Cowboys Could Trade for Disgruntled All-Pro

Mike McCarthy

Getty The Cowboys could be in the market for Bears linebacker Roquan Smith.

The Dallas Cowboys could make a move for one of the top young players in the league.

Two-time All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith officially requested a trade from the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, August 9. The 25-year-old’s request comes after a lack of productive contract talks with the Bears. According to a list of potential trade destination spots compiled by CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan, the Cowboys are one of the top landing spots. Sullivan argues that the Cowboys’ lack of commitment to Leighton Vander Esch is the reason why Dallas should pursue Smith.

“Jerry Jones is never afraid to make a big splash, so we can never count the Cowboys out when a player of Smith’s caliber goes on the block,” says Sullivan. “Leighton Vander Esch re-signed with Dallas this offseason on a one-year, $2 million deal, so they aren’t committed to the former first-round pick long-term despite him currently sitting atop the depth chart at the middle linebacker spot. Vander Esch has also had durability problems throughout his career, so this is very much an area the Cowboys could look to improve upon as they head into a 2022 campaign where expectations are sky high.”

Vander Esch Serving as Stopgap Option for Cowboys

The Cowboys re-signed Vander Esch after initially declining the fifth-year option on his rookie deal prior to the 2021 season. The 26-year-old linebacker has never come close to matching the production of his rookie Pro Bowl season when he finished third among players in tackles (140).

Vander Esch struggled through injuries during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, appearing in just 19 games due to surgeries for neck and broke collarbone injuries.

Sullivan then argues that the Cowboys could pair Smith with reigning Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons to form one of the league’s top defensive pairings. He also mentions that the core of Smith, Parsons and Trevon Diggs could be cogs of Dallas’ defense over the next decade.

“Inserting a player of Smith’s caliber could also free up superstar linebacker Micah Parsons and have him spend more time coming off the edge as a pass rusher, thus raising the overall ceiling of Dallas’ defense,” says Sullivan. “Not only that but creating a young core that consists of Parsons, Smith, and cornerback Trevon Diggs could be pillars of the Cowboys defense for the next decade.”

By acquiring Smith, the Cowboys could field the top defensive unit for the 2022 season. Parsons posted 13 sacks last season, while Diggs led the league with 11 interceptions. Meanwhile, Smith ranked fifth in the league in tackles in 2021. In other words, there would be no shortage of playmakers on the Cowboys’ defense, with all three players no older than 25 years of age.

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Exec: Smith Trade Would Cost Cowboys Third-Round Pick

According to Spotrac, Smith’s market value is $17.8 million per season, which would pay him $88.5 million over five years. That contract would make him the seventh-highest paid linebacker in the league.

Smith is on the verge of entering the final year of his rookie contract. If the Cowboys were to swing a deal for Smith, they’d do so with the intention of signing him to a long-term contract. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, one executive believes a third-round draft choice would be enough to acquire Smith.

“A separate exec said a third-round pick is reasonable trade compensation for Smith, given the money the new team would need to pay him, but figures the Bears would need much more in return to part with a marquee player in his prime,” said Fowler.

With the Cowboys possessing $20 million in available cap space, Dallas has to decide whether or not it’s worth it to pursue Smith. If the Cowboys are willing to pay the money for another defensive star, a third-round draft choice won’t be difficult to pony up.

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