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Does FB Keith Smith have a Future with the Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Keith Smith: Will The Cowboys Carry A Fullback In 2017?

As things stand right now, Keith Smith's future with the Dallas Cowboys is unclear. He is currently a restricted free agent (RFA), which means the Cowboys hold all the leverage and it's up to them to decide whether or not he'll be back in 2018.

In case you're wondering, an RFA is any player with an expiring contract who has exactly three accrued NFL seasons. An accrued season is defined as a player being on a team for at least six regular-season games, although practice squad designation doesn't count. The reserve physically unable to perform (PUP) list for non-football injuries also doesn't count as an accrued season.

A restricted free agent is different from an unrestricted free agent (UFA). A UFA is free to re-sign with their team or test the open market, whereas an RFA is tied down unless the team allows them to become an unrestricted free agent.

As an RFA, Keith Smith is kind of in a holding pattern while the Dallas Cowboys figure out whether or not they want to keep him around.

He has value to the team, but can that be replaced with another player who would cost less?

Keith Smith

Dallas Cowboys FB Keith Smith

The Cowboys, of course, have options in regards of what to do with Keith Smith. They can try to work out a contract extension that is mutually beneficial to both parties or they can place a tender on him and secure his services for at least another season. Both options are likely on the table, but which one will they choose?

Of course, they could cut ties altogether as well.

For me, I don't know if giving Keith Smith a contract extension is worth it. The fullback position has pretty much become extinct around the NFL. The Cowboys are one of the few teams who still employ the position.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like Keith Smith, but I don't know if the playing time he receives justifies an extension. He only played 12.02% of the Cowboys offensive snaps in 2017. For comparison sake, Ryan Switzer played 8.64% and we all know how little he was utilized.

I just have a hard time justifying a contract extension for someone who plays so little on offense. But, like I mentioned earlier, he is a core special-teams player. In 2017, he played 56.64% of the special team snaps, which was top five on the team. That is where he is most valuable to the team.

Keith Smith

Dallas Cowboys FB Keith Smith (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

The other option the Cowboys have is placing a tender on Keith Smith. There are four tender options they can use to retain his services.

  1. First-round tender ($3.91 million in 2017)
  2. Second-round tender ($2.746 million in 2017)
  3. Original-round tender ($1.797 million in 2017)
  4. Right of first refusal

It wouldn't make sense for the Cowboys to place a first or second-round tender on Keith Smith. He doesn't play enough to justify that kind of money. An original-round tender doesn't make sense either since he was an undrafted free agent. Leaving the Right of First Refusal as really the last remaining option.

There's really no clear-cut answer to what the Dallas Cowboys might have in mind for Keith Smith and his future with the organization. There is no doubt he has value to the team, but there's really no way of determining just how much.

Personally, I think he can be replaced rather easily. The Cowboys may need to carry four tight ends on the roster in 2018 and one of them can surely fill in at fullback if needed. His contribution on special teams is another story, but an incoming rookie could help in that area.

I think I might let him walk, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Cowboys retained his services. The only question is, how do they do that?

What do you think the Dallas Cowboys will do with Keith Smith?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Pete186

    Honestly, we should see if we can do better in the draft with one of those supplemental picks. If not than retain him.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m kind of leaning towards letting him walk. I think the Cowboys TEs can fill in at FB. Swaim did it in college and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it in the NFL.

      • mgmiller717

        We went down that road of having TE’s fill in, and everyone was screaming for a true fullback lol. Dallas is a run first team, sign him to a reasonable 2 year extension or move on to another FB in the draft, but don’t go back to the “TE’s can do the job” BS. A 6’4″ TE is NOT a prototypical lead blocker.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I like him, but he has been underutilized, even though he has shown some talent as a receiver. I question the reason for a FB to take up a roster spot.

    • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

      Well let me answer that for you…….it’s the attempt of the current regime to try to replicate the 90’s which they have neither the talent at the coaching level nor the players to do so……..

  • Wayne A Caddell Jr

    Why is the Fullback position being phased out? Daryle Johnston was an absolute reason for Dallas to have 3 rings. He’s one of those “hard nose meat and potatoes” type of guys. Remember, he made several special team plays himself. He delivered a devistating block on Bill Romanowski protecting Troy Aikman. I think it’s a bad idea to phase this position out. But like in all things, it’ll go away then come back

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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