Dallas Cowboys Trade Targets and Candidates


  • The Dallas Cowboys added another year to their NFC Championship game drought by flaming out in the playoffs again in 2023.
  • Dallas doesn’t have the draft capital or cap space to make massive trades, meaning they’ll search for high-upside additions instead.
  • The Cowboys don’t have many trade candidates themselves, but could add low-level draft choices in exchange for a pair of veterans.

The Dallas Cowboys have finished the regular season 12-5 in each of the past three years, capturing the NFC East crown twice in that time frame. However, they only have one playoff victory to show for it following their most recent bedwetting as the conference’s No. 2 seed in 2023.

Since then, Dallas has retained head coach Mike McCarthy, for better or worse, and… well, not really much else. Unless you count a reunion with one former star and not expressing interest in another, things have been rather quiet on the Cowboys’ front.

With three major roster holes remaining as the team gears up for another shot at redemption, the Jones family has some work to do over the next few months. Unfortunately, they are up against the wall in terms of making it happen.

At this moment, Dallas boasts just over $10.4 million in cap space and has some tricky contract extensions looming in the background as CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, and Dak Prescott are all set to receive a massive deal.

The Cowboys have yet to make any trade decisions after the conclusion of the NFL Draft in April, but that doesn’t mean we can’t scout a few non-free agent options for them in the meantime. Three names, all of whom fantasy football players will recognize, stand out as potential fits.


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Top Dallas Cowboys Trade Candidates

Dallas currently lacks a starting-caliber player at multiple offensive positions

Mike McCarthy

The Cowboys’ major free agent losses left them in need of starters along their offensive line and in the backfield. Increased production from receivers outside Lamb is also considered a necessity, putting Dallas in the running for another wideout as well.

Dallas Cowboys’ Top Trade Targets




2024 Cap Hit

Khalil Herbert




Courtland Sutton




Rashod Bateman




Acquiring a quality lineman via trade requires a team to part with a solid draft pick or possess a good chunk of cap space to use on his larger contract; sometimes both. With Dallas scarce in those respects, any trade they pursue will likely involve the forfeiture of mid-to-low-level draft picks for underrated skill positional talent.

RB Khalil Herbert – Chicago Bears

Khalil Herbert Chicago Bears
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears have enjoyed a fruitful offseason. They’ve secured what they hope to be their new franchise QB in Caleb Williams with the NFL Draft’s top selection, already picked up superstar wide receiver Keenan Allen in a steal of a trade, and added another blue-chip WR prospect in Rome Odunze to their budding roster via the No. 9 overall pick.

That said, things can’t be sunshine and roses for everyone. The brutal part of the Bears’ renaissance for Khalil Herbert is that his snap share has likely fallen victim to their newfound trajectory.

Just minutes into the legal tampering period, Herbert lost his presumed starting running back gig to D’Andre Swift, who was the recipient of a three-year, $24 million contract. The former sixth-round pick, owner of a 4.9 yards per rushing attempt average across his career, went from expecting to cede some work to second-year pro Roschon Johnson—a pick of general manager Ryan Poles—to possibly the third option of a three-man committee in the blink of an eye.

Khalil Herbert – 2023 Stats



Games Played






Total TD


Yards Per Carry


Receiving Yards


PFF Charting

Grade (Rank)

Rushing Grade

79.4 (14th)

Passing Grade

67.5 (18th)

Overall Grade

77.9 (14th)

Chicago’s potential oversight could serve as Dallas’ gain. Even with Ezekiel Elliot now on the roster, the Cowboys need a running back to round out the RB room, and Herbert’s game is very similar to Tony Pollard’s.

In fact, the two slotted right next to one another in Pro Football Focus’ 2023 tailback grades, with Herbert just nudging out Pollard (77.5) for the 14th overall spot. Herbert has also averaged more than five yards per rush in 11 of the 16 career games in which he has received double-digit carries.

Recouping a sixth-round choice (No. 216 overall) three years after the former regime utilized the 217th overall pick on Herbert in 2021 will feel like a steal to Chicago general manager Ryan Poles, and could represent a massive coup for Dallas.

