Cowboys, RT Terence Steele agree to 5-year, $86.8 million contract extension

Tribune Content Agency

A December injury turned Terence Steele’s left knee into alphabet soup with ACL, MCL and MPFL tears. The Dallas Cowboys right tackle underwent reconstructive surgery that same month, and the ensuing recovery drew rare reports from the club’s medical and athletic training staff, who called it as remarkable as any for a Cowboys big man in decades.

And yet, because of Steele’s worth ethic, the recovery was not surprising.

Neither is the decision to secure him long term.

Steele and the Cowboys agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $86.8 million, a person familiar with the pact said Sunday. The deal features $50 million guaranteed and, with certain incentives, can reach a maximum value of $91.8 million. Steele, who originally signed in 2020 as a rookie free agent from Texas Tech, is now under contract through the 2028 season.

This extension was very easy for the Cowboys to justify.

That is a credit to Steele.

The 26-year-old has developed into an integral part of the Dallas run game, teaming up with right guard Zack Martin on combination blocks that are considered as sound as any blocking duo in the league. He just completed his third NFL offseason. For the third time, he received an award from the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning staff for the commitment shown and strides made.

Steele displays a genuine enjoyment in the self-improvement process.

It is no wonder, when thrown into the flames as an undrafted rookie who started 14 games despite a pandemic-shortened offseason, he came clean on the other side. It is no wonder Steele defied general expectation, working his way into the starting lineup for next Sunday’s season opener at the New York Giants.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday he hadn’t seen a recovery before like Steele’s.

“Just that clean,” McCarthy said. “He hasn’t missed a day, and it’s just Terence. He’s in there the same time every day, doing the prehab. It really feels like he never left. …His first impression really sticks with me. I can remember watching him move in the rookie orientation during the pandemic year, just being impressed with him Day 1 and he hadn’t even put the pads on yet.

“His work ethic, just the way he goes about it, he’s always been no nonsense. Extremely coachable. Very bright. And he’s a glue guy. He’s really connected strongly, not only in the O-line room but the locker room. Terence is a stud.”

The extension is the latest major move in the Cowboys’ offseason.

Since late July, they have also signed cornerback Trevon Diggs and safety Malik Hooker to extensions worth up to $100 million and $24 million, respectively. Diggs, Hooker and Steele were all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March. Instead, they became the first Cowboys players to reach summer extensions since linebacker Jaylon Smith, right tackle La’el Collins and running back Ezekiel Elliott did in 2019.

Dallas also restructured right guard Zack Martin’s contract last month to end his holdout.

Other significant moves included retaining running back Tony Pollard with the franchise tag, acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore in March trades, and signing safety Donovan Wilson to a new deal.

Quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and linebacker Micah Parsons are among the Cowboys players with major contract extensions on the potential horizon. Negotiations cannot begin with Parsons until after the 2023 season. He is expected to become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.