As the 2022 NFL trade deadline bears down on the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team is unexpectedly in a buyer's position. Having successfully navigated a serious injury at quarterback, the Cowboys are 4-2 with a chance to make a playoff push as the season wears on. To do that, they might need a little outside help. Dallas' offense could use some juice, and the defense has weaknesses to address despite a great start to the year. These three players are some of the trade chips on the table at the NFL trade deadline this year that can take the Cowboys from good to great.
D.J. Moore, WR CAR
Add Dallas to the laundry list of teams in need of D.J. Moore's services at wide receiver. Green Bay, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Chicago have all been mentioned in rumors about trading for Moore during what could be a fire sale in Carolina, though Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer insists that is not the case. The Cowboys are as desperate for a player like Moore as anybody in the league.
It's hard to evaluate Dallas' wide receiver room because they lost their starting quarterback in Week 1. It seems obvious, though, that the group is pretty lacking outside of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Noah Brown flashed some promising talent at the beginning of the year, but he has since cooled off. Jalen Tolbert is obviously not the starting-caliber player the Cowboys thought they were drafting in the third round of last year's draft. It's possible that Dad Prescott brings out the best in these players, but even their best might not be enough.
Moore's skill set would be a huge boost to the Cowboys' offense. He's not a slot receiver, but he has experience at the position. So far this season, the Panthers have lined Moore up in the slot about 20% of the time. Dallas probably wouldn't use Moore as a true slot, but Kellen Moore could create some weird science by moving both Moore and Lamb in and out from the slot to the sideline. That duo on one side of the field with Gallup running go routes on the other would be difficult for opposing secondaries to stop.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Dallas would probably have to pony up a pretty substantial offering in order to land Moore. Despite Carolina's apparent willingness to deal offensive talent, Moore is a player the Panthers reportedly see as a cornerstone for the franchise. ESPN senior analyst Jeremy Fowler reported Thursday evening that the Panthers' asking price for Moore might drive some teams away.
Roquan Smith, LB CHI
As good as the Dallas defense has been to start the year, they aren't invincible. Stopping the run up the middle was a problem for the Cowboys in 2021. That problem appears to have carried over into the new season. Tampa Bay and Philadelphia ran the ball relentlessy against the Cowboys once they grabbed a decent lead. The Cowboys' inability to stop the run between the tackles caused them to lose both of those games. Jerry Jones brought in Anthony Barr this offseason to help patrol the middle of the field, but the Cowboys need more help. Roquan Smith is exactly the kind of player Dallas needs to help stop running backs from charging through the box for five or six yards per carry.
What makes Smith a slam dunk for the Cowboys is his ability to play off the ball. Dallas' primary off-ball linebacker at the moment is Leighton Vander Esch. Quarterbacks are currently completing 78.6% of passes when targeting Vander Esch. In Chicago, Smith allows a 57.1% catch rate. Adding Smith would strengthen the Cowboys' run defense, but it would also free up players like Vander Esch to play more to their strengths.
Brian Burns, EDGE CAR
Swinging a trade for Moore or Smith is about shoring up the Cowboys' weaknesses. The prospect of adding Brian Burns is about playing to their strengths. The NFL is all about passers and pass rushers. It really is that simple. Burns is a great pass rusher, and the Cowboys could always use another one of those.
As good as Dallas' pass rush is, there is no such thing as putting too much pressure on an opposing quarterback. Dorance Armstrong has been fantastic as a complement to Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence this year. If the Cowboys went out and got Burns, it certainly would not be because the current pass rush was lacking in production. The addition of Burns to an already strong pass-rushing unit would be a matchup nightmare for any offensive line in the league.