Let the trades begin.
The trade deadline is on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. ET, and teams are going to be scrambling to get deals done. One team in particular is the Dallas Cowboys. They have a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball that they can address via trade, but with the latest injury news, I’m going to focus on the cornerback position. If you have not heard, Todd Archer of ESPN reported that Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne is facing a prolonged absence after suffering a sports hernia Sunday night against Philadelphia. Archer also said that Claiborne could need surgery, but it wouldn’t necessarily end his 2016 campaign.
Due to this news, I would have to imagine Dallas is squarely in the market for a cornerback at this point in time considering the fact that they would prefer their next cornerback on the depth chart, Anthony Brown, to play inside. With that being said, here is a list of cornerbacks across the league I have come up with as possible trade candidates.
Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals
Once a promising first round pick out Michigan State in the 2014 NFL draft, Darqueze Dennard has lost favor on the Cincinnati Bengals depth chart. Dennard has served as a backup all season long, and has now been demoted once again with third-string cornerback Josh Shaw starting to surpass his snap count. Add that with the imminent return of 2016 first round pick William Jackson III, Dennard is clearly the odd man out in the Bengals secondary. The biggest reason as to why this is the case is because of injuries. After showing some promise in 2015, he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire season. To make matters worse, he suffered an ankle injury in training camp just before the 2016 preseason. Dennard returned in week two of the regular season, but has been stuck on the bottom of the depth chart. Personally, I still think the former first round pick has untapped potential he hasn’t been able to showcase, and if Dallas wants to take a gamble on his upside and talent, he is a worthy candidate.
Projected offer: 2018 6th round pick
Jalen Collins, Atlanta Falcons
Because of a PED suspension, Jalen Collins missed the first four games of the 2016 season. Collins was the 42nd pick in the 2015 NFL draft, but has yet to make a significant contribution to the Atlanta Falcons so far through two seasons. In fact, he was a healthy scratch against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. I don’t know if he has lost favor in the coaching staff, but for some reason, Collins isn’t getting the playing time that fits his talent level. He is a height-weight-speed specimen as a press corner with the ability to be aggressive at the catch point. The former second round pick fits the exact mold of what Dallas looks for in cornerbacks, but the question is if Atlanta is willing to give him up cheap. I don’t expect the Cowboys to overpay, but I think there is a lot of talent to be found in Collins as a press cornerback in this scheme.
Projected offer: 2018 5th round pick
Johnthan Banks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly made it known that cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks are available for the right price. Verner is not an ideal scheme fit, but a 6’2 Johnthan Banks could peak their interest. The 27 year old cornerback has experience in the league with 130 career tackles and seven career interceptions, including a 2014 campaign with four interceptions under Lovie Smith. As different coaches have come and gone in the last couple years however, Banks’ playing time has dwindled, becoming the odd man out in Tampa Bay’s secondary. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2017, but if the Buccaneers want anything in return, this is their final chance. Of the the first three names on this list, Banks is the player best suited to step in right away and contribute for the Cowboys.
Projected offer: 2017 7th round pick
AJ Bouye, Houston Texans
Bouye has been a contributor for the Houston Texans ever since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida, but has really broke out in 2016 as a starting cornerback. In fact, the 25 year old cornerback is graded as the top cornerback for Pro Football Focus so far this season. His instincts and ball skills are superb to go along with his size to challenge taller receivers at the LOS. Bouye could be exactly what the Cowboys need to fill their CB need both now and possibly for the future as well with Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr on expiring contracts. The thing is, Bouye is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2017, and he could get a big payday. With the Texans having Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson locked up for the long run, would they be interested in paying another big salary to a cornerback? If not, I bet teams are calling right now to take that chance. The Cowboys could be the ideal fit, and he could be a long-term fix at this position going forward, but the price won’t be cheap.
Projected offer: 2017 4th round pick, 2018 6th round pick
Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
Although an unlikely destination, Dallas could be in play for the former All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden. It sounds unrealistic given Haden’s lofty salary, but if he can prove to teams he is healthy, he may be worth it for the right price. While Haden is not going to reach his All-Pro status again, he is still a dependable starter when healthy. His physicality at the LOS and outstanding ball skills at the catch point mitigate his lack of size. That has been proven throughout his career in Cleveland. The Cowboys are clearly set on being a Super Bowl contender this season, and a trade for Joe Haden would reinforce that mindset with Claiborne presumably out until the final weeks of the regular season. It’s unlikely given his salary and injury concerns, but I’m not counting it out at all.
Projected offer: 2017 4th round pick