The Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed the services of Tyron Smith at offensive tackle since the 2011 season. He’s been to the Pro Bowl every year since 2013, and when healthy he’s one of top players at one of the league’s most critical positions. But with age and nagging injuries starting to take a toll, how much longer will Smith remain in Dallas?
Tyron turns just 29 this December, which is still a prime age for offensive linemen. However, he’s missed three games in each of the last three seasons. A few have been for veteran rest, but most have been due to injury issues.
No way it happens in 2019, of course, but what about the next few seasons?
- 2020 – $8.26 million cap relief ($5.29M dead money)
- 2021 – $10.5 million ($1.75 dead)
- 2022 – $13.5 million ($0 dead)
- 2022 – $13.6 million ($0 dead)
We’re not suggesting that the Cowboys would part ways with Tyron Smith lightly. As long as he’s still an elite left tackle then he’s worth anything they’re paying him these next five years.
But what if the injuries become a larger problem? What if age erodes those elite skills?
And what if the Cowboys keep drafting younger talent on the offensive line?
We are all surprised to see Dallas spend their 2019 third-round pick on Penn State’s Connor McGovern. Between that pick and Connor Williams with last year’s second-rounder, the Cowboys keep infusing more talent into the line.
But what they do have, like any other rookie, are affordable four-year contracts. And if Tyron keeps suffering from missed games or just a slow decline of ability, Dallas might conclude that they’d be better off paying a younger guy a fraction of Smith’s salary.
Remember, we’re entering this daunting period of having to re-sign Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others. The salary cap could demand a tough cut somewhere among your highest-paid stars.
It probably doesn’t happen next year, but what about 2021 when that dead money becomes so minimal? Or those last two years, when Dallas has wisely avoided any dead money after Smith enters his 30s?
Nobody is rooting for this scenario. Tyron’s been a great player here for many years and we all want to see that relationship continue for as long as it’s practically viable.
But if increased mileage on Smith’s body leads to worsening availability and performance, then something could happen sooner than you expect.