Three Tyron Smith Free Agency Destinations

Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

A foundational cornerstone of the Dallas Cowboys does not appear to be returning for 2024. Tyron Smith, the All-Pro tackle who has dominated the left side of the Cowboys' offensive line for over a decade, is a free agent this offseason and Ian Rapoport says a reunion with his longtime team is not likely.

While Cowboys fans will be up in arms about letting a franchise favorite walk it shouldn't come as a huge surprise. When Smith plays, he's still an above-average left tackle at worst, earning a quality 83.9 PFF grade for his 2023 season. But, as always, the best ability is availability and Smith has struggled in that department. He missed four games last year and even so those 13 starts were the most he's had since 2019. He missed at least 13 games in two of his last four seasons. Any interested party has to take injury risk into account.

The 33-year-old will still be highly sought-after. Great offensive linemen do not grow on trees and Smith is still among the best when he's healthy. A big if, but there are more than a few teams out there who are willing to bet big money that he'll stay healthy long enough to make an impact.

Smith is now the best offensive lineman available on the market and plays the most important position on the line. That means he'll be a very popular man when free agency opens on March 11. Here are three teams that would make the most sense as a landing spot for the two-time All-Pro.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs won the Super Bowl so they obviously aren't in dire need of an upgrade anywhere but left tackle is a position of need heading into the offseason because Donovan Smith is a free agent. And Kansas City should think hard before running it back with him. He was perfectly fine down the stretch but had a below-average PFF grade of 55.4 on the season. Protecting Patrick Mahomes will be a priority for many years yet and they cannot afford to turn their noses up at any opportunity to improve his blindside protection, even if they don't have a ton of money to go around.

This could be a perfect fit for both sides. Smith might be more interested in a ring than a payday at this stage in his career and could be amendable to a one-year deal worth around $5 million or so. The Chiefs would also like that because they don't want to invest multiple years of guaranteed money into an injury-prone tackle. They could sign him on the cheap and pick up a few developmental prospects in the draft for depth. A pretty optimal scenario as long as Smith is willing to take a bit of a discount relative to how valuable his services are on the open market.

New England Patriots

If Smith does not care about winning a title and simply wants the bag, then the Patriots are a perfect match. They're projected to have $100 million in cap space to spend, the most in the NFL, and have a huge need at left tackle with Trent Brown's contract expiring. While New England is in more of a rebuild mode, money spent on offensive line play is always money well spent and bringing in a veteran to lead a young locker room should appeal to new head coach Jerod Mayo. Especially in such a time of transition for this franchise.

This basically comes down to Smith's willingness to accept a drop in quality in overall team play. The Cowboys have posted three consecutive 12-win seasons. The Patriots would have to be incredibly lucky to even sniff that number. If he's fine with losing more games than he's accustomed to in exchange for a $10 million annual salary then this works out great for both sides. The Pats can still restock their tackle depth behind him and get a premiere free agent who, perhaps more than any other, would play a big role in helping a new (potentially young) quarterback adjust.

New York Jets

The Jets are Smith's best hope of getting a substantial payday while playing for a team aiming to be competitive. They'll have somewhere between $20 and $25 million to spend in free agency and will probably be dedicating every dollar to improving their offensive line. The tackle situation in particular is dire. Mekhi Becton is hitting free agency after another underwhelming season with a history of injuries and conflict with the team. Duane Brown will be 39 years old when next year kicks off. They need to get both younger and better quickly to protect Aaron Rodgers as he returns from a torn Achilles.

Backing up the Brinks truck for Smith is not the wisest allocation of resources but it would solve the team's most immediate, significant need-- blindside protection for Rodgers. And while it shouldn't play into the calculus, such a move would definitely make Rodgers happy between the big name and quality play. Pretty easy to envision this partnership becoming reality.