Behind The Scenes Of The Cowboys Pursuit Of Draft Trade For QB Paxton Lynch - And What Went 'Wrong'

'We were working real hard to get up there for QB Paxton Lynch,’ says Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Inside, the Premium story with the nuts and bolts of what went 'wrong' from sources inside the Dallas Draft Room.

How much did the Dallas Cowboys covet Memphis QB Paxton Lynch as a trade-back-up first-rounder?

So much that according to the Trade Value Chart, Dallas’ offer featured more “points’’ than the eventual winning bid the Broncos gave the Seahawks for the No 26 overall pick Denver eventually used on Lynch.


So much that sources tell me that Dallas began making trade-up calls (using the No. 34 overall pick, a second-rounder, as bait) when Buffalo got on the clock at No. 19 … and that Dallas kept making calls to virtually all the teams from 19 to 26 until Seattle grabbed the Denver offer.

So much that while Lynch wasn’t their top-ranked QB (Jared Goff was that, with Lynch apparently second), the Cowboys obviously believe what I’ve reported about the Memphis product for 18 months: He can be a franchise QB due to the idea he has what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones termed "the highest upside in the draft.''

'We were working real hard to get up there for the quarterback Paxton Lynch,’’ Jerry confirmed -- and I believe there were at least two occasions on which Dallas actually thought it has a deal.

So what went wrong? What left the Cowboys "An Inch From Lynch''?

Here’s COO Stephen Jones’ explanation:

“We made a big push. We tried and a lot of times you can get those things done. This time it didn’t come our way. Really felt like we had a heck of a chance of getting in there and we were working hard to get our pick up there and had a player in mind that we liked and unfortunately it didn’t go our way this time. We weren’t able to get a trade that we felt like was within range. We didn’t end up getting it done. So it was a little disappointing that we didn’t get it done, but sometimes things work out for the best and we think that’s what will happen right here.”

And yet “went wrong’’ is a strong phrase, really, the wrong phrase. Because Dallas did here exactly as it did at pick No. 4, when it entertained offers but stuck to the TVC and stuck to the board to take Ezekiel Elliott rather than swapping back. (A powerful voice in that “No, No!’’ process in the conversation with the Ravens? Coach Jason Garrett.) 

Now to the TVC points:

The Broncos got:

2016 first-round pick (No. 26; Paxton Lynch) = 700 points

Broncos total: 700 points

The Seahawks got:

2016 first-round pick (No. 31; Germain Ifedi) = 600 points

2016 third-round pick (No. 94) = 124 points

Seahawks total: 724 points

That’s 700 points to 724 points. So contrary to conventional reporting of this swap, nobody “overpaid’’ or “gave up a King’s Ransom.’’ 700 to 724 is close enough to be “fair.’'

Ah, but Dallas’ offer — as near as I can tell eventually rising to a second (No. 34) and a third (No. 67) -- totals 815 points.

So Dallas’ 815 should beat out Denver’s 724. Right?

Ah, but Denver’s bid included that 31 that - while just a tiptoe up from Dallas’ 34 — is a first-round pick that comes with the extra/fifth contractual year. Also (UPDATE), Peter King notes that Dallas considered giving the three but stuck on giving only the fourth-rounder.

That fifth year, of course, was a key to the Cowboys’ desire for Lynch: Rather than have a player under the standard four-year deal (as is the case for second-rounders on down), he’s be the QB in waiting for five Dallas years, eventually ready to inherit Tony Romo’s crown.

Why didn’t Dallas just say, “aw, what the hell!’’ and throw in more picks? Well, that’s a violation of the TVC (Jerry said maybe he should've offered more -- "sweetened the pot'' -- but that's not the way this front office works anymore) … and maybe they weren’t quite THAT convinced of Lynch’s franchise-QB-ness.

But they did go for it, starting with Buffalo at 19 and then the Jets and 20 and on and on, hoping for a dance partner that never accepted the invite. So … the Cowboys will go for it again. I don’t think at No. 34, which seems earmarked for a defensive lineman (Ogbah, Billings, Dodd, Robinson, Reed). But certainly later, right, Stephen?

“We’ll re-evaluate and look at where our situation is with the remaining quarterbacks,’’ he said. "I wouldn’t totally say that we’re out but I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’re all in, either. It’s something that we’ll evaluate as we go and if the right quarterback hangs in there again and we like him then we wouldn’t rule out anything.”



Meaning, no, likely not a QB at 34. But know that this team that used seven of its 30 Pre-Draft Visits on QBs (including Cook, Hackenberg, Prescott and Brissett) will be pinpointing another non-Lynch candidate to be Romo’s heir … or at least, his caddy.

UPDATE: The Cowboys got Prescott at QB. To instead get Lynch, they would've had to sacrifice 34 and 67 - where they took Jaylon Smith and Maliek Collins. It's easy for Jerry to talk about "sweetening the pot,'' as he told us, or about "losing sleep'' over no Lynch, as he told King. But the issue is, would you rather have Lynch or Jaylon/Collins. Jerry is saying he loved Lynch and loves Jaylon ... but you don't automatically get both. You have to choose. The Cowboys chose, straight off the Board and straight off the Chart.


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