What are the Cowboys’ plans after restructuring All-Pro’s contract?

Vincent Frank
Dallas Cowboys and COVID-19
Jan 5, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of a Dallas Cowboys helmet prior to the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys on Saturday morning made an under-the-radar move that could have long-term financial ramifications.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Dallas restructured the contract of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, saving $6.7 million against the cap this season.

It’s certainly a weird time on the NFL calendar to make a move of this ilk. Franchise-tagged quarterback Dak Prescott can’t sign a long-term deal with Dallas. That deadline passed by earlier this summer. Meanwhile, the savings are only for in-season management. It will have no real impact beyond the 2020 season.

Dallas has done this in the past in order to bring in outside free agents or sign other players to long-term extensions. Smith himself did the same thing back in February of 2017, helping the Cowboys save $7 million in cap space heading into free agency that season. That came after he helped Dallas in the same regard back in 2015 and 2016.

Each time, it was a prelude to a bigger move. This included placing the franchise tag on Dez Bryant back in 2015. Again, it’s all about timing. Each of the first three times Smith agreed to a restructured deal, it came ahead of the start of free agency in March.

What could this mean for Dallas heading into the 2020 season?

Acquire Earl Thomas

Leading up to free agency back in 2019, Dallas was linked to hometown boy Earl Thomas on a near never-ending loop. The seven-time Pro Bowl safety made it clear he wanted to return home.

Dallas just didn’t have the salary cap room to pay what Thomas ultimately received from the Baltimore Ravens. Now that Thomas could be on his way out of Baltimore following a fight with a teammate this week, there’s a chance the Cowboys could make a move. It would have to come after a release from the Ravens, primarily because of financial issues as it relates to Thomas’ contract.

Although, it’s an odd coincidence that Dallas would restructure Smith’s deal at the same time that this drama is taking place between Thomas and his Ravens squad.

Sign Jadeveon Clowney

By virtue of this move, Dallas has about $13 million in cap room. Even after signing Everson Griffen, Clowney remains a possibility. The idea would be to go with a three-headed edge pass rush monster in Clowney, Griffen and Pro Bowler Demarcus Lawrence.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to make a move of this ilk. Whether Clowney lowers his asking price now that the season is set to start remains to be seen. He’d have to do this in order for it to work.

Potential trade?

The likes of tight end O.J. Howard and guard Joe Thuney have been bandied about on the trade block in recent months. Both would represent areas of need in Dallas, with Thuney being an upgrade over Connor Williams and Howard acting as another option to Blake Jarwin.

All of this is, of course, speculative right now. There’s no suggestions that Dallas is heavy on the trade market. Although, the team did not restructure Smith’s contract for no reason.

It will lead to speculation ahead of the Cowboys’ Week 1 outing against the Los Angeles Rams.