The Dallas Cowboys are off to a hot start in the 2023 trade market. After already acquiring former Pro Bowlers Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks for a handful of late-round draft picks, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys putting together another great trade before the offseason ends. Dallas is unlikely to unload much more draft capital. The 2023 draft is already running thin on picks for the Cowboys, and Jerry and Stephen Jones value their picks too much to trade too many of them away.
There are still a couple of players on the Cowboys' roster that could be traded, however. Adding a player of value could help Dallas land a better player without having to give up one of their top draft picks. Rumblings out of Indianapolis suggest that Deforest Buckner wants out. The Cowboys have already wrestled one former All-Pro defender away from the Colts. Perhaps cornerback Jourdan Lewis and a contingency of draft picks could help them land another.
1 perfect NFL trade Cowboys must complete in 2023 offseason
Trading Lewis away would be a positive long-term move for Dallas. The Cowboys suddenly have a log jam at nickel corner after the emergence of DaRon Bland as a playmaker last season and the addition of Gilmore on the outside.
Dallas can save almost $5 million off the cap this season by trading Lewis with just over $1 million in dead money. Obviously, the addition of a player like Buckner would negate any cap savings Dallas could get by trading Lewis, but the Cowboys could always move him for draft picks to replace the ones they lost in trading for Gilmore and Cooks. Those cap savings could go toward signing an outside free agent or one of the big money contracts due to CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, or Micah Parsons in upcoming seasons.
A prospective trade involving Lewis and draft picks for Buckner would be a massive boost to the Cowboys' short term chances for success though.
The Cowboys have addressed two of their biggest problems already this offseason by bringing in top veterans at wide receiver and cornerback. One spot they haven't yet addressed is the interior of the defensive line. The Cowboys struggled to stop the run up the middle last season, and there are no guarantees Johnathan Hankins returns to help them rectify that problem in 2023. Dallas will likely target an interior defender early in this year's draft, but they probably won't find anybody that could shore up the position like Buckner could.
Buckner was elite yet again in his seventh NFL season last year. The Colts defender tallied eight sacks in 2022 with two forced fumbles, 74 total tackles, and 11 tackles for loss. Buckner was also incredibly durable in his age 28 season, making 16 starts and playing in all 17 games for the Colts in 2022. That's top-flight production from a player in the middle of his prime, which means the Cowboys would have to pony up significant assets to acquire him. Any package for Buckner the Cowboys could put together would likely start with Lewis.
Without including a quality player in the trade, any team interested in acquiring Buckner would probably need to send over some significant draft capital. The Cowboys would have to include some picks in a trade for Buckner even if they tossed in Lewis, but the inclusion of a high-quality defensive back would help lower the cost for Dallas from a picks perspective.
Look back at the Khalil Mack trade last offseason. The Los Angeles Chargers acquired a 27-year-old defensive lineman in the prime of his career for a second and a fourth-round pick. If that's the baseline, it's possible the Cowboys could acquire Buckner for Lewis and a third or fourth round pick with some extra late draft capital in there as well.