IRVING, Texas – It's long been viewed as inevitable, but the Cowboys made it official Thursday by exercising the fifth-year option on Tyron Smith's contract.
The move extends Smith's contract through the 2015 season, and it bumps his salary from the roughly $2 million he'll make in 2014 to $10.039 million in the final year of the deal. That salary is guaranteed, and Smith gets it fully guaranteed if he is still on the Cowboys' roster at the start of the 2015 league year next March.
The next bit of news for Smith will be how this affects his prospects of reaching a longterm deal with the team, though it does buy both parties some time. The Cowboys had until May 2 to exercise the fifth-year option or Smith would have become a free agent next spring.
With the option, Smith now won't be slated to enter free agency until spring of 2016, but the Cowboys will likely try to lock him up well before that. The 23-year-old Los Angeles native doesn't turn 24 until December 12, and he is widely considered among the best young offensive tackles in the league, earning his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
Even with the extended contract, Smith is still likely to be one of the Cowboys' top targets for a new deal, along with wide receiver Dez Bryant. It's been widely speculated one or both players could receive new contracts prior to the 2014 season.
The Cowboys selected Smith No. 9 overall out of USC in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 47 of 48 possible games during his career – all of them starts. He played right tackle as a rookie before shifting to left tackle in 2012. [embedded_ad]
Smith's emergence as a dominant left tackle helped improve the Cowboys' much-maligned running game last fall. The Cowboys rushed for 95 yards or more four times in the final six weeks of the season, including four games of 107 yards or more. They managed that just once during the first 10 games of the year. The team's ground game averaged four yards per rush on attempts to Smith's side, and five yards per rush on attempts between Smith and guard Ronald Leary.
The strong finish earned DeMarco Murray his first Pro Bowl selection, in addition to Smith.