Tyron Smith has done some great things during his 12-year tenure as a Dallas Cowboy. The former first-round pick fully lived up to the hype that surrounded him when Dallas selected the lineman ninth overall back in 2011.
Smith has made four All-Pro teams and eight Pro Bowls, and earned the honor of being selected to the Hall of Fame All-2010s Team.
When it’s all said and done, Smith will be a Hall-of-Famer. The now 32-year-old will go down as one of the better left tackles in recent NFL history, and he’ll be a Cowboys legend for the rest of time.
While the end may be near, Smith’s time in the league isn’t coming to an end just yet. Just last week the Cowboys announced they had agreed to a reworked deal with their veteran lineman for the 2023 season.
Before agreeing to the reworked deal, Smith was set to carry a $13.6M base salary for the 2023 season. After some clever maneuvering by both sides, that number was lowered to just $3M. However, that money won’t just go away. Smith still has a chance to earn up to $9M more depending on what percentage of the offensive snaps he plays this upcoming season, offsetting the $7.6 million he gave up.
While this seems to be a smart move for both sides, the structure of the contract demonstrates a big problem the Cowboys still have to solve. As much as they may want to hope and believe this year things will be different, the team simply cannot rely on Smith to be a major contributor at this point in his career.
Over the past three seasons, Smith has missed 33 of Dallas’ 50 (67%) regular-season games. If you take things back even further, the veteran has missed at least three regular season games every year since 2016.
Last season, Smith was unable to make it out of the preseason without getting bit by the injury bug. The 32-year-old tore his hamstring back in late August, forcing him to miss the first 13 games of the 2023 season.
In an ideal world, Dallas would slide Smith in as their starting left tackle this season, letting his namesake, second-year lineman Tyler Smith, shift one spot over to left guard. As good as this may sound, it’s just not realistic to envision a scenario where Tyron makes it through an entire season without an injury that forces him to miss an extended period of time.
As tough as it may be, the Cowboys and Smith both need to come to the realization that the veteran lineman’s best value at age 32 might be him serving as the most experienced and talented swing tackle in the NFL.
They say history repeats itself. In 2023, it’s time for the Cowboys to learn that lesson and not go into the season relying on Tyron Smith to be a significant contributor to their team.