1:18pm: According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and Todd Archer (Twitter link), Smith’s new contract includes a $10MM signing bonus and $40MM in overall guaranteed money. As is the case with any newly-reported deal, we’ll have to wait to see how much of that $40MM is fully guaranteed, or guaranteed for injury only.
1:02pm: The Cowboys have signed offensive tackle Tyron Smith to a contract extension, the team announced today, according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links) refers to the agreement as an eight-year “mega-extension,” adding that it’s worth $98MM. Taking into account the two years remaining on Smith’s current deal, the new pact will keep the standout left tackle under contract for the next 10 years, easily making him the only player in the league under contract through 2023.
Smith, 2011′s ninth overall pick, had his work on the outside of the Cowboys’ line recognized with a Pro Bowl nod last season for the first time, and his Pro Football Focus grades suggest he was worthy of that spot, with his performance placing him among the top five tackles in the NFL (subscription required).
It was the second time in three NFL seasons that PFF graded Smith as a top-five player at the position, though in his rookie season that ranking came at right tackle, rather than left. During his first year on the left side in 2012, Smith’s grades slipped a little, particularly as a pass-blocker, but his play in 2013, combined with his age (23) suggest we should expect to see the USC product continue to develop into one of the league’s elite offensive linemen.
The new mega-deal for Smith comes on the heels of Patrick Peterson‘s agreement with the Cardinals, and it’s hard not to connect the dots between the two, since Peterson became the first 2011 first-round pick to sign a contract extension with his club. Most 2011 first-rounders have struggled to gain traction in extension negotiations this year, since teams have already exercised 2015 options on the players they want to retain, reducing the players’ leverage so far from free agency. However, Peterson’s extension seems to have opened the door for other clubs to work out new contracts with their top 2011 draftees.
Taking into account his $2MM+ salary for 2014 and his $10MM+ salary for 2015, Smith should be eligible to earn a total of about $110MM over the next 10 years, assuming he plays out this contract. That works out to an average value of $11MM annually, with the eight new seasons averaging over $12MM per year. When I examined Smith as an extension candidate last month, I suggested that an annual value of $12MM+ seemed within range, adding that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys star surpassed Joe Thomas to become the NFL’s highest-paid tackle. Thomas’ $80.5MM contract averages $11.5MM annually.
With Smith locked up, the Cowboys figure to turn their attention to their other major extension candidate: Dez Bryant.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.