The Dallas Cowboys made it a further statement that they plan on not just locking up the NFC East early on but also going on a deep playoff run. Things haven’t been perfect but after a big win on Sunday night the 4-3 Cowboys returned atop the division. On Thursday, they traded for DE Michael Bennett from the Patriots for next to nothing in a 2021 seventh-round pick.
Bennett is a former three-time Pro Bowler who last played for the Eagles before being dealt to New England for a 2020 seventh-rounder back in March. He had a very solid 2018 season, especially when you compare it to his quiet performance this year. He’s recorded just 2.5 sacks and five total tackles. He’s far away from his career-best 10 sacks in 2015 with Seattle but he’s likely to see more playing time in his new destination after participating in just 130 snaps thus far with the Patriots.
If he can return to his star times, the Cowboys could be getting a steal in Bennett. He has some previous experience in showing his potential in the second half of the season as was the case in 2018. The Cowboys got lucky that Bennett also played his way out of New England before being suspended for the Pats’ last game against the Jets. Now in Dallas, Bennett has finally put behind the least productive period of his career and a new, fresh start can help the Cowboys more than anything they could have done.
The Cowboys’ defensive line has been ineffective, with ESPN Next Gen Stats noting that Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence are both in top 5 in terms of double team rate among edge rushers. The same source also mentions that Bennett played 81 of 130 snaps in NE as a defensive tackle rather than an end. So while he’s currently listed as a second-choice edge rusher behind Quinn on the depth chart, inefficiency can prompt Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to increase Bennett’s snaps at the tackle position.
Despite having brought down quarterbacks 17 times, ranking the Cowboys just 17th in the NFL, they’ve allowed just 96 yards a game on the ground. Bennett in his current shape has been a question mark, he could bring a slight improvement that will translate into putting pressure on the passer.
The acquisition of an experienced player that brings an improvement to one of Dallas’ weaknesses is a wise and cheap move. However, don’t expect the Cowboys to stop there. A WR should definitely be in their shopping cart come Tuesday, which they’ll have time to figure out during their bye weekend in Week 8. Dak Prescott is very dependent on his receiving corps and the team’s three losses all came after a disappointing offensive effort. Ezekiel Elliot, meanwhile, has rushed for 100+ yards in four of the seven games he’s took part in.
With Amari Cooper finally finding his rhythm, catching 106 yards against Philadelphia, another weapon for Dak could establish a more consistent offensive unit. A.J. Green could be in the conversation since Dallas probably won’t have to give up a high first-round draft pick. Jets receiver Robby Anderson, just placed on the trade block, could be another option, with both of them becoming free agents after the conclusion of the 2019 season.