Time might soon be up for Taco Charlton. This offseason has been one wherein the former first-round pick isn't naive regarding his status with the Dallas Cowboys. Charlton battled both injury and attitude issues in 2018 that cost him games, the latter leading to him being a healthy scratch once he returned from the former. He'd again see the field before the season concluded, but the message had been sent by the Cowboys that they weren't going to coddle him -- regardless of what round he was selected in 2017. 

The Cowboys doubled down on that message by trading for All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn and then selecting Joe Jackson in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

There are now rumblings the Cowboys could be open to trading Charlton in the near future, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, and his latest cryptic message doesn't exactly dispel the rumor.

When it comes to discussing what's expected of Charlton in 2019, the Cowboys have been far from coy. Only days after this year's draft, team executive and scouting guru Will McClay made it clear Charlton better figure it out, or else.

"I'm expecting Taco to strap on his pads, put on his helmet and go out there and compete every day to prove that he belongs on this roster," McClay told 103.3FM ESPN Dallas in May. "The injury and all those things -- he's going to have to overcome that and be available. I expect Taco to put his best foot forward and battle and compete for a spot, but you know what? We're not going to hold the train for anybody.

"If you want to compete and roll with us, here it is. Everybody is going to have that opportunity. I expect Taco to be a much better player and a much more productive player. He was turning the corner last year.

"Injuries happen, and all that other stuff. I expect him to go and battle and compete. If him or anybody else isn't willing to compete, hopefully we have enough stuff there to keep us strong throughout the process."

Just over three months later, Charlton put on a show in the preseason dress rehearsal that led to him being guaranteed a spot on the Cowboys' final 53-man roster. Two weeks after that performance, however, he was a healthy scratch in the season opener against the New York Giants. With Quinn suspended for only one more game -- stemming from a two-game suspension levied by the NFL -- the feeling is that Charlton must be on the field for the Week 2 battle against the Washington Redskins to give himself a chance at remaining with the Cowboys for the longterm. 

Once Quinn returns to the right edge in Week 3 to battle the Miami Dolphins -- the team that traded him to Dallas this offseason -- the window for Charlton to prove himself will begin closing rapidly.

Speaking to ESPN San Antonio's 'The Blitz' on Monday following a blowout win over the Giants, head coach Jason Garrett didn't exactly invoke a ton of optimism for Charlton when asked directly if the 24-year-old had a future in North Texas.

"Yea, we'll see," Garrett said. "You know, it's always going to be a competition every week to see who's going to be up and available for us at all positions. We have 10 guys on the roster on the defensive line, and we dressed eight for the game. It just felt like guys we had up there gave us the best chance."

The devil is in the details here, and the first three words of Garrett's response are quite telling. Garrett did polish his stance a bit in his Wednesday press conference, though.

"We just feel good about the guys we have up and the guys who aren't part of the active roster each week," he said. "It's not necessarily a negative reflection on them. It's just we're trying to pick the 46 guys who can help us the most and in some cases, it's a role they might play -- position flex, some versatility. Sometimes it has everything to do with what [the team is] doing. 

"That's the reason we have the eight guys [down] from what we did and that's the reason why we have the 46 guys up that we did. We just think those guys give us the best chance."

What Garrett is referring to here is scheming the defense for the opposing offense, but it's still foreboding that Charlton couldn't beat out a rookie fifth-round pick in Jackson and another new acquisition in veteran Kerry Hyder

With Quinn soon to return and the Cowboys defensive line depth so robust, it stands to reason they'd entertain moving Charlton in the hopes of landing something meaningful in return. With news of second-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick having been granted permission by the Dolphins to seek a suitable trade partner, there's little doubt some ears perked up in Dallas. They've already established a rapport with Miami via the Quinn trade this offseason and although they love what they have in Xavier Woods and rookie Donovan Wilson as he readies to challenge Jeff Heath for the starting role at strong safety, it'll be hard to pass on Fitzpatrick, if the price is right. 

Therein lies the rub, though, because the Dolphins are reportedly asking for at least a first-round pick. 

That won't go over well with a Cowboys front office that gave up a 2019 first-round pick to land the service of Amari Cooper, and assuming they'd be willing to give up one in back-to-back years is illogical when also factoring in how well the Cowboys have drafted and just how much stock to put in having the picks to do so.

 An offer that would be more in the tone of the front office in Dallas would be potentially offering up Charlton and a mid-round pick for Fitzpatrick -- or even a second-rounder -- but the closing of that deal would involve Miami taking less than what they want and could likely get from other, more thirsty suitors.

It's at least worth a call though, and considering the Cowboys are secretly open to the idea of washing their hands with Charlton, I'd suspect it's one they'll pick up the phone and make -- if only for due diligence. It bears mentioning that Charlton was also an Official 30 visitor for the Dolphins leading into the 2017 draft. True, it's a different coaching staff now, but the interest could still be there. If amicable, it's a move that could serve both teams well.

Meanwhile, Charlton is playing the waiting game, but he may not have to wait much longer for what comes next.