Tyron Smith

Contract Restructures: Panthers, Cowboys, Giants, Saints, Eagles, Steelers

It’s that time of year when teams are frantically maneuvering ahead of free agency. Due to the cap falling because of COVID-19, things are even more hectic than ever. We’ve seen a whole bunch of contract restructures come in, and there will be a whole lot more. Let’s catch you up on the latest batch and their financial implications:

  • The Panthers restructured Christian McCaffrey‘s contract recently, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. They converted $7MM of his $8MM base salary into a signing bonus, which freed up about $5.6MM in cap space for 2021. Almost a year ago McCaffrey signed his record-breaking extension that has him locked up through the 2025 season.
  • The Cowboys have had a busy week with Dak Prescott‘s massive extension now in the books, and they made a trio of moves to help clear some space. Dallas restructured the deals of Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and La’el Collins, a source told Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The reworking of the three offensive linemen’s contracts cleared up about $17MM in cap space for Jerry Jones. As Archer notes, these moves have now gotten Dallas under the cap for 2021.
  • The Giants just cut top offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler as they look to clear cap space to keep guys like defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. The Zeitler release isn’t the only shuffling they’re doing, as they also restructured the contract of tight end Levine Toilolo, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweeted the details. Rather than a procedural restructure like you see with star players, Toilolo actually took a pay-cut to stay with the team. He had been scheduled to make $2.95MM this year but agreed to reduce that to $1.6MM, saving the Giants north of $1MM against the cap.
  • We’ve got four other restructures to pass along, courtesy of this tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The Saints restructured the deals of safety Malcolm Jenkins to save $3.4MM and offensive lineman Andrus Peat to save $6MM. New Orleans has the worst cap situation in the league, and they desperately needed moves like this to do things like franchise tag safety Marcus Williams.
  • The Eagles saved $2.4MM by reworking the deal of offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo. Philly is right up there with New Orleans in terms of bad cap situations, so GM Howie Roseman is likely far from done here.
  • The Steelers saved $880K by adjusting fullback Derek Watt‘s contract. Not exactly front page news here, but it should shore up Watt’s spot on the 2021 roster. T.J. and J.J.’s brother signed a three-year, $9.75MM pact last offseason.

Tyron Smith Done For Season

Oct 9: Smith will undergo neck surgery and will miss the rest of the season, head coach Mike McCarthy announced this morning (Twitter link via Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). However, he is expected to make a full recovery and plans to be back in action for Week 1 of the 2021 season (Twitter link via Gehlken).

Oct. 8: Tyron Smith played all 82 of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps in their shootout loss to the Browns, but the neck injury that caused the All-Pro left tackle to miss the previous two games continues to be a concern.

The Cowboys are considering placing Smith on IR and are not certain he can continue to play this season, Ed Werder of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Smith indeed suffered a setback with his neck and is gathering medical information. He also is considering the prospect of the injury shutting him down for the rest of the season, Jane Slater and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

This would certainly be a major loss for a Cowboys team that has already seen right tackle La’el Collins shelved for the season. Travis Frederick‘s offseason retirement would leave Zack Martin alone among Dallas’ All-Pro blocking coalition responsible for helping the respective rises of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys are also down center Joe Looney, who left Sunday’s game after the first play. The team confirmed its starting center is dealing with an MCL issue and will miss time. As for Smith, he has gone to seven straight Pro Bowls and joined Martin on the 2010s’ All-Decade team. The 2011 first-round pick has never missed more than three games in a season.

UDFAs Brandon Knight and Terence Steele are expected to be the Cowboys’ left and right tackles, respectively, for the foreseeable future, the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken tweets. A Smith IR stay would mean at least three missed games, pushing his total to a minimum of five absences this season. Even if that ends up being the Cowboys’ move, their offensive line has run into the kind of trouble that it has not faced in many years.

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Cowboys Working Out T Jared Veldheer

Jared Veldheer has began COVID-19 protocols, upon arriving in Dallas earlier this week, and is working out for the team Friday, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

The Cowboys brought in Veldheer on Wednesday, per Michael Gehlken of the Morning News (on Twitter), and may be prepared to make an emergency addition. Dallas is down its top two right tackles — La’el Collins and Cameron Erving. Both are on IR.

Rookie UDFA Terence Steele started at right tackle against the Rams in Week 1. Veldheer obviously brings far more experience, though the veteran blocker has not started a game since 2018. The former Raiders, Cardinals and Broncos starter retired in 2019, shortly after a Patriots agreement, but resumed his career to play in two games with the Packers.

Veldheer, now 33, has made 113 career starts. Considering the Cowboys also have Tyron Smith classified as questionable, it is not hard to envision them moving forward with Veldheer ahead of Week 2. Smith did not practice this week due to a neck injury. Veldheer has extensive experience at both left and right tackles, playing on the left side in Oakland and to start his Arizona stay. He has been a right tackle since 2017.

