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The Dallas Cowboys were one of the NFL's most talented teams in the NFL in 2023, rostering 10 Pro Bowl players. That talent led to a third 12-win season in a row, but they once again couldn't make it to the league's final four, the conference championship round.

Despite being the only team since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to accomplish that feat -- winning 12 or more games three years in a row without advancing to third round of the postseason -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is right in saying Dallas is "around the rim" by consistently making the playoffs. 

The team naturally would like to maintain continuity in its push for that elusive deep playoff run and a Super Bowl, and it already feels like it has a young offensive lineman who mirrors one of its key contributors from its last Super Bowl title team in 1995 with current Pro Bowl left guard Tyler Smith.

The 2022 first-round pick out of Tulsa was a collegiate left tackle, but because of the presence of Tyron Smith, their 2010s All-Decade Team left tackle, the younger Smith began his career at left guard. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2023 after grading out with a 74.5 offensive grade, good for Pro Football Focus' ninth-highest guard in the NFL among those who played at least 600 snaps. Smith shined in the run game, generating a 79.7 PFF run-blocking grade, the sixth-best among NFL guards to play at least 600 snaps.

"That remains to be seen. It's starting to feel like (Hall of Famer) Larry Allen all over again," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday, per the team's official website, at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis when asked about Smith's long-term position. "The great thing about Tyler is his versatility; he could be a great left tackle, too. At the end of the day when we're through massaging it, we'll have a good spot for him. His versatility certainly brings options as we look at this team moving forward."

Allen played the first 12 seasons of his 14-year NFL career with the Cowboys after being selected 46th overall (second round) in the 1994 NFL Draft. He went on to earn 11 Pro Bowl selections, six first-team All-Pro nods and spots on both the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams. Allen began his career as a right tackle before moving to right guard in 1995, which culminated in the Cowboys defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, to win Super Bowl XXX. Dallas moved him to left tackle in 1998 before he settled in at left guard, the spot where he played the final nine seasons of his Hall of Fame career. 

Tyler Smith's long-term position may be decided by how much longer left tackle Tyron Smith remains a Dallas Cowboy. 

Maintaining the status quo?

Tyron Smith, the Cowboys eight-time Pro Bowl left and two-time first-team All-Pro left tackle, is 33 years old and is set to be an unrestricted free agent this March. Despite being limited by various injuries over the years -- only playing in 45% of Dallas' games the last four seasons -- Smith played ball in 13 of the Cowboys' 17 regular season games in 2023 as well as their playoff game against the Packers. In the regular season, Smith only allowed one sack and 16 quarterback pressures, barely more than one per game. 

PFF stamped Smith's play with an 88.6 pass-blocking grade, the highest in the entire league among offensive linemen to play 100 or more snaps last season. Dallas needs to bring him back, but it needs to be at that at a salary of a veteran chasing a ring given looming high-dollar extensions for quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and edge rusher Micah Parsons. Smith may or may not be amicable to such an arrangement. 

"No one thinks more of Tyron Smith than us," Jones said Tuesday. "He's a Hall of Famer all the way. … We'll certainly be sitting down with him to see what it looks like for him to stay here."  

Smith's decision could have a domino effect in shaping the Dallas offensive line for years to come. If he stays, Tyler Smith could settle in as a career left guard. If he goes, the younger Smith could be called upon to fill his massive shoes protecting Prescott's blind side.