Tyrone Crawford has officially taken his last snap in the NFL. The 31-year-old is set to retire in 2021, per Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, after spending the totality of his career in North Texas. Although his age hints at a bit of an early retirement, Crawford's body had begun wearing down recently. Having been one of the more durable players on the Cowboys roster in his first several seasons, he missed 12 games in 2019 due to issues that led to Crawford undergoing hip surgery to prematurely end his season -- having tried on more than one occasion to battle through the ailment(s) -- his only other major injury having been a torn Achilles suffered in his second season with the team.
He returned from hip surgery and was available for the complete regular-season slate in 2020, but was mostly a shell of himself, despite logging two sacks in three starts. Crawford's combined tackle mark of 14 was the lowest of his career in any season with more than four games active, and using that qualifier for tracking his quarterback hits as well, his tally of only four was the tied for the lowest-mark since his rookie year when he logged zero starts in 16 games.
Crawford had been mulling retirement since the conclusion of the team's disappointing 2020 run, and issued a statement on saying goodbye to his days as a player.
As this chapter as a part of the @dallascowboys organization comes to an end, my story is just getting stared. My next chapter will be my best chapter! Thankful & with a full heart I officially announce my retirement from the @NFL ✭ #OnceACowboyAlwaysACowboy #EarnedMyStar #WorkK pic.twitter.com/d2D9P9mEIR— Tyrone Crawford 🇨🇦 (@TCrawford98) March 30, 2021
The former third-round pick leaves as easily one of the more underrated players on the Cowboys, routinely increasing and decreasing his weight to fluctuate on-demand between edge rusher and interior defensive linemen -- often seeing his role change once or more per year. It's unclear if those asks helped take a toll on his long-term health or not, but he never batted an eye when asked to flex to make things work for Rob Ryan, Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and finally Mike Nolan, respectively, working to adjust to a total of four defensive coordinators in his nine seasons with Dallas. Selected in the third-round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Crawford worked his way into the starting rotation and subsequently a five-year, $45 million contract that expired this offseason.
As he heads into retirement, the jury is out on if Sean Lee will join him. Lee continues to work through the decision process and is in discussion with the Cowboys on his future, but McCarthy noted Crawford will remain an integral part of the team going forward -- in other capacities -- hinting at the obviousness of the same path being open to Lee, should the Pro Bowl linebacker choose to follow Crawford into the sunset. Crawford ends his NFL career with 25 sacks 194 combined tackles, having only worn one jersey in the process.