3 Players That Cowboys Must Consider Trading for at 2021 NFL Trade Deadline
Especially after releasing Jaylon Smith earlier in the season, the Cowboys should be considered buyers heading into the deadline.
The Cowboys have an undeniably elite offense. They are tied with the Buffalo Bills for most points per drive. They are ranked 13th in the same metric as a defense. In short, they are one of the most complete teams in football and it's showing up on the scoreboard.
Now the question becomes whether they can make the most of the opportunity. As contenders utilize the deadline to add a missing piece or two, the Cowboys have added impetus to identify needs and upgrade where they can to make a Super Bowl push.
Here are three players who could help take them to the next level.
DT Akiem Hicks
Osa Odighizuwa has done a tremendous job this season in the interior of the defensive line this season. With Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill both out of the lineup with injuries, the Cowboys' depth on the interior has been tested.
The only problem has been a lack of pass rush from the interior players. Odighizuwa has contributed two sacks, but the rest of the defensive tackles have been non-factors.
Getting after the passer is a key to playoff success. Especially with the Cowboys' ability to turn games into shootouts, anything the Cowboys could do to be better at putting pressure on the quarterback would be a win.
Calling the Chicago Bears about Akiem Hicks could be a solution. The 6'5" 332-pounder is a plus-run defender but has also shown the ability to collapse the pocket. He already has 1.5 sacks this season and has 29 across the last six years of his career in Chicago.
The Bears could be sellers as Hicks is in the final season of his contract but would only cost the team who trades for him around $6 million.
CB Kyle Fuller
Kyle Fuller is capable of being a solid cornerback in the league. He hasn't shown that in 2021, but there are enough highlights on his resume to show he can help a contender.
Fuller was an All-Pro selection in 2018 and followed it up with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2019. This season he's allowing a passer rating of 116.0 when targeted, but he's been a player who runs hot and cold throughout his career.
A change of scenery could do him some good, and the Cowboys' search for a corner to play opposite Trevon Diggs could be aided by bringing in a fresh face.
Cornerback depth is important throughout the stretch run and the playoffs. The Cowboys are one injury away from having to rely on some young players at key positions, including Nahshon Wright, who is a rookie without much polish, and Maurice Canady who has been burned in limited action.
Fuller's role has shrunk in Vic Fangio's defense to nearly non-existent.
The Cowboys should be interested in taking him off Denver's hands.
CB Darius Phillips
If the potential cost of bringing in Fuller is enough to make the Cowboys balk at the idea then adding a younger option such as Darius Phillips could be the move.
The 26-year-old has shown a lot of promise in his limited defensive snaps. He started eight games last season and allowed quarterbacks to complete 51.2 percent of the passes thrown his way. In 2019, he had four interceptions and held opposing quarterbacks to under a 40 percent completion percentage.
However, he hasn't been able to work his way up the depth chart in Cincinnati. Outside of Week 3 in which he saw 51 percent of the defensive snaps, he's had a limited role on defense.
As an added bonus, Phillips returns punts. While CeeDee Lamb has been the primary return man, they might want to limit that as the season goes on and it becomes even more important for Lamb to be in top shape as a receiver.
Phillips is in the final year of his rookie contract, so this would be a much easier move to justify financially than Fuller.
All statistics and snap count data via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.