We’re just a few weeks away from the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp. By this stage in the offseason, NFL teams have been able to assess their rosters a bit further and better understand the makeup of their team heading into the season and, in some cases, beyond.
Around this time of the year up to the start of the season, NFL clubs commonly announce extensions with players in the final years of their contracts. The Cowboys have historically done just that; signing summer deals with Dez Bryant and Zack Martin, to name a few. Keeping up with the tradition of what the Cowboys might do in the coming weeks, here are three players the Cowboys need to offer new contracts to before the season.
The Cowboys should be proactive and sign Terence Steele as soon as possible. Steele’s career got off to an uneven start, finding himself in a starting role as an undrafted rookie in 2020. Steele has come a long way. It was controversial when the team opted to have Steele compete with La’el Collins for playing time in 2021 and subsequently release Collins in favor of Steele the next offseason. Still, the Cowboys were ultimately proven right for their decision. Steele has slowly rounded into a formidable run-blocking right tackle with good technique. After signing his exclusive rights tenders, Steele is back with the team for 2023.
Dallas unearthed yet another gem in the undrafted market and would be silly not to see the full potential of Steele’s progress by choosing not to re-sign him. Of course, there are concerns about Steele’s health in his return from an ACL injury late last season, but that shouldn’t be a firm deterrent for the Cowboys. That could be advantageous in regards to negotiating a new contract. While Steele has looked ahead of schedule in his recovery, it’s no sure thing he’d be back immediately to his old self.
What Dallas could do is very similar to what they did when they signed former safety Barry Church to a long-term deal while in recovery from injury. They could approach Steele with a front-loaded contract that protects the team in the rear portion of the agreement should something go awry. It’ll be pricy, but let’s say the Cowboys offer four years, $48M, with $30M paid to Steele in the first two seasons and the option to walk away from the contract after the second year.
The Cowboys should re-sign Tyler Biadasz because, despite him going into his fourth season, he’s still an ascending player. Last season he found a new peak in his performance and was deservedly recognized by the fans and his peers, and was named to his first career Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl nod served as vindication for a player that was somewhat polarizing among the fans on whether or not he was a worthwhile option. Remember, heading into the 2022 draft, there were loud overtures for the team to select center Tyler Linderbaum from Iowa with their first pick over Tyler Smith to replace Biadasz.
Biadasz answered the call and has reaffirmed himself to be in consideration as a part of the future of the Cowboys’ offensive line. While Biadaz has emerged as an above-average center, the market for the position isn’t too expensive. Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce is the league’s highest-paid at $14.25M annually. Let’s assume Biadasz gives the Cowboys a hometown discount; the Cowboys realistically could offer him for four years, $44M ($11M APY), which isn’t too unreasonable.
By now, many have come around to the notion that heavy investments in running backs often lead to disappointment and denial when the said investment is no longer fruitful. The most recent example was the Cowboys seeing Ezekiel Elliott decline before parting ways with the former fourth overall pick four years into a six-year, $90M deal. However, the Cowboys hold the upper hand regarding this situation with Pollard. While there’s no mistaking Pollard’s talent and explosive running, he is recovering from an injury, and the landscape for what running backs demand contractually has shifted.
As was the case for Biadasz, Pollard price comes down to the market and the position he plays. Pollard’s counterparts, Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley, have yet to secure extensive contracts with their respective clubs. Like Pollard, both were offered the franchise tender for running backs, with neither choosing to sign in the hopes of securing a big payday with their teams.
In Pollard’s case, there is mutual interest for both sides to agree, and it’s a matter of Pollard wanting the security that the running back market currently doesn’t offer. Pollard is 26 years old, and hopefully, the Cowboys have learned from their mistake of providing a running back with an unusually long contract as they did with Ezekiel Elliott. The team should sign Pollard to three years, $27M contract with $18M guaranteed.