The Dallas Cowboys could be a landing spot for one of the top linebackers in the league.
According to a “bold trade predictions” list by Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report, the Cowboys would receive Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith in exchange for either tight end Dalton Schultz or a 2023 second-round draft pick.
Sobleski explains that the Cowboys are not necessarily in a position to acquire another long-term contract investment. However, Dallas’ penchant for prioritizing linebackers could see them make a move for the two-time All-Pro linebacker.
“The Dallas Cowboys aren’t necessarily in a position to add another major contract based on their long-term investments at multiple key positions, but they’re one of the few teams that highly value the linebacker position,” says Sobleski. “Smith and Micah Parsons could form a devastating duo.”
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Why the Cowboys Would Consider Flipping Schultz
The current contract situation of Schultz could encourage the Cowboys to flip him before he becomes a free agent. Dallas’ starting tight end is currently playing under the franchise tag after talks deteriorated on a multi-year deal.
The 26-year-old tight end is due to earn roughly $10.931 million this season under the franchise tag. If the Cowboys opt to franchise tag Schultz again in 2023, that tag will cost $13.117 million, as noted by Patrik Walker of CBS Sports.
Instead of flipping draft capital in exchange for Smith, the Cowboys could simply trade Schultz for Smith outright. Sobleski explains that the Bears could lean heavily on the 12 personnel formation with current starting tight end Cole Kmet and Schultz.
“Perhaps the Bears and Cowboys would consider just flipping Smith and Dalton Schultz outright,” says Sobleski. “Chicago needs more weapons and the tandem of Schultz and Cole Kmet could be quite effective out of 12 personnel.”
Why the Cowboys Would Considering Acquiring Smith
Considering Smith is one of the top middle linebackers in the league, the Cowboys could build one of the top young defensive cores with Smith, fellow linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs. All three defensive players are under the age of 25. They could also finally move on from Leighton Vander Esch, who has yet to regain his form since his standout rookie campaign back in 2018.
Smith previously held out during training camp in hopes of signing a new contract extension. However, both Smith and the Bears are entering the 2022 season as if it never happened. Smith plans to play despite no new contract extension as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.
“I’m not focused on [extension talks], if I’m being completely honest,” Smith said via the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Patrick Finley. “My focus is on making this year the best year I can and then go from there. I don’t want to look forward too much to the future or anything like that.”
The fifth-year linebacker is due to earn $9.7 million this season. According to Spotrac, his market value is roughly $88.5 million across five seasons ($17.6 million per year). For perspective, the Cowboys are only paying two players more than that this season.
While the deal looks better for the Cowboys on paper, it would simply make little sense for Dallas to pull off such a trade. The Cowboys are already lacking in proven weapons for Dak Prescott following Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson’s offseason departures. Making matters even more concerning is James Washington’s Jones fracture and Michael Gallup’s recovery from an ACL injury.
There is no guarantee Schultz will be a Cowboy past the 2022 season. However, outside of CeeDee Lamb, he is Dallas’ most valuable receiving weapon. There’s no chance the Cowboys considering making this trade in 2022.