The Dallas Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on left tackle Tyron Smith, locking him up through 2015.
The move was a formality, long expected since Smith has become perhaps the best player on the offensive line since being taken ninth in the first round in 2011. The move gives the Cowboys more time to work out a long-term contract with the Los Angeles native who won’t turn 24 until December.
Per the collective bargaining agreement, the option pays players taken among the first 10 picks the average salary of the to 10 players at that position. Players taken 11-32 get the average of the top 25 players at their position.
So Smith, picked ninth, will earn $10.039 million in 2015.
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The Cowboys had until the end of the week to pick up the option. If not, Smith would have become a free agent at season’s end.
Smith is not the only long-term priority for the Cowboys. The team is also looking at a new contract for receiver Dez Bryant, who will be entering his fourth year. With another good season, running back DeMarco Murray might also be in line for consideration for a new contract.
In another move Thursday, the Cowboys signed former Miami Hurricanes receiver LaRon Byrd, who missed last season in the NFL because of a concussion.
Byrd caught 106 passes with seven touchdowns in his career at Miami. He went undrafted in 2012, but signed with the Arizona Cardinals and played in four games, catching one pass and recording two tackles on special teams. He suffered a concussion in preseason last year and was put on injured reserve.
The Cardinals released him April 4.
The addition of Byrd gives the Cowboys an eighth receiver as they prepare for organized team activities. He joins a receiver group that includes starters Bryant and Terrance Williams and veterans Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley. Behind them are futures and first-year players Lance Lewis, Tim Benford and Jamar Newsome.
Next up for the Cowboys is the NFL Draft, May 8-10. Dallas has the 16th overall pick.
The first day of organized team activities is May 27-29.