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Cowboys Rework Tyron Smith’s Contract

The Cowboys converted $8.9MM Tyron Smith‘s base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). With that, the Cowboys have freed up at least $6.675MM in cap space for 2020. It’s not immediately clear whether a void year has also been added to the tackle’s deal, but if that’s the case, they’ll have upwards of $7.1MM in additional room. 

[RELATED: Cowboys Release Gerald McCoy]

Smith, 29, is under club control through 2023 thanks to the eight-year, $97.6MM extension he inked with the Cowboys in 2014. Since then, he’s made similar concessions to help the Cowboys navigate their numbers crunch.

Smith made six straight Pro Bowls from 2014 through 2019 and was named as a first- or second-team All-Pro in four of those campaigns. Unfortunately, injuries have been a roadblock in recent years. He has not played in a full season since 2015 – a mix of knee, back, groin, and hip issues have limited him to just 13 regular season contests in each of the last four years.

The extra space could give the Cowboys some extra ammunition to help replace Gerald McCoy. After McCoy tore his quadriceps, the Cowboys tore up his three-year, $18MM deal. The Cowboys have support thanks to the additions of Dontari Poe, Aldon Smith, and Everson Griffen, but more interior help couldn’t hurt.

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Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell May Be Traded In 2020

The trade deadline has come and gone, and Jamal Adams is still a member of the Jets. That’s largely because New York’s asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders for its star safety was too rich for rival clubs, but before the Jets started asking for draft picks, they asked for players.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, when the Cowboys called the Jets to discuss an Adams trade, New York GM Joe Douglas asked about the availability of Dallas guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Dallas made it clear that neither offensive lineman was available, and the Cowboys’ best offer ended up being a first-round pick and backup corner Anthony Brown. However, as Rapoport observes, Douglas’ initial ask is suggestive of how he plans to construct his roster going forward: from the inside out.

Dallas’ and Baltimore’s interest in Adams was previously reported, though Rapoport says the Jets received double-digit phone calls on the 24-year-old. RapSheet adds that a third team actually put forth the strongest offer, though who that team is and the details of the offer are presently unknown.

But the fact that Adams will be with Gang Green for the rest of the year does not mean that he will be with the club in 2020. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Douglas will end up dealing Adams prior to the 2020 draft, and Cimini cites Adams’ “overreaction” to the trade rumors as one of the primary reasons for his prediction.

Adams’ post-deadline public comments in which he voiced his frustration and surprise that the Jets would even think about trading him are emblematic of what Cimini deems a me-first mentality that Adams has begun to display, a mentality which also manifested itself in a locker room blowup during halftime of last week’s loss to the Jaguars. Whether one agrees with Cimini’s characterization of these incidents or not, it seems true enough that Adams’ tenure with the Jets could be drawing to a close (especially given that he will be extension-eligible for the first time after this season).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Adams could be dealt in 2020, and JLC’s sources suggest that Adams and Le’Veon Bell may be traded at next year’s combine. La Canfora adds that the Jets were eager to move Bell and cornerback Trumaine Johnson at the deadline, but there was little interest in them because of their salaries. And while the Jets will surely not find any takers for Johnson in 2020, other clubs may be willing to take the plunge on Bell, and Adams will remain a hot commodity.

But for what it’s worth, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes the Jets should build around Adams, Bell, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams and not subject the club’s fanbase to another teardown. As many have said about the division-rival Dolphins’ rebuild — draft picks are great, but a rebuilding outfit needs core players too — the Jets should not blindly pursue premium draft capital at the expense of their foundational pieces.

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Injury Updates: Packers, Adams, Cardinals

No surprise here, but Davante Adams will miss another game this week, per the Packers‘ final injury report. This marks the wide receiver’s third-straight missed contest as he rehabs from a toe ailment.

Adams had a strong start to the season with 25 receptions for 378 yards before going down and seemed on his way to matching last year’s 111/1,386 posting. The Packers were able to get past the Lions without him and they’ll aim to do the same against the Raiders.

Here’s the latest on other bumps and bruises from around the NFL:

  • Uh oh – Cardinals running back David Johnson is dealing with a new injury. After tweaking his back against Atlanta, Johnson will be a game time decision thanks to a sore ankle, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters.
  • The Cowboys will have offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, and cornerback Byron Jones are set to play on Sunday against the Eagles, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. All five are listed as questionable for the game, but they took the practice field and Friday and should be good to go.
  • The Eagles, on the other hand, will try to fly without: linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot), cornerback Avonte Maddox (concussion/neck), tackle Jason Peters (knee), and running back Darren Sproles (quadricep).
  • Wide receiver Kenny Stills is set to return on Sunday against the Colts, per the club’s injury report.

