Dallas Cowboys: Expect Terence Steele to return in 2023

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

A lot went right for Terence Steele in 2022. The Dallas Cowboys right tackle claimed a starting spot right out of the gate in training camp. He went on to have a career season, improving in all areas and establishing himself as one of the best run blockers in the game.

But because nothing is easy in Cowboys land, injuries befell the 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman from Texas Tech. A torn ACL ended his season in December and now fans are left wondering if that was the last time they’ll see big No. 78 in a Dallas Cowboys uniform.

Terence Steele is a free agent and coming off a significant knee injury, but the Dallas Cowboys are almost guaranteed to bring him back in 2023.

While Steele is a free agent, it’s of the restricted variety, meaning Dallas can tender him to a deal and have the right to match any outside offer. It’s the leverage afforded them under the current CBA since Steele, and undrafted free agent, is entering his fourth season.

The Dallas Cowboys have three tendering options at their disposal: First round, second round, or no round. All tendering options come with the right to match any offer, but the first two come with draft pick compensation.

Obviously the price increases with the higher the tender. A first round tender cost $6 million, a second costs $4.3 million, and the last costs $2.6. Since most teams would kill to have an elite run blocking 25-year-old tackle, the last option really isn’t an option. Teams would poach him in a  heartbeat. But the upper two come with high enough compensation teams would shy away from making Steele an offer.

As far as Steele’s injury, he’s fully expected back in time for training camp. So any worries of a Michael Gallup-like season don’t fully apply. All things considered, the Dallas Cowboys would be fools to not bring Terence Steele back in 2023. Whether they do it with a top-two tender or offer a multiyear deal, remains to be seen. But Steele is far too good and too affordable to let walk out the door for nothing.

Note: Something to think about is whether Dallas would consider letting Steele walk if they were able to get draft pick compensation in return. The Cowboys have a new offensive line coach who may value pass protection more than run blocking. He may prefer to flip Steele for a younger and cheaper option who protects the edge better.

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Chances are good, Terence Steele stays a Cowboy in 2023. So of all the things to worry about this off-season, don’t let RT be one of them.