Blogging the Boys’ Brian Martin suggested the Cowboys pursue 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw via trade. He has been dealing with a tough start to his career, and, Martin wrote, it could be shrewd to make a move happen while his stock is down.
“The Dallas Cowboys may have used their first-round pick on Mazi Smith to help upgrade their defensive line, but that in no way should keep them from continuing to improve their defensive front,” Martin wrote in a story published May 14. “Kinlaw could be a low-risk, high-reward type of trade that could do just that, even if it is just a one-year rental. And, a 2024 Day 3 pick could be all it takes.”
That potential price tag certainly would make the move tempting, as Kinlaw seemingly has untapped talent. However, his injury issues — he’s played in 24 games in three seasons — and lack of production are red flags. Since totaling 1.5 sacks and taking an interception for a touchdown in 2020, Kinlaw has not registered any sacks, turnovers or tackles for loss.
The 49ers declined to pick up Kinlaw’s fifth-year option, meaning “2023 is a make-it-or-break-it year for Kinlaw with not just the 49ers, but for his NFL career,” according to Jose Luis Sanchez III of Sports Illustrated’s All 49ers.
“Because of the injuries, maybe it hasn’t gone as well as we all might have anticipated or as well as it would’ve had he been healthy, that’s part of this thing,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters on April 28, according to ESPN.
Javon Kinlaw Struggled to Get on Field with the San Francisco 49ers
There’s always strong expectations for first-round draft picks, and Kinlaw was no different as the 14th overall pick in the 2020 draft. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein billed Kinlaw as a player with “many elite physical traits” and a DT with an “explosive first step.”
However, translating that from Kinlaw’s days at South Carolina to the NFL has been difficult, primarily due to his injury issues. After 14 games as a rookie, Kinlaw suffered a knee injury against the Cowboys and missed the final two games of the 2020 season. Knee issues followed him for the next two seasons, with the former South Carolina Gamecock needing reconstructive surgery the following season and then suffered a Grade 2 ACL sprain, according to SB Nation’s Niners Nation.
The Dallas Cowboys Can Afford Javon Kinlaw
With consistent knee issues, giving up any serious capital for Kinlaw seems like a major risk. However, the potential upside is undeniable as the defensive tackle is still young and affordable for 2023.
According to Spotrac, Kinlaw is due a $2.7 million salary in 2023. That’s a figure that Dallas can easily afford, and it wouldn’t feel like a financial burden even if Kinlaw were a rotational player, as Martin suggested.
“The 6’5”, 320-ish pound DT would work nicely as a 3-technique in a rotation with Osa Odighizuwa in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 defensive scheme,” Martin wrote. “Throw in Jonathan Hankins and Mazi Smith with the plethora of impressive pass rushers the Cowboys have at their disposal, and Dallas’ defensive line would immediately become one of the best in the entire league.”