Once again, the Cowboys find themselves with over 20 players who have expiring contracts. But still, there's a large percentage of players on the roster already in place. Over the next few weeks, the staff writers will evaluate those players under contract, reviewing their past performances with an outlook to the future. Today, we'll continue the series with left tackle Tyler Smith.
What Worked: By all accounts, Tyler Smith was exactly what the Cowboys were hoping for when they selected him with the 24th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Tulsa. After spending the majority of his time in training camp at left guard, Tyler Smith was moved back his natural spot at left tackle after a hamstring injury to Tyron Smith. In turn, the younger Smith flourished by starting all 17 games and quickly showed off his physical prowess by making strides in his run blocking and pass protection while seeing time at both left guard and left tackle en route to earning NFL All-Rookie Team honors.
Needs Some Work: One of the knocks on Smith coming into his Cowboys' tenure was his issues with frequent penalties in college, and that followed him to an extent to Dallas. Smith played in 99% of the Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2022 but was tagged for six holding penalties and five false starts, placing him in the top-10 for most penalized offensive linemen last season that qualified. While it is something that both Smith and the Cowboys will look to clean up, it was the only blemish on an otherwise strong rookie campaign.
His Best Work: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Smith last season was his ability to flip-flop between tackle and guard while maintaining a high quality of play. His pure strength and aggressive play style showed in the running game almost to a fault with the holding calls to show for it at either position, while the guidance of veterans like Jason Peters and Tyron Smith proved to be beneficial.
Contract Considerations: Smith is owed a base salary of $1.3 million and a signing bonus of $1.7 million in 2023 before his base salary jumps to $1.9 million in 2024 and then $2.5 million in 2025. The Cowboys will have the fifth-year option on Smith ahead of the 2026 season given his first-round draft status.
What's Next: Unquestionably Smith will be a part of the Cowboys' starting offensive line next season, the question however is where that will be. With Tyron Smith expected to be healthy and ready to go next season, he could reclaim his left tackle spot and subsequently move the younger Smith inside to guard. Otherwise, the Cowboys could elect to leave their 2022 first round draft choice at the tackle spot and choose to fill the open guard spot through the draft in April.