Once acquired, the Cowboys would be able to rely on a combination of Herbert and short-yardage back Elliott to shoulder the load in 2024. After that, they could find their next franchise back in 2025’s highly-regarded RB class and, if all goes well, ink Herbert to a short-term extension as insurance while the rookie finds his footing.

WR Courtland Sutton – Denver Broncos

Courtland Sutton can't haul in a pass
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Courtland Sutton, the center of many a trade rumor in recent years, is the last of the Denver Broncos’ old guard following the departures of Russell Wilson and Jerry Jeudy this offseason. Denver’s decision to fully guarantee Sutton’s 2024 salary makes it seem as if he’ll be there for their impending season of doom, but his social media moves indicate he may be less than thrilled about a potential rebuild.

The Broncos’ signing of Josh Reynolds in free agency and decision to keep Tim Patrick coming off multiple season-ending injuries could pave the way for them to finally deal the 28-year-old Sutton away. Reynolds, Patrick, and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey, whose role grew significantly from Week 13 onward last season, are all of similar physical stature to the 6’4″, 216-pound receiver.

Courtland Sutton – 2023 Stats



Games Played










Yards Per Reception


PFF Grade


PFF Positional Rank


Sutton’s potential cap hit, while accurate, is misleading for Dallas’ purposes. If Denver were to trade him, they’d incur a dead cap hit of $9.7 million. The Cowboys would then take on the remaining $7.7 million, a much more tenable figure. Sutton’s aforementioned frame and jump-ball ability downfield are just what Lamb needs to see more open space in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field.

Per FantasyPros, Courtland Sutton had the most red-zone touchdown receptions (8) in the NFL last year, and second-most red-zone receiving yards (114), behind only Lamb (135).

In exchange, the Broncos could acquire a package similar to the one they received for Jeudy—a 2025 fifth-round and sixth-round selection—or a future fourth-rounder as part of a late-round swap. Either way, Denver has more future draft capital to aid their rebuild and helps their immediate “tanking” efforts with one swing.

If things don’t work out for Sutton in Jerry World, the Cowboys’ worst-case scenario is designating Sutton a post-June 1 cut and saving $14 million against the 2025 cap while absorbing a modest $1.9 million dead money charge. What happens in 2025 won’t matter to anyone, though, if his addition has the desired effect on Dallas’ trophy case.

WR Rashod Bateman – Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman vs. New England Patriots
Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Underrated may not be the appropriate phrase to describe Rashod Bateman three years into his career. He dealt with multiple injuries in his first two seasons, which led the Baltimore Ravens to draft Zay Flowers and sign Odell Beckham Jr. to appease Lamar Jackson and get the QB inked to a long-term deal.

Bateman still started 12 games and saw the second-most offensive snaps of any Ravens receiver/tight end in 2023, but ranked fourth in targets, fifth in receptions, and sixth in yards on the team. The ailments he and Jackson have been saddled with throughout their time together have impacted their chemistry, leading to many missed opportunities downfield.

Among players with 50+ targets last year, Bateman ranked seventh in the league in average depth of target (14.5 yards), per FTNFantasy, ahead of big-time per-game producers Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, and Mike Evans, among others.

Bateman’s proficiency at getting open down the field would seem to pair well with Dak Prescott, who ranked seventh in deep pass accuracy and fourth in deep pass EPA, according to PFF.

Better yet, the proof may already be in the pudding. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s comp for Bateman ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft was former Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup. Prior to suffering a calf strain and torn ACL during the 2021 campaign, Gallup posted 1,107 yards as Dak’s No. 2 receiver in 2019 and 843 yards as his and Andy Dalton’s No. 3 wideout in 2020.

As a 2021 first-round pick, Bateman’s ceiling remains sky-high. Baltimore knows this, and insists they intend to capitalize on it next season. However, Baltimore added North Carolina wide receiver Devontez Walker in April’s draft, making Bateman expendable.

Rashod Bateman – 2023 Stats



Games Played










Yards Per Reception


PFF Grade


PFF Positional Rank


Dallas brought in a receiver of their own, but it was only a sixth-round pick (Ryan Flournoy), meaning the need for Bateman or the aforementioned Sutton is still present. However, the holes at running back, center, and left tackle—or left guard, depending on how they deploy 2023 Second-Team All-Pro Tyler Smith moving forward—should take precedence for their win-now aspirations to be realized.

