Cowboys Trade Proposal Adds ‘Low-Risk, High-Reward’ DL to Fix Run Defense

Now that the NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, one of the Dallas Cowboys‘ top priorities has to be fixing one of the league’s leakiest run defenses.

The Cowboys allowed 112.35 rushing yards per game during the 2023 season while surrendering 14 rushing touchdowns.

Given that Dallas waited until the seventh round to take a true defensive tackle, Auburn’s Justin Rogers, with the No. 244 overall selection, perhaps the Cowboys could look to pull off a trade for a veteran run-stuffer before the regular season kicks off this fall.

NFL analyst Dustin Mosher suggests Cleveland Browns‘ defensive lineman Maurice Hurst could be an ideal trade target to watch for the Cowboys.

“The Cleveland Browns’ defensive tackle room is extremely deep,” Mosher writes. ‘And Maurice Hurst could be a salary-cap casualty. Hurst is an older player, but he’s a solid rotational player who can penetrate the backfield.

“The Cowboys could use more depth on their defensive line, and Hurst could be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition. If he thrives in a rotational role, the Cowboys add an interior pass rusher. If he cannot carve out a role, they can easily move on.”

If nothing else, Hurst could provide veteran stability to a young group while contributing quality snaps in obvious run-downs.

Maurice Hurst Would be Affordable

Anything the Cowboys do this spring or summer will need to be affordable, given the cap constraints Dallas is operating under this offseason.

According to Spotrac, the Cowboys currently have just $5.72 million in cap space.

Meanwhile, the Browns re-signed Hurst to a one-year contract worth $3.2 million, before the new league year officially began on March 11.

Given that Hurst could be fighting for snaps with Dalvin Tomlinson, Shelby Harris, and incoming second-round pick Michael Hall Jr., Cleveland could view the 28-year-old as expendable.

Looking ahead to the 2025 NFL Draft, the Browns do not currently own a pick in the fifth round. Perhaps Browns general manager Andrew Berry would prefer a fifth-round pick in a trade from the Cowboys than holding Smith in a crowded position group.

How Maurice Hurst Would Fit Cowboys’ Defense

In addition to his prowess as a run-stopper, Hurst also can provide an interior pass-rush presence.

As Pro Football Focus points out, Hurst posted 18 quarterback pressures to go with his two sacks last season while garnering an 81 overall grade from the Outlet with a strong 76.5 run-blocking mark and 75.9 pass-rush grade.

Hurst’s 2023 performance is even more impressive given that his 22 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one interception came in 13 games before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral injury.

While the Browns boast a loaded front seven, Hurst still played a role in Cleveland finishing the 2023 season allowing a league-low 270.2 total yards per game and the league’s 11th-stingiest rushing defense.

The Cowboys are paper-thin behind starting defensive tackles Chauncey Golston, and Osa Odighizuwa, as 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith and Carl Davis. Jr. combined for just 16 total tackles last season.

Dallas has the draft capital and just enough cap space to fill a fairly significant need with a player such as Hurst who could have major upside if he can prove he’s fully healthy and return to the dominant form he showed in 2023.

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