The Dallas Cowboys could be a potential landing spot for one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL.
As proposed as part of a “shocking trade ideas” list compiled by Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, the Cowboys are being urged to pursue Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Ballentine details how the Cowboys have struggled on the interior of their defensive line. While Dallas did draft defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round, they could still use veteran help. That’s where the 25-year-old Oliver would fit into the picture.
“The selection of Smith is a commitment to being better on the inside. Trading for someone like Ed Oliver would be doubling down on that commitment,” writes Ballentine. “Oliver’s recent deleted social media activity has led to some speculation that he could be a trade candidate. The 25-year-old is entering a contract year with the Buffalo Bills and will look to capitalize on a hot defensive tackle market.”
Why the Cowboys Could Trade for Ed Oliver
The Cowboys ranked 22nd in rushing yards allowed and 17th in rushing yards per attempt last season. While Smith should help improve arguably the biggest weakness of the defensive unit last season, Dallas is still lacking in proven veterans at defensive tackle.
While both Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston were respectable last season, Neville Gallimore, Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Bohanna all underwhelmed with their play. According to Pro Football Focus, the latter three defensive tackles posted grades under 47.0 last season, some of the lowest at their respective position.
Meanwhile, Oliver posted a 68.5 defensive grade, higher than all of the Cowboys’ returning defensive tackles with the exception of Golston (69.3 defensive grade). Since he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Oliver has served as a starter for Buffalo and has notched 151 tackles to go along with 14.5 sacks in 53 starts and 62 games played.
As Ballentine notes, Oliver is entering a contract year that could scare off the Cowboys from showing interest in a trade for Oliver. However, Dallas should still inquire about his availability considering he can “cause problems” on the inside.
“Oliver’s looming contract extension might discourage the Cowboys from inquiring about his availability, but he is a penetrating defensive lineman who can cause problems on the inside,” writes Ballentine. “The Cowboys don’t have anyone like him on the roster, and he could team up with Odighizuwa and Smith to form a great rotation at tackle.”
Cost of Potential Ed Oliver Trade
As solid as Oliver has been through four seasons patrolling the middle for the Bills’ defensive line, he’s never been an elite interior lineman. Not only has Oliver failed to garner an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection during his career, he’s never posted higher than a 70.9 defensive grade, according to PFF.
According to Spotrac, Oliver’s market value is projected to be $10.4 million per year across four seasons ($41.8 million). The Bills could be eager to unload Oliver for some value before he hits free agency. One could assume the Cowboys could acquire Oliver for a fourth-round draft pick along with a slightly lower pick in value.
Considering Dallas is seeking to win a Super Bowl this season, they should consider adding Oliver, who could be a major difference-maker for the team in the playoffs.