Cowboys' Top Hypothetical Trades to Make Splash in 2022 NFL Draft
After the way free agency played out for the Dallas Cowboys, the team will look to the draft to generate some hope and forward momentum.
Faced with a big class of free agents and a restricted budget, the Cowboys made some choices that are sure to generate some hostility with fans. While they were able to retain Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup, they also traded away Amari Cooper and watched Randy Gregory leave for Denver. Dante Fowler was the best free agent they signed from another team.
That leaves the draft as the last remaining spot they can make a splash. Whether it's trading up for a prospect who could be an immediate starter or dealing one of their picks for a proven veteran, a big move in the talent grab could shake things up for Dallas.
Here's a look at three hypothetical moves that would raise eyebrows among the fanbase and around the NFL.
Trade Up for Trevor Penning
Eagles Receive: No. 24 overall, No. 88 overall, 2023 third-round pick
Cowboys Receive: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa (No. 16 overall), 2023 fifth-round pick
The Dallas Cowboys had the best offensive line in the league last year in PFF's final season rankings, but they've had one of the best units when healthy for a while.
It's going to take some proactive work to keep it that way. The team parted ways with right tackle La'el Collins, and left tackle Tyron Smith is a 31-year-old with a mounting history of injuries.
If the Cowboys are going to seamlessly transition into a new era of great offensive line play, it's going to take an investment. So, targeting an offensive tackle such as Trevor Penning, who has shown a ruthless mean streak and all the athleticism you would want from a tackle prospect, would be a step in the right direction.
The problem is it doesn't look like he'll fall all the way to No. 24. He's the 10th pick in Bleacher Report's Seattle)%3A%20OT%20Trevor%20Penning%2C%20Northern%20Iowa" target="_blank">latest mock draft, and a collection of the latest mocks from NFL Mock Draft Database projects him going at No. 17 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
In this hypothetical, the Cowboys only have to part with a third-rounder in this year's draft to move up. With three picks in the first round, the Eagles might be interested in getting more stake in the 2023 draft with an additional third-rounder.
Trade for Brandin Cooks
Texans Receive: No. 88 overall
Cowboys Receive: Brandin Cooks
This trade would be a stunner given what the Cowboys have done with their receivers this offseason. They traded away Amari Cooper for next to nothing and invested heavily in Michael Gallup.
However, this deal would again give Dallas one of the best receiving trios in the league.
Brandin Cooks has been a remarkably consistent producer throughout his career. Despite playing for four teams in eight years, he has only had less than 1,000 yards in a season once since his second year in the league.
The biggest difference between Cooks and Cooper is in their contracts. While the latter's deal still had three years on it, the former would come with a contract that has just one year with a $12.5 million base salary attached to it.
It would be much easier to extend and renegotiate a contract for Cooks than it was for Cooper.
Adding the 28-year-old to the receiving corps would be a massive upgrade over James Washington and afford the Cowboys the opportunity to walk back one of their more questionable choices this offseason.
Trade Up for Chris Olave
Steelers Receive: No. 24 pick, No. 129 (fourth-round) and No. 155 (fifth-round)
Cowboys Receive: WR Chris Olave (No. 20 overall)
The alternative route to building a Big Three at receiver again would be through the draft. The Cowboys could sit and wait to see who shows up at No. 24, but that's a dangerous game.
This year's receiver class has a variety of talents who could be taken in the first round. The Cowboys also have the Patriots at No. 21 and Packers at No. 22, and they could thin out the board at the position.
If Dallas has its eyes on one of the top receivers to replace Amari Cooper, it may have to look into giving up some draft capital to do so.
The cost to move up four picks this late in the first round isn't exorbitant, but it would send a message that the Cowboys are still dedicated to giving Dak Prescott elite weapons to work with.
Chris Olave's excellent route-running combined with elite athleticism would make him a dangerous running mate for CeeDee Lamb for the foreseeable future.