Markquese Bell

Markquese Bell


Cowboys safety Markquese Bell could be an ideal trade candidate before the season starts.

The Dallas Cowboys should consider trading one young key starter, says one analyst.

As part of Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report‘s list of players that each team should consider trading, Cowboys safety/linebacker Markquese Bell is considered the player that Dallas should trade before the 2024 season. Bell — who began his career as a safety — converted to linebacker last season and ended up starting 12 games while racking up 94 tackles, ranking second on the team in the category.

However, Davenport argues that the 25-year-old was exposed in the team’s 48-32 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. The defensive unit allowed 415 total yards and 143 rushing yards in the loss — the third-highest totals allowed in a single game by the Cowboys all season long.

“Bell played in all 17 games, making eight starts and tallying 94 total tackles,” writes Davenport. “But in the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Packers, Bell’s size and lack of experience were both exposed by a Green Bay team that gashed Dallas on the ground.”

Why Markquese Bell Projects as Cowboys Backup in 2024

Although Bell played 61% of the defensive snaps last season, there isn’t a clear path to playing time for the third-year player this season. Outside of the argument that Bell was exposed in the team’s playoff loss to the Packers, he projects as a backup as he converts back to his natural position of safety.

Veterans Donovan Wilson (member of the Cowboys since 2019) and Malik Hooker (member of Dallas since 2021 season) are penciled in as the starters at safety this season.

“With that position shored up, the Cowboys plan to move Bell back to his more natural position of safety,” writes Davenport. “But even with Jayron Kearse gone, Dallas still has a pair of established starters in Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker. There may not be a clear path to significant playing time for Bell with the Cowboys.”

Commanders Named as Potential Landing Spot for Markquese Bell

Over the course of the entire 2023 season, Bell actually had a very productive campaign. According to Pro Football Focus, Bell posted a 79.9 defensive grade and 87.6 grade in coverage. As noted by Todd Brock of Cowboys Wire, those grades ranked him among the very best among all linebackers.

“He did well, logging a top-10 defensive snap count and racking up 94 tackles to finish second on the team while lining up primarily at ‘backer,” writes Brock. “He also added four passes defended, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles, ending up with a top-20 PFF grade and a coverage score that made him fifth-best among all linebackers.”

However, Bell’s inexperience at linebacker and his small frame — he’s 205 pounds — ended up showing later on in the season as the Cowboys started getting gashed in the run game. Davenport mentions the Washington Commanders — who are now coached by former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — as a possible trade destination.

“But there are several NFL teams that could have a use for Bell’s versatility as a ‘hybrid’ player—including former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is now the head coach for the Washington Commanders,” writes Davenport.

Trading a key defensive player to a division rival for the sake of unloading him is never a good idea. While Bell doesn’t project as a starter this season, he would be the next man up at safety if either Wilson or Hooker are injured. The fact that he already experience as a starter and is playing on an undrafted free agent salary of under $1 million this season gives the Cowboys little reason to move on from Bell.

DJ Siddiqi covers the NFL for, with a focus on the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has covered the NFL and NBA for Forbes, ClutchPoints, CBS Sports, 24/7 Sports and Bleacher Report before joining Heavy. More about DJ Siddiqi

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