The Dallas Cowboys could upgrade their wide receiver core with a “shifty” young wide receiver.
According to Brian Martin of SB Nation’s Blogging the Boys, one of several receivers the Cowboys could acquire is Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden. As Martin notes, Darden finds himself on a deep depth chart of wide receivers in Tampa Bay. With Darden just 23 years of age, he could find himself on the outside looking in.
While fellow young Buccaneers receivers — Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson — could also find themselves on the trade block, Darden could provide the “most value” due to his versatility.
“Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller could also be trade targets for the Cowboys, but it’s Jaelon Darden who could provide the most value due to his versatility as a receiver and return man on special teams,” says Martin. “The Buccaneers 2021 fourth-round draft pick is the least experienced receiver on this list entering just his second-year, but he does provide value Dallas is currently lacking.”
Buccaneers Not Using Darden in Passing Game
The 2021 fourth-round draft choice played just 89 offensive snaps in just nine appearances during his rookie season, catching just six balls for 43 yards. He also served as the Bucs’ punt and kick returner, returning 19 punts for 143 yards (7.5 yards) and 18 kicks for 359 yards (19.9 yards per return).
The Buccaneers’ top three receiver spots are locked up with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. Tampa Bay will likely keep either five or six receivers, with Darden looking to win one of the last remaining spots. Outside of Johnson and Miller — two receivers featured more prominently in the receiving game than Darden — Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson will also be in the mix.
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Cowboys Could Use Darden as New Returner
CeeDee Lamb — who will serve as the Cowboys’ de facto No. 1 receiver with Amari Cooper gone — has served as Dallas’ punt returner over the past two seasons. With Dallas relying on Lamb more heavily in the passing game during the 2022 season, they’ll likely need someone else to step up into the special teams role.
“Like Harty and Reagor before him, Jaelon Darden is a smaller/shifty type of WR who could do a variety of things in Kellen Moore’s offensive scheme while also serving as the primary punt returner,” says Martin. “And, as a local prospect from North Texas, a homecoming could be mutually beneficial for both him and the Cowboys.”
That’s where Darden fits into the equation.
The Cowboys are currently lacking in viable receivers outside of Lamb. With Michael Gallup likely missing the first two or three games of the season due to recovery from ACL surgery, free agent signee James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert are the next two receivers up.
With Darden possessing speed — he ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.46 seconds at the combine — he could possibly fit into a slot-type of role with the Cowboys.
Considering the Buccaneers could fetch value for their special teams ace, it might be a wise idea to move their second-year receiver to a team in desperate need of a new returner and depth at the wide receiver position.