Since moving to Tyron Smith injured reserve early in the season, fans have been clamoring for the Dallas Cowboys to move on from their starting left tackle.
When healthy, Tyron Smith is one of the very best offensive tackles in the NFL. It’s that specific caveat that’s caused many Dallas Cowboys fans to lose their patience with the former All-Pro and call for his release.
While the frustration is understandable (Tyron hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2015), calling for his replacement is an emotional response to fairly common and relatively manageable situation. That’s why I’m making the case that it would be crazy to move on Tyron this offseason.
How injury-prone is Tyron Smith?
It may surprise you to know, this is the first time in Tyron Smith’s nine year career he’s missed more than three games. While he’s often missed time here and there, this is the first time a real season-ender that has hit the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Smith stands 6-foot-5, 320 lbs., so it’s not overly surprising he’s had to deal with minor issues from time to time. And looking around the league, most teams deal with this same thing from their lumbering tackles. That’s why swing tackle is regarded as one of the most important back-up positions these days.
How over-the-hill is Tyron?
The wear and tear are clearly showing and it’s obvious Tyron Smith is on the downslope of his career, but how close is he to the bottom of his career arch? At just 29-years-old, Tyron Smith is much younger than your normal nine-year vet. And tackle happens to be position that boasts longevity.
In fact, the top rated tackles in the NFL this season are Tyron Smith’s age or older. Trent Williams PFF’s No. 1 OT) is 32. Andrew Whitworth is 38. David Bakhtiari is 29, and Duane Brown is 35. All three are in the top-5 this season.
So while the neck injury is a special concern in and of itself, it’s the first of it’s kind for him and Tyron is still a very fit and abnormally young man, all things considered.
How costly is keeping him?
The final thing to consider is cost. I mean, Dallas doesn’t want to be paying premium money to a part-time player – no matter how good he is when he plays, right? Well, Tyron Smith is signed on a deal that pays him an average salary of 12.2 million. That ain’t no chump change. But it ain’t breaking the bank either…
According to Spotrac, Tyron Smith is just the 19th paid tackle in the NFL right now. Guys like Laremy Tunsil and David Bakhtiari are making well over $20 million per season. That’s the price to sign a franchise OT these days. Changes the perspective doesn’t it?
Suddenly missing 3-4 games per season is a little more digestible isn’t it? Especially since the youthful Tunsil has yet to play a full 16-game season in his entire career and David Bakhtiari has already missed two games this year. Injuries happen to all of them.
I’m not saying Tyron Smith is going to bounce back and play 16 games next season. I’m not saying he’s going to play 13 games. Heck, I’m not saying this neck surgery doesn’t make him retire. What I’m saying is it would be crazy for the Dallas Cowboys to proactively move on from him. He’s young, talented, and fairly paid. They’d be lucky to check all those boxes on his eventual replacement.
For what it’s worth, my first mock draft had the Dallas Cowboys picking an offensive tackle in the first round. That isn’t because I’m eagerly looking to replace him, rather it’s because I value the offensive line, liked the player, and believe in drafting the best possible player available more often than not.
Now is not the time to give up on a good player. The Cowboys should invest in some insurance for Smith, but they’d be crazy to proactively replace him in 2021.