By Rainer Sabin The Dallas Morning News
OXNARD, Calif. — Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith signed an eight-year contract extension that will keep him in Dallas through 2023 and make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
The total value of the deal, which carries through 10 seasons, is worth $109 million with $40 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus, sources said Wednesday. Smith will make $32 million in the first three years of the new contract.
The ninth-overall pick of the 2011 draft, Smith made the Pro Bowl last season. In May, the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Before Wednesday’s news dropped, Smith’s 2015 salary was to be fully guaranteed for $10.039 million, which is equal to the 2014 transition tag for offensive linemen. Smith was set to make a base salary of $2.079 million in 2014.
After he was drafted three years ago, he signed a four-year, $12.5 million contract that was fully guaranteed and included a $7.6 million signing bonus. Smith’s new deal is more lucrative than the seven-year contract extension Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas received in 2011, when he received $84 million, approximately $44 million of which was reported to be guaranteed.
“I think I have the potential to be a Pro Bowler and be a Hall of Famer,” Smith said shortly after entering the NFL.
Smith, 23, is the foundation of the Cowboys’ rebuilt offensive line. He has started all 47 games in which he has played and has conceded only 14 sacks in his career, according to STATS LLC. As a rookie, he played at right tackle before moving over to the left side in 2012 when he and Doug Free switch positions.
“He’s something else,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “And the kind of guy he is. We really emphasize the importance of mental toughness. We believe that’s a distinguishing trait in players and in teams. And he represents that in spades. He’s off the charts. We love him to death.”
Garrett made that known when Smith became the first player selected in the head coach’s regime. The USC product became a symbol of the culture Garrett was trying to establish at Valley Ranch.
“Obviously every pick we make is critical to the development on our team, our organization,” Garrett said. “But that first one says a lot about what you believe. And I’ve told our coaches this all the time. We can stand in front of our room and talk about what we think is important in football and what we’re looking for and what we value and what our philosophies are.
“But ultimately it comes down to the guys you choose to have on your team. And what you value in the people you bring in here. And my dad told me a long, long time ago as a young kid. I was probably 12 years old. He said the most important job of a coach is to cut the team down the right way and play the right players. And I didn’t really know what he was talking about. And I’ve come to learn what he’s talking about here the last few years for the very reasons I just said.”
The Cowboys made it known they were to complete a contract extension with Smith in 2014. Now they will turn their attention to lengthening receiver Dez Bryant’s deal. He is scheduled to become a free agent in 2015.
Bryant is a cornerstone piece. So is Smith. Because of his youth, solid work ethic and consistency protecting Tony Romo’s blindside, he became a valuable piece that Cowboys management felt could be an asset to the team for more than a decade. On Wednesday, Dallas committed to a future with Smith as its left tackle.
And amazingly enough, he will only be 33 if he remains with the team through the end of the deal he signed Wednesday.