Injury Updates: McDonald, Smith, Cichy

The Steelers faced the Bengals on Monday night without the services of tight end Vance McDonald, who was ruled inactive due to a shoulder injury. On the plus side – the Steelers have already safeguarded for this with the acquisition of Seahawks TE Nick Vannett and they are not expecting a prolonged absence for McDonald.

Also, as of this writing, the Steelers are handling the Bengals with ease, so they are getting by just fine without McDonald in the interim.

Here’s the latest on some notable injuries around the NFL:

  • Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith received good news after his MRI and a return against the Jets in Week 6 is thought to be possible, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears. He’ll miss the club’s next game against the Packers, but it appears that this is not the typical 4-6 week high-ankle sprain – the Cowboys may get Smith back on the field sooner than expected.
  • Colts safety Clayton Geathers suffered a concussion against the Raiders and finds himself in the concussion protocol, according to coach Frank Reich (Twitter link via Mike Wells of ESPN.com). There’s no word on his timetable just yet, but the Colts may need to bolster the position, particularly as Malik Hooker continues to recover from a meniscus injury.
  • Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says linebacker Jack Cichy “could [miss] 2 to 4 weeks,” though his diagnosis is pending an MRI (Twitter link via the Bucs’ team website). That would be a welcome bit of news for Cichy, whose arm was twisted badly in Sunday’s win over the Rams.

Cowboys’ Tyron Smith Suffers Ankle Sprain

The Cowboys could be without Tyron Smith for a little while. The left tackle suffered a high-ankle sprain, according to owner Jerry Jones, and those sprains often rule players out for multiple games. 

Smith, pictured here with biceps that would make the Incredible Hulk turn even greener with envy, made five straight Pro Bowls from 2014 through 2018 and was named as a first- or second-team All-Pro in four of those campaigns.

Unfortunately, injuries have been a roadblock in recent years. In 2017, he finished the year on IR due to a mix of knee, back, groin, and hip injuries. Last year, he was once again limited to just 13 regular season games.

Though not as celebrated as stars Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, or Amari Cooper, the Cowboys’ stellar offensive line is at the heart of the unit’s success. Smith has been a major part of that, without him, they won’t be quite as strong. The Cowboys can insert Cameron Fleming into their starting front five, but another O-Line pickup might make sense.

Smith, 29 in December, is under club control through 2023 thanks to the eight-year, $97.6MM extension he inked with the club in 2014.

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Tyron Smith Expected To Return Next Week

While the Cowboys offensive tackle wasn’t listed as inactive, Tyron Smith sat out today’s matchup against the Redskins today. Fortunately for Dallas, it sounds like the veteran will be back next week. Owner Jerry Jones told Calvin Watkins of The Athletic that Smith should be back for next week’s game against the Saints (Twitter link). Jones added that he was expecting the lineman to play today.

The 27-year-old suffered what’s been described as a “stinger” during last week’s win over the Falcons, and he was seen wearing a brace on his elbow during today’s victory. Cameron Fleming ended up sliding into the starting lineup for the Cowboys, but Smith will surely regain that role next week. If the Pro Bowler was forced to miss extended time, Dallas could have also given a look at backup linemen Xavier Su’a-Filo and Adam Redmond.

Smith, a 2011 first-rounder, was having another solid season through the Cowboys first 10 games. The lineman has made five straight Pro Bowls, and he was named as a first- or second-team All-Pro for four of the past five seasons. He ended the 2017 campaign on the IR after having dealt with knee, back, groin, and hip injuries, but he’s made it through the 2018 season mostly unscathed.

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Cowboys Place Tyron Smith, Orlando Scandrick On IR

Tyron Smith will move into offseason mode one week earlier than otherwise scheduled. The Cowboys placed their All-Pro left tackle on IR on Friday, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports, adding cornerback Orlando Scandrick will join him in being moved from the 53-man roster to the injury list.

The Cowboys promoted wide receiver Lance Lenoir and tackle Kadeem Edwards from the practice squad to replace them, Archer reports.

Smith has battled multiple maladies this season, but knee pain will end up ending his season. Smith played in 13 games this year; the seventh-year tackle has never played in fewer than 13 in a season. His absences during a crucial November losing streak proved costly for the Cowboys, who will miss the playoffs after earning the NFC’s top seed last season.

Scandrick has missed the past four games with a back injury. His status in Dallas is far less certain than Smith’s, and the 30-year-old slot corner — a trade candidate this past offseason — could be moving on after 10 seasons with the team. After missing all of the 2015 season due to injury, Scandrick will have missed nine games over the past two campaigns because of ailments.

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