How Can The Cowboys Replace Their Injured All-Pro For Most Of The 2022 Season?

August 27, 2022
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The Dallas Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a torn left hamstring that will keep him out until December. This injury has sent the team in a direction that they wanted to avoid. With no clear starter at left tackle, we explore potential options the Cowboys could choose from. 

Devastating news broke for the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday evening from ESPN insider Adam Schefter. His report stated that star left tackle Tyron Smith has torn his left hamstring and will be out indefinitely. Smith had gotten injured during Wednesday’s practice in an 11-on-11 drill during a run play.

Confirmation for the All-Pro

On Thursday it was confirmed that Tyron Smith will need surgery, which is expected to take place on Friday. The possible target date for him to come back is in December and anything prior would be very unlikely. 

This leaves the team with a massive hole on the blind side of quarterback Dak Prescott. There won’t be a replacement on the team or a current free agent who is at the level of the potential future Football Hall-of-Fame player, Tyron Smith.

I believe there are four options the team could choose to go through with. 

Start Rookie Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith was Dallas’s first-round pick in this year’s 2022 NFL Draft. He is a young 21-year-old University of Tulsa player who started at left tackle for two seasons. In the draft process, experts saw Smith as a raw left tackle with a powerful, nasty attack off the line. He wasn’t the most disciplined tackle in the draft compared to his others who went ahead of him. Nonetheless, the potential is there with his strength and size. He stands at 6’ 5’’ and weighing 332 pounds. 

Team owner Jerry Jones had a vision of Tyler Smith being the next heir apparent to Tyron Smith at the blind side of Prescott. Now, that vision could be a reality in two weeks when the team faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football on September 11th. 

Tyler Smith has been practicing and playing preseason games at left guard for all of training camp. No doubt starting at left tackle will take some adjusting for the rookie.

Although this option is intriguing just so the future can start now. Throwing a rookie into the fire seems like a dangerous idea from this fan’s perspective.

Start The Back-Up Josh Ball

Left tackle Josh Ball has been Tyron Smith’s backup throughout training camp. Ball was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2021 draft, but unfortunately missed the entire 2021 season with an ankle injury. Ball has been the only real option at the swing tackle position for the team. Rookie fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko from North Dakota has been injured most of training camp with a shoulder injury, so Ball has had no competition for the back-up position, as of late. 

Ball has no experience in an NFL game outside of this year’s preseason games. Although the Cowboys have him as the backup left tackle for a reason, his name being called to start is an option that seems risky for this offense. 

Sign A Free Agent: Eric Fisher

Several players remain free agents well into training camp. Two players with successful careers come to my mind for replacing Tyron Smith. 

Eric Fisher is a former first-overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Fisher played eight seasons with the Chiefs. He was the anchor for their offensive line and was a two-time pro-bowler. He last played one season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2021.

At age 31, Fisher has seen his best days as a left tackle behind him. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a serviceable lineman in the NFL today. According to pff.com (Pro Football Focus), Fisher graded out with an above-average blocking grade of 68.2. 

Sign A Free Agent: Jason Peters

The second free agent who could be looked at is the veteran tackle, Jason Peters. The nine-time pro-bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro is going into this 2022 season as a 40-year-old. Don’t mistake his older age for bad play on the field though.

Peters is coming off of a decent season while protecting Justin Fields with the Chicago Bears. PFF had Peters finishing the season with an overall blocking grade of 77.5 and only had three penalties on the year. The Cowboys are surely familiar with Peters as he played 11 seasons with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles

Both of these veterans are real options for the team. The decision relies on Jerry Jones and the front office if they could and would pull the trigger to replace Smith with one of these former pro-bowl players. 

Trade For A Replacement

A trade is something Dallas have not been shy about in recent history. 

The biggest trade of recent years was acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper from the then-Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick in 2018. On the defensive side, Dallas acquired edge rushers Robert Quinn and Micheal Bennett in separate trades in 2019. 

The trade option will be available until the deadline set for November 1st, 2022. If a trade were to happen, it must be sooner rather than later since the season is approaching in a little over two weeks.

Trade Option: Isaiah Wynn 

An option that has already been rumored to be on the move to a new team is New England Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn. He was drafted in the first-round in 2018 out of the University of Georgia. Wynn did suffer a torn Achilles in the 2018 preseason. This injury can have a lasting effect on a player’s career and Wynn has not lived up to his believed potential. 

He has been solid in his career with his quickness and good fundamentals. However, he is not the standout left tackle that the Patriots had been hoping for. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, he reported that the Patriots have involved Wynn in trade talks because of his $10.4 million fifth-year option in 2022. This is a bit expensive for a player of his caliber.

If the Cowboys were to pull the trigger on a trade for Isaiah Wynn, they would be receiving a clear replacement for Tyron Smith who is still young at 26-years-old. The downside of a trade for Wynn would be his expensive contract that is expiring at the end of the season.