When healthy and on the field, there is no one better than Tyron Smith – when he is healthy and on the field. Injuries seem to be keeping him off the field more and more. When is it time to consider the tough decision and find his successor? – TIM MAYEUX / MONUENT, CO
Rob: I agree they need a solid backup plan at left tackle because Smith has missed games, and remember, they did draft Josh Ball last year to compete for that swing tackle job before he got hurt. But I don't think trying to flat-out replace Smith now is the answer. There are too many other question marks on the roster, and arguably bigger question marks on the interior line. Like you said, when Smith was healthy last year he was really good. It's a position that I would continue to look at in the draft.
David: The simple answer is that it's been time to consider this, but that's a lot easier said than done. For instance, the Cowboys could have drafted an All-Pro tackle this past spring in Rashawn Slater – but I think most of us would agree we're happy with their decision to draft Micah Parsons, instead. So you keep looking. Perhaps a tackle will be the best player available at pick No. 24 this year. Or maybe they'll draft a Day 2 or Day 3 prospect who can compete with Josh Ball for a backup role. It's hard to predict how they'll do it, but it's definitely time to have an eye on the future.
Looking at the OverTheCap website, if cutting and trading a player has the same financial ramifications, why would a team even consider cutting a player with no compensation? – GARET TANAKA / WAILUKU, HI
Rob: The simple answer is that it's just not always that easy. In theory, sure, why wouldn't you want a draft choice in return, even if it's a later-round pick? But generally speaking, if a team wants to cut a player to save salary cap space, it probably means that contract might be tough for another team to absorb on their cap via trade -- assuming they would even want to take on that player's salary. Obviously it does happen or we'd never see trades happen. It's a complicated discussion because the terms of trades vary. For instance, when the Broncos traded Von Miller to the Rams, they still took on almost all of Miller's 2021 salary.
David: You've got to convince someone else to compensate you for the player, at the end of the day. It sounds easy to say, but it's hard to find trade partners who want to surrender draft assets – and then take on a large cap hit on top of that. You can't forget to include the wrinkles that opponents often know when you're trying to offload a player for salary cap purposes, and that gives them more leverage than you might anticipate. Like Rob said, that doesn't mean it's impossible. But there are many moving parts that can make it difficult to pull off.