Cowboys Urged to Trade for Former Top-10 Pick With 245 Tackles to Fix Glaring Weakness

The Dallas Cowboys fielded one of the most porous run defenses in the NFL during the 2023 season, and despite largely sitting out free agency, could be poised to add the ideal player to fix those woes.


After allowing 112.3 rushing yards per game during the 2023 campaign, but likely needing to allocate draft capital to replacing Tyron Smith or upgrading the receiving corps around Dak Prescott, the Cowboys may need to turn to the trade market to bolster the defensive line.

Fortunately for Dallas, the Carolina Panthers seem to be having a bit of a fire-sale, after trading dynamic pass-rusher Brian Burns to the New York Giants.

According to The 33rd Team, the Cowboys are an ideal fit for Panthers defensive tackle and the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Derrick Brown.

“The Dallas Cowboys haven’t made many moves in free agency,” Dan Pizzuta writes, listing the Cowboys as an ideal destination for Brown. “But could use some run-defense help, even after using a first-round pick on Mazi Smith last season.

“With new deals coming for Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons, the Cowboys might not be eager to bring another expensive second contract. However, signing Brown to an extension early could save money long-term. Dallas ranked 29th in success rate against the run in 2023.”

What Derrick Brown Would Bring the Cowboys’ Defense

Brown is coming off the most dominant season of his career.

Making the Pro Bowl for the first time, Brown finished the 2023 campaign with a career-high 103 tackles, two sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and one interception.

It’s difficult to imagine Brown not being an immediate upgrade over Chauncey Golston, and the caliber of player capable of freeing up pass-rush opportunities for a player like Micah Parsons because of the double-teams he commands along the interior.

As ESPN points out, Brown was double-teamed on 58 percent of his snaps last season while posting the league’s 20th-best pass-rush-win-rate among defensive tackles, at 11 percent.

While Brown still has work to do, refining his game as an interior pass-rush presence, he’s downright dominant against the run, finishing last season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 ranked defensive tackle, overall, and second-ranked run-stopping interior defender in the league.

Can the Cowboys Afford Derrick Brown?

The Cowboys’ salary cap woes this offseason have been well documented.

As of March 26, the Cowboys only have approximately $4.9 million in cap space for the 2024 season. However, that figure doesn’t factor in any additional cap space that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys could create by restructuring Dak Prescott’s contract to lower his cap number.

Meanwhile, Dallas has plenty of spending flexibility in coming years, should the Cowboys trade for Brown and immediately rework his contract to push any significant guarantees or higher salaries into future years.

The Cowboys currently have $83.1 million in cap space in 2025, and $283 million in 2026, and $545.8 million in 2027.

Those figures in future years don’t include any extensions for Prescott, Parsons, or Lamb, but represent plenty of cap space to fit a new deal for Brown, should the Cowboys pull off a trade for him this offseason.

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