The Cowboys once again find themselves sitting at home while the playoffs rage on, and while the team has opted not to make any major changes on the coaching side of things, there is expected to be some turnover with this roster. After all, something has to change after yet another early playoff exit.
One area where this team could look radically different next year is the offensive line. A year ago, the Cowboys overhauled the coaches along the offensive trenches - Mike Solari replaced Joe Philbin and Ramon Chinyoung came in as Solari’s assistant, as longtime assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko moved to running backs - in a corresponding move with Mike McCarthy taking over play-calling.
Now, one year after seeing the changes that Solari and Chinyoung brought to this group, their personnel could look completely different. The first piece of the equation centers around the center position, as Tyler Biadasz’s rookie deal has expired.
Last year was Biadasz’s second year as the full time starting center in Dallas, and things seemed to be progressing well for him, as he finished the year with Pro Bowl honors. He specifically made strides in pass protection, finishing the year without a sack and surrendering one less pressure than Zack Martin. He also had eight games throughout the year without a single pressure allowed.
This season, though, Biadasz took a step back. He finished second on the team in pressures and allowed three sacks, with only four games with zero pressures allowed. Biadasz also seemed to struggle with some of the changes in pass protection scheme this year, while occasionally falling into a rut with his snap quality. Biadasz’s play wasn’t terrible by any means, but it was certainly not what a player wants in a contract year.
Another major area for potential change comes at left tackle. Tyron Smith looked rejuvenated this year, though he did miss three games throughout. However, his contract is up now after a restructure from last offseason, and it’s unclear what Smith’s future holds. He could opt to retire, or he could test the free agency market for the first time in his career. It’s also not even clear how the Cowboys feel about him at this point given his age and inconsistent health.
If Smith were to depart the Cowboys, in one way or another, that would then pose the question of what to do with the other Smith. When Tyler Smith was first drafted, the plan was to play him at left guard and groom him to replace the elder Smith at left tackle one day. However, after seeing Smith dominate at guard this year, there might be a preference to keep him there and look elsewhere for left tackle. Either way, Tyron Smith’s absence in 2024 would pose a big question for the Cowboys offensive line.
Those two are the more obvious ones, but there is also the question of Zack Martin’s longevity. Prior to this season, Martin held out for a contract restructure in a move that was very uncharacteristic for him. That prompted some speculation that Martin, who turned 33 in November, may be envisioning his retirement soon. There is no reason to believe that Martin won’t play again in 2024, but it seems we’re reaching the point where his retirement will become an annual question the longer he keeps playing.
It’s also entirely possible that the Cowboys return all five starters in 2024, but they have quite a few decisions to make, just from a contractual standpoint, and there are more dominoes that fall with each of those choices. Continuity along the offensive line is always a goal for every team, but the Cowboys could potentially see a whole lot of change in the trenches for next season.