With free agency looming, roster turnover isn't far away. However, a significant portion of the 2020 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, DallasCowboys.com will feature players who are currently under contract for next season, analyzing their past season and their future prospects.
Today, we continue the series with left tackle Tyron Smith:
What's Been Good:
It's officially not too soon to say that Tyron Smith is putting together a Hall of Fame resume.
It's a bit shocking to realize, but the 2019 season marked Smith's seventh-straight Pro Bowl selection. It's strange to think that the guy has been making his case as one of the best left tackles in football for the better part of a decade.
Perhaps he's not as effortlessly dominant as he was four or five years ago, but Smith continues to prove his value on the left side of the Cowboys' offensive line.
Need proof? Consider the fact that Smith played 890 of the Cowboys' offensive snaps, roughly 84%, and allowed just one sack. For an offensive line that allowed just 23 sacks on the season, that's an especially impressive number.
Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' run game also averaged more than five yards per carry when the ball went to left tackle or off left end.
Father Time is undefeated. Smith turns 30 this year and is entering his 10th NFL season. It's understandable if his absurdly high standard has dipped at least slightly.
But even still, it's quite obvious Tyron Smith remains one of the best left tackles in the game.
What's Been Bad:
All of that said, you can look further into those dips in performance.
Smith was penalized eight times in 2019 – the second-most on the team. He was penalized 10 times the year before. To be fair, the bulk of those calls were for offensive holding, and it'd be very easy to argue they were bogus calls. As dominant as Smith is, it seems as though referees get a bit flag happy when he overpowers the opposition.
Still, flags are flags, and they hinder offensive possessions. It's a quibble, but it's something that would be nice to clean up.
The bigger issues is injuries, because that's a trend that's harder to wave away. After being a steady presence on the field for the first five years of his career, Smith has missed at least three games in each of his last four seasons.
It's been a litany of issues, too, between back problems, knee injuries, an elbow issue and a stinger that forced him to miss some time in 2018. To his credit, Smith has fought his way through all of that with remarkable toughness. But considering that he'll soon turn 30, it's fair to wonder about his durability.
One of the smartest things the Cowboys have done in recent memory is signing Smith to a long-term, team-friendly extension way back in 2014. The All-Pro is under contract for four more seasons, becoming a free agent in 2024.
Even more important: in an age where player salaries are sky rocketing, Smith isn't slated to make more than $13.6 million per season at any point during the deal. So not only are the Cowboys getting Pro Bowl left tackle play, they're getting it at a relative discount.
The only question is about the future. At what point do the Cowboys need to think about their next move, and how do Smith's injuries affect that decision? Cam Fleming has played well as the team's swing tackle for two seasons, but it's not crazy to think they could add depth in the draft. Perhaps the opportunity to draft and develop an understudy could present itself.
For the time being, it doesn't feel like an issue. Entering his 10th year in the league, Tyron Smith is still manning the left side of the line at an impressive level.