May 18, 2024

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Tackling new jets Tyrone Smith says team 'has all the pieces'

Tackling new jets Tyrone Smith says team 'has all the pieces'

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — After 13 seasons and eight Pro Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, left tackle Tyrone Smith described his first foray into free agency as “stressful.” But he's happy with the result, saying the New York Jets can take him where he's never been before — the Super Bowl.

“I feel like they have all the pieces together right now, and they're getting the final pieces in this season to produce a team that can move forward,” Smith told reporters Thursday in a video conference.

Smith, one of the biggest names in free agency, signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Jets, who revamped their offensive line and signed wide receiver Mike Williams in an effort to upgrade Aaron Rodgers' supporting cast.

The 40-year-old quarterback is returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon that cost him nearly the entire 2023 season, ruining the Jets' Super Bowl aspirations.

“I've played against Aaron many times throughout my career, and I know what kind of quarterback he is,” Smith said. “I know what he can do if you give him a little time, and we will do our best to give him that time.”

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The Jets' offensive line, which was a mess last season, has three new players — Smith, left guard John Simpson and right tackle Morgan Moses, acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. But the key is Smith, who is responsible for protecting Rodgers' blind side.

Despite a sparkling resume, Smith, 33, hasn't attracted much attention due to his age and injury history — he's missed 37 games in the past four seasons. He hasn't played a full season since 2015. He played in 13 games last season and was a second-team All-Pro, but there's still hesitation among some teams.

He was on the market for five days before agreeing to the Jets' deal, which includes playing time, a Pro Bowl and postseason win incentives that could total up to $20 million.

“I'm not going to lie, it was a little stressful,” Smith said of the process. “I've never been there before. I didn't know how to handle it, and it went on for a week, but it felt like forever.”

Smith said the Cowboys and Jets were his “main options,” adding, “The way things were looking in Dallas, I knew it was probably going to be the Jets. Honestly, I was excited for a new chapter in my life.”

Physically, Smith said he feels “good,” adding that he finished the season without any injuries. The Cowboys limited his practice time during the second half of the season in an effort to stay healthy. The planes are likely to use a similar plan.

The Jets haven't had a lead pass guard at left tackle since D'Brickashaw Ferguson in 2015. Since then, they've rotated through several starters, most recently Duane Brown and former first-round pick Mekhi Becton, both of whom are free agents.

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“He gives you comfort,” new backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor said of Smith. “I have a lot of respect for Tyrone. … Obviously you have a security blanket there on the left. He's been an outstanding player for many years, so we're looking forward to being protected on the left side with him.”