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5 reasons Rams should sign Tyron Smith

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By: Kenneth Arthur

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As the Cowboys prepare to part ways with one of their all-time tackles, the Rams should ask him to visit LA

As the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, there aren’t many active players left from Tyron Smith’s class. Those remaining, like former Rams edge rusher Von Miller and Julio Jones, would appear to be nearing the end of their careers.

And maybe that will prove to be the case with the 33-year-old Smith too, as the Cowboys are preparing to part ways with him after 13 years in Dallas.

Smith can’t stay healthy and has missed at least three games in each of the last nine seasons, including virtually all of 2020 and 2022. However, Smith did play most of 2023 and with the Rams still searching for answers at left tackle since Andrew Whitworth’s retirement—L.A. signed Whitworth when he was 36—it is the right time to ask if they should use some of their available cap space on an upgrade.

These would be five reasons to do so.

Upgrade a primary need on offense

By most accounts, left tackle A.J. Jackson is a serviceable but not great player at one of the NFL’s most important positions. He is also a restricted free agent and there’s constant chatter of L.A. using their first round pick on a tackle to replace him and start over at the position with a rookie.

One of the reasons a team would do that is that starting left tackles are rarely allowed to hit the market, but Smith is in a unique position because Dallas can not longer afford to pay him. Of course his injury history has played a part in that and if the Rams sign him then keeping Jackson would be a smart move because of it. Still, left tackles of Smith’s ability are rarely available when there is tread left on the tires and players at his position have often proven to be able to play well past 33.

Andrew Whitworth played to 41, Jason Peters was in the NFL last season at 41, Trent Williams is the top tackle in the NFL and is 35.

Of the few needs on the Rams offense going into the offseason, upgrading Jackson to Smith has the potential to take L.A. to another level that they couldn’t get to without a better left tackle.

Protect Matthew Stafford

As the oldest starting quarterback in the NFC, and the oldest in the NFL when Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco aren’t starting, Stafford has to be protected. If the Rams do not have Stafford, as we saw in 2022, then nothing else they do even matters.

Stafford missed eight games in 2022 and L.A. went 2-6.

Stafford missed a midseason game in 2023 and Brett Rypien had one of the worst performances by a Rams quarterback in the McVay era. Whether the backup is Carson Wentz, Stetson Bennett, or other, L.A. has to protect their $40 million per year QB (the real number is $50 million over the next three seasons) and left tackle is the most important position when it comes to pass protection.

Every step has to be taken to protect Stafford, even at the risk of a 33-year-old left tackle who is all but guaranteed to miss a quarter of the season. Would it be better to have Smith for 13 games+playoffs and Jackson for four games, or Jackson for 17 games?

Use first round pick on other position

If the Rams sign Tyron Smith and tender A.J. Jackson, there would be little reason to draft a first round tackle in 2024. It could still happen, a move for the future like Amarius Mims, but this one move could in a way address three needs:

An upgrade at left tackle by getting Smith.

An upgrade in tackle depth by moving Jackson back a peg.

And using the first round pick on a different position, such as cornerback, edge rusher, quarterback, or wide receiver.

This would be a move for now and a move for the future. Without Smith, the odds of the Rams picking a left tackle would certainly increase significantly. And maybe that’s the right move, not signing Smith. It could be! If the team does sign Smith though, there are more options on the table with the draft.

Tyron Smith comes at injury discount

He was once a $16 million AAV offensive tackle, he’s now coming off of a season when he only made $6 million but was a second-team All-Pro. Awards must be taken with a grain of salt, but the Rams would not have to pay for the All-Pro Tyron Smith.

Is there potentially a world in which Smith takes $7 million to chase a Super Bowl ring with the Rams as they’re on the upswing again? It’s feasible.

Of all the teams that could be contenders next season and all of those among them who have cap space and a need at left tackle, there aren’t likely that many suitors for Tyron Smith’s market. Coming off of his unfortunate run of games missed due to injury, Smith should be coming at a discount and be a high-reward and relatively low-risk signing.

Pseudo-coach and versatile mentor to young OL

I’m not automatically forcing Tyron Smith to be a coach and mentor, it’s been proven over and over again that most veteran players just want to focus on doing their own jobs well, but what else is proven: Tyron Smith has worked with some of the best offensive linemen in the last decade of the NFL.

That includes Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. It includes the player who was drafted to replace Tyron Smith, that being Tyler Smith. And Dallas has had some very good linemen besides those, including La’El Collins, Connor Williams, and Tyler Biadasz.

He has a lot to offer, even if it’s just leading by example. It would be a great opportunity not only for Jackson, but also Steve Avila, Coleman Shelton, Kevin Dotson (if he’s re-signed), and even Rob Havenstein.