As the Cowboys shift from free agency to the draft, let's focus on players who are under contract, with a look back to last year but still focusing on their role for the 2023 season. Today, we'll continue the series with tackle Tyron Smith.
What Worked: Before his season could even get started, Smith, the longest-tenured player on the Cowboys' roster, suffered an avulsion fracture of his left knee and torn hamstring in the final week of the preseason. He did return however to play the final four games of the regular season at right tackle for the first time since 2011 with the rookie Tyler Smith settling in at the left tackle spot for the vast majority of 2022. Though it was a small sample size (271 snaps) Smith looked like himself in spurts alongside another mainstay on the offensive line in Zack Martin.
Needs Some Work: It's no secret that Smith has battled the injury bug heavily over the last few seasons. He hasn't played a full schedule since the 2015 season with his highest total since then being 13 games from 2016-2019. He'll be entering his age-32 season and there isn't much in terms of recent history that would lead you to believe he would be able to suit up for a full 17 games.
His Best Work: For a guy that is an eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, Smith's willingness and ability to switch positions to a spot he hadn't played in over a decade since his rookie campaign was rather impressive. He allowed Tyler Smith to stay at his best position and deferred to the Cowboys' 2022 first rounder and helped solidify the right side of the offensive line after the loss of Terence Steele for the season after his torn ACL.
Contract Consideration: Smith and the Cowboys agreed to a contract restructure this offseason by lowering his base salary from $13.6 million down to $3 million guaranteed. Smith has playing time and playoff incentives added into the contract that could see him bring in a maximum of $17 with a dead cap hit of $8 million, along with two void years added on through 2025.
What's Next: The Cowboys will be banking on having Smith back in some capacity, though the question remains of just how much he will be able to stay on the field. Dallas will likely welcome back Steele in time for the beginning of the 2023 season, while Tyler Smith will be entering his second pro season. The elder Smith could line up back on the left side of the offensive line to begin the year, though the possibility exists that the Cowboys could add to their mix through the draft.