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Why Dallas trading for a cornerback makes more sense than a pass-rusher

Dallas cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (24) and Brandon Carr (39) can become free agents after the season, which could leave the Cowboys thin at the position. AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

FRISCO, Texas -- It’s trade deadline day in the NFL, which mostly means nothing.

The trade deadline is one of the few things the NFL does poorly. It could have so much more news generated if the salary-cap system would allow for more trades. But, I digress. I don’t wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will look around or will receive calls. They will and they have.

I do have Five Wonders.

Away we go:

  • Let’s get right to some trade wonders. I wonder if it makes more sense for the Cowboys to make a trade for a cornerback of consequence than it does a pass-rusher. I know you’re howling, but hear me out. Brandon Carr is a free agent after this season. So is Morris Claiborne. If the Cowboys are going to make a deal, I believe it makes more sense for a younger player under more contractual control than a rent-a-pass rusher at the end of his career. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been mentioned the most by fans wondering about a deal. He makes $10.1 million this season, and is to make about $4.75 million the rest of the season. He is under contract through 2019 with base salaries of $11.1 million (2017, 2018) and $10.4 million (2019). The Cowboys have pass-rush needs, but they have shown they want to develop pass-rushers, not overpay for one.

  • Pass rush has been, is and will be a need for the Cowboys, but teams don’t give away pass-rushers and they cost a lot to get. I wonder if the cost will be just too prohibitive. The New York Jets have called the Cowboys about Sheldon Richardson, but he is to make $8.069 million next season as part of his fifth-year option, and has some off-field issues. (He was suspended for one game this season). Cameron Wake is a name that has been tossed around. If he wasn’t guaranteed another $3 million next season as part of his $6.875 million base salary, he would be more desirable. He is also 34. Willie Young had six sacks entering Monday’s game and has just a $1 million base salary in 2017. But he has a $2.2 million roster bonus due. If you could turn the deal for a late-round pick, then perhaps this would be a thought. It takes something to get something. I just think the price will be too rich.

  • But let’s say the Cowboys do make a final trade in an all-in move. What about the salary cap? They have created room by converting players’ base salaries to signing bonus. Doug Free was the most recent example. All that would be left to convert is Tony Romo's contract. Considering age and health, that is not an option. But I wonder if cutting Rolando McClain would be an option. You remember him, right? He is suspended the first 10 games of the season and has not been around the team since June. Conditioning has always been an issue with McClain. If he gets reinstated, would he be in shape to play? Does he want to play? If the Cowboys cut McClain, they would free up about $1.9 million in room.

  • Let’s talk quarterbacks on the roster in 2017. No, this is not another Romo-Dak Prescott debate. It’s slightly smaller. I wonder if Kellen Moore will return in 2017. He is on injured reserve after breaking his fibula in training camp. He would have been the starter had he been healthy following Romo's back injury. Unfortunately for Moore, he was hurt early in camp. He is a free agent after this season. He has a role on this team as a quasi-adviser to Scott Linehan and the rest of the quarterbacks. I wonder if he would be part of the coaching staff next season if he does not want to continue his playing career.

  • With Barry Church out with a fractured forearm, I wonder if the more J.J. Wilcox plays the more he could be exposed. He was playing in the dime defense mostly before Church’s injury and playing a series or two in each half as the Cowboys rotated him with Church and Byron Jones. Wilcox has been effective in his limited role. Now he will have to play more. Can he keep up the same level of play with more snaps?