SEPTEMBER 4: Steele will collect a signing bonus of $15MM, per Schefter’s colleague Todd Archer. The new pact is guaranteed in full for the first two years, and his 2025 base salary ($13.25MM) will become guaranteed on the fifth day of that league year. The deal will not alter Steele’s cap hit for this season, so that figure will remain at $4.3MM before jumping in later years given the sizable raise from his previous earnings. $1.25MM in escalators are included for the years 2025-28, and he can earn roster bonuses of $750K annually beginning in 2024.
SEPTEMBER 3: The Cowboys and right tackle Terence Steele have agreed to a five-year, $86.8MM extension, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The deal includes $50MM in guarantees and can max out at $91.8MM.
This represents a major vote of confidence in a player whose 2022 season was cut short by ACL and MCL tears. But as head coach Mike McCarthy recently told reporters, including Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, he has never seen a player recover quite like Steele.
“He hasn’t missed a day, and it’s just Terence,” McCarthy said. “He’s in there the same time every day, doing the rehab. It feels like he never left. Terence is a stud.”
Steele, 26, signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Over his three seasons with the club, he has appeared in 45 games (40 starts), with most of his work coming at right tackle. His level of play at that spot allowed Dallas to move on from La’el Collins and commit to Steele on a full-time basis in 2022. Steele took a step forward in Pro Football Focus rating for the third straight year, generating an overall grade of 73.9.
Despite the ACL and MCL injuries, the Cowboys placed the second-round RFA tender, worth $4.3MM, on Steele this offseason. Reports on Dallas’ O-line plans in the spring suggested that the Texas Tech alum could operate as the swing tackle behind Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, with Tyron Smith lining up at RT and Tyler Smith on the blindside. However, the club has consistently maintained that it wants to field its best five offensive lineman, and that group includes Steele. As such, Tyler Smith eventually kicked inside to left guard, Tyron Smith has assumed his familiar LT post, and Steele has been reinserted at right tackle.
Along with Tyler Biadasz at center and Zack Martin at right guard, the Cowboys boast a strong contingent of blockers in front of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Tony Pollard. With Tyron Smith set to become a free agent at season’s end, it is certainly possible that Tyler Smith could move back to left tackle in 2024, but the team has the RT position set for the foreseeable future.
Steele’s new money AAV of $17.36MM ranks as the eighth-highest figure among the league’s right tackles. His $50MM in guaranteed money, however, ranks as the fourth-highest number, so he did quite well for a former UDFA who has yet to make a Pro Bowl and who is coming off a major knee injury.
The Cowboys were eyeing extensions for players like CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Steele this year, and they have now struck accords with Diggs and Steele. They also gave Martin a raise that ended his holdout and will now presumably turn their attention to Lamb and Prescott, whose cap number balloons to over $59MM next year.