The Cowboys, despite Jerry Jones suggesting otherwise, have been all about building a top-tier offensive line in front of Tony Romo. The rebuilding process started in 2011, when the team drafted left tackle Tyron Smith ninth overall, and continued in 2013 with center Travis Frederick (31st overall) and and 2014 with offensive lineman Zack Martin (16th overall).
And now, in an effort to keep the group together for a long, long time, the Cowboys have extended Smith's contract. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the eight-year deal, with $98 million in new money and $28 million in new guaranteed money, buys Smith for the length of two full contracts.
Now Smith isn't eligible for free agency until he's 32. It's a rare contract and it's born of some unique circumstances as well, according to sources familiar with Smith's thinking and his relationship with the Cowboys.
And while an eight-year extension might seem like the most Jerry Jones thing ever, Smith has earned it. He ranked seventh among all tackles last season, according to ProFootballFocus.com and he's only 23.
More via La Canfora: "Jones has become a father figure to Smith and has helped him navigate through some tumultuous and dangerous family issues, sources said. Some of it has reached the media but the Cowboys and Jones have worked very hard to keep much of it private. Smith has been preyed on, financially and otherwise, by close family members, has been the victim of menacing threats and Jones has been integral in helping him wade through it and stay on an even keel.
"Smith, himself, has been a joy to coach and play with, team sources said, and he is a central figure in the future of the franchise, so big, so good, and still so young. Re-signing him was a top priority and for as long as possible.
"Smith feels a deep sense of gratitude to Jones and was eager to do a deal as well, seeking some security and truly wanting to be a Cowboy for a long time. Even when the downside of the deal was explained to him, he was adamant about signing it. The millions he now has coming to him are worth now than whatever he may be losing down the road he explained to those close to him. He didn't want the contract hanging over him once hitting started at training camp - with the injury risk - and was very comfortable with the money involved here and the ability to earn in excess of $12 million per season."
Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to improve on back-to-back-to-back 8-8 finishes for a group that hasn't made the playoffs since the 2009 season.