The Dallas Cowboys have a good problem at the outside linebacker position heading into the off-season that provides the team with a golden opportunity to become an instant title contender in 2013. Outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and Victor Butler are both in contract years and both playing extremely well this season. If the Cowboys were to re-sign both players, it would give Dallas the liberty to possibly trade All-Pro pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware for help in several needy areas, such as the offensive line, defensive end and inside linebacker.
A lot of Cowboys fans are probably angrily shocked at such a statement, but those who have been fans since the Jimmy Johnson era already know exactly where I’m headed with this.
When Johnson was hired as the Cowboys’ head coach in 1989, he traded All-Pro running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five players and eight draft picks. This resulted in Dallas acquiring players like Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland, who were very instrumental to three Super Bowl wins by Dallas in the early-to-mid-1990s. A player of Ware’s caliber could do the same for the present-day Cowboys.
The problem is Dallas has no smart, gutsy mind like Johnson’s to orchestrate such a move. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett isn’t nearly savvy enough to pull off something like that and general manager Jerry Jones certainly doesn’t have the brains for it. If the Cowboys did have someone who could do it, here’s how it could work:
Ware’s current contract ends at the end of the 2015 NFL season with salaries of $5.5 million, $12.25 million and $13.75 million in his final three years. If Dallas unloaded Ware, it could get veteran players and draft picks who, combined, would accrue about the same as Ware in annual salaries.
If the Cowboys re-sign and start Butler and Spencer at the outside linebacker spots, then a Ware trade could fortify the offensive line and bring in depth at inside linebacker and defensive end. Kenyon Coleman is a free agent at the end of 2012 and Dallas would be nuts to bring him back. Sean Lissemore and Jason Hatcher should be the starters with Tyrone Crawford challenging for one of those spots as early as Week 6 of the 2013 season. Adding one or two more solid young players would change that position from a liability to an asset for Dallas.
If anyone thinks bringing in Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau “shored up” the Cowboys’ offensive line as Jones suggested, they’re as delusional as he is and that’s saying something. Dallas needs to bring in players who will actually improve its offensive line, not just add new names to the roster.
This trade could also bring one or two serviceable inside linebackers for the Cowboys to have available in case Sean Lee and/or Bruce Carter gets injured again. If the last two games have been any indication, Dallas relies on those two studs more than anyone previously realized, so making sure there’s someone at least halfway decent behind them is vital for a team looking to get back into title contention.
In short, this trade could improve several part of the Cowboys’ roster while unloading a big contract of a player whose production levied among multiple veterans. Sure, Ware records a ton of sacks and he demands a lot of attention from opposing offenses, but nobody has a clue how productive Butler would be if given extended playing time. He’d be Pro Bowl-caliber, which is plenty enough for the Cowboys if they get help in all of the previously-mentioned areas. If this hypothetical trade was executed correctly (Johnson-like), Dallas could be a surefire Super Bowl contender as early as 2013.