When the Cowboys drafted Gavin Escobar with their second-round pick this past April, immediately the talk was of a two-tight end set and more "12 Personnel" packages being displayed.
The idea was to play their tight ends similarly to what New England has done in the past. However, with training camp about a month away, the Patriots appear to be in major need of tight ends with the recent release of Aaron Hernandez and the injury status of Rob Gronkowski.
So on this slow day in late June, we're asking the writers of DallasCowboys.com to put on their GM hats. If the phone were to ring from New England inquiring about tight ends – any of them – just how would the conversation go?
So If New England Were To Call Looking For TE Help …
David Helman: If that old NBC show Let's Make A Deal was still relevant, this is where I'd make that joke. Why on Earth wouldn't you listen to that phone call? Jason Witten is incredible, but has in all likelihood played the majority of his career. On top of that, the Cowboys don't know for sure what they have in any of their other options: Gavin Escobar, James Hanna or Dante Rosario. I would much rather part ways with one of the less-established guys at the position, for a late-round pick, let's say. But if I could get two picks for one of the game's best tight ends in Witten? I'd have to consider it. There's no way I'd get a first and a second, which is what Nick says he'd want, but maybe a first and a fourth? So the Cowboys would still have several young, promising tight ends, and a quarterback who can get them the ball. Combine that with two first round draft picks in 2014, not to mention whatever other pick you could get for Witten. It's not the type of action I'd expect the Patriots to take, but it's a deal I'd definitely be willing to make.
Rowan Kavner: They probably called the right place to begin their search. The Cowboys legitimately have four tight ends that could draw interest, with Witten leading the pack. However, to fill Hernandez's role, Escobar might be more along the lines of what the Patriots would like with his size, youth and receiving ability. Trading a second-round pick for him wouldn't be enough. The Cowboys already got him there. They'd have to offer a one or offer a second-round pick and a young lineman on either side of the ball who the Cowboys believe could quickly compete to play. For Witten, I don't think a first-round pick is enough, only because it's unlikely the Patriots completely tank where that becomes a top 10 or 15 pick. A first-round and mid-round pick would pique my interest, though that's probably too far for the Pats to go on a 31-year-old player. James Hanna, one of the most underrated talents on the Cowboys, could come to them much more affordably, and trading him for a third- or fourth-rounder would benefit both parties.
Nick Eatman: That would certainly be an interesting situation and one the Cowboys would be forced to listen to. I think all four tight ends would be on the table, Witten included. If the Patriots desperately wanted Witten, I'd want more than a first-round pick because it's New England. They'd be picking in the late 20s probably. To part ways with my vocal leader, the most consistent performer I've got and one of the faces of this franchise, I'm asking for a first and a second. I'd probably ask for enough to get laughed at. I wouldn't take a second next year for Escobar so he's probably off the table. I'd probably offer Hanna for a third-round selection. They might want Rosario for a late-round pick. At this point, treat the Patriots like they're in an airport with nowhere else to go and jack up the prices. [embedded_ad] Bryan Broaddus: From my dealings with the Patriots in the past, I know how much respect they have for Witten and his ability, but is it enough to offer a first-round selection for his services? That is a possibility. At 31, Witten is still playing at a very high level and would be great value for them considering they traditionally are picking at the back end of the round. The Cowboys will always listen to a deal, but it has to blow them away. To get it done, they would probably need to make that a first and a third. Where the Patriots might do is try to grab Hanna. New England would most likely offer a third or fourth, but knowing what I know about this Cowboys front office and their love for Hanna, that doesn't get it done. The Cowboys will try and hold the Patriots feet to the fire, shoot for the second and see what happens. The Pats really are in a desperate situation scheme-wise with the injury to Gronkowski and the release of Hernandez and let's not forget that they let Wes Welker walk as well this spring. To try and replace all of those pieces on their offense might force them to make some decisions about their football future that could work to the advantage of the Cowboys.