Proposed Cowboys Trade Swaps Top Draft Pick for Colts’ 2-Time Pro Bowler

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gives a fan a thumbs up.

The Dallas Cowboys are currently set to make their first draft pick at the No. 26 overall spot, but that could change at a moment’s notice.

Dallas has had an eventful and, on paper, successful offseason. The recent re-signing of defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is the latest free agent to return to the Cowboys, and that’s been complemented by trades for key players like CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Brandin Cooks.

Now, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine is proposing another trade that sees Dallas trade out of the first round in exchange for Indianapolis Colts star DeForest Buckner.

“For the Cowboys, it’s the opportunity to add an elite interior defensive lineman that should be appealing,” Ballentine writes. “Micah Parsons is one of the most electric and talented edge-rushers in the game. Giving him a guy like Buckner, who had eight sacks last season, would take the Dallas pass rush to the next level.”

It is enticing to think about the Cowboys’ defensive line adding a top-tier interior defender, but it’s easier said than done. That being said, there’s no question Buckner is a top DT in the league and any possible move for him should be explored.

Buckner Captains the Colts

The San Francisco 49ers made one of the more surprising trades of the 2020 offseason by trading Buckner to the Colts. The defensive tackle had earned a Pro Bowl nod and a second-team All-Pro selection while with the 49ers, but they cashed out on the Oregon product by trading him to Indianapolis for a first-round pick that year.

The Colts handed Buckner a $84 million, four-year deal afterward and he’s been a key member of their defense in the three seasons since. Pro Football Reference shows that Buckner made his first-team All-Pro selection in 2020, and then added another Pro Bowl honor in 2021.

Buckner hasn’t surpassed the 12-sack season he had with the 49ers in 2018, but he’s been consistent to say the least. He’s had 24.5 sacks over the past three years, with his lowest season total coming in 2021 with 7.

The 29-year-old arguably had his best season in Indianapolis in 2022, putting up 8 sacks, forcing 2 fumbles, and earning 74 combined tackles. The 3 passes defended and 11 tackles for loss certainly helped as well.

Costing the Cowboys

The major problem with a move for Buckner would just be the price. The former Duck is due $40 million over the next two seasons, and, as Ballentine acknowledged in his article, wants to stay with the Colts if it all possible.

Not counting some of the team’s recent deals, Spotrac estimates that the Cowboys have $16.74 million in cap space. A sizable chunk, but still short of Buckner’s base salary of $19.75 million in 2022.

Dallas could make more restructuring moves or release certain players in order to make the money work, but it becomes a question of value: how much would Dallas gain by adding another star to the defensive line?

They’ve already got Parsons and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the line. At some point, the cost-to-production isn’t going to make sense, even if three players combine for 40 sacks.

It’s an enticing idea to think about, but hard to see in practice for the Cowboys.

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