partner would be ideal but a complete release is to be expected. Being released suits the signing of Cook because Dallas would not have to take on the entirety of his 2023 contract. Therefore, Stephen Jones can sign Cook to a one-year deal that benefits both parties and gives Dallas another offensive weapon for its ground game.
Cook is a 27-year old work horse that would put Dallas’ offense over the top because it would pair him with another versatile runner in Tony Pollard. Both backs feature different running styles but at the same time are receiving threats, too.
Putting both on the field at the same time is a nightmare for defenses because TP can line up in the slot while Cook is in the backfield. Linebackers and safeties will have hard time covering them. Good luck.
The beauty of adding Cook is that neither back would have to be the bell cow with a huge workload. Pollard has never had more than 200 carries in a season and Cook would not approach that high number either (Cook had 264 carries in 2022). Add veteran running back Ronald Jones to the equation along with rookie Deuce Vaughn and/or Malik Davis and Dallas would have the perfect collection of running backs with fresh legs who present different problems for defenses.
For his career, Cook has 5,993 rushing yards on 1,282 attempts, averaged 4.7 yards a carry, 47 touchdowns, and 221 receptions. In 2022, Cook reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fourth consecutive season when he ran for 1,173 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, collected a total of 10 touchdowns (8 rushing/2 receiving), had 39 receptions for 295 receiving yards.
Even with those impressive numbers, the Vikings are ready to move on from one of the league’s premier running backs who is still in his prime. Unlike Zeke who has lost a step and burst, Cook is not declining.-even with his history of injuries.
Truthfully, the league has devalued the running back position to the degree that teams would rather release a youthful, perennial Pro Bowler (Cook is 27) and find his replacement either in the draft or use his backup. Which is what the Vikings will do with backup running back Alexander Mattison and rookie DeWayne McBride.
I am aware that Cook played in every game for the Vikings for the first time in his career because he has suffered injuries throughout his NFL tenure. Cook tore his ACL during his rookie season in 2017 and has missed a total of 24 total since entering the league.
However, this is why the Dallas Cowboys can sign Cook for the cheap on a high risk, high reward type of deal. Signing Cook will take more pressure off of Dak Prescott and give the offense the dominant running game it so desires to match with its top-ranked defense.
A ball-controlled offense is a defenses best friend because it allows the defense to rest.
Cook might not be a Hall of Famer like Haley, but signing him puts the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFL food chain and one step closer to being Super Bowl contenders. So, will they make the upgrade or not?
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