FRISCO, Texas – Let's start with a little draft day trade primer, seeing this is about the time, just a week away from the NFL Draft, that these questions begin to arise.
What about trading up?
What about trading down?
No one seems to inquire about the Cowboys just staying put at pick 24 in the first round.
Do you realize that in six of the past eight drafts, going back to 2014, the Cowboys have simply stayed put? One of those other two years, in 2019, they didn't have a first-round pick, having executed a midseason trade in 2018 with the Raiders for Amari Cooper.
The other year, in 2021, the Cowboys actually traded down from 10 to 12. And as Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said the other day on his radio interview, "We weren't thinking Micah two weeks away from the draft."
Yeah, but still thanking their lucky stars the two cornerbacks they had their eye on at that 10th pick, rightfully earned by going 6-10 in 2020, had gone off the board. Shucks, might as well take the top-rated defensive player on our board, one Football Player Micah Parsons. And for their trouble moving down two spots the Cowboys turned Philadelphia's third-round pick into Chauncey Golston.
And if history is our guidance, the Cowboys haven't traded up in the first round since 2012, moving from 14th to No. 6 and giving the Rams their second-round choice for that right. The Cowboys picked cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Rams selected defensive tackle Michael Brockers. That was 10 years ago.
And as Jones says when you trade up in the first round, "You're going to give up a very good football player."
Goodness knows the Cowboys are really in no position to "give up a very good football player" unless something highly unexpected occurs in the first round next Thursday. Like a player the quality of Dez Bryant in 2010 freefalling his way towards No. 27, the anxiety-laced Cowboys not wanting to take any more chances of missing out on a talented wide receiver, giving New England their third-round pick to move up just three spots for Dez.
And maybe this cautionary tale comes from 2014 when the Cowboys were sitting at No. 16 in the first round, with their eye on defensive help. Well, Aaron Donald went off the board at 13. Oh, well. There still was linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shoot, the Steelers grabbed him at 15.
Then another, oh, well moment for the Cowboys. They simply took a shot with the guy who has turned into a Pro Football Hall of Fame guard, one Zack Martin.
See what I mean?
- Backed Into Corner: As in cornerback, since at this point the Cowboys are sort of in the dark on the future availability of cornerback Kelvin Joseph, and to cover themselves just might need to use a second-day pick on a cornerback. Who knows at this point Joseph's fate since back on March 18 he's been identified as being in a car with the two men who killed a man in a drive-by shooting in Dallas? And last year's second-round pick didn't talk to police until April 15. Joseph still can be in a heap of trouble. After their top three corners, Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, if Joseph is unavailable, all that's left at the position at this point would be Nahshon Wright, last year a little-used third-round pick, second-year free agent pickup from last year Kyron Brown, who spent all but one game on the practice squad, and of course special teams ace C.J. Goodwin. Worse is a couple of players drafted after the Cowboys selected Joseph with the 12th pick in the second round, including undersized cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., wide receiver Rondale Moore, defensive end Azeez Ojulari, nickel linebacker Jeramiah Owusu-Koramoah, tight end Pat Freiermuth, linebacker Nick Bolton and center Creed Humphrey.
- Wise Man: This Dalton Schultz didn't go to Stanford for nothing. Sharp guy. When asked about the possibility of turning his $10.9 million franchise tag into a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline, the Cowboys starting tight end said, "I want to work out a long-term deal and I think they do, too. I hope we can get that done." That helps him, since a deal will consist of up-front money he would receive immediately, and that's money the Cowboys can spread over the life of the contract to help with their salary cap situation this coming season. And then there was this, and I first heard a similar statement, like, 30 years ago from Michael Irvin, who said of working with quarterback Troy Aikman in the offseason, "If Troy is throwing, I'm going." So, when Dalton was asked if he's been working out with Dak Prescott on their own already, he said he told Dak, "Anytime you're throwing, I'll be there at the drop of a hat." Oh, yeah.
- Fight Night: What an event at AT&T Stadium Saturday night, nearly 40,000 showing up for the Unified World Welterweight Championship bout between Dallas hometown fighter Errol Spence Jr. and Yordenis Ugas of Cuba. Spence dominated the fight before a boisterous crowd, winning eight of the 10 rounds, battering Ugas so badly the courtside physician stopped the fight when Ugas' right eye became swollen shut. The only trouble Spence had occurred in the sixth round when a Ugas punch knocked his mouthpiece out, and in a strange moment, Spence paused as if he was going to pick up his mouthpiece or thinking referee Lawrence Cole was going to hit the pause button. Ugas took advantage of that moment, landing two punches, knocking Spence staggering into the ropes before he righted himself and Cole signaled a timeout. Cole, a well-respected local boxing official, during a radio interview on 96.7 The Ticket on Wednesday, explained what the crowd thought was his delayed response, saying, "The mouthpiece came out, and obviously it's never happened to Errol before. He looked at me, I took a step back and he ended up getting hit a couple of times, came into the ropes and then I let it play out. I wanted Ugas every opportunity he had to continue to try to finish or dominate the time. I probably waited 30 seconds before I stopped it." Cole's point is, that's the rule the third guy in the ring learns, since a boxer in trouble could intentionally spit out his mouthpiece looking for a stoppage. Said Spence afterward, "That's my fault. That was a rookie mistake. You're supposed to protect yourself at all times, and I didn't do that." He would go on to say, "I got to get a new mouthpiece. My mouthpiece is messed up." And that's "The Truth" from his performance Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
- Short Shots: A few celebs in attendance at the major fight, including, as usual, a fired-up Michael Irvin, Von Miller and Micah Parsons, all getting big-screen face time … So, after not having played in the NFL since New Year's Day 2017 with San Francisco, quarterback Colin Kaepernick is trying to make a comeback, working out in several cities and saying he is willing to return at 34 years old as a backup quarterback. First time we've heard that from him, willing to be just a backup, but the bigger question would be, is he willing to return for backup QB money? … See where free-agent veteran receiver Jarvis Landry is working out with the Saints, and you know the Cowboys say they are still in the market for a veteran wide receiver. Question here is, how much does Landry want, having made a $12.5 million base last year in Cleveland after signing that five-year $75.5 million package in 2018 … And how about this out of Niners Football Player Deebo Samuel, saying he wants to be traded? Well, he wants a new contract since the former second-round pick is heading into the final year of his four-year rookie deal, scheduled to make just a non-guaranteed $3.986 million base and is quite aware of those exorbitant deals being thrown down for wide receivers, Tyreek Hill at $30 million a year and Davante Adams checking in at $28.5 million. Deebo, my man, is worth every million as the Cowboys found out in last season's playoff loss.
And this week's final word goes to Dante Fowler Jr., the free-agent defensive end the Cowboys signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal that includes a $1 million signing bonus with an additional $411,754 roster bonus for games played.
Fowler's attraction to signing with the Cowboys is defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who recruited him out of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., to the University of Florida and signed him in 2020 to Atlanta before the Falcons head coach was fired after five games.
"I just love him as a football coach. His IQ, the way he goes about his business, he loves ball," Fowler says. "Being a football player, that's all you want to be around is a coach who loves ball, a coach that is all about his players and all about putting his players in the right position to go out there and fire around and make plays. … It was really cool (to sign with the Cowboys) and a good opportunity to go and take."
Maybe Fowler, heading into his seventh NFL season, saw what Quinn did for Jayron Kearse's career, too.