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If Tyron Smith and Terence Steele return, the Cowboys must decide where to play Tyler Smith

The Cowboys’ second-year offensive lineman may have to stay open-minded about his position for at least another year.

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

After recent comments by Stephen Jones that the Cowboys hope to bring veterans Tyron Smith and Terence Steele back in 2023, what does that mean for young Tyler Smith? After a strong rookie season, his permanent spot on Dallas’ offensive line may not be realized.

After playing left tackle at Tulsa, Tyler was drafted by Dallas in the first round last year and immediately prepared to play left guard. But when Tyron was severely injured during a training camp practice, Tyler’s experience at tackle proved vital and he slid over to play that spot throughout most of last year.

The Cowboys did experiment at times with backup Jason Peters at left tackle and using the younger Smith at guard, but most of Tyler’s work came on the edge. It was generally assumed that he was being groomed to replace Tyron this year, but that may not be Dallas’ play after all.

In comments to the media on Tuesday, Stephen Jones spoke about both Tyron Smith and Terence Steele as if they are in the team’s plans for next season.

Steele’s return wouldn’t be a surprise given that he’s a restricted free agent. Dallas should be able to retain him for a fraction of what he could make on the open market, deferring that issue until next year. Steele should be back in the right tackle spot that he was thriving in last year before the injury.

Tyron Smith coming back would be surprising, if not shocking, given his difficulties staying healthy and his contract. The veteran could give Dallas about $9.6 million in salary cap relief if he’s released outright or $13.6 million as a June-1st cut. With Tyler Smith and Steele seemingly the tackles of the future, it felt like Tyron’s time was probably at an end.

The Cowboys may feel differently. Depending on just how much of a pay cut Tyron is willing to take, perhaps the idea of keeping him at left tackle and using Tyler at guard still intrigues them.

This plan would solve another offseason issue for Dallas. Connor McGovern is about to become an unrestricted free agent and hasn’t really stood out in his starting opportunities. He’s adequate, but perhaps not enough for a team trying to get over the Divisional Round hump.

If Tyron can finally have the good fortune to stay on the field more than a few games, having the two Smiths on that left side should boost the line play overall from last year. Perhaps that’s what Dallas sees; a chance to upgrade play without gambling on an outside free agent or draft pick.

If Tyler Smith has to bounce back over to guard for a year, he’ll be continuing the legacy of that #73 that he wears. While we all mostly remember Larry Allen for his greatness at left guard, the Hall of Famer bounced around from right guard to left tackle before finally settling into his most famous role.

We’ll see just how far the Cowboys and Tyron Smith are willing to go to extend their relationship. The outcome will go a long way to determining just how Tyler Smith is deployed in 2023. Hopefully, the moving around doesn’t stunt his long-term development.

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