One of the Dallas Cowboys’ most underrated players isn’t going unnoticed by the rest of the league. Tyron Smith, a 23-year-old Pro Bowl left tackle, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and you can bet many of the other 31 NFL teams will be throwing massive amounts of money at him if he hits free agency. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has to know that, which means he has to give Smith a relevant contract extension before then. That could be a problem, though.
The Cowboys are currently way over the increased salary cap for the 2014 NFL season, which has been the case for the past several years and will remain the case for the foreseeable future. That means giving Smith a Joe Thomas-like contract will be difficult from a cap perspective.
Players like Tony Romo are already hogging a ton of cap space in Dallas and that just gets worse every year as Jerry continues to push their cap numbers to the future. Add in the fact Dez Bryant also needs a lucrative extension soon (and potentially DeMarco Murray), and the Cowboys will be hard pressed to give Smith enough money to keep him in Dallas while staying under the salary cap.
Thomas was given a seven-year, $84 million contract by the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and Smith will undoubtedly get those types of offers if other teams are allowed to court him. He’s incredibly young to be in this position, which makes him even more attractive to teams in need of an anchor on their offensive line.
Thus, the Cowboys need to lock him up for the long-term because talents like Smith don’t just come along every year. However, that will be difficult in the grand scheme of things because he’ll get the deal from Dallas, but then his cap number will balloon year after year as his deal is restructured to provide cap space. In short, history will repeat itself for the Cowboys’ salary cap situation, which means Smith will be paid and his team will pay for it — in more ways than one.