There’s no doubt that the Dallas Cowboys need to clear cap space before free agency begins. The Cowboys are currently about $7.49 million over the cap space, according to Spotrac.
At the minimum, the Cowboys have to clear that $7.49 million by March 15 before the new league year begins. But with Dallas likely signing a mixture of in-house free agents and regular free agents, they’ll have to clear much more by then.
Ezekiel Elliott’s name has been floated as a possible cut candidate. Dallas doesn’t owe Elliott any more guaranteed money, releasing him and would save the team much-needed money toward their cap space. They would save $10.9 million if they cut him after June 1 and $4.8 million before that date.
Another potential cut candidate that has been swirling around is Tyron Smith. Smith has been exceptional on the offensive line when healthy. But, the problem has been his inability to stay healthy.
Over the past three seasons, Smith has played just 17 of 50 games for the Cowboys. He’s played in 10-plus games just once over those three years and hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Simply put, he has had a hard time staying healthy.
Last season, the Cowboys cut La’el Collins and saved $10 million. If Dallas were to cut Smith this offseason, they would save $9.59 million if released before June 1, per Over The Cap. Dallas can also restructure his contract which isn’t out of the question either.
Could the Cowboys use that money on other free agents like Leighton Vander Esch or Donovan Wilson? Sure, but Dallas would be crazy to cut their All-Pro tackle. Luckily, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler just reported Smith and the Cowboys are “working on a solution” to bring the veteran back, likely on a reworked deal, in 2023.
Let’s underline why that’s the right move for Dallas.
2 reasons the Cowboys should keep Tyron Smith
1. The Cowboys won’t be able to replace Smith
When Smith moved to right tackle following the season-ending injury to Terence Steele, he played there for the first time since his rookie season. While it took him a little bit to get adjusted there, he turned out to be just as sharp next to Zack Martin.
Although the Cowboys need to clear cap space, the offensive line is one of the most important positions, especially in Dallas. With head coach Mike McCarthy recently emphasizing the importance of running the football more next season, they’ll need to be at full strength across the line.
Smith’s health has been a liability for him over the past couple of seasons. But when he is on the field for the Cowboys, he makes such a big difference.
For starters, he’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro 1st team selection. Smith has made the Pro Bowl in eight of the last 10 seasons and in the only seasons he didn’t make it (2020 and 2022) he played a total of six games.
The Cowboys won’t replace that type of talent on the free-agent market. They could replace him in the first or second round in the 2023 NFL Draft, but there are bigger needs that Dallas needs to focus on heading into the draft.
Smith has allowed just 3.5 sacks over the last five seasons dating back to 2018, and really does a nice job of keeping Prescott pressure-free. If he stays healthy, he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the game and that should be enough to keep him in a Cowboys uniform.