PFF's Tyron Smith contract projection leaves Cowboys with easy decision

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys have their sights set on a Super Bowl, but big decisions loom in the offseason, which is quietly just three months away.

First and foremost is the contract extensions that need hashing out. Players eligible for a new contract include Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons, CeeDee Lamb and Osa Odighizuwa, who ranks second among defensive tackles this season with a 19% pass-rush win rate, per ESPN analytics.

That should be the first order of business, but the Cowboys also have several key players set to hit unrestricted free agency after the season.

Chief among them is left tackle Tyron Smith. Before the season, Cowboys fans were resigned to the fact that 2023 would be Smith's last in Dallas. Finally healthy after a brutal run of injuries, Smith has turned in another All-Pro-caliber campaign protecting Prescott's blindside, leaving most fans to want him back for 2024.

Based on Pro Football Focus' projected contract for Smith, the decision to retain the eight-time Pro Bowler should be an easy one.

PFF's Tyron Smith contract projection hints at Cowboys reunion in free agency

PFF projects Smith to sign a one-year, $10 million contract. That's more than reasonable for the Cowboys, especially since they don't have a succession plan in place. A number of fans wanted Tyler Smith to replace the elder statesman as the franchise LT, but it's clear his future is at left guard, where he's played at a Pro Bowl level this season, if not an All-Pro level.

Could a desperate team swoop in and offer Smith more than PFF's projection? Perhaps, but Smith feels like a one-team player.

Even with his injury history, we're compelled to think the front office will make Smith a fair offer to ensure he remains a career Cowboy. A $10 million deal is an uptick from the revised $6 million contract he agreed to before the season.

Smith has earned that with his performance. Among 80 tackles who've played at least 300 pass-blocking snaps, Smith's 89.1 pass-blocking grade ranks first and his 98.2 pass-block efficiency ranks third, per PFF. He's also allowed the sixth-fewest pressures and has yet to allow a sack or quarterback hit.

The Cowboys made a wise in-season adjustment to limit Smith's practice reps during the week. The extra rest has clearly benefitted the 33-year-old, who played just 17 of a possible 49 games spanning 2020-22 before this season.

Health will always be a concern with Smith, but he's back to being one of the games premium left tackles and deserves another season in Dallas. That's not to say the Cowboys shouldn't start the process of finding his successor -- maybe as soon as the 2024 draft -- but they should absolutely run it back with No. 77.

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