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Could Keeping Dak Prescott Force Cowboys to Lose Tyron Smith in 2021?

There’s been a lot of reaction the last few days to the potential for a $23 million reduction in the NFL’s salary cap from this year to 2021. If the drop is that severe, most teams are going to have some tough personnel decisions to make. The Cowboys are no exception; could the lower cap force Dallas to cut Offensive Tackle Tyron Smith to retain Quarterback Dak Prescott?

That may sound crazy to you, and rightfully so; nobody wants to see one of the best left tackles in football leave the team. But the reality is that Dallas has very few ways to create cap space in 2021 and Smith’s contract is arguably the most reasonable option.

As I broke down a little more yesterday, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a potential minimum salary cap of $175 million for next year based on projected revenue losses as COVID-19 affect the 2020 season. The current cap is at $198 million.

If the worse-case scenario happens then Cowboys are projected to only have about $33 million in cap space in 2021. And that’s before they’ve signed any of next year’s rookies or, more importantly, re-signed QB Dak Prescott.

Paying Dak on the franchise tag in 2020 is going to cost Dallas around $31 million. If they tag him again next year, that number jumps up to over $37 million.

Remember, that $33 million in projected space is already accounting for expiring contracts such as Tyrone Crawford’s, Sean Lee’s, and others. So if the Cowboys need more space in 2021 it’ll have to come from releasing or restructuring players who are under contract beyond this season.

Cowboys Place LT Tyron Smith On IR Before Week 17
Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith

Tyron Smith’s contract would offer $10.5 million cap relief in 2021 if he’s released, generating just $1.745 million in dead money. The only other contract which offers anything close to that is Zack Martin‘s; $7 million in cap space if released. But Dallas isn’t going to part ways with arguably the best guard in football.

Smith is still a great left tackle but his game has declined a little in recent years. He’s also missed three games every season from 2019-2019, and he turns 30 this December.

Thankfully, this isn’t the only way out. The Cowboys and Prescott could finally sign a long-term deal and structure 2021 so that it has a drastically reduced cap hit. That would solve most problems right there.

But after failing to reach an agreement for two years now, the potential that Dallas will have to franchise Dak a second time is very real. And if that coincides with a severe reduction in the salary cap then a difficult move like cutting Tyron Smith will have to be discussed.

If that day comes, some would argue that they’d rather keep Smith to protect our next QB and let Prescott walk. And if the financial situation gets bad enough then that may very well be what Dallas is forced to do.

But if the Cowboys are determined to keep Dak Prescott as their QB of the future, the unique challenges of COVID-19 could force them to do things they’d never imagined a few months ago. Based on his contract, age, and NFL mileage, losing Tyron Smith may become the lesser of evils.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. If that is the scenario for the Cowboys, and they let Tyron go and gain 10 mil. I think that they would move up in the draft and take one of the 2 top LT in the upcoming draft. JJ could have taken care of this situation years ago, but by low ballin Dak 2 years ago has come back to some what haunt the team. I think they will rebound with drafting well like that have in the past when it comes to OL. Dnt worry JJ will come out on the winning side, once again!

  2. This is what happens when players are greedy and demand outrageous contracts now players will be cut and then what? No Super Bowl no depth not enough players. The cowboys front office has seen this and learned from there mistakes in the past. Atleast Mahomes understands The business side of the game you can’t win without a solid supporting cast

  3. I mean Smith for the past couple of years has missed 3 games a season. I wouldn’t mind trading for draft capital. A team who’s desperate for an OT my pay good capital for him. Even if we lose his we still have Collins who is very good and then Knight and Erving as backup so its not like the position is a total wash.

  4. Dak has a year to prove his worth. If the cap is impacted substantially it may be smarter to let them both walk. This team cannot afford to get top heavy at any one position. Dak is not the kind of QB who can do it by himself. He needs protection and playmakers. Committing the kind of money he is demanding is going to force going thin on talent in other critical areas. Ove the course of his career Dak has not proven he can elevate mediocre talent…for example the receivers he had before Amari joined the team. I think Dak is a good qb, a hard worker and a great locker room presence, but he needs a good solid team around him.

  5. Agree with many of ur points Todd though I do think the cowboys have a solid enuf team and the necessary weapons to have success with Dak. (But not at the price he is asking) Injuries and down yrs from several key players was a big part of our undoing last yr Since QB and LT are the two most important positions I would not wanna lose both. I think Tyron Smith was so great for so long that he was just taken for granted, but lose ur blind side protector and ur gonna feel it big time.

  6. Harped on this for months, now we see the reality of how a greedy, self centered, overrated guy can screw the team. I guess the front office could not see this problem coming, but smart, true fans did.

    Great LT don’t grow on trees, average QBs do.

  7. Say goodbye to Smith,a man who has always been a team player,always took the team friendly deals,who puts the team before himself…F**K THAT,TRADE DAK PRESCOTT NEXT YEAR..BETWEEN HIM ZEKE I DON’T KNOW WHO I DISLIKE MORE. ZEKE WILL HAVE TO PLAY OUT MORE OF HIS CONTRACT BEFORE BEING DEALT WITH,BUT CAN BE REPLACED HELL OF ALOT CHEAPER,AND DAK IS NOT WORTH 40MILLION AND EASILY EXPENDABLE FOR 3 #1 DRAFT PICKS …..ABD YES IVE BEEN A COWBOYS FAN FOR 40 YEARS,BUT IT IS THE TEAM FIRST,INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS SECOND,I WANT A SUPER BOWL,AND THAT WONT HAPPEN IF SMITH IS LET GO TO KEEP DAK,BUT TO GET RID OF DAK TO KEEP SMITH, TOTALLY FOR IT…..

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