The Dallas Cowboys theoretically can achieve the rare double whammy of improving their roster while weakening a division rival.
With the possibility raised that the Philadelphia Eagles might move on from Zach Ertz, the Cowboys were grouped by FanDuel among three “most likely destinations” for the Pro Bowl tight end, along with the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals.
Dalton Schultz filled in pretty well for the injured Blake Jarwin in 2020, with 63 receptions for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns, but the Dallas Cowboys could still use an upgrade at the position. Dak Prescott is already surrounded by weapons at RB and WR, and adding a strong receiving tight end like Ertz could have this offense bordering on unstoppable. Eagles fans might not like to see Ertz stay within the NFC East, but the landing spot would make a ton of sense.
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Bursting the Bubble
There’s no question the Cowboys could use a TE like Ertz, who’s made 561 catches for 6,078 yards and 36 touchdowns — earning three Pro Bowl trips and one first-team All-Pro nod — since entering the NFL as a 2013 second-round draft pick.
But there’s a problem with the prospective marriage: Ertz remains under contract through 2021, set to earn $8.25 million in base salary and count $12.47 million against the salary cap. So unless he’s released by Philadelphia, which is hardly a given, Dallas would be forced to trade for the 30-year-old, and the Eagles likely would hang up as soon as Jerry Jones calls.
There’s another problem, too: The Cowboys are still high on their own presumptive starting TE, Blake Jarwin, despite the torn ACL he suffered early this season. Jarwin is younger (26), cheaper (2021 base salary of $3.5M), and already knows Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore’s system.
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Cowboys Linked to 2021 Trade for New Starting QB
We’ve officially entered #SpeculationSzn. And to kick off the annual occurrence, Bleacher Report compiled a list of four 2021 trade targets for the Cowboys, including none other than soon-to-be-former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
If the Cowboys don’t bring Prescott back and can’t afford to sign another quarterback in free agency, Darnold could be a great option as they look to see if he could thrive in their offense. He would have plenty of weapons to throw to in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, his cap hit would be less than $10 million in 2021, and the Cowboys wouldn’t be obligated to keep him after next year.
This would all depend on the Cowboys not re-signing Prescott and the Jets drafting a quarterback, but playing in Dallas would be an ideal fresh start for Darnold.
BR columnist Tyler Brooke admittedly cautioned this very hypothetical trade is contingent on Dallas allowing franchise QB Dak Prescott, an impending unrestricted free agent, to test the open market. And that … won’t happen.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones confirmed that Prescott putting pen to paper is atop the club’s immediate to-do list, while owner/general manager Jerry Jones expressed a desire to “get [his contract] together.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL