Cowboys 1st & 10: Trades & ‘Organic Tanking’

The Dallas Cowboys may end up 'tanking' their way to a Top-10 pick ... But it'll probably happen 'organically'
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Could the Dallas Cowboys turn what’s left of the 2020 season into an ‘Organic Tanking’ scenario?

1) Organic Tanking

If you read our sister site,, you know our Mike Fisher long-ago created the theory of ‘Organic Tanking.'

The Dallas Mavericks never used the word ‘tanking’ during the 2017-18 season. The goal was to always keep the team as relevant as possible to keep forward Dirk Nowitzki’s title window as wide open as possible. But that season proved to be a lost one for Dallas. The Mavs won just 24 games. They didn’t need to ‘give up’ and try to tank. They just did it ‘organically’ because, well, they were just plain bad.

The prize ended up being Luka Doncic. So it worked out.

The Cowboys enter a breaking-point moment of this season the next eight days. On Sunday night, they play the Philadelphia Eagles. The following Sunday they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Cowboys lose both of those games they’ll fall to 2-7 entering their bye week.

Their season, at that point, would be over. It would be all about getting a high draft pick.

That’s where we get into ‘organic tanking.’ If you’re the Cowboys, how hard do work to ‘improve’ the team? Do you rush players back from injury situations or let them stay on injured reserve? Do you work the waiver wire with the same ferocity you might if you’re trying to make the playoffs? Do you give the youngsters playing time they might not get during a winning season?

In other words, you don’t ‘try’ to lose. You just let it happen. You know, ‘organically.’

If the Cowboys lose the next two games, here’s hoping the Cowboys just let it happen.

The last time the Cowboys ‘organically tanked’ was 2015. The Cowboys went 4-12 that year and, oddly enough, the Cowboys lost their quarterback that season, too. Tony Romo missed 12 games due to injury and went 2-12 after a 2-0 start. In retrospect, the Cowboys just couldn’t help themselves. They ‘organically tanked’ their way into the No. 4 overall pick.

That ‘organic tank’ set up a 2016 draft in which the Cowboys picked up Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round, defensive tackle Maliek Collins in the third round, Prescott in the fourth round, and cornerback Anthony Brown in the sixth round. Four of the five players are still with the Cowboys.

This scenario could be why the Cowboys don’t appear to be in search of making major moves at the trade deadline (which comes on Tuesday). They know the die may be cast by next Sunday and, at that point, why work that hard to get into the postseason in this COVID-influenced season? At that point, just take your lumps and get the best pick you can.

It could end up being a Top-10 selection, perhaps even a Top-5. What would that get the Cowboys?

Perhaps Tyron Smith’s heir apparent in Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi?

Perhaps help at linebacker like Penn State’s Micah Parsons?

Perhaps more help at cornerback like Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II or Ohio State’s Shaun Wade?

Or, perhaps, a shiny NEW quarterback in Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance? Forget about Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. He’s going No. 1 and the Cowboys won’t be THAT bad.

But by Nov. 9, we’ll know just how bad this season could be and how much ‘organic tanking’ the Cowboys might engage in to improve their future.

2) Roster Moves In the Lead-Up to Philly

The Cowboys’ loss to Washington exposed the possibility of player moves leading up to Sunday’s game with Philadelphia and the trade deadline on Tuesday.

First, the Cowboys made a trade, dealing defensive end Everson Griffen to the Lions for a couple of draft picks.

Right around the same time, our team reported that if the Cowboys couldn’t get a trade done, they might release a couple of veterans. That might have led you to believe that the Griffen trade would have saved those two veterans from being released.

Well, that didn’t happen. Those two veterans, defensive end Dontari Poe and cornerback Daryl Worley, were out of the picture by mid-week. Poe appeared to be cut because he was not in shape. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones even said as much to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in a report that circulated on Wednesday. Our Mike Fisher indicated that there might have been a reason that was just as logical.

Then we had to get a little speculative because did about wide receiver Amari Cooper. Our Mike Fisher cut through the flawed logic of the piece here.

But, on Friday, the Cowboys worked out a deal with the Houston Texans to acquire defensive tackle Eli Ankou in exchange for a seventh-round pick.

I see a theme here. It seems every time there’s a published report out there about the Cowboys, our Mike Fisher has a source — an actual source within the Cowboys’ organization — that can help him get to the reality. And you can get all of that at

So if you want trade deadline news you can trust, turn to Fish and The ’75-Member Staff.’

3) Check out the Cowboy Maven Top 60 All-Time Dallas Cowboys

We published our Top 60 Dallas Cowboys of all-time as part of our celebration of the Cowboys’ 60 seasons in Dallas. We presented the Top 60 in groups of five. We hope you enjoyed the series and if you have an opinion, take them to our Cowboy Maven community or hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.

If you missed any of the stories in our Top 60, just click on them below.

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 56-60

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 51-55

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 46-50

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 41-45

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 36-40

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 31-35

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 26-30

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 21-25

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 16-20

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 11-15

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 6-10

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 1-5

4) Cowboys QBs?

Fish, again, on top of two hot rumors ...

After it became clear that Andy Dalton likely wouldn’t play on Sunday due to moving into the league’s concussion protocol, the Cowboys had to consider their options at quarterback, right? Well, they did sign Cooper Rush for some insurance. But our Mike Fisher had to throw some cold water on a published report that the Cowboys might move to get now-demoted starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Then Fish explored whether it is worth the Cowboys’ time to go after quarterback Jameis Winston, now a backup for the New Orleans Saints.

5) Cowboys Trade Tracker

Hey, want everything that's happening leading up to Nov. 3 in one handy spot?

➡️ Cowboys NFL Trade Deadline Tracker

Click there. Click often.

6) Locked On Cowboys: Can Problems Be Solved vs. Eagles?

The Dallas Cowboys were last week instructed by their own head coach to cut it out with the “woe-is-me” attitude.

That is good advice for the rest of us, too - and maybe for the fine folks of Philadelphia as well.

In this episode of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast, Marcus Mosher talks with Gino Cammilleri of “Locked On Eagles” to preview the upcoming divisional matchup between these two struggling-yet-contending teams.

Somebody is going to spend the rest of the 2020 NFL season coming out on top in the NFC East, That pursuit marches on to this Week 8 visit to Philly for a “Sunday Night Football” showcase.

Give Locked On Cowboys a listen by clicking here.

And, earlier this week, the Locked On Cowboys team talked about whether linebacker Jaylon Smith is playing for his job right now. You can hear more here. Plus, the Locked On group got together to give some advice to Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci (unsolicited, of course, but still worth a listen).

7) Things that will help you this Sunday vs. Philadelphia

If you’re still getting ready for Sunday’s game with Philadelphia, here is some great content to get you prepped:

➡️ Blitzcast: Cowboys Worst Performers - Ever?

➡️ Cowboys Can’t Cover: Eagles Betting Odds

➡️ Cowboys Call-Ups for Eagles Include Sean Lee

➡️ The Ben DiNucci Scouting Report Ahead of Philly

➡️ God & Jesus Make Appearances At Cowboys HQ

8) Danny White with a little Cowboys shade

Danny White has a pretty sweet gig. Did you know the Cowboys are so popular that they not only have the radio network where you hear Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg call Cowboys games, but they also have the Compass Media Network, where White calls Cowboys games with Kevin Ray?

Well, White talked with K&C Masterpiece on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas-Fort Worth earlier this week and he distilled the Cowboys’ current issues down to one thing:

"In my opinion,'' said White, "they've got too many 'me-first' players and not enough 'team-first' players.''

Fish dissected the appearance here.

9) Whitt's End: Cowboys Screwed Themselves, Free Agency Edition

From our Richie Whitt:

There are statement games. And then – like Sunday night in Philadelphia – there are survival games. A loss drops the Dallas Cowboys to 2-6. Since the NFL expanded its playoffs in 1990, 112 teams have started 2-6. None have made the playoffs.

At the halfway point, this season could already devolve into next season.

“I think it’s just kind of 2020 summed up,” says Ezekiel Elliott. “We have had a lot of injuries. We haven’t played the best in some games. We’ve got to figure out something fast. We’ve got to win this weekend.”

Read Whitt’s End by clicking here.

10) Tweet Of The Week

Many moons from now, we’ll talk about the day tabasco trumped defense.