After the trade didn’t materialize ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones confirmed the team’s interest in Adams. He was later accused of tampering and ruining the relationship between the former All-Pro and the Jets.
Adams was eventually dealt the following offseason in a blockbuster deal involving the Seattle Seahawks. There’s still a lot of bad blood between Gang Green and America’s Team, but it’s never too late to kiss and make up.
Jets and Cowboys Make Perfect Sense as Trade Partners
While things didn’t work out a few years ago, there’s a chance things will fare better this time around.
Here’s the situation.
The Jets are incredibly thin at the linebacker position. Head coach Robert Saleh is bringing over his 4-3 scheme which requires three starters at the second level.
Two of those spots will likely be taken by long-time veteran CJ Mosley who’s returning from a two-year hiatus and former first-rounder Jarrad Davis. That leaves one starting gig vacant.
On top of the last starting spot remaining, the green and white desperately lack depth at the linebacker spot.
The Cowboys have entered the conversation.
Last year both New York and Dallas were terrible defensively. The Jets were 24th and the Cowboys were 25th in yards allowed in 2020.
Although this offseason America’s Team hit the reset button on defense and specifically at linebacker.
That is on top of the mainstays at linebacker that were here last season in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
Supply and Demand
The Cowboys have what the kids call a first-world problem at linebacker. There are only so many players you can line up on the field at any one time. So it would behoove America’s Team to move their surplus at the position to fill another need on the roster.
That’s where the Jets come in.
Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL draft, the Jets boast 11 selections in that class including four of those picks in the first two rounds.
On top of picks, Gang Green also has a boatload of cash at their disposal. That provides the Jets plenty of flexibility to potentially absorb a large linebacker’s contract.
There are three Cowboys linebackers that would move the needle for the green and white.
3. Keanu Neal
Could a sign-and-trade work? Typically trades like this happen in the NBA, not the NFL. Neal hasn’t played a snap for the Cowboys since signing back in March during free agency, but he’d be the ideal fit for the Jets at weakside linebacker in their 4-3 scheme.
Gang Green was this close to signing him in free agency and it came down to the Jets and the Cowboys. Ultimately the relationship with Dan Quinn, his former head coach in Atlanta and now defensive coordinator in Dallas, sealed the deal.
2. Jaylon Smith
In a recent hypothetical PFF trade, Smith was sent to the Los Angeles Chargers for a fifth-round draft choice. If the Jets could get that deal they would’ve made it yesterday.
Smith is only 25 years old (will be 26 by the start of the 2021 NFL season) and fits the athletic profile. The former Notre Dame defensive stud is athletic, fast, and rangy. If Dallas is willing to dance, the Jets could certainly make it worth their while.
1. Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch has been thrown in the middle of rampant trade speculation all offseason. Despite the recent narrative that suggests he won’t be dealt, every team has a price. He’s the most likely Dallas linebacker to be dealt ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
Although that’s part of the problem. The main reason the Cowboys would even entertain a trade for their talented 25-year-old is because of his troubling injury history. In three professional seasons, he has yet to start a full 16 game season.
When healthy, he’s a dominant force. Although we haven’t been able to enjoy that much at the NFL level.
Any one of these Dallas linebackers would be an immediate upgrade. Also, the trade would have a domino effect on the rest of the Jets roster in a positive way.
If you acquire an insert Cowboys stud at linebacker, everyone else in the order would be pushed down a peg for Gang Green. In theory, you’d solidify your starting group and simultaneously reinforce the depth of the unit. It’s a win-win scenario that both teams should explore sooner rather than later.