It’s still a little early in the process, but it’s looking as if Rod Smith could possibly be Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backup next season. He is coming off a fantastic 2017 campaign in which he set career highs in nearly every category, but his rookie contract expires after the completion of the 2018 season.
The fact that Rod Smith is entering a contract year got me thinking about whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should go ahead and open the negotiations for a contract extension. Smith is by no means a top priority right now, but it might be wise to go ahead and get a jump start on the process and lock him up before he comes even more expensive.
There of course is no hurry to get any kind of new deal completed anytime soon. The Cowboys top priorities right now are figuring out how to keep both Zack Martin, who could become the highest-paid offensive guard in the NFL, and DeMarcus Lawrence, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season. You can also throw Anthony Hitchens name in there somewhere as well.
Opening negotiations with Rod Smith could still be the wise thing to do on the Cowboys part. If they truly believe he will continue to progress like he has year after year and will continue to be a valued member of the team, then I say strike while the iron is hot.
Fortunately though, the Cowboys have time on their side. They could possibly have two years before they have to make any kind of decision regarding Rod Smith. He is still under contract through 2018 and the Cowboys still technically hold his rights in 2019.
You see, Smith will become a restricted free agent upon the completion of the 2018 season. That means the Cowboys still hold his fate in their hands if they decide to place a tender on him to secure his services for another year.
This is the same kind of thing the Cowboys will likely do with David Irving this season until he proves he is worthy of a second contract. This is probably the right approach to take for both players, but if Irving balls out in 2018, he could play himself out of the Cowboys price range.
It looks like a risk the Cowboys are willing to take, but I don’t think they have the same kind of concerns with Rod Smith as they do with David Irving. Smith is virtually a choir boy compared to Irving, which is why I have no problems opening contract negotiations.
All of this really depends on what the Dallas Cowboys think about Rod Smith long-term. Are they comfortable with him in his current role as a backup RB and a core special-teams player?
If the answer is yes, then it might be a good idea to test the waters and get in touch with Smith’s agent to see what they believe his market value is. But, like I said earlier, there’s no rush to get anything done.