With the NFL trade deadline rapidly approaching, rumors are swirling around the 4-4 Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is just a few key players away from being a true contender, and Jerry Jones isn't the kind of GM who's happy with a team that's "good enough". Over the last 24 hours, talk has been heating about about an elite DE and a top running back who could take the Cowboys to the next level.
Will the Cowboys trade for Jared Allen?
The Vikings, now 1-6 after a humbling loss to the Packers, have to be looking for ways they can speed up their rebuilding process. If they're smart, they'll find a way to cash in on Jared Allen before his price starts to drop. Allen is still one of the NFL's top defensive ends, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and won't be a valuable trade chip for much longer.
The combination of Allen and DeMarcus Ware would take the Cowboys defense to another level. Dallas has the assets to make a deal happen, and we've heard this one could be heating up in the very near future. Jerry Jones won't hesitate to pull the trigger if Minnesota likes what he can offer, and it sounds like that offer might include a well-known wide receiver.
The Cowboys are actively trying to move Miles Austin, who no longer factors into their long-term plans, and Austin could be a tempting makeweight for a Vikings team desperately searching for offensive weapons who can distract other teams from Adrian Peterson. Including Austin in the deal also helps this work financially, as getting his salary off the books would make room to bring on Allen's.
Speaking of Adrian Peterson...while he's still unlikely to move, the Cowboys are closely monitoring his situation. If Jerry Jones hears that Minnesota is considering letting Peterson leave, you better believe he has Vikings GM Rick Spielman on speed dial.
So what are the chances Jared Allen gets traded to Dallas? While there's about a 60-70% chance he moves, there are a number of other interested teams, and we think the Cowboys have a 20% chance of landing the five-time Pro Bowler.
Will the Cowboys try to bring Darren McFadden to Dallas?
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is one of the NFL's premier backs when he's healthy. His two-touchdown performance against Pittsburgh was a great example of what McFadden can bring to the table when he isn't sidelined, and the Cowboys (despite their public stance) are very much on the hunt for a running back.
Dallas sees DeMarco Murray as a component in a multi-dimensional running game, not as a running game all by himself. His latest injury was all the evidence the Cowboys front office needed to start looking elsewhere, as the ground game completely evaporated in Murray's absence. Darren McFadden, despite his injury history, would be a dangerous weapon within the Cowboys' price range. Convincing Oakland to deal McFadden won't be easy, but it won't be impossible - the Raiders have privately resigned themselves to losing McFadden when his contract expires after this season, and if they can get something for him now, they'll seriously consider it.
The chance of the Cowboys bringing McFadden to Dallas? 35%
Is Jason Garrett on the hot seat?
Dallas may not be a Super Bowl contender, but they're too talented to be 4-4 in the NFL's weakest division. Jason Garrett has some room for error thanks to his close relationship with Jerry Jones, but as soon as Jones decides he can do better, Garrett might need to start polishing up his resume. Garrett is safe this year as long as he makes the playoffs and the Cowboys don't embarrass themselves once they get there, but anything less just won't cut it.
A few guys to watch if things go south in Dallas - Alabama's Nick Saban and Baylor's Art Briles are believed to be the two names at the top of the Cowboys' list. With the NFC East in such a sorry state, it looks like Garrett will be safe barring an unprecedented meltdown, but with Jerry Jones, you never know.
Will Jason Garrett get fired? Only if the Cowboys miss the playoffs or get blown out once they get there.