With three projected compensation picks coming in 2025, the Cowboys can afford to ship a future selection to Baltimore and get Bateman into town. A trade resembling the Cleveland Browns’ package for Elijah Moore last March—a second-round pick (No. 42) in exchange for the player and a third-round choice (No. 74)—could do the trick.

Dallas may have to settle for a lesser pick, though, perhaps two rounds lower than the one they swap, because the 2025 draft is still a year away.

Financially, the Cowboys would absorb a cap hit of roughly $2.4 million in 2024, easily worth the potential bang of Bateman succeeding in the role Gallup himself failed to hold onto following his major injuries. They could also pick up Bateman’s fifth-year option, worth $14.4 million, if they desired. The more logical decision would be to decline the option and sign him to an extension or pick up a 2026 compensation pick if he put together a quality season.

A relatively low-risk, high-reward move like this one would be perfect for Dallas’ short-term goals. If the Ravens are game for a trade involving Bateman, the Cowboys would be foolish not to throw their hat in the ring.

Top Dallas Cowboys Trade Candidates

Not many logical options that aid immediate contention

Brandin Cooks vs. Buffalo Bills
Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

At age 81, Jerry Jones is acutely aware he won’t be around forever. His desire to win another Super Bowl must be acquiesced in the here and now; otherwise, he may not be around to see his franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy. This reality limits the number of current Cowboys who may be available in trades.

The biggest potential candidates are Prescott, Lamb, and Micah Parsons, all of whom would irreparably damage Dallas’ short-term outlook if shipped elsewhere. That brings us to a pair of players whose production could easily be accounted for by others currently on the roster, or lower-cost alternatives.

WR Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks catch vs. Detroit Lions
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s absolutely wild that Brandin Cooks, after a decade in the league, is still just 31 years old. He has been around the block, eclipsing 1,000 yards in six different seasons for four different teams along the way. His production has slipped in the last two years, though, making his $10 million tag feel pretty hefty.

In 2023, 26.3% of Cooks’ receiving yards (173/657) came in one game. He only topped 50 yards on three of 17 possible occasions, including the playoffs.

Brandin Cooks – 2023 Stats



Games Played










Yards Per Reception


PFF Grade


PFF Positional Rank


The Cowboys need someone to consistently garner targets from outside positioning other than Lamb, who lined up in the slot more than half the time a year ago. Cooks handled eight targets in each of his last three games, but managed only 146 yards on his 17 catches (8.6 yards per reception) in that span. He could function as their No. 3 receiver, but his cost would feel even more exorbitant in that role.

Cooks would be a solid fit in his old Foxborough stomping grounds, where the New England Patriots could use a player with more juice left in the tank than Juju Smith-Schuster to assist their rookie quarterback Drake Maye. The Buffalo Bills may also be interested, as their current top two receivers shape up more as slot weapons.

The return from either team would be modest; something along the lines of a sixth-round pick for Cooks and a seventh-round choice, or even just a worse sixth-rounder. The Cowboys would clear $4 million in cap space by moving him, giving them some breathing room to go out and sign a short-term placeholder at left tackle (David Bakhtiari, perhaps?) or running back.

QB Cooper Rush

Cooper Rush vs. San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

To say Rush is well-liked by Jones may be an understatement. The undrafted seventh-year pro from Central Michigan has been with Dallas his entire career, and performed admirably in Prescott’s stead during a five-game stretch in which he went 4-1 during the 2022 season. He played seven games of mop-up duty last season, throwing for 144 yards and tossing one interception on 24 pass attempts.

Rush’s modest cap hit ($2.9 million) and prior experience make him an ideal No. 3 quarterback and helpful mentor for former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who’s waiting in the wings to become Prescott’s primary backup. Barring injury to another QB during the regular season, he’s unlikely to be traded.

If a team were in a desperate enough pinch, though, Rush could potentially be packaged with a seventh-round selection to bring the Cowboys a sixth-rounder in return, akin to what Josh Dobbs did for the Arizona Cardinals at the trade deadline last year.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless stated otherwise.


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