Cowboys latest move positions Terence Steele for long-term extension
By Jerry Trotta
For all of their maddening tendencies, the Dallas Cowboys front office absolutely nailed the decision to cut La’el Collins last offseason and entrust Terence Steele as the full-time right tackle.
Fast forward to the present, and Collins is shaping up to be cut by Cincinnati, while Steele, despite coming off a torn ACL, is viewed as a must-keep player by most Cowboys fans.
It appears the organization itself feels the same way.
According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys have placed a second-round tender on Steele. The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent, and this move all but confirms he’ll be back in Dallas in 2023.
It also positions Steele to ink a long-term deal with Dallas after next season.
Cowboys place second-round tender on Terence Steele, setting stage for future extension.
As a restricted free agent, the Cowboys have the right to offer Steele a one-year contract that comes with a right of first refusal. Essentially, Steele is free to negotiate a contract with another team, but Dallas has the right to match that offer to keep him, or let him go and acquire a second-round pick in return.
There are four different levels of the tender value: first-round, second-round, original draft round, and no compensation. The second-round tender is a one-year deal worth the greater of $4.3 million or 110% of the player’s prior-year base salary. Steele made $895,000 in 2022, so he’ll make $4.3 million.
That pay raise is fully deserved for Steele. It’s no secret that the Cowboys’ rushing attack sputtered after his ACL tear in Week 14.
For the season, he posted a 82.1 run-blocking grade, via Pro Football Focus. His 63.7 pass-blocking grade was the best of his career, as he allowed 20 pressures, four QB hits, and one sack over 439 pass-blocking snaps.
Before his season-ending injury, Dallas’ running game ranked 11th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. That’s a 14-game sample size. After he went down, the Cowboys dropped to 26th in rushing DVOA in the final four games.
Stephen Jones disclosed at the Combine that Steele is ahead of schedule in his recovery, and should be cleared for training camp.
That doesn’t mean Steele will be ready for Week 1, or that he’ll even be on the field in any capacity at camp, but Jones made sure to note that the Texas Tech product has been as industrious as any player he’s seen rehab an injury.
It’s great to hear that Dallas wants to negotiate a long-term deal with Steele. It’s too early to say definitively that he’s franchise right tackle material, but 2022 was a hugely positive sign in that regard and we’d bet on him taking another step next year once he’s back from injury.