There's still far too much value in what Tyron Smith provides for the Cowboys to consider moving on from the future Hall of Famer, but keeping him might require some cap relief
FRISCO, TX — With so much discussion surrounding the future of Ezekiel Elliott, it's easy to forget he's not the only player the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to find resolution with, contractually, as Tyron Smith enters this offseason as yet another piece in that conversation for the team's front office.
Smith, 33, is entering the final year of his latest deal and is set to hit the Cowboys salary cap for a hefty $17.6 million, in a situation wherein Dallas needs to free up cap space for free agency, having already cleared nearly $30 million on Friday morning by restructuring the deals on Zack Martin and Dak Prescott.
The future Hall of Famer is expected to return for 2023, as stated by both of the Joneses — owner and general manager Jerry Jones and chief operating officer Stephen Jones — though it's unlikely it'll be at the current cap number. A restructure could save the Cowboys roughly $6.2 million toward the cap and an extension would net them several millions of dollars more.
That's a dialogue that's likely soon-to-come, but what's certain already is that the Cowboys can not afford to be without Smith, even considering durability concerns, given the current state of their offensive line.
"You know, when we got a guy like Terence Steele coming off a major injury, obviously Tyron's the ultimate team player," said Stephen Jones at the 2023 NFL Combine. "To raise his hand and say, 'I want to move over and help the team at right tackle.' It's what he played in college. I think he's comfortable there.
"But it's a good problem to have. I mean, in this league, you look at offensive line injuries and all the challenges that teams have, I guess the biggest takeaway from our meetings was you can't have enough of these guys. You need these big offensive linemen if you want to protect your quarterback, which all 32 [teams] do."
Steele, a restricted free agent, is likely to return but, as stated, it'll be from a major injury (torn ACL suffered in mid-December, and starting left guard Connor McGovern is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 15, as is Jason Peters.
That means, as it stands, it's unclear who'll play where on the offensive front next season, but the versatility of the Smith Bros. might save the day for the Cowboys — as it often did in 2022.
"You can't have enough of these guys," Jones added. "So there's really not a lot of conversation to have with Tyron other than it seems like he's very content to do whatever helps the team. … That's what you want in every offensive lineman if you could have it. Tyron Smith showed he was versatile.
"He played left tackle, and then he went and played right tackle. It's just a good feeling to know he could bump down and play left guard, if that's what you needed to ultimately have your best five out there, then you would consider that. For [Tyler Smith's] long-term upside, it's always great. I think any offensive lineman would tell you they'd love to stay in one spot, but the real team players and the competitive guys, they want to help you win.
"They're team players, and they'll do something that maybe they'd prefer not to. But would they do it? Yes."
And as far as the elder Smith's contract goes?
"Yeah, I mean we always do reworks and things of that nature," said Jones. "That could come up with him. We have the ability to do that and, but right now, we're comfortable where we are."
Of course, that could easily change if the Cowboys find themselves in a cash crunch this month, but seeing what he was able to do for the team after returning in December from a devastating training camp injury reminded everyone that it's not yet time for Smith to ride off into the sunset.
Thankfully, for the Cowboys, he's likely keeping that horse in the stable this year.