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Why the Cowboys’ decision on Tyron Smith may dictate their offseason plans

There is speculation that the veteran tackle’s time in Dallas may finally come to an end.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When it’s all said and done, Tyron Smith will go down as one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys of all time. The four-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro-Bowler has been worth nearly every penny of the eight-year, $97M contract extension Dallas signed him to back in 2014.

In his prime, Smith was arguably the most dominant left tackle in football. However, in recent years, time has caught up to the once-dominant Smith. Various injuries have limited the 32-year-old tackle to playing in just 17 of Dallas’ 50 regular season games over the past three seasons.

Smith’s struggles to stay on the field date back further than just the past three seasons. The former first-round pick has missed at least three regular season games in every season since 2016, and the last time he played a full healthy season was eight years ago back in 2015.

Even at his advanced age, Smith has still been productive when he’s been able to stay on the field. In 2021, he allowed just three sacks and 17 total pressures in 810 offensive snaps. His Pro Football Focus offensive grade of 90.2 on the season was the second-highest of his career.

This past season, Smith struggled a fair amount adjusting back to playing right tackle for the first time since his rookie year in 2011. As the season went on, the veteran looked more and more comfortable at the position and played his best game of the year in Dallas’ Wild Card Round playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As the Cowboys enter the offseason, Smith’s future in Dallas is once again at the center of the conversation. If the Cowboys were to release the veteran tackle (pre June 1) this spring, they could free up roughly $10M in cap space to potentially use this offseason.

Dallas’ decision on Smith won’t be an easy one, and their ultimate verdict will have a domino effect on the rest of their offseason plans.

If the Cowboys do decide to part ways with the veteran, there are a couple of things they’ll need to decide on. Do they currently have a capable swing tackle on their roster, or will they be forced to invest in one this spring? With Smith hypothetically out the door, is Connor McGovern suddenly a priority to retain in free agency? If not, will they need to invest a top pick on a guard in the draft?

What the Cowboys ultimately decide to do with Smith may come down to how they feel about their other tackle, Terence Steele. The 25-year-old tackle tore his ACL in Dallas’ Week 14 win over the Houston Texans last season. If Dallas is not confident that Steele will be fully ready to go at the start of the 2023 regular season, it makes sense to retain Smith and let him fill the void until Steele is fully ready to return.

The Cowboys have a lot to accomplish this offseason, but making a call on Tyron Smith’s future may be the first decision they have to make. Whichever way they go, it will ultimately decide how the rest of their offseason plays out on the offensive side of the ball.

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