As the Dallas Cowboys continue to battle injuries on the defensive line, the team may have some options to add depth at the position via trade. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine is pushing the Cowboys to consider a trade with the Bills for defensive tackle Vernon Butler. Teams have until the trade deadline on November 2 to make a deal.
“Osa Odighizuwa has played well—he’s second on the team in pressures and has earned a PFF grade that has him ranked 34th out of 112 interior defenders,” Ballentine noted. “Conversely, Carlos Watkins, who starts alongside Odighizuwa, is the 105th ranked defensive lineman. Odighizuwa is a good athletic tackle capable of playing the three-technique. What they need is a run-stuffer who can play the one-technique.
“The Buffalo Bills’ Vernon Butler could help with that. At 6’4″ 330 pounds, he has the size and strength to eat up blocks in the middle and keep the linebackers clean. He’s also become lost in the shuffle of a deep defensive tackle rotation in Buffalo. The Bills have five tackles who have played at least 15 percent of the snaps this season.”
Butler has a cap hit of $5.8 million for the Bills but a reasonable salary of $3 million, per Spotrac. The defensive tackle is in the final season of a two-year, $15 million contract.
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Butler Was Selected With the No. 30 Pick in the First Round of the 2016 NFL Draft
Butler was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Louisiana Tech and was selected by the Panthers with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The defensive tackle’s snap count with the Bills is hovering around 50% through the first two weeks, and Buffalo could be willing to trade Butler for a future draft pick. Butler’s play has also been up-and-down earning a 50.1 grade from Pro Football Focus so far this season, but he does have a 59.5 score against the run.
The defensive tackle spent his first four seasons with the Panthers before joining the Bills in 2020. Butler is just two seasons removed from notching six sacks, 32 tackles and eight quarterback hits in 2019. Bills head coach Sean McDermott had familiarity with Butler from their time together with the Panthers.
“He was hurt a little bit and got off to a little bit of a slow start [to his NFL career],” McDermott told The Buffalo News in May 2020. “But when you watch him and what he was able to do this past season in his contract year, we were impressed. Now it’s about how he can sustain that and continue to grow beyond that.”
The Cowboys Are Facing Mounting Injuries on the Defensive Line
As DeMarcus Lawrence continues to recover from a broken foot, the pass rusher is joined by other defensive line players who are also dealing with injuries. Both defensive end Dorance Armstrong and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins are expected to miss the Cowboys’ Week 3 rivalry matchup against the Eagles, per ESPN’s Todd Archer.
The good news is Randy Gregory is expected to play in Week 3 after being placed on the COVID-19 list prior to the team’s matchup against the Chargers. Given the missing players, Dallas has been utilizing linebacker Micah Parsons as a defensive end.
“There’s a lot to develop here,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said of Parsons, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “He’s got a long way to go. He can run and hit like you know what. That’s his superpower. And he’s got rare speed and physicality to do that. I want to make sure that we’re always featuring that part of his game.”