The Cowboys will not tender an offer to restricted free agent fullback Keith Smith, but they are open to re-signing him on a multi-year extension, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. However, the Falcons also have interest in signing Smith to a free agent deal, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
An original round RFA tender — which wouldn’t have netted Dallas any draft pick compensation had Smith inked an offer sheet with another club — is expected to be worth $1.908MM. Smith only played on 12% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps in 2017, so that figure was untenable. But a multi-year deal could offer Smith financial guarantees (which the RFA tender does not) and keep his 2018 cap charge to a minimum, aiding Dallas’ books.
As Archer details, the Cowboys have used a similar strategy with restricted free agents in the recent past. In 2016, Dallas tendered safety Jeff Heath at the original round level, but subsequently replaced that one-year salary with a four-year, $7.671MM extension. The year prior, punter Chris Jones had already signed his RFA tender when Dallas worked out a three-year, $4.2MM deal.
Smith, for his part, appeared in all 16 games for the second consecutive season, but wasn’t a large part of the Cowboys offense, as he totaled only five total touches (all receptions). However, the 25-year-old Smith was a key factor on Dallas’ special teams unit: he finished sixth in Cowboys special teams snaps, and ranked second on the club with 10 ST tackles.
The Falcons, meanwhile, have ranked among the top-five NFL teams in fullback usage in each of the past two seasons. Patrick DiMarco played 31% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps in 2016 before signing with the Bills the following offseason, while Derrick Coleman saw time on roughly 22% of the team’s plays last year.