Proposed Trade Sends Promising Rival Starter to Cowboys

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones

Getty Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to need to get creative to improve their roster this offseason. The Cowboys are projected to be more than $21.4 million over the cap, meaning they are unlikely to be aggressive in free agency.

This leaves the draft and the trade market as the two most viable areas where the Cowboys can make moves. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine made a list of the top potential trade targets for the Cowboys this offseason. One intriguing player is 49ers starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

Heading into last season, the Cowboys had a plethora of linebackers, but the team released Jaylon Smith and lost rookie Jabril Cox to a season-ending injury. Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option was not picked up making him a free agent in March. Keanu Neal is another key free agent at the position for the Cowboys.

“Bringing in someone like Dre Greenlaw would be huge in that regard,” Ballentine explained on February 16. “He spent most of the 2021 season on the injured reserve list with a groin injury, but he looked to be as good as ever when he came back and recorded a 12-tackle game in Week 18 against the Los Angeles Rams.

“The 24-year-old and the Niners are in a similar situation as McCoy and the Saints. He’s on the final year of his rookie deal, and San Francisco might not be looking to extend him.

“After signing Fred Warner to a five-year, $92.5 million deal, the Niners might not be willing to spend big on another linebacker. Greenlaw’s athleticism and ability to play in coverage would make him an ideal running mate for Parsons.”

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Greenlaw Is on a Bargain 4-Year, $2.8 Million Contract

Greenlaw is a steal thanks to his four-year, $2.8 million contract, but the challenge is the linebacker will be due for a massive raise when he hits free agency in 2023. The defender only played three games last season for the 49ers, missing the majority of 2021 with a groin injury, but did manage to get a pick-six against the Lions before being sidelined. The linebacker posted 86 tackles, seven tackles for loss and a sack in his 13 appearances in 2020.

What would it cost the Cowboys to acquire Greenlaw? The Niners would likely be looking for an early draft pick, but it is going to be hard to pry him away from the Bay Area. As Ballentine noted, the one reason the Niners could consider dealing Greenlaw is fellow linebacker Fred Warner’s $95 million contract. There is also the sizable deal Greenlaw is set to receive in 2023.

Stephen Jones Doesn’t See the Cowboys ‘Buying Through Free Agency’

Heading into the offseason, Cowboys chief executive officer Stephen Jones threw cold water on the idea that the team would add a major free agent.

“There’s no question that we’re gonna have our challenges with the salary cap, and I don’t see major acquisitions, buying through free agency,” Jones explained during a January 17 interview on Dallas 105.3 the Fan. “That’s just not the way we feel in terms of the best way to build a football team, and we just feel like it’s buying through the draft and to pay your homegrown talent. Which I do think the encouraging thing is is we do have a lot of good young players that are gonna be coming up that we’ll have to make some decisions on.”