HOUSTON, Texas – Moves like this tend to happen far more often in baseball than football, but trades can happen any time a team thinks it can improve.
Case in point: rookie cornerback Charvarius Ward showed up to NRG Stadium on Thursday expecting to play a preseason game. An hour before kickoff, he learned that the Cowboys had traded him to Kansas City.
"It was surprising. I thought I played good enough to stick around, but God has got different plans for me," Ward said following the game. "I've just got to take advantage of the opportunity."
It's the type of deal that happens all over the NFL in the days leading up to the roster deadline – although it typically happens after all the preseason games have occurred. Seeing an opportunity, though, the Cowboys pounced on it.
Officially, the deal hasn't been finalized. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that the team had had conversations about Ward, but did not get into specifics. Reports indicate that the deal is for Chiefs offensive lineman Parker Ehinger, a third-year veteran drafted out of Cincinnati.
If that is in fact the case, it makes a ton of sense from the Cowboys' perspective. The depth along the Dallas offensive line is not currently great, as the past two preseason games have demonstrated. Travis Frederick's diagnosis with Guillain-BarréSyndrome and Marcus Martin's preseason toe injury have left the Cowboys without much depth on the interior.
On Wednesday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones even hinted as much.
"We're not naïve," he said. "We know certainly we're out here looking for offensive linemen, interior offensive linemen, as well as the safety position. So, it's no secret. So, if we can find something that makes sense, we want to improve our football team."
Ehinger could help with that. After being drafted 105th overall in 2016, he won a starting guard job as a rookie, before a torn ACL cut his season short. He may also have the flexibility to play some tackle, which could help the Cowboys address multiple positions.
As for Ward, he gets an early lesson in the nature of the NFL. The undrafted rookie went through pregame warmups in a Cowboys uniform, but had changed into warmups after halftime. Ward had enjoyed a productive preseason, and there were plenty of people who thought he might fight his way onto the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
Instead, he's off to Kansas City, where he'll hope to keep that momentum going.
"It's a big opportunity. I've just got to take advantage of it," he said. "Keep my head down, keep grinding, keep getting better. Keep improving and make my mama proud."